Dear Abby: My husband of 15 years suddenly has decided that marriage is a "trap," and he wants out. He wants his own apartment so he can come and go as he pleases. (Not divorced, mind you; he just wants to be free to do as he pleases.)
A wise friend suggested a cheaper way. Give him the spare bedroom and let him do as he pleases. The idea appealed to my husband, and that's what he is doing.This friend told me to let my husband have his flings and have a ball, and in time he will get tired of it and come back to me. In the meantime, I should be pleasant and uncomplaining and be a good mother to our two teenagers.
My problem: How can I endure the pain of seeing him come and go as he pleases? Can you give me pointers on how to put up with this when my heart is aching?
Dear Lonely: Your friend sounds like she has shredded wheat where her brains should be. You have given up your role as a wife to become the "mother of a teenager" who has just discovered the opposite sex.
What are you getting out of this arrangement? The privilege of keeping your husband's room clean and washing his underwear? What if his "flings" last until he is 80? And in the meantime, what kind of example is he setting for his children?
Tell your husband we all make mistakes, and you made a beaut when you agreed to the spare room arrangement. And unless he is willing to go for counseling and try to repair your marriage, he can clear out, and you'll see him in court.
Dear Abby: My husband's mother recently remarried after having been a widow for a good many years. She is a dear, sweet woman, and I couldn't love my own mother more.
She and her new husband (who is 70) visited us last Christmas. During the evening, he made me a little uncomfortable just by the way he kept looking at me. He followed me into the kitchen once and said he wanted to give me a little Christmas kiss. I gave him my cheek but he grabbed me and said, "No, not THAT kind. . . ." Then he tried to kiss me on the mouth. I got away from him and kept my distance all evening.
Now he calls me on the phone when he knows my husband is at work. He says he wants to talk to me. I am afraid of him.
Please tell me how to handle this. They live in another town not far from us, but we see them quite often.
- Papa Problem
Dear Problem: Tell him that if he doesn't leave you alone, you will tell your husband that he has been bothering you. And if that doesn't straighten him out, make good your threat.
Dear Abby: The boy I like a lot has a reputation for being wild, but Tony really is a cool kid, Abby. People just don't understand him. Tony was thrown out of school for kicking a substitute teacher in the cafeteria. But the kids who saw it said she was trying to stick a flower in his hair. (His hair is quite long.)
Tony's parents came to school and caused a big stink, so he is back in school on "trial" now, but my folks forbid me to have anything to do with him. They won't even let me talk to him on the phone. Abby, please help me convince my folks that Tony has learned his lesson and will not do anything wrong in the future.
- Tony's Girl
Dear Girl: People are judged on past performance - not on their future intentions. Tell Tony to start building a record of good behavior if he wants to see you.