Q: In the beginning of our marriage there was physical abuse and marital rape. I stayed anyway. Over the years we had two children. My husband, “Seth,” and I don’t communicate because he has refused to talk about any issues we have. During the last few years, my youngest son has also become physically abusive to me.
I tried to leave many times but failed until last December when, because I had a heart attack, I finally moved in with family. I did it for the sake of my health and my sanity.
Seth now wants to talk about our issues. He suggested that I come back home. He has several medical problems, so I was taking care of all the household chores and working two jobs. My children will not help with the chores unless I scream and yell for hours.
I no longer love my husband. He wants to romance me and try to make me love him again. He is also very controlling. He feels I “owe” him a chance to prove that he loves me and can change. Am I wrong for leaving and letting go? I’m very confused. — Letting Go in Florida
A: You owe this man absolutely nothing! If you allow Seth the chance to romance you into coming back to take care of him, you will wind up exactly where you started.
Your son abuses you because that is what he saw his father doing, and you allowed it. If you stand your ground now, it will show your son that abuse is not to be tolerated. I hope you will teach him that lesson because it is an important one for him to learn.
Q: Four months ago my wife started wearing more makeup and perfume and trying new things with her hair. It began after she was promoted to store manager. Recently, I found out that someone has been flirting with her. (She would never have told me on her own.)
Our sex life has decreased more and more over the last few months. She barely speaks to me now and spends most of her time on Facebook. She refuses to discuss our relationship, and I suspect she may be looking for someone new or has already found him.
I just don’t get it. I love her. We have been married for nine years. Please help me to understand. — Feeling Lonely
A: Your wife may not want to discuss your relationship, but sometimes it’s the things people least want to talk about that most need to be. If you haven’t already, tell your wife you have noticed the changes in her behavior and in your level of intimacy, and you miss it. Tell her you love her and feel your marriage is threatened.
If she still doesn’t want to discuss your relationship, tell her it’s time the two of you go see a marriage and family therapist together. What you were told may be no more than a flirtation, but if it’s more than that, it’s better you know sooner rather than later. I hope your wife will agree, but if she doesn’t, then for your own sake, get some counseling without her.
Q: Do you field more questions from unmarried couples living together than from married couples? I can only judge from what is printed. — Inquisitive in Virginia
A: That’s an interesting question. Frankly, I have never broken down the letters into categories like “married” or “cohabiting.” Many people live together before marriage today but eventually progress to formalizing their relationship. Others do not. Married or not, their relationship questions interest me, or I wouldn’t print them.
Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.