Dear Abby: I have a problem I can’t fix. I have been married for 54 years. For the last 20 we have slept in different bedrooms. I get no affection from my wife, and everything has to be her way. We no longer have anything in common except our children and grandchildren who, for the most part, come to me only when they need something.
Over the years, we have drifted apart, and there is no longer anything we enjoy doing together. I have told her many times that for my mental health we should part ways. She laughs and shrugs it off. Basically, to her I am a paycheck.
She thinks we don’t have a problem. Her parents lived pretty much the same way. I need someone who will sit with me when we go out to dinner, hold hands in public, have a couple of similar interests, share the same bed, etc.
I have met a woman online who seems to care and who wants to be with me. I haven’t followed through, but every time I’m verbally abused, it’s pushing me more and more toward her. Help.
— Unhappy in Pennsylvania
Dear Unhappy: Tell your wife you are making an appointment with a licensed marriage and family therapist to discuss your marital situation. It may be the wakeup call she needs to get her to quit laughing and pay attention to the fact that you are seriously unhappy. Ask her to go with you, but if she refuses, follow through and go without her. It may help you emotionally as you disengage from this marriage.
If you do end the marriage, recognize there will have to be a fair distribution of any assets that accumulated and be prepared to discuss your options with more than one lawyer. A word of caution, however: Do NOT immediately rush into a romantic relationship with someone you know only through the internet. It is crucial that you take the necessary time to detoxify and regain your balance after you exit this marriage.
Dear Abby: : My mom passed away a year and a few months ago. My parents were married for 38 years.
Dad started a whirlwind romance with a lady about nine months after Mom’s death. Their relationship lasted three months, and they were supposed to get married. She blindsided him by breaking the engagement a month before the wedding. The breakup was because she still has feelings for an ex-husband and had nothing to do with my dad.
He keeps talking to her “as a friend,” but he is miserable because he’s in love with her. Ever since the breakup, she gets nasty and criticizes him about small things. She is not even a good friend.
I want my father to be happy and find someone who will love him. But he continues to call and text this woman, even though it makes him sink deeper into depression every day. He keeps thinking she’ll take him back, but I don’t see it happening. How can I convince Daddy to cut off all contact with her?
— What’s Best for Dad in Georgia
Dear What’s Best: I’m not sure you are the person to do that. It might be better to enlist the aid of a male relative or close friend — someone who knows what has been going on. Your father might be more receptive to that message if he hears it from a contemporary. If not, he may have to learn his lesson the hard way.
Dear Readers: For those of you having trouble coping with stress and anxiety during this challenging time, Jack Drescher, M.D., respected psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and member of the American Psychoanalytic Association, contacted me offering a resource for emotional health matters related to the coronavirus crisis. For more information, go to psychologytoday.com/us/blog/psychoanalysis-unplugged-0.
— LOVE, ABBY
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.