DEAR ABBY: I have read your column for the better part of 20 years and always enjoyed it, even if I didn’t always agree with your advice. The fact that it makes us think is what makes it so enjoyable.
Now I find myself writing to get an opinion on a matter that has been very hard for me. I have been married for the last 20 years to a woman who has been hard to get along with, at best. We were married because she became pregnant. I thought I was doing the right thing. Later, I found out she had stopped taking birth control pills so she could get me to marry her.
Looking back, it was not the right thing to do. I have stayed married and we have had a second child. Again, she was on the pill, and again I thought I was doing the right thing by staying around to be the father.
I removed my wedding ring 10 years ago and have been barely getting along with her while I work a lot of jobs away from the house to avoid the never-ending arguments. I don’t hate her or wish anything bad for her, but I have reached the point where I can no longer stand to be around her. I have concluded that staying married for the sake of the kids and trying to be a two-parent family was the wrong thing to do.
I know the ensuing divorce will be ugly, with her constantly harassing me, but how can I help her to see that our marriage has been a train wreck in slow motion for 20 years? – LIVING AWAY
DEAR LIVING AWAY: Your marriage was based on fraud, and a marriage with fraud as its foundation is like a house built on quicksand. As unhappy as you have been, your wife appears to have been even unhappier. She knows she tricked you into marriage and you weren’t in love with her – and she has been taking her anger out on you and herself ever since.
As you said, ending the marriage won’t be pleasant – and she will probably be punitive. Therefore, it is imperative that your children be made to understand that, regardless of what has happened with their mother, you will always be there for them. As to “helping her see,” etc. – save that effort for later, much later, when her anger has cooled to indifference.
DEAR ABBY: I carpool my daughter, “Leslye,” to school with one other student. It has been helpful because Leslye needs to be taken to and from school five days a week. The problem is, Leslye does not like riding in the other mother’s car because it is filthy.
Leslye has come home with stains on her pants from sitting on melted crayons, old food, etc. She tells me that it’s OK for all trash to be thrown on the floor. It was that way all year.
Have you any suggestions on how to handle this situation next year? (I am a non-confrontational type of person.) I hope the other mom reads your column. – MARIAN IN SOUTH CAROLINA
DEAR MARIAN: And what if she doesn’t read my column? Unless you are willing to advocate for your daughter, there is nothing I can do. It would not be confrontational to tell the woman that your daughter’s clothing was soiled because of the melted crayons – or food – on the seats of her car, and that it’s time the vehicle was cleaned. It’s part of responsible parenting. If she doesn’t get the message, then it will be up to you to provide more suitable transportation to school for your daughter.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.