DEAR ABBY: My husband of 32 years, “Grady,” and I have been cordially separated for more than three years. The word “divorce” has never been mentioned. He still comes to my house, uses the family computer and helps himself to my newspaper, food and drink. Grady is always here when the children come home, and we spend every holiday and birthday together as a family. I have never restricted his comings and goings. In fact, we get along better now than ever.

Recently, some suspicious behavior on his part led me to check his e-mail. He has no password (and I know I should not have snooped), but I felt I needed to know what was going on. My suspicions were confirmed when I found some correspondence between him and a woman from his distant past. He’s apparently gone out with her and has written her love poems on the computer in my living room! The worst part is that he has told our children about this woman and sworn them to secrecy, but said nothing to me.

I feel used, betrayed, angry, scared and embarrassed all at the same time. Should I confront him? Or should I keep pretending I don’t know? I’d appreciate any advice you can offer. – THE LAST TO KNOW IN KOKOMO

P.S. The truth is, the idea of growing old alone frightens me.

Although you shouldn’t have snooped, perhaps it’s just as well that you did. You have been clinging to the illusion of something long gone, and at the same time, your husband has been enjoying the best of both worlds.

Speak up and clear the air. As soon as you do, everything will be out in the open and your children won’t have the burden of keeping such a big secret. You and your husband are long overdue in clarifying exactly what your future is going to be — together or apart. The status quo is unfair to you.

DEAR ABBY: I think my husband, “Vinnie,” is having an affair. For the past 11 months, he has refused to have sex with me. He has even called me by another woman’s name in his sleep.

Vinnie drives a company car and has picked up a co- worker, “Rita,” every morning for the past three years. He says his boss demands that he drive her to and from work.

In the past year when we’ve been out with his co- workers’ friends, they say to me, “Oh, you must be Rita.” It makes me feel like a total idiot. Vinnie makes light of this and says I am being insecure and paranoid.

I caught Vinnie in an affair several years ago — pants down. He said it was because he was drunk. He apologized and stopped drinking, but has recently started imbibing again. I might understand Vinnie wandering if I had let myself go, but I weigh the same as the day we were married. I have been faithful and I serve him a hot meal every night.

Abby, I have invested a lot in our relationship and am reluctant to chuck it all. However, I am at my wit’s end and am tempted to let him go and see a lawyer. What’s your advice? – SMELLING THE COFFEE IN NORTH CAROLINA

Perhaps it’s time to really get to know the man you married. You need facts instead of innuendo and suspicion. One way to accomplish this would be to hire a private investigator to keep tabs on Vinnie for a month. After that, you’ll know whether your marriage is worth saving.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: “Abby’s Favorite Recipes” and “More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby.” Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $10 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby — Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447.

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