Couple’s marriage has become a partnership of convenience

Published 9:13 am Monday, November 28, 2022

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DEAR ABBY: Although my husband and I are no longer in a romantic relationship, we are what I call “life partners.” After cancer left him impotent, he rejected any physical affection at all. I had an extramarital affair which lasted four years. My boyfriend passed away last year. I have no desire to be physically involved with my husband, but I do miss being affectionate and in a romantic (not necessarily sexual) relationship.
I feel empty, and I’m not sure if we should be considering divorce or continue in our day-to-day routine of being socially close but otherwise distant. We no longer share the same bedroom and we touch each other rarely. He has recently become more verbally and emotionally abusive during arguments, which may be the result of his recently reconnecting with his felon brother who had assaulted his wife. I’m not sure what direction to go. — HOPELESS IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR HOPELESS: The relationship you have described with your husband is not a “marriage” in the traditional sense. Ask your husband, in as nonconfrontational a way as possible, if he would like to remain married to you or be divorced. Explain clearly to him what your needs are and ask if he is willing or able to fulfill them. I cannot imagine why you would want to stay in a relationship that is becoming increasingly abusive. Consult a divorce lawyer and take your guidance from them about how to protect your interests BEFORE speaking to your husband, to ensure he doesn’t try to hide his (and your) assets.
DEAR ABBY: I took a job and relocated to another state. My wife chose to stay behind so our kids could finish school in the hometown they grew up in. For the last 20 months, we have gone back and forth from the state I work in to our hometown. I suspect she’s unhappy with the idea of relocating, even though it’s a place worth investing in and offers a quality of life to our family that doesn’t exist in many other places.
Much of my time is spent appeasing her, especially when there is conflict between our teenage kids at home. We have been actively looking at schools in my new city, but there is never any resolution to our relocation issue. Advice? — LONG-DISTANCE HUSBAND/DAD

DEAR LONG-DISTANCE: I wish you had mentioned whether your wife works outside the home. Does she have a career she doesn’t want to leave? If the answer is no, continue looking for schools in the new community. Then contact a real estate agent to help you find a suitable place for your family to live. Once you have narrowed it down to a few, invite your wife to look at them with you and choose what she thinks would be most suitable.
At that point, if she doesn’t want to make the move, she should say so, which will free you to decide whether to sacrifice what you envision for your family’s future, continue having a long-distance marriage or return to the town you left so you can all be together.
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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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