Wife’s online relationships blossom as marriage withers

Published 9:20 am Tuesday, January 3, 2023

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DEAR ABBY: I have been married for 37 years to an alcoholic. He is not verbally or physically abusive.
I have been online talking to three men. I think one of them is obsessed with me, and they all say they love me. I know this isn’t going anywhere, but why am I doing this? I don’t know these men at all. I don’t see them in person. Two are supposedly on a ship; the other is in the Army. They don’t know where I live. I have told them I’m older than they are; I’m 66. (They are 37, 47 and 57.)
I know a person can feel alone in a marriage. That’s how I felt for years. Now I just feel like we’re roommates. I’d appreciate any insight you might have about why I’m doing this. — LIVING A SOAP OPERA

DEAR LIVING: I suspect you engage in these online relationships because you are lonely and seeking validation that you aren’t receiving from your husband. It is also probably exciting to feel you are attractive to men after living with someone who is uninterested and unresponsive for so many years. It’s sad that you have had to resort to emotional affairs to supply what is missing in your marriage.
DEAR ABBY: My brother has a debilitating illness that landed him in the hospital. While he was there, he had a birthday. I called him to say “Happy Birthday,” but kept it short because he sounded weak. The next day, I received a scathing text from my sister, fuming that my phone call wasn’t long enough. Her text concluded with, “Just remember, you are healthy and he is sick!”
I was crushed at her words, but also confused because she didn’t bother to tell me he was hospitalized until 10 days had passed. This kind of thing has gone on for years. I was the one who took care of our elderly parents when my siblings couldn’t be bothered. They didn’t even take the time to check in on my husband after he lost his sister unexpectedly.
What I am grappling with is this: Is it time to walk away? I don’t deserve the hurt they are causing. I suppose it’s the age-old question: Would I be better with or without them? Your thoughts, please. — DEEPLY WOUNDED IN WEST VIRGINIA

DEAR DEEPLY WOUNDED: This appears to be another example of the adage “no good deed goes unpunished.” Your question can be answered by simply sitting down and listing the pros and cons of continuing a relationship with your sister. If the “cons” outnumber the “pros,” you will know what to do.
DEAR ABBY: I am dating a widow. Her husband passed three years ago, but she still carries a lot of feelings for him. This weekend would have been their wedding anniversary. She has been very moody all this week. Should I give her space this weekend to deal with her emotions by herself? Or should I try to be there for her? I do not want to disrespect her or her husband’s memory. — UNCERTAIN IN TEXAS

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DEAR UNCERTAIN: Talk to her. Tell your lady friend you can see that she’s not herself. Ask if there is anything you can do to help her, and then listen. If you do, she will tell you what she needs from you, whether it’s some space or a willing ear to vent her feelings.
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.
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.)