DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I hurt so badly every time I have to ask my husband if he loves me. He always says something grim like, "I'm still here, aren't I?" But, he never says, "I love you," and I can see him looking elsewhere all the time. He gawked at every woman on the beach all summer and now we're back home his head is always turning in the shopping mall, the grocery store or anywhere we got together. It's like I am invisible, like I don't exist. I am a pretty woman by other people's accounts, and he is far from pretty. When we are at home he pays no attention: we have no conversation, there is no joking, no affection, nothing, except if it's time for sex, but even then, he is lazy and selfish. Why do I stay with him? Because we share a daughter and my parents got divorced when I was 15 and I don't want that for her. -- Dying Inside, Winnipeg
Dear Dying Inside: You could stay and keep dying inside, or, you could leave this man and live close by so you can easily share time with your daughter, then you'd be free to look for a sweet man who loves and appreciates you and doesn't behave like a boor.
Unhappy marriages don't make children happy. Silent houses, where the parents have no relationship, are lonely houses. Disrespect and tension between the mom and dad are a bad model for a child to see in a marriage. Could this be why you chose an unenthusiastic, substandard mate?
If you split and get counselling based around your taste and standards for men, you could end up choosing a warm and wonderful guy the next time who could be a great stepdad for your daughter. Her bio-father can be a plus, if he cares for her. Divorce is not always a bad idea, even for the kids involved, and the stigma is not nearly the same as it was when you were a kid.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I have been with my boyfriend for nine years. We've been rocky for the last four, trying to work things out. I recently met another man who is really good to me and there's exciting sex compared to my current boyfriend. Any suggestions? I find myself... Torn Between Two, Winnipeg
Dear Torn: This struggle has clearly been long enough for you, although you're in a strange kind of denial. You already cast the no vote on your nine-year relationship when you decided to sleep with the other guy. When enough is enough, it's best to stop rather than dabble on the side, and you are out of patience. "Stop doing more of what doesn't work" is a good motto at this point. One, or both of you, are no longer trying.
Try to ease out of this long relationship as kindly as you can by backing off this new fling, at least for a time. Using the other man as a lever to get you out of this old relationship will increase the hurt to your long-term man -- unless he's cheating too. You may also find yourself hurting once the final split happens, or you may simply feel relieved. This is not a good time for a new guy, although you did accomplish what you set out to do: you broke, or critically damaged, your attachment to the first relationship and found out you could have better sex elsewhere.
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