DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: My ignorant husband checks out the booty of every good-looking woman he sees when we are out at Safeway, our only social outings together. He does this because he hates leaving his couch in the locked study with his TV, games and porn, and he knows how much this hurts and upsets me. After a trip to the mall, I will leave him alone for the next week or so. I realize he has manipulated me into being a "single" mother under his roof, but what can I do? The problem is I need him. We have five kids together and he brings home good money. He also loves the kids and is quite willing to take them to their sports. He just doesn't want to go out with me anywhere. OK, I will admit I gained about 15 to 20 pounds with each kid and weigh upwards of 250 pounds and I'm not that tall. But it can't be that. I wasn't skinny when I met him. Do you think he's ashamed of me? -- Defeated Wife and Mother, Winnipeg
Dear Defeated: The only person you can change is you, so let's start with your side of the marriage problems -- you feel loneliness, isolation, disrespect, and loss of romance with your husband. Plus, you're 100 pounds overweight and in line for an early heart attack. The weight is one of two big things you can control right now, so do it for your kids -- they need their mom. Make a reasonable 150 your goal and don't go it alone. Consider a program like Weight Watchers with its sensible eating programs and sympathetic supporting groups. Secondly, stop asking your husband to go to anywhere with you. Get groceries delivered to your door, and eliminate the rubbernecking punishment he metes out. Just sit back and enjoy the money he brings in for you and the kids, and consciously expand your friendships to include buddies for walking, seeing movies and shopping. Your friends don't all have to be women. (I'm not suggesting you cheat.) Your husband will notice after seeing six weeks of steady weight loss and your new social independence that his power is gone, and his wife is drifting. He will complain, but don't change back. When he sees you continue, he will become worried. That's when you finally have the upper hand and the leverage to get him into marriage counselling and perhaps help for his screens addiction.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I have a man down at the lake. He lives there year round. We only get to see each other a little bit during the winter when he comes in for business meetings. This has been a long, cold winter. It broke the back of my lousy marriage last week. My husband has moved out. The problem is the guy at the lake is married. Will I lose him, now I am free to be with him and he feels pressure? -- Worried Sick About This, Winnipeg
Dear Worried: If two married people are cheating together, it generally works better than one married and one single person. In this case, you as the newly separated person, may get a lot of trouble from your ex, or unexpected promises to make big changes. Your married lover at the lake may have felt comfortable having his wife as friend/co-parent and you as the clandestine lover. Do you really want him to leave his wife? If so, you might as well ask now if he has any intentions of doing that. Before you do that, think about what you'll do if he says "Yes, I'll leave her." You may be surprised at your own reaction.