DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I hate my husband. He has cheated on me all our married lives, from the first six months on. I can't leave him because I have no education and no job. I work in my husband's store because he lets me. He says that way I'm "earning my keep." Our children all hate this stingy man, too, and won't come around to see us. I sneak to see them as my husband says that are "ingrates." I have not had sex with my husband since the birth of our youngest son. He won't divorce me because he's a "good Catholic." I live like his servant, cook his meals, iron his shirts. I am still pretty and not old. Life stretches long in front of me. My kids left as early as they could. I don't want to live another 40-50 years like this. What else can I do? I only have Grade 11. -- Broken Woman, Winnipeg
Dear Broken: You're really asking how you could leave your husband and survive. You have many skills from homemaking and bringing up children and from working in a store with your husband. Working in a store, with commission, would be a good bet for you. Since you are experienced at housekeeping, you could join a cleaning company, work with a team of other women, keep your own money and live independently. You've done lots of cooking and serving meals, and could get a job doing the same in a smaller café graduating to bigger places, with more money in tips. You say that you're pretty and if you know how to put on makeup or are willing to learn you could get a small business going with a company like Avon. The point is you're living on next to no money for yourself, nor do you have love, respect, company or happiness. It is time to look for ways to answer the question that should be phrased this way in your head: "How will I support myself when I leave my husband." Even social assistance would be better than living this cold life with a man you hate. If any readers have experience or suggestions on leaving a marriage with no job and part of high school, write in with your help.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I burned my girlfriend's expensive clothes and boots in a big barrel in the back yard after she left. It made lots of smoke. Now she tells me she has contacted a lawyer to sue me for $5,000. The clothes weren't worth that, except for maybe the fur coat, but she never wore it, so that doesn't count. My brother says I should pay up the money and keep the law off my back. I'm mad enough to get my own lawyer. What do you think? -- Ready To Fight This, Rural Manitoba
Dear Ready to Fight: Your brother is a practical man. What you did was illegal and you will likely be found guilty and have to pay her and a lawyer. What argument could you possibly offer for burning someone's possessions? Being mad and hurt over the end of a relationship doesn't give you permission to commit a crime. In this country you're allowed to break up. You should see a lawyer to find out own much trouble you're in -- and what the penalties will be when you lose. That might convince you of the wisdom of settling out of court as fast as you can.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I wrote my female boss a love letter when I'd had too much to drink and it was late at night and then I walked over to the mailbox across the street and mailed the sucker at 2 a.m. The letter arrived at her house this last week. She called me in and handed me the letter back and said "I'm sure you didn't mean this now get back to work and don't let me hear any more of this nonsense again." Basically she let me keep my job. Now I feel I love her even more. She is the best women who ever walked the face of the Earth. Do you think she'd start seeing me if I left for another company? It's uncomfortable here now for me, but this is a great job. I do have a little drinking problem, I'm guessing, since I often get snapped from drinking while I watch TV certain nights. OK, five nights a week. I go out with my buddies the other two. Please help. -- Lonely Guy, Winnipeg
Dear Lonely Guy: Keep the good job you have now, get help for the drinking problem -- seven days a week is a big problem -- and start looking for a comparable job somewhere else. Your boss is a good person, but things have to be a bit uncomfortable for her after this declaration of love. She seems like the kind of no-nonsense person who could let this blow over if you're a good employee, but there's still your feelings to consider. Her generosity has just made you want her more. So, start on a long-term plan to get a job elsewhere. Then find a new lady to transfer your attentions to, as the boss is really not interested, just kind. She'd probably appreciate it if you came in smelling of soap, instead of last night's booze.
Questions or comments? Write Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Wpg, R2X 3B6, or email firstname.lastname@example.org