DEAR ABBY: Is it possible that people can just fall out of love with each other?

We have been married for 21 years and have three kids who are older. Over the last five years, my wife and I have stopped communicating. We don’t do anything together and have little desire to be with each other anymore.

We are good parents, but as far as being husband and wife, we have pretty much neglected each other emotionally and physically. Neither of us has strayed. We haven’t been to a marriage counselor because I just don’t love my wife anymore, and I’m not saying this to be mean. It’s just how I feel.

We have failed each other miserably as husband and wife, and she deserves better. She has been a great mom to our three kids, and I would never take that away from her.

Can people stay in a loveless marriage? We have talked it over, and we both agree there’s nothing left here for each other. I have already told her she needs to do whatever it takes to make herself happy because I can no longer be here for her emotionally or physically. — FELL OUT OF LOVE

DEAR FELL OUT OF LOVE: People sometimes remain in loveless marriages for religious or financial reasons, because they are afraid a divorce would traumatize the children, or because they are afraid of being alone.

If you and your wife agree that there is nothing left for either of you, and marriage counseling won’t fix the dysfunction in your relationship, then the logical next step would be an amicable separation or divorce.

DEAR ABBY: I have the most amazing husband. He helps with the housework, provides for us and loves me unconditionally. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear how precious I am to him.

It’s like a fairy tale. Except — we never had a formal wedding, just a courthouse ceremony with nobody there but us two.

You see, we had to get the paperwork done so I wouldn’t have to keep renewing my visa status every few months. Now we can be together in the U.S. with no issues. But I feel like we skipped an important life milestone, and a wedding would be the perfect opportunity to unite both of our families from around the world.

The problem is my husband is happy with the way things are. He refuses to spend money on a party and says, “If we ever have one, it will be when we are rich, stable, and able to afford it by ourselves.” (My parents are more than willing to pay!)

I feel like a lifelong dream was taken away from me. Your thoughts? — MISSING OUT IN VIRGINIA

DEAR MISSING OUT: My thoughts are you have a stellar husband AND your visa problem is solved. I’d say you have done quite well.

If your husband prefers to postpone the fancy celebration until you are more financially stable and foot the bill himself, you should respect him for it. I know I do.

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 http://www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)