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Dear Abby: After almost 20 years, husband moves out but says he’ll be back

Reader wonders whether to move on as the man insists they’re just ‘taking a break.’

DEAR ABBY: I was happily married for almost 20 years. Suddenly my husband became withdrawn, obviously unhappy, and moved out. He keeps telling me we are going to spend the rest of our lives together, that we aren’t divorced, just “taking a break.”

Although I had a great relationship with his family, they no longer speak to me. My family still treats him the same. He has a friend who is always whispering in his ear about how terrible I am. My husband denies it, but I have seen the text messages. As far as I know, I haven’t done anything to this friend.

Between my husband’s paydays, I help him out financially. We’re both close to retirement age because we married late, and we still have a teenager at home. Do I wait for him to come around, or move on with my life? I still love him, but I’m feeling used. — DISILLUSIONED IN THE SOUTH

DEAR DISILLUSIONED: You are not only being used, but also being lied to. In addition, your in-laws’ behavior is emotionally abusive. (Could they have been told things about you that aren’t true?) Offer your husband the option of marriage and family therapy and a chance to repair what went wrong. However, if he refuses, quit being so accommodating, close your checkbook and move on with your life.

DEAR ABBY: Last year, after a falling out with someone I have been friends with for more than 20 years, I was OK with writing this person off and going on with my life. From my understanding, this person felt the same way.

Last week, their teenage son died in a terrible accident. I was heartbroken. I truly cared about the boy and had watched him grow up. I reached out and received no response (as I expected).

I’m torn about whether I should go to the funeral and how it would be perceived. I want to show support, but I’m concerned I’m not wanted there. I’m also concerned that if I don’t go it will look awful and disrespectful, since I have been a part of this boy’s life. I don’t know what to do. — CARED FOR HIM IN OHIO

DEAR CARED FOR HIM: You may not have heard from the family because they are grieving and not communicating with everyone. As I see it, you have several choices: Send a condolence card, send flowers, contribute to a charity in the young man’s name and/or go unobtrusively to the funeral and sit in the back. If, however, you decide to do this, do not go with any expectation it will heal the breach in your relationship.

DEAR ABBY: After an invitation to visit, how long can I stay before I’m imposing? — TOO LONG IN NEW MEXICO

DEAR TOO LONG: It depends upon the relationship you have with the person who invited you. Usually, when an invitation is extended, it is for a specified time period — a week, a weekend, etc.

Two truisms apply here: “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days” (Benjamin Franklin), and “One of the most important things that Hollywood teaches is to always leave your audience hungry for a little more” (Howard Bragman).

P.S. When in doubt, ask!

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.)