Dear Abby: My marriage is awful, but divorce might be worse

Man argues constantly with wife and feels trapped, and when he says he wants to leave, she accuses him of cheating and makes financial threats.

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DEAR ABBY: I am a 50-year-old man, married for 25 years. My wife is older than me. In the beginning, it was great, but our relationship slowly started failing, and now we argue about everything. I feel like I’m trapped in a cage. We don’t have one single thing in common anymore.

I want a happy life with or without her, but I see nothing but darkness around me. When I ask for divorce, I get accused of cheating and threatened with paying her spousal support for the rest of my life. Marriage counseling doesn’t seem to be an option. What should I do? — WANTS TO BE FREE IN OREGON

DEAR WANTS: If marriage counseling “isn’t an option,” it doesn’t mean you can’t get psychological counseling to help you become emotionally stronger. While you’re at it, it is important that you talk with an attorney about the divorce laws in your state. Once you have done that, you will be better able to decide if you want to “live in darkness” for the rest of your life, or what you may have to sacrifice in order to be finally free. You deserve to be happy, and frankly, so does your wife, who also appears to be miserable.

DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend of four years refuses to come clean to me about his infidelity and cheating. I’ve given him countless chances to come forward, but he always denies it. I caught him with a girl who has been following us around the whole time we’ve been together.

Abby, I have done everything I could to get him to own up, but he doesn’t! What should I have done or what can I do so my life can move forward and I won’t have to worry about what he’s doing? I’m heartbroken and he doesn’t care. — TWO-TIMED IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR TWO-TIMED: As you stated, you have been deeply hurt by your boyfriend’s dishonesty, and he “doesn’t care” about your feelings. He is who he is, and he isn’t going to change. Obviously, one woman isn’t enough for him. You have now wasted four precious years of your life — time you will never get back — on a cheater who lies consistently. Isn’t that enough? Do what you should have done years ago and MOVE ON.

DEAR ABBY: I am a fourth grade student who is, let’s say, good at math. I usually finish my math homework easily, but lately it’s been piling up. The problem is, my classmates ask me for help a lot. I enjoy helping them, but sometimes it’s hard to explain things, or I can’t find the time to get my own work done.

The teacher is usually doing a math group with other students, so my friends can’t ask her. Should I fall behind by helping my friends or focus on my own work and risk hurting their feelings? — STRESSED IN IDAHO

DEAR STRESSED: You shouldn’t be helping your friends to the exclusion of your own work. It is important for your sake and your friends’ that you discuss this with your math teacher. She needs to know she should be devoting more attention to the students outside her math group who need further instruction instead of relying on you to do it. After your work is finished, lend a hand to the other students if you wish.

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 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 $8 (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.)

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