Dear Abby: If we sell house, I can leave, but husband resists

The 34-year marriage is crumbling as the man is unkind to his spouse’s sons and practices the silent treatment, but he says he’d rather burn down the home than split the sale proceeds.

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DEAR ABBY: I’d like some advice about a family situation that has been going on for the entire 34 years of my marriage. My husband is not kind to my now-grown sons. He gives me the silent treatment for weeks over small disagreements. My eldest son visited us for my 75th birthday and, after receiving my spouse’s cold shoulder, he informed me he won’t be visiting again because of my husband’s rude behavior.

I’m looking for a part-time job so I can pay off some bills and move out. I asked years ago that we put the house up for sale, divide the funds and go our separate ways. He said he’d burn down the house before he would allow me to get a penny from the sale.

I want to keep things calm, but I want to leave in another year with some proceeds from the sale of the house. We no longer sleep together and we talk less to avoid disagreements. I don’t even want to cook for him, but I do it to avoid his negative reactions. What can I do? — REACHED MY LIMIT IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR REACHED: Quietly consult an attorney and discuss the fact that you are in a very long, unhappy and emotionally abusive marriage. Tell the attorney your husband has threatened to burn down the home you share (that’s arson) if it must be sold so you can have the half of the community property to which you are entitled.

The attorney can guide you in gathering information such as bank account numbers, credit information and investments, if there are any, so your husband will be less able to hide financial assets.

If you fear your husband might become violent, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233) for help formulating a safe exit plan, and follow the instructions you are given. It’s never too late to seek peace and happiness in your life, and I wish you luck.

DEAR ABBY: My son married a woman who has isolated him from his family and friends. We were an incredibly close family until he married her. They have a 5-year-old daughter who has been out of our lives for some time and it breaks my heart. During the times they were in our lives, we were always criticized for everything we said and did, and my son never talked to us or saw us without his wife there.

He was very close to his sister growing up but no longer has anything to do with her. I know it breaks her heart that her brother and niece are no longer in her life. A friend suggested I write a journal to hopefully show my granddaughter someday so she will know we always loved and missed her and her dad. I worry about my son no longer having his family and friends in his life, but I’m not sure what to do. — HEARTBROKEN IN OREGON

DEAR HEARTBROKEN: Your friend’s idea of keeping a journal is a good one. But don’t write in it hoping it will be seen by your granddaughter. Do it for yourself so you have an outlet into which you can pour the pain and frustration you are feeling. If you can’t be with your grandchild, consider exploring opportunities in your community to mentor needy children, which can be rewarding not only for the children, but also for yourself.

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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