Dear Abby: As my long marriage falters, my mistress offers an escape

Man considers the price of an ugly divorce and the burden he someday might put on the younger woman he’d like to marry.

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DEAR ABBY: I met my wife in college. We have been married for 40 years and have two adult sons. My wife had a brief affair early in our marriage, but we have long since moved on from that. However, increasingly over the last 15 years, my wife (career homemaker, her choice) has been aggressively making demands in exchange for anything she does for me — i.e., if I don’t buy her something, she won’t cook dinner, do laundry or have sex.

I buy her things all the time, and I give her an allowance, roughly 70% of my take-home pay. Some of her demands I simply cannot afford, so I often cook, clean, etc., myself. As a result, we haven’t had sex in more than 10 years.

Two years ago, I met a younger woman. She is also married, although separated. She still shares a home with her husband and their two children. We meet as often as we can and I find her delightful and easy to get along with. Lately, she has been saying she wants us to leave our situations and get married.

My concern is twofold. First, when my wife gets angry, she threatens to divorce me and take everything I’ve got, even if it costs her everything as well. She does not bluff. Second, my girlfriend is so much younger than I am that I’m concerned that while things are great now, I’ll be an elderly man in the not too distant future and could be a burden to her. What are your thoughts? — AT A CROSSROADS

DEAR “CROSSROADS”: From what you have written, it appears your marriage has essentially been over for many years. If the only thing keeping you in this unhappy marriage is fear, contact an attorney to discuss what a divorce would cost you financially. Whether you should then “rescue” this delightful, much younger woman from her unhappy marriage is a separate issue.

Because you are older, are you physically and emotionally ready and able to help her raise her children? Is she aware that, in addition to her children, she might also at some point have to become YOUR caregiver? Please do not jump from the frying pan into the fire. These are important questions that may take some time to resolve.

DEAR ABBY: A few months after I returned to work from maternity leave, a co-worker mentioned that our boss’s father had died while I was away. How should I handle this? My boss hasn’t said anything about it. I’d feel weird expressing my sympathies verbally six months later. Should I just leave a card on his desk?

To further complicate matters, my boss’s younger brother has started working at the company. Would I get him a card too? I have only known him a couple of months, as compared to my boss of almost 10 years. — UNSURE IN GEORGIA

DEAR UNSURE: Whether it’s with a card or a simple note, it would be thoughtful to tell your boss you were informed by a co-worker that his father had passed away during your maternity leave, and you would like to express your sympathy. You could send a card addressed to his home without it being disruptive at the business.

As to what to do about expressing your sympathy to his brother — in light of the fact that you have known him only a short time, offer condolences verbally if the opportunity presents itself.

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.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: “Abby’s Favorite Recipes” and “More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $16 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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