Dear Annie:My husband and I have been together for 23 years. I love him more than life itself, and he says the same. We have two boys, 19 and 20.
Here is my problem. “Don” is a self-employed contractor, and last year, he did a job for a woman and they became friends. I told him I was not comfortable with this friendship. A year ago, I caught him sending her a very personal e-mail. I was so hurt I tried to kill myself, but he stopped me and promised he would not talk to her again. But he did it again in May. He lies to me all the time about her. He keeps promising to stop, but I just found out he is still calling her and has gone to her house twice to do small jobs.
I am so hurt. Don insists there’s no affair, but the only way I can believe him is if he swears to God he hasn’t kissed her, and he won’t. This is consuming my entire life. I am afraid to go to work, the store or anyplace without Don, because I worry he’s going to call her in my absence.
I want her out of our lives. I cannot live without Don. I am so consumed with grief that I have started to write letters to my boys explaining why I feel suicide is best. Annie, please tell me how to make my husband understand this is literally killing me. — Hurting in Troy, Mich.
Dear Troy: Your letter is a cry for help. We hope you can find the strength to get through this for your sons’ sake if not your own. They will never recover if you succeed in killing yourself. Please get into counseling immediately, with or without Don. Ask your doctor or clergyperson to refer you. A counselor will not only help you deal with your husband, but also with your fears. Suicide is not the way to resolve this. You deserve better.
Dear Annie: I have never been married, but would love to be. I have been with my boyfriend for nine years, and we have two children.
We live together, share finances, bills, everything.
We separated for nearly a year because he refused to marry me. When we got back together, he told me to give him time and maybe he’d come around.
I do love him and want to spend the rest of my life with him. He says it’s just a piece of paper, but it is important to me to have that legal title. He knew this from the beginning.
He says he wants to be with me forever, so why won’t he make it legal? Is it me?
Should I give up? — Not Marriage Material
Dear Marriage: We don’t know why your boyfriend refuses to marry you after all this time, but some men find marriage too ideologically confining. Unless you are willing to leave him, the situation is not likely to change. However, in some states, living together for nine years would constitute a common-law marriage with certain legal protections. You should check into it.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.