Question: For four years I have been in a relationship with an alcoholic. He runs me down and says things that really hurt me. I don't have any family, only my mother, who doesn't care about me. I have three children (one of them is his) who are all sad and upset all of the time. I want to get out of this relationship, but I don't have a job and only $274 a month. Where do I start? Why does he hurt me so much? I'm a nice person. Please help me--I can't take any more. I am 30; he is 45.
Answer: I'm sure you are a nice person. People who mistreat others are mean, cruel or out of control due to drugs, alcohol or mental illness. Right now it's not important why he does what he does; the important thing is for you to take care of yourself and your children by leaving so that you can get some perspective on what you can do to make a better life for all of you. No one should put up with abuse, physical or mental. Call Al-Anon, the number is in the Yellow Pages. This wonderful organization is for the families of alcoholics. They will help you to better understand what's been happening and how you can deal with this man in the future if you have to. They can also refer you to crisis centers and women's shelters while you decide what you want to do. Please let me know how you are. I care.
Q: Where is that man who wrote to you looking for unattached single women? I am available, and I agree with him that it is very, very lonely, especially around the holidays. I have been a widow for a year and have not been able to find any unattached single men. I too am very unhappy and pray to God I find a nice man who enjoys life and would like to go out and have some fun and companionship. I can't understand why this newly divorced man can't find any dates; I hear that there are four women to every man out there, and I have found this to be true. When I go out for a fun evening with some of my single girlfriends, there are nothing but women. What are lonely people to do, and where are we to go to find someone eligible?
A: Finding someone, male or female, is very individual and usually not a group activity. Meeting prospective dates can happen anywhere, but introductions through mutual friends are still the most successful, followed by meetings that take place through shared activities at work. Become involved in living a successful single life instead of putting everything on hold until Mr. Right comes along. More often than not, good things happen when we aren't looking for them.
Q: I am faced with having to make a decision about my marriage. My husband, Bob, has been involved with several other women that I know of, and I am reasonably sure he is having an affair now. I have not confronted him yet, because I don't know what I want to do about it. When Bob and I married nine years ago I was a divorcee who had been single for three years. I hated it. To go back and repeat that horrible experience would almost be worse than sticking out my husband's affairs. What is a sensible way to go about deciding what I really want?
A: You are wise to remain silent until you have sorted out your feelings. Once the affair is out in the open, emotions can cloud your reasoning and cause you to make decisions you might regret. But staying in an unsatisfactory marriage because you are afraid of being alone is not a guarantee that your roving spouse will also stay in the marriage forever. There can be many reasons for a spouse to indulge in extramarital affairs. Bob's infidelity does not necessarily mean that love is dead, but rather that you both need to honestly re-evaluate what you want from each other. The affair could be the catalyst needed to transform a drifting relationship into one that focuses on feelings and openness. If you are both willing to honestly examine your marriage, face up to your failings and work hard to revitalize your love, you can build a future together. Good luck.
Q: A year and a half ago I hired Steve to represent me in my divorce. The negotiations dragged on and on, so we were spending a lot of time together. To make a long story short, we began an affair that has been wonderful for me. It has given me back my self-confidence and made my divorce secondary--and thus much less hurtful. It looks as though a final settlement will be reached shortly, and I'm afraid that my attorney/lover will gradually slip away once our convenient reason for being together ends. I've always known that he wouldn't leave his family for me; but now that the time is approaching, I'm afraid I'm going to be hurt again.
A: Going through a divorce is an emotional experience. It can cause feelings of rejection and unworthiness. Because women so often rely on men to define their worth, they are particularly vulnerable when a relationship ends. Rather than repeat the pattern, take steps to accept yourself and build your self-esteem based on your own accomplishments. It's exhilarating to know your own worth, and it will free you to make decisions and control the course of your life in the future.