Dear Annie: I've been living with my boyfriend for nine years and we have a son together. Over the 14 years that we've known each other, we've had our share of problems, but it's gotten worse in the last couple of years.
Two months ago, "John" totally changed, and I found out he was being unfaithful. Of course, he denies it, but I have proof. I want to leave him, but I really have nowhere to go. So I'm just stuck here while he continues to see the other woman.
I hate being made a fool. Please tell me what you think I should do? — Miserable and Cheated On
Dear Miserable: You are not "stuck," but you do have some difficult choices to make. The first decision is whether you are better off with John or without him. You have a son together, which means John is responsible for child support. Please discuss this with a professional who can help you sort through your issues and do what is best for you and your son. Ask John to come with you, but if he isn't interested, go without him. Free and low-cost counseling is available through local churches, graduate school counseling departments, medical school psychology departments, United Way, the YMCA and the Department of Children and Family Services.
Dear Annie: I'd like to give some advice to brides-to-be. These words of wisdom come from a middle-aged woman with 30 years of marriage under her belt:
1. He will not change for you. If he grew up in a dirty house, chances are he is not a neat guy. If he's nasty to you, he will continue to be.
2. If he views porn, at some point in your marriage, it will be a problem. People who view porn will defend it, and it will not be good for you or your marriage.
3. If he likes to go out drinking with his buddies, be prepared to raise your kids alone and wait by the phone for him to call. He might lie about where he was and he may even start fights as an excuse to leave the house.
4. My husband went from his mother's couch to my apartment. His father believed that housework, laundry and cooking were women's work and my husband was the same. If he believes his job is to go to work, come home and be waited on, well, my dear, that will be your life.
5. If he is addicted to his smartphone, no amount of pleading will change that.
6. Once you have children, he will not suddenly be a helpful, kind father. If he was helpful and kind before, he will probably remain that way. If not, you will cry many tears.
7. Discuss handling the finances before you say "I do." My husband made more money than me, and always considered it to be "his money."
Please ladies, do yourself a favor and heed your inner voice. It will not fail you. I wish I had paid attention to the red flags. — Married and Lonely in Connecticut
Dear Married: Thank you for the advice - most of which is a variation on your first caveat, which is that he will not change because you marry him. All women should understand that.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Photo credit: Chris Sampson