Dear Cheryl: When we met, I was a little girl, 13 turning 14, and he was 16 and on his way to the Marines. I truly loved him. He was my everything. We had two kids and were living together after I was put out by my mother because she said she'd rather die than have a bunch of babies in her house.
There was nothing to do but "put a ring on it." I thought getting married was the right thing to do. We had a third child.
Now our three kids are 16, 14 and 9. I'm in a loveless marriage. We have no sex, no communication. We often sleep in separate rooms, and we're still in our 30s!
I feel nothing but anger, not only toward him but also myself. On my wedding day, I loved him, but I knew he was not my everything. I feel nothing but regret for getting involved so young.
When I complain about our relationship, he says I'm bitter, impatient, stubborn and evil. I'm sure he's having an affair. Maybe I'll have an affair, too, and get divorced. If I'm lucky, he'll leave, but he claims he has no place to go. — I'm Too Young to Feel This Old
Dear Too Young: You can't marry your "everything." You have to be your everything.
It's time to take control of your life, probably for the first time. You can't live the rest of your life this unhappy, hoping another man will come along and rescue you. You tried that once. It didn't work then, and it won't work the next time.
You have options. I know you don't think so now, but you do. The first thing you have to do is make yourself financially independent. That probably means going back to school. If you never graduated high school, you need to get your GED. If you have a diploma, then you need to get the skills necessary to get a real job with a real future.
I'm not saying this is easy with three kids, but it's possible. Millions of other women in your situation — and worse — have done it. What kind of a support system do you have? Relatives? Friends? Church? Community? You're going to have to reach out and find the help you need. Your older kids need to pitch in.
You need to believe you can create a better life for yourself. You need to turn all that anger and regret into action. If you don't take charge, you're allowing the bad choices you made when you were very young to ruin the rest of your life.
When you get discouraged, contact me. I'll be your cheerleader. Stay in touch!
Dear Cheryl: I recently left my boyfriend because he was texting another woman. He said he didn't cheat on me. I want to be with him again, but he says he just wants to be friends "for now." Should I wait for him or move on? I believe he's the one I should be with. I do love him, but I feel like he's stringing me along. — Yo-Yo
Dear Yo-Yo: The reason you feel he's stringing you along is because he is. He's with another woman. He just wants to keep you in the picture in case it doesn't work out with her. He's not "the one." If he were, he'd be with you, and he's not. Move on and don't look back.
Got a problem or a question? Send your tale, along with your questions, problems and rants to [email protected] And check out my e-books, "Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front" and "I'll Call You. Not."