Given Up is the mother of two handicapped children. Her husband doesn't spend quality time with them, hounds her for sex, snoops through her things and won't turn the thermostat above 65 degrees. He didn't even want to take her to the hospital after she fell and was covered in bruises and in pain.
I told her, "No one has to live this way."
I must say, readers were far harder on her than I was ...
LILA: We have a word in America that is very helpful: no. Walk yourself over to the thermostat and push that sucker up to 80 degrees. Lock up your purse and diary. Change the passwords. You're a doormat! Leave if you need to. Otherwise woman up and give the gander his due.
MOLLY: Not to throw cold water on a woman who's already cold, but can they afford a divorce? If her husband can't afford to heat his house, it's unlikely he can afford child support for handicapped kids.
Get some backbone and stand up for your rights within the marriage. Tell him no means no! If he wants some loving, he needs to act in a loving fashion. Sit him down and go over the financial situation together. If the wolf is really at the door, as in many families, they should decide together how to best proceed. If they simply need to budget what they have, they should do that together.
YALE: It's possible that the husband anticipates some financial problems, possibly because of having two handicapped children who may need special equipment or other services.
And I have a little sympathy for him worrying about taking her to the hospital because "a fall" can set off alarms that he may be a physically abusive mate.
(And now Sandy accuses her of making everything up!)
SANDY: This letter could have been written by my former friend before she abandoned her husband and handicapped daughter to run off with a new boyfriend. Before she left, she started a slander campaign against her husband.
According to her, it wasn't her fault she maxed out the credit cards on clothes for herself; it was his fault for trying to economize and pay off those credit cards. It wasn't her fault she was a hypochondriac; it was his fault for not taking time off work to drive her to the hospital every time she thought she was dying of whatever.
Then it wasn't her fault for staying out to all hours without explanation; it was his fault for being suspicious. It wasn't her fault she was such a hottie that all the men wanted sex with her.
I could have understood if she had just left her husband, but she abandoned her daughter, too. Her husband gave her unlimited visitation, but in 10 years, she's only visited the girl twice. The one time she took my call, I asked her about it and she said, "I have a new life now, and I want all new people in it."
I believe she made up complaints about her husband as an excuse to abandon the daughter she was tired of caring for.
What kinds of compromises do you make to keep peace in your relationship? 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."