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by Abigail Van Buren

Wife Who's Tired of Husband Finds What She Wants in Class

DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Howard," and I have been married five years. I'm not sure I want to be married to him anymore. I haven't told him I feel this way, but he senses "something" is wrong. I'm afraid to bring it up because he has low self-esteem and becomes defensive. He fits the profile of a co-dependent person -- and lately I feel like I'm his mother.

I love Howard dearly. He has helped me raise my son. But I can't afford to waste the rest of my life with someone who is so insecure that I can't even polish my fingernails without him saying, "Got a date?" This is no way to live, and I'm tired of it.

The twist to the story is that I attend school part time and have become friends with a man I'll call "Gary," with whom I am absolutely fascinated. Gary is attractive, smart, and knows what he wants out of life -- and has a plan to get there. (I keep asking myself, where was Gary when I was single?)

I live in a small town and can't talk to anyone about my situation. Any suggestions? -- FRUSTRATED IN WISCONSIN

DEAR FRUSTRATED: If I were you, I'd slow down and not destroy a marriage that has worked for five years. Nowhere in your letter have you indicated that Gary is interested in anything more than a casual relationship.

Your husband's self-esteem can be boosted through counseling and your emotional support. There is always going to be someone who is richer, smarter, more handsome and more aggressive. However, it doesn't guarantee the person will make you happy.