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by Abigail Van Buren

Wife Having Second Thoughts About Her State of Separation

DEAR ABBY: My husband of 32 years, "Grady," and I have been cordially separated for more than three years. The word "divorce" has never been mentioned. He still comes to my house, uses the family computer and helps himself to my newspaper, food and drink. Grady is always here when the children come home, and we spend every holiday and birthday together as a family. I have never restricted his comings and goings. In fact, we get along better now than ever.

Recently, some suspicious behavior on his part led me to check his e-mail. He has no password (and I know I should not have snooped), but I felt I needed to know what was going on. My suspicions were confirmed when I found some correspondence between him and a woman from his distant past. He's apparently gone out with her and has written her love poems on the computer in my living room! The worst part is that he has told our children about this woman and sworn them to secrecy, but said nothing to me.

I feel used, betrayed, angry, scared and embarrassed all at the same time. Should I confront him? Or should I keep pretending I don't know? I'd appreciate any advice you can offer. -- THE LAST TO KNOW IN KOKOMO

P.S. The truth is, the idea of growing old alone frightens me.

DEAR LAST TO KNOW: Although you shouldn't have snooped, perhaps it's just as well that you did. You have been clinging to the illusion of something long gone, and at the same time, your husband has been enjoying the best of both worlds.

Speak up and clear the air. As soon as you do, everything will be out in the open and your children won't have the burden of keeping such a big secret. You and your husband are long overdue in clarifying exactly what your future is going to be -- together or apart. The status quo is unfair to you.