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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Hides Her Body and Feelings From Her Husband

DEAR ABBY: I am 43, the mother of four children and just celebrated my 20th anniversary. Is it normal for someone to be married all this time and still not want your husband to see you naked?

I do not reveal myself to him. The lights must always be off, and I keep a shirt on. It's not because I am ashamed of my body; it's that I'm not attracted to him. I never was.

I married my husband for security and have learned to love him. But I love him like a brother, in a sisterly kind of way. I feel I owe him.

Should I tell my husband how I feel and risk losing my security after all this time? I had to talk to someone, so I confided in my best friend. She advised me to say nothing.

My husband had an affair a few years ago, and frankly, I was secretly relieved. Sometimes I wish he was still with her. Now that it's over, I'm back in hiding. Abby, please advise. -- HIDING IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR HIDING: What a sad situation. By marrying your husband feeling as you did, you have cheated both of you. Not only have you "not revealed" yourself physically, you have not revealed yourself emotionally or in any other way. You wish he was still with his lover because it took the pressure off you.

Your husband had an affair because instinctively he knew something important was missing in your marriage, and if you were happy you would not have written to me. What you have described is not a marriage; it is an "arrangement."

My advice is to talk to your husband about making another kind of arrangement -- one in which he supports the children and possibly makes some kind of settlement with you, while you both pursue your separate lives. Frankly, it won't be much different than what you are already experiencing.