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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have been married nine years, but moved to my own apartment two months ago. I'm 35; my husband, "Art," is 51. Our marriage was fine until two years ago, when he became depressed over his job and we started fighting. He didn't want to do anything, including have sex, and he quit his job. I paid the bills until he started a new job, but he became depressed again. Then he started drinking. We talked, we cried and stormed. Art refused counseling and wouldn't stop drinking. Our fights were verbal, but I was afraid if I stayed they'd escalate and I'd be physically hurt. That's when I moved.

Art now has a job he likes. He has cut back on his drinking and is the sweet, loving man I married. He wants to reconcile. He says he was depressed and thinks the difference in our ages excuses the fact that I am sexual and he isn't -- and that I want to go places and do things, but he doesn't.

I am confused. I miss the "good" us. I love my husband and don't want anyone else, but I'm afraid to go back. If I give up my apartment and he gets depressed with his new job, I'll be in a situation I won't be able to get out of. On the one hand, I think we deserve another chance. On the other, I don't want to feel like I'm 100 years old when I'm only 35. Any advice would be appreciated. -- CAN'T DECIDE IN OHIO

DEAR CAN'T DECIDE: Agree to go back only after you and your husband have had at least six months of professional couples counseling. The combination of depression, drinking, your age difference and his chronic job dissatisfaction all need to be fully addressed, or your relationship will never be healed.

DEAR ABBY: My wife is addicted to her cell phone. Whenever we're out together it's impossible to converse with her because she always has one or two text conversations going on.

The first thing I hear in the morning is her phone buzzing, notifying her of an incoming text. The last thing I hear at night is her sending a good-night message to one of her friends. If no texts are coming in, she plays games on her phone even if we're watching TV or if company is over.

I have told her it's making me crazy, but she won't stop. The constant clicking drives me up the wall. I feel as though I have lost my wife to her phone. Am I being overly sensitive? What do I do? -- CLICK-CRAZY IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR CLICK-CRAZY: Your wife's behavior does appear to be obsessive. You need to figure out whether she's using her cell phone to avoid an intimate relationship with you, or whether she really has developed an addiction to the device. Because the "last thing you hear at night" isn't an affectionate comment directed to you, but rather something being "clicked" to a friend -- it may be the former.

To find out if she's addicted, offer her a challenge. Tell her you feel the cell phone is interfering with your relationship. If she denies it, suggest she stop using it. If she can't put it down for an agreed-upon period of time, persuade her in a loving way to admit she needs help. The good news is treatment is available for this kind of compulsive disorder once she has been diagnosed by a mental health professional.

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