Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Lonely Man Ready to Make Music With Bluegrass Fan

DEAR ABBY: I have been married for 21 years, and the past eight or 10 of them haven't been good. I have tried to get my wife to go camping, out to dinner or to bluegrass concerts we both love. I can't convince her to do any of these things with me. But when her sister calls wanting her to go somewhere, she's gone and stays out all day.

About two years ago I started going out alone to clubs that feature bluegrass music on Fridays and Saturdays. I met a wonderful lady at one of them and we have gotten close. I have told her I love her. We have a lot in common, and she cares for me, too. I have not been unfaithful to my wife (yet), but I don't know how much more I can handle. I am lonely and miserable.

Abby, I don't know what to do. Please advise before I do something stupid. I'm an avid reader of your column and I trust your advice. -- TEMPTED DOWN SOUTH

DEAR TEMPTED: Marriage is like a garden. If it isn't tended and fertilized occasionally, it withers. It appears you and your wife stopped communicating not long after your 10th anniversary.

Sneaking around is not the answer to your problem. It's unfair to your wife and to the woman you say you love. So man up and offer your wife the option of intensive marriage counseling -- if you want to save your marriage and your assets, that is. But do not pursue the extramarital relationship until and unless you are free to do so.