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by Abigail Van Buren

Marriage to Slovenly Wife Brings Man Close to Tears

DEAR ABBY: I have been married 40 years, and it's just the two of us. I work full time and make a good living. We have a large house in a great neighborhood.

My problem is my wife. She hasn't worked throughout almost all of our marriage and has to be the laziest person I know. We haven't slept in the same bed for 20 years. She weighs 300 pounds and is always going to diet, but never really does.

She sleeps in her own bedroom with a huge walk-in closet piled up to the top shelf with nice items she refuses to put away. She also has a separate bathroom and living room.

Her section of the house is a pigsty. It stinks to high heaven because she never gets around to cleaning it. The kitchen is worse. She never cooks a meal. Either I do it after cleaning up, or I live off TV dinners.

When it comes to our finances, we're up to our eyeballs in debt. She spends money like it grows on trees. If I ask a simple question, her replies are mean and sarcastic. I would have gotten a divorce a long time ago if I could afford one.

I'm a reasonably good-looking guy. I could have had an affair ages ago, but I wasn't brought up that way. Don't bother saying she should get counseling. According to her, she has no problems.

I am so tired of living the way I do, I could just cry if I thought it would do any good. What do you think? -- BUMMED OUT IN SAN DIEGO

DEAR BUMMED OUT: If your wife is happy living this way, she may be right. She isn't the person with the problem -- you are.

Although she may not be open to counseling, you should have some to help you understand why you have tolerated this one-sided arrangement for 20 years. You say you may not be able to afford a divorce, but if what's driving you to the poorhouse is your free-spending spouse, it would also be in your interest to consult an attorney to find out if it's possible to break that cycle.

Read more in: Marriage & Divorce