DEAR ABBY: I'm a married, heterosexual male. My wife found out a year ago that I have been cross-dressing, and she's not OK with it. She told me not to do it anymore.
I love my wife and I don't want to lose her, but this is who I am and I can't change it. I had an idea. My sister-in-law lives with us. She's a few years younger than my wife, very open-minded and liberal. I'm wondering if you think I should come out to her in the hope she can persuade my wife to let me dress up, or go behind my wife's back and help me dress up?
The downside would be that I'd have to go into her room and try on her clothes. She probably wouldn't be pleased about that. Also, she has such a close bond with my wife that she might tell her and refuse to help me. Any ideas, Abby? -- HOPELESS CROSS-DRESSER
DEAR CROSS-DRESSER: If this is who you are, you should have told your wife about your need to cross-dress before you married her. I do not think you should attempt to recruit your sister-in-law because, whatever she decides, it could damage either your marriage or their relationship.
Not knowing your wife, I can't guess how amenable she would be to counseling. Some women don't mind accommodating their husbands and enjoy helping them cross-dress. However, if your wife can't adjust, you will have to ask yourself whether you can continue in this marriage.
DEAR ABBY: You often give advice to readers about seeking professional counseling for challenges like the death of a loved one or substance abuse. How successful is it when they have sought counseling, mainly for divorce or other serious relationship issues?
My experience is similar to those I hear about from friends who have gone to counseling with their spouse or significant other. The outcome seems to have been the same as tossing a coin: Heads it worked, tails it didn't.
After decades of reading your column, and 10 years after trying counseling to save a marriage, I'm still ... SKEPTICAL IN TEXAS
DEAR SKEPTICAL: When a loved one dies, some survivors become "stuck" in the grieving process and are unable move through it without professional help. In the case of substance abuse, addiction creates problems that affect all of the abuser's relationships. This is why I often recommend 12-step groups. While the abuser may be in denial, those around him/her can find help for themselves, reassurance that they are not suffering alone and skills to help them cope.
I'm sorry counseling has not helped you to heal your marriage. With a troubled marriage, a counselor can often facilitate broader communication than couples can achieve on their own. However, like most relationships, marriages can be "saved" only when both spouses are willing to do the work to make it happen. When I advise readers to seek counseling, it's usually because I feel they need more ongoing support than I can offer in a letter.