DEAR ABBY: I have been married 14 years and have two children. The first three years of marriage were great. We both cared for and respected each other. As our children grew older and our jobs have become more demanding, my husband has changed about how he views our sex life.
After our third year of marriage, my husband started raping me. No one knows this except an ex-sister-in-law.
At first, I didn't understand what was really happening. He was forceful and wouldn't take no for an answer. I went along with it at first, thinking I wasn't giving him enough attention and was doing the "wifely duty." But over the years it has become worse -- ripping my clothing off and holding me down.
I have told him it's not OK, but if I speak up, it leads to a fight. He says I don't show him I care for him and we don't have sex enough, so this is his way of getting it.
Abby, I have lost respect for the man I married. I no longer want to be intimate with him, because he doesn't respect me or my body. The only reason I have stayed this long is for my children. Is there hope in him changing? -- SLEEPING ON THE COUCH
DEAR SLEEPING ON THE COUCH: Ripping a spouse's clothing off and holding her (or him) down is not foreplay; it is spousal rape and a form of domestic abuse. It is a crime in all 50 states. The level of hostility in your home isn't healthy for you or your children, who may grow up thinking it is normal.
Because your husband may become violent if you tell him the marriage is over, contact RAINN -- (800) 656-4673; rainn.org -- and let them help you form a safe escape plan. It is not normal for a man to treat a woman the way your husband has. He is unlikely to change, and you need to look out for yourself and the children.
DEAR ABBY: My wife is in her 30s. She's a beautiful woman and a wonderful mother to our three children, and my soul mate. We've been married 10 years. She has many qualities I love and admire, but also one that causes me serious concern: her slouchy posture. She slouched a little when we married, but her posture has worsened dramatically since then.
We have spent thousands of dollars on personal trainers, massage and chiropractic. When we (infrequently) quarrel, she unconsciously slouches more, which drives me crazy. She's willing to see professional medical practitioners, but is unwilling to accept any responsibility for it. I can't bring it up without her getting bristly and defensive, but it's getting worse every year. It's also taking a toll on our relationship. I'd appreciate any advice you could share. -- DESPERATE FOR STRAIGHT TALK
DEAR DESPERATE: If your wife's posture is the only thing about her that causes you "serious concern," you are a lucky man. Believe me when I tell you I have been told far worse.
Correcting one's posture takes constant vigilance and determination. It's not easy, and not everyone is able to manage it. Slouching is a defensive posture, and if she slouches even more when you raise the subject, it may have something to do with the way you're doing it.