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by Abigail Van Buren

Advancing Age Changes Man in Ways That Surprise Him

DEAR ABBY: I met and married my husband 20 years ago. Twelve years ago, we had a child. Since then, I have felt like a single parent.

I think things were always this way, but I didn't notice as much until we had a child. My husband has a good heart, and I know he loves us, but he rarely spends time with us. He works long hours in retail and chooses to spend his off hours with others and without us. He loves people and is quite a social butterfly.

He can go days without speaking to us, and is content most nights with kissing our daughter goodnight after she has already gone to sleep. He makes plans and decisions on his own -- without me -- including about money matters.

Am I overreacting when I complain? I'm contemplating a divorce because I need more than a part-timer for a mate. -- LONELY MARRIED MOM

DEAR MOM: Overreacting? Frankly, I am surprised that it has taken you this long to write to me. The person you married appears to be totally detached and more of a roommate than a husband. That he goes for days without speaking to you and your child is emotional cruelty.

Spouses are supposed to socialize together -- at least most of the time -- and make financial decisions together. The only positive you've mentioned is that he's the family's bread-winner.

That you are contemplating divorce isn't surprising. Your husband left you behind emotionally more than a decade ago. Consult an attorney and familiarize yourself with as much financial information as possible before making any announcements.