DEAR ABBY: I am really confused. I am 21 years old and I have two small children. I got pregnant and married at 17, so I haven't had much experience at life. I felt if I was woman enough to get pregnant, I was woman enough to take care of the child and raise it as best I could -- and I am doing that.
It never bothered me that I didn't have much of a teen-age life because I had been through a lot and had grown up fast. My husband, on the other hand, was not at all ready for a family. He married me, but when my baby was 8 months old he started messing around, so I left.
When I came back, things were OK -- but then he started drinking a lot and got both mentally and physically abusive. Things just seemed to get worse and worse, so I kicked him out. Then I found out I was pregnant with our second child. I didn't know what to do. He was living with some other girl and still coming to my home, making my life a living hell.
Then he told me he wanted to come back to his family -- so like a fool, I took him back. After my second child was born, I thought things were all right. But then I discovered that he was still seeing the same girl and that she had a baby. He swears it's not his; she says it is.
Now he has decided that he's finally ready to be a father and husband. I don't know what I want to do. I have held on and been through so much for him. But I don't trust him and don't know that I ever will. I don't have the same love for him that I once did.
Should I continue this relationship? Should I call it quits? Do you believe someone can change his whole way of life in only a few short months?
Please help me. I don't know what to do. -- LOST IN JACKSON, MISS.
DEAR LOST: A person can make great strides in changing his or her attitudes if there is sufficient motivation -- but considering your husband's history, I wouldn't bank on this reconciliation. Continue this relationship only on the condition that he agrees to joint marriage counseling with you, and that he make it possible for you to continue and complete your education. That way, if things do not work out, you will be able to support your children without having to depend on him. Good luck.