DEAR ABBY: I have been married for four years, and I consider myself a good wife. I take extra care of my husband when he's sick or in pain. I cook for him and clean the house. I practically wait on him hand and foot.
But during the last two years, he has changed in ways that make me feel suspicious and angry. He spends a lot of time with his ex-wife. He buys her roses, chocolates, candy and jewelry. He's never bought me anything like that at all. He quit being intimate with me two years ago. That's when he started his five-hour visits with his ex-wife.
I have had this nagging suspicion that something more is going on between him and his ex. I can't ask him if he's cheating on me. He has a very short fuse. He yells, swears and threatens me. I lost my sense of being assertive after our first year of marriage.
If he doesn't love me, why won't he tell me? Whatever's going on with him has put a terrible strain on my heart. Abby, please help! -– CONFUSED IN SACRAMENTO
DEAR CONFUSED: The relationship you are describing between yourself and your husband is not a marriage; it's indentured servitude. You have been such a good cook, nurse and housekeeper -- and completely nonassertive since the first year of your marriage -- that he doesn't want to lose those services.
When a man sees a woman regularly, and buys her candy, flowers and jewelry, it's safe to assume that something is up. After two years, you have already tolerated more than many women would. Bite the bullet and ask him what's going on with his ex-wife. If he gets ugly again, be ready with an ultimatum, and have his bags packed when you do it.