DEAR ABBY: Last night I was having trouble accessing the Internet on my computer and wanted to see if my wife's laptop was having the same problem. When I opened her computer, I found she had left open an e-mail from a family friend, and my name caught my eye.
The letter was about how much he and she loved each other, and what they should do about it because they didn't want to hurt me.
I didn't read any further, and I haven't mentioned to my wife that I saw it. I can understand what's behind it -- I'm almost 40 and I've gained a lot of weight in recent years. I have never been a great husband, and my wife has made it clear she doesn't feel the same way about me as she once did. The man who wrote to her is a really nice person, and I trust both of them enough that I doubt there is anything physical going on. They're just trying to deal with their emotions. Complicating things, my wife and I have an 8-year-old daughter.
What should I do? I want my wife to be happy, and maybe she'd be happier with him than with me. I know she wouldn't want to hurt me, so I'd rather not let her know how badly this has wounded me because it would make her feel awful. Counseling is pretty much out of the question, because she would not be comfortable with that.
I feel like all I can do is find a way to get out of the picture and let her go on with her life, but I hate the thought of being away from her and our daughter because I love them both very much.
Do I have any options here, or am I as trapped as I feel? -- DEVASTATED IN SANTA MONICA
DEAR DEVASTATED: Let me get this straight. Your wife is having an affair, definitely emotional and possibly physical, and you don't want to confront her because you're afraid it might hurt HER? She has "made it clear" she doesn't feel the same way about you that she once did, and you're afraid that marriage counseling might make HER uncomfortable?
Sir, it's time to get your head straight -- and the quickest way to do it is counseling for yourself to discover where you left your self-esteem. Before you make any decisions about the future of your marriage, it is vital that you get some therapy. Sneaking away is not the answer; the answer is putting your house in order.