DEAR ABBY: I have read your column for the better part of 20 years and always enjoyed it, even if I didn't always agree with your advice. The fact that it makes us think is what makes it so enjoyable.
Now I find myself writing to get an opinion on a matter that has been very hard for me. I have been married for the last 20 years to a woman who has been hard to get along with, at best. We were married because she became pregnant. I thought I was doing the right thing. Later, I found out she had stopped taking birth control pills so she could get me to marry her.
Looking back, it was not the right thing to do. I have stayed married and we have had a second child. Again, she was on the pill, and again I thought I was doing the right thing by staying around to be the father.
I removed my wedding ring 10 years ago and have been barely getting along with her while I work a lot of jobs away from the house to avoid the never-ending arguments. I don't hate her or wish anything bad for her, but I have reached the point where I can no longer stand to be around her. I have concluded that staying married for the sake of the kids and trying to be a two-parent family was the wrong thing to do.
I know the ensuing divorce will be ugly, with her constantly harassing me, but how can I help her to see that our marriage has been a train wreck in slow motion for 20 years? -- LIVING AWAY
DEAR LIVING AWAY: Your marriage was based on fraud, and a marriage with fraud as its foundation is like a house built on quicksand. As unhappy as you have been, your wife appears to have been even unhappier. She knows she tricked you into marriage and you weren't in love with her -- and she has been taking her anger out on you and herself ever since.
As you said, ending the marriage won't be pleasant -- and she will probably be punitive. Therefore, it is imperative that your children be made to understand that, regardless of what has happened with their mother, you will always be there for them. As to "helping her see," etc. -- save that effort for later, much later, when her anger has cooled to indifference.