DEAR ABBY: Nine months ago, my wife, "Marie," left to go shopping and never came back. She took off leaving me and our three sons, ages 12, 14 and 16, without a word. We had been married 25 years.
We had no contact for the first three months, and she has not helped support the kids in any way. She told no one -- including her family -- that she had left. Friends would see me in public and ask where she was.
Marie has recently started talking about coming home, but I have mixed feelings. I asked why she left. She said she was unhappy and tired of living a lie. What lie? Marie refuses to elaborate.
Two of our sons don't want her back. They felt abandoned when she disappeared. My other son says he doesn't care whether she comes back or not as long as she leaves him alone. I keep remembering the quote, "A house divided cannot stand," and I wonder about us. Please advise me. -- LOST IN THE BIG CITY
DEAR LOST: Under the circumstances, I'd say the feelings you and the boys are experiencing are normal. However, all of you need to come to terms with why your wife and their mother walked out so abruptly. Before she returns, it is important that you understand why she felt that leaving the way she did was her only option.
It will take time for her relationship with the boys to be repaired and for the two of you to rebuild trust. This is not to say that your "house divided" cannot be rehabilitated and even made more storm-proof than before. But don't kid yourselves: It will take work on the part of everyone.