DEAR ABBY: My parents have been married for 60 years. My father has always been physically, verbally and mentally abusive to my mother. My mother is also verbally and mentally abusive to my father.
Because of the violence, Dad is now on probation for two years. They will not divorce or live separately, but continue with their sick relationship. I know we can't help them, but what can we do to save ourselves from being drawn into it? They are both masters at drawing us into it. -- DEVASTATED ADULT CHILDREN OF CRAZY PARENTS
DEAR CHILDREN: As loving, caring children you cannot, at least on some level, avoid being drawn in to some extent. However, it may be less wrenching for you if you consider that both your parents have been getting something out of this sick relationship or it would have ended years ago.
Some people mistake pain and violence for love and passion, and your folks may fall into this category. But if their dysfunctional relationship is preventing you from enjoying your own lives, then what you should do is talk about it with a psychotherapist, because at this late date, your father and mother aren't going to change.