DEAR ABBY: I have been married for 25 years. My husband, "Frank," and I have four children. Over the years our relationship became rocky -- almost toxic. Frank is an alcoholic, verbally abusive and a manipulator. (I admit I'm no angel, either.)
Eight months ago, I had an affair with a former boyfriend I dated before I was married, and we got caught. Frank planted a tape recorder in my car, hacked my phone and read my texts on his phone. He threw me out of the house, my belongings placed in black garbage bags.
My boyfriend has divorced his wife, moved here and has made a life and a future for us. He has sacrificed a lot for me, and I feel bad that I'm thinking about going back to Frank. I miss my home and family.
Frank begs me to return every day. He claims he has stopped drinking and changed his ways. He wants us to go to counseling and promises to be a better husband if I give him another chance.
I'm scared, but a little piece of me wants to see if it's true. I have heard stories about how men can't change, that it will be worse if I go home and I'll be in a sort of jail and have no freedom. Please help me. -- IN PAIN IN ILLINOIS
DEAR IN PAIN: If "a little piece" of you wants to reunite with your husband, then level with your lover. Your marriage may or may not be able to be repaired. However, if you're willing to try, understand it will take hard work on the part of both you and Frank, and the help of a marriage counselor -- if Frank can maintain his sobriety.
You say you are worried you will lose your freedom if you go back. It is important you recognize that trust takes a long time to be rebuilt, that the attempt at reconciliation is a gamble, and whether your marriage can survive the mess the two of you have made of it isn't assured.