DEAR ABBY: I have a problem I can't fix. I have been married for 54 years. For the last 20 we have slept in different bedrooms. I get no affection from my wife, and everything has to be her way. We no longer have anything in common except our children and grandchildren who, for the most part, come to me only when they need something.
Over the years, we have drifted apart, and there is no longer anything we enjoy doing together. I have told her many times that for my mental health we should part ways. She laughs and shrugs it off. Basically, to her I am a paycheck.
She thinks we don't have a problem. Her parents lived pretty much the same way. I need someone who will sit with me when we go out to dinner, hold hands in public, have a couple of similar interests, share the same bed, etc.
I have met a woman online who seems to care and who wants to be with me. I haven't followed through, but every time I'm verbally abused, it's pushing me more and more toward her. Help. -- UNHAPPY IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR UNHAPPY: Tell your wife you are making an appointment with a licensed marriage and family therapist to discuss your marital situation. It may be the wakeup call she needs to get her to quit laughing and pay attention to the fact that you are seriously unhappy. Ask her to go with you, but if she refuses, follow through and go without her. It may help you emotionally as you disengage from this marriage.
If you do end the marriage, recognize there will have to be a fair distribution of any assets that accumulated and be prepared to discuss your options with more than one lawyer. A word of caution, however: Do NOT immediately rush into a romantic relationship with someone you know only through the internet. It is crucial that you take the necessary time to detoxify and regain your balance after you exit this marriage.