DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I have been together for five years, and friends for eight. We share a daughter, who is a toddler. I have a son with my abusive ex as well. Although we are financially stable, we qualify as low-income. (I am the breadwinner.)
My boyfriend had a hard home life and was a troubled youth growing up. He has a criminal history, which is why my family opposed our relationship. He's a wonderful father and has changed his life, but we have experienced many hardships because of his past. Because of a phone call from my ex, the state picked up his most recent charge from four years ago, and he is now facing prison time for a crime he did not commit.
We are both devastated. He has become withdrawn and is now at a paranoid level of distrusting. I know he has every right to be upset. But after six months of urging him to seek professional help and fearing he regrets being with me, I'm wondering if I'm doing myself a disservice by not seeking happiness elsewhere. I know I should be there for him because he needs me. But he won't make future plans or seek better job opportunities because of his fear of prison time. What should I do? -- IN A CORNER IN WISCONSIN
DEAR IN A CORNER: You are in a difficult situation, but don't cut and run just yet. Advise your boyfriend that reclaiming his future may require the help of a criminal defense attorney. Then help him find one who will take his case and defend him if the need arises. And while you are at it, maintain as much distance as you can from your vindictive ex.