DEAR ABBY: I have been married for 16 years, but after the birth of my first child, our marriage went downhill. My husband withdrew and went out with friends often. When my brother was in the hospital, I traveled three hours with my newborn baby to visit him. My husband drove up separately, stayed a few hours, then left to go to a concert with a female friend.
Our sex life dwindled down to nothing, and I felt like we were roommates. I became depressed and started having manic episodes. I'm on medication now and taking care of myself. I have always resented my husband for this. We have two kids now, and I'm afraid if I leave him it will hurt the children. I tried three different marriage counselors with him, but he wasn't interested.
I now spend my time doing everything with the kids and focusing on my well-being. I met an old high school acquaintance on Facebook, and our friendship has turned romantic. I don't see him often, but when I do, I want to be with him always. We are both scared of what could happen. I love him so much. He is kind, sweet and caring. Do I wait until the kids are 18 to leave? -- READY FOR CHANGE IN THE EAST
DEAR READY: Make an appointment to talk with an attorney. When you do, be sure to ask what kind of financial information you may need to ensure you get a fair settlement should you decide to end this charade of a marriage.
Once you have the information, tell your husband that the status quo isn't good enough for you and offer him one more chance at marriage counseling. If he refuses -- and he probably will -- proceed with setting yourself free.
Raising children in the atmosphere you have described may be more damaging than getting a divorce. A warning, however: Once you become available on a full-time basis, your lover may not be ready or willing to become your knight in shining armor. Be prepared to fend for yourself, just in case.