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Direct Answers - Column for the week of February 3, 2003

I need some advice, please! I've been married to the same man for 11 years. He's a nice person when he's not drinking. However that isn't very often.

He drinks on a daily basis. Sometimes it's four beers, sometimes it's 12 or more. He drinks alone and then gets verbally abusive. He tells me I could never make it without him. I would have to live in a cardboard box. He calls me names, then tells me he loves me and will never let me leave.

He had a terrible childhood. He was adopted and his dad left his mom for another woman. He hasn't gotten over his anger, but he won't seek any type of help. He denies there is a problem. My husband saves most of the good stuff for me, but he's verbally abusive to our two children as well.

I've been to Al-Anon and talked to counselors. I tried to draw him back into the family, but he keeps pushing us away. I feel it's best to separate from him. Maybe the realization will make him take control. It's sad when your children wake up in the morning and ask, "Is Dad in a better mood, or do we need to be careful?"

Esme

Esme, your kids are living in a crazy, unpredictable environment. Walking on eggshells is affecting their development, and it will damage their future.

Their emotions are cycling between fear, bewilderment, anger and embarrassment. Children raised in this environment often become people pleasers who judge themselves harshly and have a hard time following through on projects. They likely will have difficulty disclosing their feelings to others, and they likely will live with a constant feeling of dread.

You have no power to change your husband's behavior. Only he can change it, and if he ever changes, he will do it for his own sake. Until he is tired of being controlled by anger and alcohol, he will not change.

At present he can be abusive and drunk and still maintain his home and family. He has no incentive to change. There are no consequences for continuing as he is, and there is no reason to assume a separation will make him take control. If he changes, it may be long after you leave.

Your highest duty is to your children. They have done nothing to deserve living in this kind of home. Your next duty is to yourself. You can't live a normal life with this man. There is one more duty. That is the duty your husband owes to himself not to waste his chance at life. But that is a duty only he can fulfill.

Proceed with your decision to leave, and take steps to ensure your safety and that of your children.

Wayne

Sexual Histories

I've been dating a lady for about a week. We really click. A few days ago we were talking about personal problems, and she told me she had herpes.

I am in my 30s and have never met anyone with herpes. I was married for two years, but before I was married I was a virgin and very na´ve about sexual things. I don't know if I should avoid sexual contact with her or just walk away.

Manny

Manny, you have a serious decision to make. Unless and until you see this lady as a life partner, avoid sexual contact. Otherwise, if things don't work out, her situation could become your own.

We suggest sitting down with a physician or other health professional to discuss exactly what this can mean for your future. There is no reason to be embarrassed. Simply explain to them what you explained to us.

The reason to go to a medical source first is you will not only get an authoritative answer, but you will have laid the groundwork for future treatment if you decide to proceed.

Tamara

About The Author

Authors and columnists Wayne and Tamara Mitchell can be reached at www.WayneAndTamara.com" target="_new">www.WayneAndTamara.com.

Send letters to: Direct Answers, PO Box 964, Springfield, MO 65801 or email: DirectAnswers@WayneAndTamara.com.


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