Dear Annie: For 37 years, I’ve been married to a sociopath.
When “Robert” and I met, he was sweet, charming and thoughtful. His father was an alcoholic, mean physically and emotionally. Robert said he never wanted to be like that. When our first child was born, he was a good father. But when I was pregnant with our second child, things changed. He cheated on me. When I had the child and was released from the hospital, I waited for three hours for him to come pick me up and meet his new daughter. He never came. He was out with another woman.
I was going to leave, but he sought forgiveness. Being in a deep depression, I agreed. In the years since, he’s cheated on me many more times.
I went back to work. Robert got off work at an early hour and was supposed to pick up the kids from day care. But he wouldn’t. He often went out all night “fishing,” yet he never caught any fish.
When the kids became teenagers, he started abusing them verbally. My two elder children and I eventually ended up in therapy, where we learned to deal with this man. Now they are in their 30s, and they still bear emotional scars from things he did or said. Robert has always refused counseling, by the way. He will not discuss his moods with the family doctor. He thinks the problem is everyone but him.
I became disabled a few years ago. We have a younger child, a 16-year-old, and my main concern right now is protecting him. Robert is technically still my husband but is never around; he calls just to make sure I’m taking care of his stuff. He will be 59 1/2 in a few months, and he’s planning on taking the money in his 401(k) and leaving us all.
Robert and I have properties. He promised that each child would be added to the deed of one place. I also need his medical insurance, and I feel that I am entitled to half of everything plus child support and maybe even spousal support. But I cannot get the money to retain a good lawyer. How do I leave this man and not be a pauper so I can protect my minor child? — Desperately Need Help
Dear Desperately: The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides assistance to victims of abuse, whether physical or emotional. The people there can refer you to resources in your state. Call them at 800-799-7233 today so you can begin safely planning for a new life that doesn’t include your abuser.
Dear Annie: I have a solution for “Free Bird,” the man who wants to be clothes-free but whose wife does not want to attend nudist events.
He said he researches nudist locations online. If he found all-male events, he could satisfy his joy of being naked outside, and his wife would be satisfied that his joy is not being around naked women. — Linda
Dear Linda: I like your idea. It’s a simple, practical way for “Free Bird” to find a like-minded flock without ruffling his wife’s feathers. Thanks for writing.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.