DEAR ABBY: I am 43, the mother of four children and just celebrated my 20th anniversary. Is it normal for someone to be married all this time and still not want your husband to see you naked?
I do not reveal myself to him. The lights must always be off, and I keep a shirt on. It's not because I am ashamed of my body; it's that I'm not attracted to him. I never was.
I married my husband for security and have learned to love him. But I love him like a brother, in a sisterly kind of way. I feel I owe him.
Should I tell my husband how I feel and risk losing my security after all this time? I had to talk to someone, so I confided in my best friend. She advised me to say nothing.
My husband had an affair a few years ago, and frankly, I was secretly relieved. Sometimes I wish he was still with her. Now that it's over, I'm back in hiding. Abby, please advise. -- HIDING IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR HIDING: What a sad situation. By marrying your husband feeling as you did, you have cheated both of you. Not only have you "not revealed" yourself physically, you have not revealed yourself emotionally or in any other way. You wish he was still with his lover because it took the pressure off you.
Your husband had an affair because instinctively he knew something important was missing in your marriage, and if you were happy you would not have written to me. What you have described is not a marriage; it is an "arrangement."
My advice is to talk to your husband about making another kind of arrangement -- one in which he supports the children and possibly makes some kind of settlement with you, while you both pursue your separate lives. Frankly, it won't be much different than what you are already experiencing.
DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend, "Will," recently let it slip that he thinks I'm less intelligent than he is. He said if we were to take an IQ test, he would score higher. I felt hurt and angry when he said it, especially because he truly believes it. He said the same thing to me five years ago.
Now I find myself feeling extremely defensive. I am in the top third of my law school class but did poorly in engineering school. In contrast, Will has a Ph.D. in engineering.
Will assures me that being less intelligent doesn't diminish me, but I'm still upset. Now I'm thinking of ending the relationship. Do you think I'm being overly sensitive? -- AVERAGE IN MARYLAND
DEAR MARYLAND: Please allow me to enlighten you about something. Being in the top third of your class in law school already makes you above average, so please stop allowing your boyfriend's egotistical comment to undermine your self-esteem.
Will may or may not have a higher IQ than you, but he is lacking in social intelligence and common sense. His superior attitude is obnoxious. Whether you keep him or dump him is up to you, but recognize that no one has everything. While Will may be brilliant in one area, he is deficient when it comes to sensitivity. Ask yourself why he needed to say what he did to you, and you may find that he's using his air of intellectual superiority to mask a lack of self-esteem.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.)