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Frightened wife tired of living a lie

DEAR ABBY: I have been deceiving my husband for a couple of months and can’t figure out how to come clean. I feel like a terrible person. We have been married 17 years, and during the first four or five we were happy. We don’t have very many disagreements, but when we do, he always wins. This is because he’s intense, intelligent and very intimidating, so I always back down.

I am so uncomfortable with him and careful about what I say that it has started to make me depressed and anxious. I’m in therapy and trying hard to speak up for myself.

The deception I speak of is that I have rented an apartment in another town and have lied to him about trips to see my sister, my daughter and my mother just so I can feel some peace, read a book, knit and just ... be. He has no idea because our finances are separate (his choice).

I’m afraid to tell my husband I want to leave him because a few years ago I expressed how unhappy I was and said I didn’t recognize this small, scared version of myself. He went from frighteningly furious to crying and begging me to stay. I felt so guilty that I stayed. He knows I’m unhappy. He even knows his quiet, underlying rage scares me. His pitiful begging me to stay makes me feel like a bad person.

I feel so much better when I’m away from him, but I’m terrified about how he’ll react when I say I want to leave for good. I know that when I do gather the courage, I’ll likely lose everything we have together. Please advise me. – Facing the Truth

DEAR FACING: The time to talk to an attorney is now, well in advance of taking any action. Doing so will help you to determine exactly what kind of financial hit you may suffer if you follow through with your plan to leave. Because your finances are separate, it may not be as bad as you fear.

Because you are fearful for your safety, you should also contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233 (thehotline.org). The people there can help you to formulate a safe escape plan.

DEAR ABBY: My significant other loves to play video games. I believe he has become addicted. I don’t know how to tell him enough is enough. I would love to be heard and noticed by him, but he is too infatuated with his video games. I have even participated in his hobby with him. Am I the “bad guy” for wanting quality time? What can I do? – Losing the Game in Maryland

DEAR LOSING: There is nothing wrong with playing video games – unless it becomes an obsession. Tell your significant other that if he wants your relationship to continue, he is going to have to devote more time to it. Tell him you no longer feel you are noticed or heard, and that it is hurtful. How he reacts will tell you all you need to know about whether your romance can be saved.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.