Ask Amy: Lives with abuse, loves another man

May 12, 2012

DEAR AMY: I am a married woman who has been in love with another man for nine years.

My husband is abusive, and everyone knows it. My boyfriend thinks I am divorced. He lives in another state. He knew my husband and was glad when I told him I had left him.

We are both 55. I am so tired of the lies. My kids don’t know; my friends don’t know. I have no one to talk to. I talked to a therapist at one point, but he had more problems than I did.

I am so happy when I am with my lover; he is so kind and fun. I know marriage changes people, and he would probably be just like every other spouse if we got together.

I really want to be alone and happy.

I am afraid of my husband. He is very violent, but my family is here, and I don’t want to hurt anyone by leaving.

Doing this is against my upbringing, and it tears me up — but I don't want to stop seeing my other guy. Now he wants a commitment.

In my marriage, there is no emotion, no love, no fun, no laughing. I cry a lot, alone, at night. Please help me. -- Lost in New York

DEAR LOST: Despite your previous experience with therapy, I believe you need professional help to sort through your choices, depression, despair and general world view.

If your husband is abusive and violent, your first task should be to get yourself and your children away from him — safely. You cannot make rational choices about your future while you are wrapped up in this abusive relationship.

It takes courage, support and a sure strategy to leave. Talk to a counselor at the National Domestic Violence Hotline who I assure you will not share his or her own problems and will help you develop a plan: 800-799-SAFE (7233). The organization’s helpful Web site address is thehotline.org.

I'm not sure why you have been lying to this other man. Presumably it is because you feel you should have left your marriage long ago. You need to come clean with him; if he is a true friend, he will also try to help you.

DEAR AMY: I am a landscape contractor, and when I go to many of my customers’ houses, if they have dogs there is usually dog poop all over the lawn.

I really do not want to drive over it or walk through it, as I find it disgusting. I have asked people to pick it up as politely as I can, to no avail.

I have even lost accounts because I’ve asked customers to clean their yards before mowing and am wondering if seeing this in your column would help. -- Lawn Man in Connecticut

DEAR LAWN MAN: My first instinct is that this is a service you could successfully charge customers for. Call it something cute like “pooperscooping.” Arm a kid with plastic gloves and bags, and pay your young worker to scoop the lawn before you mow.

If you deposit the bag with its leavings discreetly near the client's garbage can, the client can see the size of the problem — and your service.

I ran my idea past Lisa Schaumann, spokeswoman for PLANET, the Professional Landcare Network, who polled a couple of the group’s members (landcarenetwork.org).

“They stressed that a good relationship with clients is key. If your clients trust and respect you, they will work with you on this,” Schaumann said.

“It is also vital that you stick to your schedule. If clients can count on you to be there when you say you will, they can try to time their dogs’ activities accordingly.”

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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