DEAR ABBY

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Thursday, June 16, 2005

Dear Abby:

My husband, "Gene," and I met a week before my 13th birthday. Gene had always been a poor student and preferred a job making money to learning. (He never learned to read past kindergarten level; therefore he doesn't write well.)

We moved into our own home in 1999. We both wanted children, and our daughter was born in 2001. Our relationship was great -- until we had someone else to care for. Because Gene was brought up old-fashioned, he decided I was to stay at home and care for the house and kids while he worked and provided for us.

Things got physical not long after our daughter arrived. We'd argue and I'd try to leave, only to result in my being choked. Or he'd throw me against a wall to prevent me from calling 911. One time, he broke my nose. He was never violent toward the children -- I had a son in 2004 -- only toward me because of them. He said I never did things right or I took up for them.

I left for good six weeks ago. I have left many times before, but went back because of dependency. This time I have a lot of support, plus I'm enlisting in the Air Force. My father served in the military for 21 years, and is quitting his truck-driving job to care for my children while I attend basic training and tech school. Gene knows I'm not coming back this time. We're on speaking terms only because of the children.

Abby, I find myself wondering if, after my six years in the service, I should try to reconcile with Gene. On some level, I know it wouldn't work and it's wrong to even think about going back to that life after being given a chance for a better one. But then, I picture Gene with us in that better life. Would it be a slap in the face if, in the end, Gene and I worked out our differences and forgot about the past?

Needs Answers in Mississippi

It could be a slap in the face; it could also be a broken jaw, another broken bone -- the possibilities are endless. Although your husband "wasn't violent toward the children," by failing to control his rage he exposed them to violence. Nowhere in your letter did you mention that he has any desire to change. Because your 4-year-old daughter knows no different, she thinks her daddy's behavior is normal. It is urgent that she learn it is not normal, and it's your job to teach her that lesson by example.

You are making positive strides in the right direction. My advice is to keep marching forward and don't look back.


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