DEAR ABBY: My wife of 17 years just told me out of the blue that she doesn't love me anymore and hasn't for some time. To say that this came as a shock is an understatement. We've had our disagreements, but we always worked through them, or so I thought.
Because she has felt this way for some time now, she has hardly shed a tear. For me, my heart is broken. I feel lost, confused, angry, depressed and I can't stop crying.
I wish I could die, but we have children and I know I can't leave them. We made a pact years ago that if we ever fell out of love we'd stay together for the kids until they were grown. Now I don't know if it was a lie or if she'll keep her promise.
I'm writing this at midnight, crying in the dark and alone. I still love her and my heart breaks every time I think about it. Please tell me what to do.
- Devastated in Tempe, Ariz.
DEAR DEVASTATED: I am sorry for the pain you are feeling. What you must do now is pull yourself together and find out from your wife when it was that the two of you stopped communicating honestly with each other - because it seems your paths diverged some time ago. She owes you honest answers, and you need to hear them.
After that, you may have to decide whether you still want her to honor that long-ago promise to stay together until your children are adults. You might find it helpful to stage some of these conversations in the office of a licensed marriage and family counselor. Having a mediator present could make it easier for both of you.
While I can't promise that counseling will save your marriage, it may provide you with the emotional support you will need in the weeks and months ahead.
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.