DEAR ABBY: I have been with my husband for almost 14 years. I'm a sound sleeper, and I suspect he has been having sex with me while I'm sleeping. I have woken up without clothes on, my undergarments askew or the waistband "rolled on." I called him on it and told him I knew and that I'm not OK with it.
Weeks later, I caught him red-handed. This time I was awake, but I was so frightened that I froze! I was sexually abused as a child and raped as an adult, and now I feel like my marriage has been turned upside down. My husband denies it. He claims it's all in my head.
My friends say that for the sake of my children I should ignore it or I'll turn their lives upside down. Abby, everyone thinks my husband is a catch! I'm sure if I walk away I'll lose friends - maybe even some of my family. Please help me. I feel lost.
- Turned Upside Down in Illinois
DEAR TURNED UPSIDE DOWN: Your friends are wrong, and you should not "ignore" this. Sex without a person's consent is rape! When a husband does what you have described, it is called spousal rape.
Because he claims this is "all in your head," for your own sanity, make an appointment to discuss this with a licensed psychotherapist. With your unfortunate history, you should have spoken with someone already. Your husband is either grossly insensitive or derives pleasure from being a predator. His behavior is appalling, and you do not have to stand for it.
Counseling can help you decide whether to remain in this marriage. Regardless of what your ultimate decision may be, it will help you be emotionally resilient enough to live with your choice regardless of what your "friends" and family members may think.
Beau's history ruining special time in her life
DEAR ABBY: My fiance, "Rob," and I are pregnant. This should be an exciting time for me, but he keeps bringing up a previous relationship during which he had an unplanned child. That was 10 years ago, and the mother denied him access.
I have told Rob how much his mentioning it upsets me, and I have asked him not to do it, especially during my pregnancy. I want to feel happy and special as the woman who will be providing Rob with an actual family unit. But instead I feel like second-best and resentful.
This should be a time to focus on us and our new baby, not the child that isn't in his life or that woman and her stupid actions. Please advise me.
- Soon-to-Be Mom in Denver
DEAR MOM: You are special and you are the person who is creating a new family with Rob, but your pregnancy may be a painful reminder of the child he "lost." He may be afraid the same thing could happen again and need all the reassurance you can give him that it won't.
Because his bringing up the past relationship is hurtful, suggest he talk with a licensed mental-health professional about it. Sometimes the best way to stop grieving is to talk about it.
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.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in What Every Teen Should Know. Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)