Dear Miss Emily:

Just last night, after visiting family, my husband says to me in front of our 16yr old son, that a friend of ours told him her sister in-law would be a better match for him. We have had a lot of troubles in the past, and they haven't stopped now. I should give you a little history on us. Here it goes... married young at 19yrs old, had two kids, 11 months apart who are now 15 and 16. Affair with his best friend 9yrs ago, as he seemed to care about me more than my husband. Then, I recently got a cancerous kidney removed and I am only 34. I guess I just don't know what to do anymore. Oh, and his job takes him out of town 90% of the year so there is no chance for counseling, and in the last 3yrs he has lost weight, while I have gained it. The problems are endless, please help!

----------------Miss Emily's advice--------------

I know if I suggested counseling for you, that might go nowhere, because it would have seemed like the obvious choice at some point in this unhappy life of yours.  You are only 34, and you probably feel as if you have lived two lifetimes, in the course of one that hasn't been half lived.  I would suspect that one major problem with your marriage is your husband's absence but, with the history, it's  probably more an added aggravation than the cause. You have two children, and they are a priority, I am sure.  However, they are not clueless when it comes to their knowledge of your marital discord, and if you ever divorce, it would not be a huge shock to them.  No child likes divorce, but few want their parents to remain miserable. But this is not the course you should take, just yet (if you ever do).  My suggestion?  I would reinvent myself.  No, I don't mean dressing differently, taking up a martini habit, or reading lofty literature, but change your attitude to fit a new approach to the way you hope to live your life in the future.  Avoid internalizing comments like the one your husband said in front of your son.  It was a remark to get a reaction from you, I assume, but it was tasteless and rude, and not something your son should have heard.  Get involved with an outside activity where you meet new people who have your interests, if you are not already doing so.  It could be volunteer work, a book club, or anything that you can call your own. Go back to school and get a college degree if you don't have one and, if you do, take classes, anyway.  Knowledge is power.  Start looking at yourself as your own best friend. Demand respect and, by doing this, you avoid confrontation and being baited.  Join a diet group, or get on one of those plans you see advertised.  Once your husband sees that you are no longer entrenched in old patterns of behavior, he might back-off.  You have been with this man since you were nineteen, and you knew from the day you had your affair with his best friend that it was probably a mistake. And if it was a mistake, made when you were too young to know better. you don't have to live it for the rest of your life.