I've got a fantastic life. I recently relocated to Italy having built a house with my husband - a dream of more than 10 years in the making. I'm in my late 40's, have really good friends, I'm smart (well, I think so), have my health and have managed to take part of my old London job with me to my new life. But... I'm desperately lonely.

I now live out in the middle of the Italian countryside, unable to properly speak the language, although I have a good go at it, afraid to drive as I only recently passed my test, and my husband can be horribly cruel to me. He's not violent - never been violent - but he's verbally abusive and has managed to chip away any self-confidence I once had. I'm able to portray a fantastic life to everyone from the outside - that I'm truly living the dream - but the reality is I spend much of my time sitting on my own in a room, crying and wondering what the hell to do. I look at other couples - friends and people around me - where there is respect and real love and I crave that.

Part of me wants to walk away and leave him. The reason I don't is that whilst I don't like him very much right now, I do love him. We have some really wonderful times together, even after 12 years of marriage and many years of friendship before that. But the rest of the time he acts like he doen't love me. Not just that - that he actively hates me. He's so self-absorbed and it feels like he's simply not interested in how I feel, or whether he upsets me.

If I hadn't moved here with my 2 cats, I think I would have got a flight back to my old life by now. Does that sound silly? That my 2 cats are the main thing that's keeping me here? Probably.

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