I'm a married, heterosexual male. My wife found out a year ago that I have been cross-dressing, and she's not OK with it. She told me not to do it anymore.

I love my wife and I don't want to lose her, but this is who I am and I can't change it. I had an idea. My sister-in-law lives with us. She's a few years younger than my wife, very open-minded and liberal. I'm wondering if you think I should come out to her in the hope she can persuade my wife to let me dress up, or go behind my wife's back and help me dress up?

- Hopeless Cross-Dresser

DEAR CROSS-DRESSER: If this is who you are, you should have told your wife about your need to cross-dress before you married her. I do not think you should attempt to recruit your sister-in-law because, whatever she decides, it could damage either your marriage or their relationship. Not knowing your wife, I can't guess how amenable she would be to counseling.

Counsel on counseling

DEAR ABBY: You often give advice to readers about seeking professional counseling for challenges like the death of a loved one or substance abuse. How successful is it when they HAVE sought counseling, mainly for divorce or other serious relationship issues?

My experience is similar to those I hear about from friends who have gone to counseling with their spouse or significant other. The outcome seems to have been the same as tossing a coin: Heads it worked, tails it didn't.

After decades of reading your column, and 10 years after trying counseling to save a marriage, I'm still ...

- Skeptical in Texas

DEAR SKEPTICAL: When a loved one dies, some survivors become "stuck" in the grieving process and are unable move through it without professional help. In the case of substance abuse, addiction creates problems that affect all of the abuser's relationships. This is why I often recommend 12-step groups.

I'm sorry counseling has not helped you to heal your marriage. However, like most relationships, marriages can be "saved" only when both spouses are willing to do the work to make it happen.