Dear Amy: My wife and I have been together for eight years, but have been growing apart. Recently, I met a woman and started seeing her. The affair lasted for three months.a My wife found out and was obviously hurt by it. She said that she forgives me, and we both acknowledged our issues and wrong actions. We agreed to stay together and move forward.
My wife doesn’t want me to have any contact with the other woman (which is reasonable), but she drove an hour and a half to confront the woman and ask her questions about our relationship — at the woman’s workplace. My wife even took a picture with the other woman to prove that she had visited her.
I was very upset about this. I have not had any contact with this other woman, respecting our agreement.
My wife has lied and tried to hide things from me in the past. At this point, neither of us can trust the other. I do not think either of us is happy in our marriage. We have tried to have honest, open communication but when I talk she gets hurt and doesn’t want to listen. When she talks at me for two hours straight, I am expected to sit through it and listen.
We have “discussions” almost daily. The most recent of these was at 4:30 a.m. because I fell asleep on the couch watching a football game and did not respond to her text (which I did not see).
A family member told me the other woman was not the answer, but he couldn’t think of a single reason I should stay with my wife.
I’m confused about what to do next.
— Unhappy Husband
Dear Unhappy: You and your wife are conducting a kind of marital guerilla warfare. Your choice to have an affair is hostile and cowardly. Granted, infidelity can make a person behave irrationally, but your wife’s choice to pay a call to your affair partner is a menacing payback. And insisting on a “discussion” at 4:30 a.m. is what interrogators do when they want to “break” a prisoner.
Two qualities successful married couples must possess are open communication, and the ability to fight fair. This is especially important when the relationship is in trouble.
It sounds as if you two are merely trading off hectoring and punishing each other. Every time you do this, it weakens the already shaky foundation of your relationship.
A guided, structured conversation might help both of you to at least inject some clarity into this mess. This conversation should take place in the office of a qualified professional marriage counselor.
Many couples pursue counseling and emerge from the experience with a decision to part ways. This might be the case with you and your wife.
Dear Amy: I am a young woman on staff at a small nonprofit organization focused on elementary school children. Our executive director, a much older man, is very nice and well-intentioned, but continues to make inappropriate clothing choices for his body type. He is single and lives alone, so has no one at home to tell him that his shirts are much too small and that the bottom of his rotund belly is constantly exposed. This makes everyone on our board and staff visibly uncomfortable.
Our staff has discussed the issue, and one colleague already informed him that he needs to be wearing different shirts around our young visitors.
Unfortunately, the advice did not stick and he has returned to wearing the same old ill-fitting shirts around town and to work events. I feel my approaching him would embarrass him, more so than if one of my older or perhaps male colleagues took him aside. Is there a good way for one of us to gently suggest he go shopping for clothing that fits?
— Don’t Look Down
Dear Don’t Look Down: You and your co-workers have tried to handle this, and have been unsuccessful. Now it should be taken to the board. The executive director should be notified in writing that his wardrobe malfunctions are having an impact on the organization’s effectiveness. Living alone is not much of an excuse for dressing unprofessionally.
Dear Amy: I was horrified by the question from “Not Really Stepdad,” who was considering having a sexual relationship with his live-in girlfriend’s 18-year-old daughter.
Thank you for calling him out as a creep and a predator. He needs to be stopped.
Dear Horrified: I wondered if this man’s bid for “advice” was sincere, but I certainly hope he decides to leave this teenager alone.