Dear Annie: My husband works for a large mental health agency and five years ago had a two-year affair with a fellow employee. I found their illicit emails three years ago.
Even though my husband and I are still together, I am broken and cannot heal. I pray and I strive and nothing works. It is the most painful and devastating experience of my life, and I wonder whether it has ruined me. I was a happy, cheerful woman before this, and everyone who knew me marveled at my good humor and vivacity. Not anymore.
Please tell people to get divorced before having an affair. Otherwise, commit to your marriage and make it work. Infidelity is excruciating, and if you care at all for your partner, please, please have compassion and don’t cheat.
-- Broken in Omaha
Dear Broken: Not being able to trust your partner is one of the most damaging elements of an affair and can impede attempts to reconcile. Your husband must be consistently transparent in all of his dealings, without complaint, for as long as it takes. This is a difficult process, and a trained professional can help guide you.
Please ask your doctor or clergyperson to refer you to a marriage counselor, or contact the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy at aamft.org. While it would be best if your husband went with you, go alone if he refuses.
Dear Annie: I am a well-educated retired business executive with upper middle-class resources. My wife passed away two years ago after 62 years of marriage.
I met a remarkable woman who has many of the same endearing qualities as my late wife. “Beatrice” is twice widowed. Both of her husbands were quite wealthy, leaving her with substantial resources, a magnificent home, a large portfolio of income properties and several second homes around the world.
Beatrice and I have fallen in love and are considering marriage. My concern is, with my more modest resources and income, I cannot offer her a single thing she doesn’t already have, nor can I lavish on her the kind of things her previous husbands provided. Can this inequality of resources stand the test of time? Or am I going to find myself feeling grossly inadequate and not measuring up to her expectations? How do I handle this?
-- Uncertain in Love
Dear Uncertain: How you feel is up to you. Money matters should be discussed before marriage, especially if you believe Beatrice’s expectations are not realistic. We assume she knows her income is greater than yours. It doesn’t seem to bother her. Perhaps she would rather give than receive. If it would make you feel better to put a prenup in place to protect her assets, by all means, see an attorney. But please stop focusing on the disparity in income and concentrate on those factors that make you compatible and loving toward each other. Otherwise, you risk ruining what you have by worrying about what you don’t.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Offended Wife,” whose husband was receiving pornographic pictures from his father.
I had a similar situation when I started to receive inappropriate emails from my boss with pictures of partially or totally naked women, often as part of a supposedly funny joke. I ignored them.
Six months later, he retired, and within a year, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Maybe “Offended’s” husband should look at his father’s other behavior to see whether this could be what’s going on and, if so, get Dad to a doctor.
-- Been There
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