Ask Amy

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Amy Dick­in­son Dear Mar­ried:

Dear Amy: I am 51 years old and my wife and I have been mar­ried for 25 years. My wife has a male col­league at work that she has been good

friends with for more than 20 years.

It has been both­er­ing me for quite some time now, that they text each other af­ter work and over the week­end.

Noth­ing has ever led me to be­lieve any­thing is go­ing on, other than friend­ship. How­ever, since it is both­er­ing me, I did some re­search and there is ev­i­dence that many “af­fairs” start out as friend­ships and that tex­ting can of­ten lead to some­thing more.

I have shared my feel­ings on three dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sions and my wife tells me there is noth­ing to worry about. If it both­ers me, shouldn’t that bother her?

He is a great guy and I don’t think any­thing is go­ing on, but I am con­cerned. Am I para­noid? — Wor­ried Hubby

Dear Wor­ried: You ad­mit to be­ing at least a lit­tle para­noid about this long-stand­ing friend­ship. The ques­tion is, why are you con­cerned about this re­la­tion­ship now? Is it be­cause the off-hours tex­ting is a new thing, or are you per­ceiv­ing changes in your re­la­tion­ship with your wife that causes you to worry?

I agree with you that if this both­ers you, it should bother your wife. It is def­i­nitely true that any­one en­gag­ing in an emo­tional af­fair would falsely re­as­sure their spouse by say­ing they had noth­ing to worry about — as your wife has done. A per­cep­tive and sen­si­tive spouse would also rec­og­nize where the in­se­cu­rity came from, and would take some very easy steps to re­move the worry.

It would be easy for your wife to let you in, and also be re­as­sur­ing, by telling you, “Oh — that text was from Jerry. He sent along a link to this hi­lar­i­ous video. Check it out. Should I tell him you say hi?”

What I’m get­ting at is that your wife could eas­ily loop you into this friend­ship just enough so that it dis­pelled your worry. If she is shar­ing per­sonal in­ti­ma­cies about your mar­riage with this friend, then that is a def­i­nite red flag.

Dear Amy: My hus­band and I have been mar­ried for 12 years. When we met, one of the qual­i­ties that at­tracted me most was his de­sire to ex­plore the coun­try and not spend for­ever liv­ing in one place.

Re­cently my hus­band ac­cepted a job that al­lows us to live any­where. This is the chance of a life­time, but while I’m re­search­ing new ar­eas to live in, he is sud­denly set on stay­ing right where we are.

We are from dif­fer­ent re­gions of the coun­try and we have al­ways lived very close to where he grew up. I have ex­pressed my de­sire to move across the coun­try for sev­eral years and he has al­ways said that he would love to go, un­til now.

Amy, I feel com­pletely de­ceived. I never had any in­ten­tion to live in this re­gion for­ever and I thought he felt the same. Sud­denly, I’m feel­ing lied to and trapped.

How do I deal with him not only go­ing back on ev­ery­thing he’s said, but also his self­ish­ness in know­ing that I don’t like liv­ing here and his re­fusal to leave? — Wan­der­ing

Dear Wan­der­ing: You don’t dis­close how deeply you have dis­cussed this is­sue with your hus­band. You also char­ac­ter­ize your hus­band’s change of heart as “ly­ing.” Did he ac­tively de­ceive you at the start of the re­la­tion­ship, or have his goals changed over time?

You two need to talk about this be­yond you sim­ply stat­ing that you want to leave and him say­ing that he wants to stay. A coun­selor will help. So will this book: “Dif­fi­cult Con­ver­sa­tions: How to Dis­cuss What Mat­ters Most,” by Dou­glas Stone, Bruce Pat­ton, and Sheila Heen(Pen­guin Books, 2010).

Dear Amy: “Not En­gaged” faced a tricky sit­u­a­tion when her girl­friend asked her mother for her hand in mar­riage, and the mother ba­si­cally hedged on of­fer­ing her per­mis­sion.

My hus­band and I faced a sim­i­lar en­gage­ment back­fire when he asked my fa­ther for my hand. My fa­ther said, “I don’t own her hand and there­fore can’t give it to you. You’ll have to ask her.”

We got mar­ried, any­way, but this was a se­ri­ous thun­der­stealer. — Hap­pily Mar­ried

Thanks, Dad. Send ques­tions via e-mail to askamy@tri­bune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tri­bune, TT500, 435 N. Michi­gan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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