Posted: Tuesday, December 2, 2008 9:27 pm
Dear Annie: My wife and I are both 67 and recently retired. During my career I became quite friendly with “Mary,” a co-worker. We developed crushes on each other and things escalated. What began with innocent lunches became daily flirtations and an eventual affair. I was very careful and my wife never found out.
Now that we’re retired, I’m getting the uneasy feeling that my wife has become suspicious. Recently I saw Mary at the retirement party of another co-worker. She expected me to set up one of our “lunch” dates, but I explained that our relationship was over. I told her my wife seems less trustful of me than ever before in our 46 years of marriage. I’ve seen a change come over her that hurts me, so I told Mary there would be no more lunches, no more e-mails, nothing. She seemed devastated and confused. I explained it had to end because I realize now how much my marriage means to me.
Since I’m fairly positive my wife knows nothing of Mary, what possible purpose would it serve to tell her now? I’ve ended it permanently. Am I a coward for not coming clean? I fear the outcome if I confess. — Now What?
Dear Now What: If you have broken it off completely, it’s time to show your wife some devotion. Be attentive and appreciative. Give her no reason to doubt you.
You don’t have to bring up the affair, but if your wife should question you directly, you must tell her the truth. Lying on top of the betrayal would be more than she could forgive.
Dear Annie: I am of the “old school” and unable to accept the sexual freedom of today.
When unmarried family members who live together come to visit, how do I kindly let them know I do not want them to sleep together in my home? I don’t want to be the bad guy. I realize I am being judgmental by not condoning this behavior, so how do I conduct myself without being forced to compromise my morals? — Troubled Grandmother
Dear Troubled: People who have been living together for many years have a common-law marriage that is often legally recognized, and you are not compromising your morals by acknowledging this arrangement. However, it’s your home and you can set the rules. It’s perfectly OK to issue separate bedrooms, and if a couple objects, say you are sorry you cannot accommodate their preferences. Those who are unwilling to accept your hospitality are welcome to stay elsewhere.
Dear Annie: “Tired of Being The Giving Tree” said her 21-year-old son gives her low priority when it comes to holidays.
In our extended family gatherings, one grandmother has insisted on hosting everyone in her home on Christmas Day. If our adult children cannot come or choose to go elsewhere, she makes sure we know how unhappy she is. She uses temper tantrums and public chastising to manipulate all of us. Christmas becomes unpleasant and a day to be endured rather than enjoyed.
The other grandparents choose to schedule Christmas whenever most of their children and grandchildren can make it. It can be the day before or a few days later, but it is a happily anticipated gathering. We all carve out the time to see each other, bring a Crock-Pot of soup and share Christmas cookies. Their warm and welcoming attitude takes the pressure off.
Perhaps “Tired” could make plans whenever it works instead of expecting a certain day. She should involve her son’s girlfriend and even go to their home to celebrate. And hopefully she will keep giving Christmas gifts to her son as an expression of her love and not a reflection of how much he loves her. Someday he may be facing a similar situation and hers will be a lesson he will remember. — D.
Dear D.: Thanks for the sensible advice. We hope “Tired” will try it.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 12.2.08