Posted: Monday, April 5, 2010 8:03 pm
Dear Annie: I am a 64-year-old woman, and my husband is 65. We have been together for 45 years. Until recently, I thought we had the perfect marriage. However, when he became seriously ill and believed he might die, he confessed to an affair 30 years ago. He was traveling on business and had drinks with a woman who wanted to see the company apartment, and, well, one thing led to another. Apparently, it happened again two nights later. He said he broke it off then because he didn’t want to cheat on his wife and feared losing me along with his family.
Of course, this blew me away, and I had all kinds of questions. I wanted all the details. To me, it is like it happened yesterday. I’m crushed that he never told me, because for 45 years, I thought we shared everything.
I’m really having a hard time getting past this. He keeps saying he was young, drinking and stupid. I know he loves me. How do I move on? — Crushed
Dear Crushed: These deathbed confessions may clear someone’s conscience, but they often leave the listeners with a horrible emotional burden. Fortunately, your husband is still alive and you have the opportunity to resolve his heartbreaking revelation.
Keep in mind that for him, the affair is ancient history. For you, however, it just happened, and you are reevaluating your married life as if it contains false memories. It does not. Your husband valued his wife and marriage more than the transient thrill of an affair. It is natural for you to need some time to forgive him and let it go, but we are confident that you can do this. If you need help, some short-term counseling will provide it.
Dear Annie: Please settle an old argument between my sister and me. When invited to a party, be it birthday, anniversary, wedding, etc., if you will not be attending, are you obligated to send a gift?
I say no, and she says you must send a gift because you have been invited. Thank you. — Two Sisters
Dear Sisters: If you do not attend the event, you are not obligated to give a gift. However, for close friends and family members, most people send a gift regardless. It is a gracious gesture that preserves the special quality of the relationship. (This is particularly true with wedding presents.) When in doubt, we say you can’t go wrong sending a gift.
Dear Annie: I was very interested in the letter from “Depressed in Ohio,” the 48-year-old man who had never kissed a girl. While therapy is a good suggestion, a better one would be for him to seek out a dating coach, one who also has experience as a psychotherapist. Dating and courtship involve highly sophisticated sets of behaviors. A coach who has experience in both could be quite helpful to this man and others like him. I am working with a man right now in the same situation.
All is not hopeless for these men and women who missed the boat in high school and college and then got further and further behind. They tend to be highly sensitive to rejection in general, and to shame specifically, while being extremely passive in and avoidant of potential sexual situations. The clue here is when he said a woman had never approached him. It’s almost certain that he has never approached a woman, either, and likely warded off any attempts if one was interested.
My client is also 48, which is a pretty advanced age to be starting from square one, but he is very motivated. For the first time ever, he is dating someone and has gotten much further than ever before. Under my guidance, he has been open with the woman about his lack of experience. They are proceeding slowing and building a real relationship before attempting sex. He is thrilled. — Romance Coach
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. 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 4.5.10