Posted: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 8:02 pm
Dear Annie: I am a 69-year-old retiree and have been married to the same man for 43 years. We have three wonderful sons and seven beautiful grandchildren.
When our boys were young, “Charles” worked long hours. I always suspected he was having affairs but never had the resources to investigate. Back then, I could not have supported the children and myself, so I chose not to pry too closely.
I recently discovered that Charles had an affair 10 years ago. It is tearing me apart, especially since I believe he was seeing this woman in our home — in our bedroom next to the pictures of our family.
Charles loves his children and grandchildren and is wonderful with them. We have a beautiful home and many friends. There is no discussing his past, as he denies and rages. I am attractive and in good health. I’d probably have no trouble meeting someone else, but at this point I’d rather not risk it.
I don’t think Charles is cheating on me now, and he has made a commitment to stop drinking and make our relationship better. If he would be truthful, show remorse and commit to our future, I might be able to forgive him. Am I better off with him or without him? — Devastated in Oklahoma
Dear Oklahoma: Frankly, if Charles is serious about giving up the booze and making your relationship better, there is hope. Some women would be able to put the past aside and concentrate on a new beginning. If you cannot do this, ask Charles to come with you to see a counselor. Tell him it’s because you have trust issues. If he refuses to participate, go without him and see what you are capable of handling.
Dear Annie: Last year I sent handmade Christmas cards only to family members and a few friends. My mother, however, was very upset that I did not address the card to her and her significant other.
My mom lives in another state. She is not married to this man (she wasn’t married to my father, either), and I honestly don’t know him at all. Any invitations we’ve issued for them to come visit have been flatly refused.
Mom tells me he is part of her family and her alternative lifestyle is her business. I’m fine with that, but do I need to address cards to him, too? My mother has always found fault with me, and no matter what I do it’s going to be incorrect. Even if I apologize for the faux pas, it wouldn’t be enough. We have never been very close. Do you have any suggestions? — W.R.
Dear W.R.: If this man is living with your mother, then yes, his name should also be on the holiday cards you address to her. You can apologize because you were in error and promise to be more careful in the future. But Mom is apparently not easy to get along with, and we can’t promise it will make a difference. Sorry.
Dear Annie: “Tired and Upset” said her neighbor is blowing evergreen needles into her yard. She may have a community mediation center nearby. In Pennsylvania, where I live, there are 14 such centers.
Mediation is an inexpensive way to resolve a host of problems ranging from neighbor arguments to workplace disputes and family disagreements. Both parties can sit down and talk things out rationally with the help of a trained mediator. It is the best recourse for people who need to continue in ongoing relationships because it allows a win-win solution so no one goes away angry. — Janet M. Powers, Mediation Services of Adams County, Gettysburg, Pa.
Dear Janet Powers: Thanks for the recommendation. Readers can find out about mediation centers through the National Association for Community Mediation, P.O. Box 3263 NW, Washington, D.C. 20010 (www.nafcm.org).
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 1.27.09