DEAR AMY: Once a week, a group of my friends gathers at one of our houses for dessert and to watch a television show. I hosted last week, and had a glass of wine beforehand. I have a 1930s house and an old-style TV, whereas everyone else is in a new house with the biggest and best of everything.
A friend's husband and I got onto the topic of old houses. It was not a friendly conversation. I was buzzed. I can have a short temper, and I was seething.
We managed to make it to the end of the show, but this friend's wife made a disparaging remark about me being drunk. I blew it out of proportion. Since this incident, I have called both friends to see if they would talk this out. I don't drink daily or even weekly, but I did come from a house full of alcoholics. Mom could get nasty when she drank. Is that where I get my temper? I'm Irish -- is it genetic or learned behavior?
DEAR GUILTY: Your behavior on this night is not specific to an ethnicity or culture. It's the booze talking, and this type of drunken rage is as common in a John Cheever story as it is in a Frank McCourt memoir.
These friends are telling you that your drinking is a problem. You must believe them -- and admit it. It doesn't matter how often or how much you drink; your relationships are suffering, so you need to stop. Because you have alcoholism in your family, you should not drink. You could pursue recovery, get information and find support through Alcoholics Anonymous. Go to aa.org to find a local meeting.
DEAR AMY: What's the harm in having a secret platonic friend of the opposite sex? My friend came back into my life a year ago after a tragedy, and we talk at least once a week. Talking with her produces a new level of comfort, understanding and self-esteem. However, I haven't disclosed any of this communication to my wife. On the one hand I feel so guilty, but on the other hand I see little harm. Is this wrong as long as it's platonic?
DEAR HUSBAND: You are sharing intimacies with your friend that you could (or should) be sharing with your life partner. Imagine how lonely she might feel, losing you in this way during a time when she might need you most. This relationship is wrong because it feels wrong. A therapist could help you and your wife deal with the tragedy you've suffered, sort through your feelings and restore the intimacy you should share.