DEAR AMY: My wife and I were in a relationship before we got married. At that time, she cheated on me. Only those people who have had a spouse cheat on them will understand how I felt at that time. It was the most painful time of my life. She confessed right after that happened, said she'd made a mistake, and that she was sorry. We worked things out and got married a couple of years later. During our marriage, this cheating incident has come up a few times, (not a lot) until recently. While my wife is at work I sit home and for some reason this cheating thing pops up in my mind. I try not to think about it, but I can't help it. During the day I become consumed with the thought of what happened that night. This is bothering me to the point of where I become physically sick. I have no idea what to do or where to turn. I have talked about this to my wife, and she is willing to do anything she can to help me get over this. Our marriage is very good but I just cannot get past this thing that happened many years ago. If you can give me any tips or ideas to get over this, I'm willing to try anything.
Stuck in the Past
DEAR STUCK: You don't say why you are home during the day while your wife is out at work, but I'm going to assume that you are either unemployed or that you are a stay-at-home parent; either possibility is stressful for you, and my theory is that this stress has triggered a cycle of rumination about this long-ago event.
The busier you are, the less you will dwell on this — or any one thing. You should exercise, take a fitness class, join a playgroup (if you're a parent), or take up yoga — in short, do anything you can do to connect with other people during the day, while engaged in healthy pursuits.
Meditation can also help to keep the rumination at bay. The more mindful and "present" you are, the less you will dwell on this betrayal. It's time to truly forgive your wife and to commit to loving yourself — and her — fully and freely.
DEAR AMY: I attended a festive gathering last weekend. There were about 20 people present, with 10 children in the mix, ages 3 to 13. The 3-year-old was busy riding toy cars and exploring various objects in the home — you might say he was busy exploring his new environment — surely par for the course for a child his age. But then during the dinner, he persisted on shrieking multiple times. I found this behavior to be totally inappropriate and quite distressing. The boy's parents made feeble attempts to quiet him, but the shrieking continued. I wish one of his parents would have removed him from the dining area. I think that would have been the responsible thing to do, and it would have sent a message that his shrieking was not welcome while others were eating and talking. I don't have children, but am I being insensitive here? Was he just being a 3-year-old who was exploring his vocal range? When does someone become "too old" to shriek in public without cause?
DEAR WONDERING: Yes, these parents should have removed the child, taken him to a quiet place, and hung out with him until he had calmed down. If necessary, they should have reluctantly taken him home.
It is hard to be 3 years old. Children this age are so busy that they can become overwhelmed and exhausted, and yet they lack the language to describe how they are feeling. Transitioning from active playing to sitting still at a crowded dinner might have simply been too much for the little guy.
Ideally, parents intervene before a breakdown happens — but parenting is not an exact science. The only perfect parents are people like you, who don't have children.
DEAR AMY: I'm responding to the letter from "Formerly Terrible," the man who admitted to — and then sought forgiveness for — being a bully in high school. I felt for the guy, but I also noticed that his entire question was all about him. What about the people he hurt?
DEAR UPSET: I thought "Formerly" was focused on the right things: how he could admit his actions, make amends and possibly repair these relationships.
He can't do these things without some intense self-focus.