DEAR AMY: I am a mature 25-year-old college-educated man with a great career. I was on the dating scene for several years when I met “Julie” — the girl of my dreams. We fell deeply in love and after four months we began to speak of a long-term future together. We seemed compatible in all the important ways for a good marriage, and I was happier and more secure with her than with any other woman I ever knew. Julie had just ended a long-term relationship when we met, and one day she told me that this old lover was coming through town and wanted to see her. She asked me if I cared, and I said that it was her business and to do whatever she thought was appropriate. I later found out that she spent the weekend with him. When I confronted her, she said that she was “only saying goodbye.” She said the tryst “didn’t mean anything,” and had nothing to do with her love for me. Apparently she thought it was “appropriate” to sleep with this guy, and that doing so wasn’t really cheating on me. I was shocked and appalled. My problem isn’t just that she slept with an old lover, but that she seems to think that such behavior was perfectly reasonable and I shouldn’t be upset about it. Now I wonder if I really know her at all, and am thinking that I should break off our relationship, even though I love her with all my heart. Amy, should I end this relationship, or take my chances that she will break my heart again?
DEAR CONFLICTED: “Julie’s” choice has given you a window onto her value system and temperament. You say that you wonder if you even know her at all, and I say that you actually know her much better, now.
She does not acknowledge that she did anything inappropriate, hurtful or wrong. She certainly refuses to validate your (very natural) feelings of betrayal.
You two are a mismatch.
Sexual fidelity might not be in her wheelhouse. But even if she were able to guarantee that she would remain sexually faithful to you, you need to contemplate what other behaviors she might justify that you would consider wrong or hurtful. Take a fresh look at the way she handles her friendships and family relationships. I assume you will see other clues to her value system. You should also get tested for STDs.
This might also be her cowardly way of ending the relationship with you. For some people, getting caught is easier (and more fun — for them) than having a hurtful, challenging breakup conversation.
DEAR AMY: My wife of three years is interviewing for a new job at her company. This would be a major shift in her career. I fully support her change and have been there for her during this process. I have expressed my love and belief in her, but also cautioned her to be prepared to not get the job, even though she may be a qualified internal candidate. How should I handle myself in the event she doesn’t get the job? I have been patient and a good listener for the past three months when this all started, but my patience in terms of hearing about this has grown very thin. If she doesn’t get the job, I will be the one picking up the pieces.
DEAR HUSBAND: It sounds as if your real gripe is with your wife’s preoccupation with this job change. I assume that she is distracted at home and talking about it often.
Your job is not to remind of her of the downside at every turn.
You need to listen, ask relevant questions and also let your wife know that her preoccupation with this is affecting you. (“Honey, this issue is taking over. Can we change the subject for a while?”)
You should be supportive and in her corner. Nothing else is required.
If your wife does not get the job, you should not be picking up the pieces — she should.
DEAR AMY: “Working Hard, Hardly Working” complained about how hard it is to concentrate on his work when friends interrupt him at the coffee shop, which he seems to use as his office. He has no basis for complaining; he is in a public place! If he doesn’t want to run into people, he should stay home.
DEAR WORKING HARD: Touché.