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Open email brings out the 'worst' in marriage

DEAR AMY: My husband and I have been married almost 10 years. We have weathered "better or worse," but what about worst? He left his email open, and I saw a series of emails to a woman that he signed "Love you always." The emails reference phone calls between them. He says this is someone he hasn't seen since we've been married, that he doesn't care about, and that the signature "Love you always" is just a trite saying. He is lying to her or to me -- or to both of us. I know that in the ranking of worst things that can happen to people this doesn't make the list, but it feels like the worst to me. He walks around acting like he's been wronged. I don't know how to deal with this. It seems that it is up to me to decide to get over it or not.

-- Wife in Crisis

DEAR WIFE: People who get caught in a compromising position often respond with a "who, me?" attitude, as an attempt to toss the problem back at the person who discovered it. This is a natural reaction from your husband.

But -- one person gets to decide if something is a problem in a relationship, and even if this doesn't seem real or rational to your husband, he will have to deal with it if he wants to deal with you.

It isn't a crime for married partners to have separate friendships or personal relationships, but it is definitely wrong to keep these relationships a secret. It is also wrong to reflexively act aggrieved when you get caught doing something hurtful to your partner.

Yes -- this is not cancer. You are wise to realize that worse things can happen. But don't minimize the importance of this episode, especially when your husband is also minimizing your right to feel the way you obviously feel.

Ten years of marriage is a perfect time to take a "refresher course" in your relationship. This can happen in a counselor's office or through honest, loving and respectful reconnection.

DEAR AMY: In a recent column you declared that you think a father walking his daughter down the aisle is "antiquated and sexist." We should not give up a cherished custom because of a few malcontents like you.

-- Disgusted

DEAR DISGUSTED: I said that some women think this custom is sexist and antiquated.

And yes, I happen to be one of those women. But women should be able to make their own choices in this regard -- free from judgment from me or anyone else.

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