DEAR AMY: My family hates my husband because he cheated on me. I took him back and chose to forgive him -- and not throw away 23 years of togetherness. This was four years ago, and my family doesn't invite us as a couple (only me) to family gatherings, such as birthdays. I don't go to Christmas or Thanksgiving gatherings because he is not invited. My family misses me as I miss them. What can be done?
DEAR MISSING: The element that's missing here is your husband. Perhaps your family members are waiting for him to apologize for the impact his betrayal has had on them. Your family members also spent 23 years with your husband. He hurts you, he hurts them.
He needs to express: "I hope it's not too late to apologize for how much I hurt your daughter/ sister. She and I are in a good place now; she has forgiven me and I hope you will, too. She misses you very much, and I realize I bear some responsibility for that." This gives your family members the opportunity to forgive him -- and then both parties could try to repair this relationship.
DEAR AMY: I had to respond to the letter from "Mom" about the 8-year-old girl who shows up unannounced at a neighbor's house. Once I was that little girl, afraid to go home, looking for someplace safe to spend time. I encourage this mom to contact the girl's family, not by phone -- but to meet them face-to- face. Ask questions. Listen to what is not being said. Watch the child's reactions. In the end, the letter writer might not be able to do anything except offer an abuse-free environment where she can just be an 8-year-old girl for a while. I might not be here today if it weren't for the people who gave me a safe place to harbor when times were tough.
-- Been There
DEAR BEEN THERE: Thank you, and thanks to the families who offered you safety and security during your childhood.