DEAR AMY: My wife of many years has been engaging in secret phone conversations with an old boyfriend. She lied to me when I talked with her about it, but then admitted she had been talking with him, after I produced the proof from the phone records. She gave me a very poor explanation that she didn’t want to alarm me since the two of them were just catching up on what had been going on in their lives. I didn’t believe her story and told her that she could have had such conversations with him in the open, if she had just told me that was all she wanted to do. Today she acknowledged that she still has romantic feelings for him after all these years. I am heartbroken that she was dishonest in betraying our marriage. Amy, what’s going to happen next? I don’t know how she could do this after so many years of what I thought was a loving marriage. I guess there must be a problem with our marriage that has never been apparent to me. We have kids and grandchildren and I can’t believe that she would give that all up to be with an old lover. Is a marriage counselor likely to be of much help, if my wife is really in denial about what is going on? She acts as if she has done nothing wrong.
DEAR T: Your wife is acting like she has done nothing wrong because she is trying to gaslight you into believing that you are reacting irrationally. This technique is designed to throw you off and make you feel worse about yourself than you do about her. It is the first line of defense of toddlers and errant spouses. Don’t fall for it.
I disagree with you that she is “in denial” about the effect of her actions. I suspect she knows how this is affecting you, but doesn’t want to admit it.
You get to feel the way you feel about this, and your wife does not have the right to invalidate your feelings. By revealing the depths of your hurt, you may be opening up to her in a way that could ultimately help your relationship.
Is she bored, ignored, or self-medicating her way through a mid/late-life crisis? Does this expose a rift in your relationship, which you two have ignored? Does she want to leave the marriage, and if she stays, is she willing to work on your relationship?
These are questions you should tackle in marriage counseling. Counseling alone cannot save your marriage, but it can help the two of you to save your marriage, if you are both willing to try.
DEAR AMY: My wife and I just received an invitation to a friend’s wedding. In order not to show favoritism, they have chosen a venue in between their two home cities, about an hour and a half drive for everyone. Due to the size of the venue and the added expense of being out of town, the wedding will be smaller in size. The bride and groom both have large families, and my friend told me that the list of friends they would like to invite will need to be trimmed down significantly. Naturally, we were thrilled when our invite arrived. Here is my issue: We have a number of mutual friends who might be invited to the wedding. If so, it would be nice to carpool, and make sure we are staying at the same hotel (there were three nearby suggestions on the invitation). However, I would hate to ask someone if they were invited, only to make them aware that they didn’t make the list. Is there a tactful way to find out the guest list, or broach this subject? Or is it better to let it be? I appreciate your input.
Not Wanting to Offend
DEAR NOT: Don’t broadcast this query publicly, but instead ask the marrying couple to share with you what other guests from your area have been invited. Carpooling is a great idea.
DEAR AMY: The letter from “Feeling Hurt” outlined a situation where grandparents favored one set of grandchildren over another. We are grandparents who would probably be accused of this, but the fact is that one set of grandchildren is simply more available (and appealing) than the others. We finally gave up.
We Have Favorites
DEAR FAVORITES: It can sometimes be very challenging to connect with grandchildren, but I feel sorry for your excluded grandchildren, your justification notwithstanding.