Annie’s mailbox: Temporary commitment leaves open many possibilities
Refusing to deal with past leaves the door open for more betrayal
Q. Twenty years ago, my wife had an affair with a co-worker. It ended when he moved back to his home state 2,000 miles away. At the time, I asked my wife to go to counseling with me. We made it to one session before she pronounced our marriage “healed.”
Sixteen months ago, out of the blue, this same guy contacted my wife via email, and they began communicating. I discovered they were planning to meet in Las Vegas. I begged her not to go, but she was convinced she loved him and had to know if they should be together. The month before her trip, I endured more pain than I’ve ever experienced. I set up counseling sessions for us with separate therapists, arranged a meeting with our pastor and lost 20 pounds from the stress.
In the end, this creep flaked out on their Vegas rendezvous, probably because he couldn’t see himself leaving his children for her. She also was reluctant to leave our kids. However, the breakup crushed her, and she initially refused to work on our marriage. Finally, we went to a joint counseling session, but when the therapist made reference to her “profound betrayal,” that was that.
My wife refuses to rehash what happened. I’m worried that the only reason she is recommitting to our marriage is because the other man gave up on her. Things just don’t feel the same. She insists she’s done with this guy, but who really knows? Is it possible to move forward without dealing with the past? – Torn Up in California
A. Maybe, but not if your wife is using your marriage as her rebound relationship in order to soothe her heartbreak. That’s a temporary commitment. Refusing to examine the reasons behind her vulnerability to the affair leaves open the possibility of repeating the betrayal – and this is undoubtedly what most worries you.
You cannot force your wife to work on this, so please get counseling for yourself, on your own. You need to learn what you can live with.
Q. Nobody ever addresses how someone’s death affects the animals left behind. Dogs especially look forward to the return of their “master” each day with great anticipation. When my husband is away on vacation, our dogs wait at the door for hours and go through the same ritual each day until he returns.
When a loved one dies, the pet has no comprehension that this person is not coming back. When one of our dogs has passed on, we always lovingly place them in an open box where the remaining animal can be alone with the deceased for at least a half-hour. That seems to help them understand and reach closure of some kind.
Why can’t we bring the animal to the funeral home or other appropriate setting and let the animal be with their friend one last time? It’s the least we can do for our animal friends who give us unconditional love and companionship without asking for anything in return. – Rocky Mount, Va.
A. Some funeral homes allow dogs as “comfort animals” for the bereaved. It is likely they would also permit an animal to attend a viewing before the service. It is certainly not an unreasonable request.
Dear Annie: “Don’t Want a Contest” feels his fiancee’s 13-year-old son is jealous. Please tell him to back off. It is normal for a single mom and her son to have this sort of closeness, and the boy will grow out of it.
My husband accepted my close relationship with my only child. My son would also sit in between us and want to snuggle in bed, but he came to accept my husband without resentment. My son died at age 15 from cancer. I never would have forgiven myself or my husband if I had missed out on one hug. – Understanding Mom
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