DEAR AMY: I have been married for 30 years. I thought I was happy. But now someone out of my past has made me wonder. During college I was an exchange student in France and met "Paul" at the university. We fell in love and got engaged. To our dismay, my parents were against our marriage. It was awful. We lost touch, and I felt terrible for years.
This past summer I returned to France. He still lives in the town where we met. He is married and has a son. We met at a cafe. When we were young my parents threw away anything with his name on it, including my engagement ring! He felt I had abandoned him, and I felt he had abandoned me. We feel we were meant for each other and through a wrong turn of fate were led down the wrong path years ago.
We both wept upon hearing these things. I was in France for six weeks, and we saw each other often and spoke on the phone daily. We both still love each other. I even had dinner at his house and met his family.
What should we do now? We don't want to lose each other. We write and talk on the phone when we can. Is this cheating on my husband? I don't see Paul leaving his wife for me, but he also claims to love me more than her. I told my daughter about this, and she tells me to follow my heart. She says I should open up and tell her father about it. What should I do?
DEAR HEARTSICK: You are cheating on your husband, and you are doing so by emotionally enveloping yourself in a long-ago romance in a faraway place.
I disagree with your choice to run this romantic dilemma past your daughter. Although you don't report that this bothers her, this sort of life-altering question would best be explored with your husband and a professional counselor.
The most ethical way for you to deal with your marriage is to be honest with your husband. I do believe that with time your feelings would stabilize and you would be able to put this emotional affair into perspective and stay married. But perspective is the enemy of long-lost love, and you may not want this sort of clarity.
DEAR AMY: I have been in a committed relationship for two years. I love him and he loves me, but I have heard subtle indiscretions from him, like, "My ex-girlfriend was hot," or, "Yeah, she has a nice figure. I'd tap that."
It is really getting to me. I'm at my wits' end with this man. It's like my brain is telling me to leave it all behind and find someone worth searching for. My heart is telling me to stay with him and that it'll work out in the end.
What really hurts the most is that he gets drunk when he's off work. We talk about buying a house together, but I don't see anything happening in the near future if he thinks drinking is more important than building a life together.
Do you have advice that can help me see that this is not what I want? Because I seem to think otherwise.
— Sad Girlfriend
DEAR GIRLFRIEND: Read back your own letter. You are practically shouting out that you deserve better. I agree: You do deserve better, but until you love yourself more, you'll continue to settle for less.
DEAR AMY: Your answer to "Sad Mom," whose daughter didn't like her college choice, was spot on. I made my college choice based on affordability, when I should have made it based on the best fit for me. Thirty years later I still regret it.
— Sad Former Student
DEAR FORMER: It's tricky. College debt is no joke, but I thought "Sad's" daughter should have been encouraged/forced to research her options.
Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.