Ask Amy

Thursday, May 7, 2009 at 1:00am
Amy Dickinson

DEAR AMY: I am about to celebrate 10 years of marriage with my husband. I love him very much.

Nine years ago he had an affair with a co-worker. It was an awful time in our marriage. While he was having the affair, he pretty much abandoned me emotionally. I was completely in the dark.

Ultimately the woman's husband discovered the affair and began harassing my husband to stop seeing his wife. He eventually informed me of the situation. Needless to say I was devastated. My husband apologized and stopped seeing her.

I forgave my husband, although it took me about two years to stop letting my anger get the best of me. I didn't like the angry person I had become, and our marriage improved.

Yesterday I discovered that my husband secretly has been meeting a different married co-worker after work and on weekends.

I don't know if the relationship has been sexual, but what difference does it make? He is having a relationship with someone and keeping it a secret from me. My husband claims this person doesn't mean anything to him and that he had to keep it a secret because of my jealous nature from the previous experience.

My instincts tell me that my husband is one of those guys who has affairs, and that I should leave.

— Hurt and Confused

DEAR HURT: The way you present things here, when your husband chose to have an affair within the first year of your marriage, it was your job to catch him, forgive him, get over it and not let your anger interfere with your partnership.

Now your husband justifies his current secrecy by blaming you and branding you as jealous. He should be transparent with you. He either doesn't get the connection between secrecy and trust or — more likely — he's behaving the way he wants to behave until you catch him and make him stop.

If you want to try again to save your marriage, your husband will have to be a full partner. He needs to understand the connection between his behavior and your reaction, and then he needs to change.


DEAR AMY: My husband and I were driving through a neighborhood looking at homes for sale. We had our dog in the car. We stopped at a house with a "for sale" sign. The homeowner and her dog were outside. The owner had her hands full, as she was loading her car.

We stopped to ask about the price of her home. As she was talking, her dog saw ours, came out and jumped onto our car door, causing several scratches.

One or two scratched through the paint. We confronted the couple but they were very defensive.

I received a quote to have the car buffed out ($120) and took it back by their home. Again, they were extremely defensive. As I was calling him "sir" he was calling us "you people" and "jerks."

I pointed out that if my child had spilled a drink on his rug, I'd offer to have it cleaned. He eventually agreed to pay me $50.

Some of our friends think we took it too far. Honestly, we would have settled for an apology had they offered that from the start.

Do you think we took things too far? Should we send the money back?

— Karen

DEAR KAREN: Stuff happens. Especially when dogs are involved. Must we always insist on complete redress for the unfortunate things that happen from time to time and aren't really anyone's "fault"?

I agree with your friends that you have been aggressive in trying to wring some money out of these people. The fact that you got money and now would consider returning it highlights the fact that even you think you behaved poorly.


DEAR AMY: "Conflicted" wondered if she and the kids should move back in with her ex-husband as they reconciled, or if they should continue living separately but nearby.

I've been married nearly 38 years and my spouse and I have lived separately, in the same neighborhood, for 21 of them. This arrangement works for us, and the kids turned out great!

— Anne from Denver

DEAR ANNE: "Conflicted" and her husband had an on-again, off-again relationship. I suggested they shouldn't make any sudden moves because the kids were happy and stable where they were.

Your example shows that unusual living arrangements can work just fine.

Send questions to askamy@tribune.com

Filed under: Lifestyles

2 Comments on this post:

By: frank brown on 5/7/09 at 5:32

To the people who extorted the $50.00 from the homeowner with the FOR SALE sign. YOU ARE JERKS.

By: GUS37215 on 5/7/09 at 8:48

Dear Hurt and Confused,
I have lived through a similar marriage, and TRUST ME, your husband would not hide anything if he didn't have something TO hide. You have a small chance only if he agrees to see a counselor with you over a long period of time. He has created a situation where trust is impossible and a marriage cannot survive in that environment.
On another note, the married co-worker doesn't deserve to be protected by you, and her poor husband's future is in your hands.