DEAR AMY: My dearest friend, who I thought had been tolerably married for more than 10 years, confided in me that she has met her soul mate. Like her, the soul mate has two children younger than 10 and is married.
They have gone to great lengths to create a world in which their love can flourish in secrecy, while they plan to maintain their respective family units until their youngest child is off to college.
My emotions are mixed on so many levels — from joy to what she has found to disgust at the deceit.
Her husband has been a good friend to me all these years, and while he is an equal partner in the marriage's ups and downs, he hardly deserves this.
What, if anything, is my role? Must I watch my friend's husband continue to struggle to "save" his marriage, which is already doomed?
Must I watch my friend compromise her soul?
It would hurt deeply if my friend's husband ever knew I was aware of this affair and kept it from him. Yet, I feel a loyalty to my friend of 30 years.
I have not slept for weeks since I learned of this.
— Desperately Seeking Peace
DEAR DESPERATE: I've done the math and discovered that these "soul mates" plan to keep their adulterous relationship going for at least another 10 years.
They'll justify it by saying it's for the "sake of the children," though when they cheat on their spouses, they're cheating on the kids.
No matter how perfect they think their secret world of awesome love is, this is going to explode human shrapnel over all of you.
I've asked readers in the past for their views on whether to tell a spouse of an affair, and there is no consensus. That's because most people (including me) can envision both sides.
The only thing I know for sure is that friends tell each other the truth.
It isn't your job to persuade your friend to do the right thing, but you should tell her how her behavior affects you.
You should also say you won't be an active party to her deception.
Make sure she understands that you won't lie to her husband, and while you might not seek him out to discuss this with him, if he asks you what's going on, you'll tell him.
DEAR AMY: My husband and I have two children, ages 9 and 7.
My in-laws live 15 minutes away and never make any effort to see our children. They have never offered to baby-sit and have never spent time with them. When we get together, they ignore the kids.
When our kids were babies, my feelings were hurt by my in-laws' lack of interest in them, but I attributed it to their not being the type of people who enjoyed being grandparents.
My sister-in-law, who lives more than 500 miles away, just had children, and my in-laws are falling all over themselves to be good grandparents to them.
When my sister-in-law's children come to visit, it is obvious to my kids that their cousins are given more attention.
Am I right to feel hurt, and how should I explain this to my kids?
— Hurt Feelings
DEAR HURT: You don't need to justify feeling hurt. It's natural. You do need to rise above your own feelings, however. Your in-laws are obviously unable to value children in any consistent way, and they shower attention on their more distant grandchildren because these kids wave "bye-bye" at the end of a visit and actually leave town.
In terms of your children, you should demonstrate that even when their grandparents don't treat them equally, they've done nothing wrong; it's their grandparents who are losing out.
DEAR AMY: Recently you ran a letter about a young person who was a baseball umpire, and the parents heckled him.
I've had this experience. It was tough, but I had to stop the game briefly and ask both coaches to control their fans. It's really hard to do this, but this is what I was told to do in my training, and it helped.
— Another Young Ump
DEAR UMP: That's truly "fair play." Well done, ump!
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