Q. I have been friends with a woman for many years. A few years ago, she had an affair with a man in her office. When her husband found out, she ended the affair - for a while. Last year, she left her husband and began a new life with the other man. (I suspect he’d stayed in her life the whole time.)
Her children have always been great kids, but now they’re having difficulties in school and are disrespectful and unhappy. I think they don’t like the situation, but they also don’t like this new man. I don’t either. Should I express my concerns that her “new life’’ could be permanently affecting her children, as well as damaging her relationship with them? She seems to feel like the sun rises and sets with this guy. WATCHING ON THE SIDELINES
A. I understand your wish to clue in your friend to the fact that her kids are acting out, but as Woody Allen once said, “The heart wants what the heart wants.’’ I seriously doubt your friend would choose to do anything about the situation . . . like remove the heartthrob. As far as I would go would be to tell her that you’ve noticed the children are not adapting well to the new order, and she might want to give them more time and listen to their complaints. Perhaps some family therapy would be helpful. That would definitely crystallize for her that it’s either this guy or her children.
Q. I’m a dual US/UK citizen in my late 20s, and I chose to move to America to pursue my career. My brother did the same. For a few years, it was fun, and I wasn’t thinking too far ahead, but my brother recently married, establishing real roots over here. My mother is American and would love to come to the States, but my father has such a host of health problems that it would be financially impossible for them to move here.
When we were home in England for Christmas, my brother came to me crying one night, upset that once again we were leaving them and saying that when the time comes for him and his wife to have children, our parents will only see them once, twice, or three times a year at most.
So I guess my problem is this: I love my life over here. I have a good job, friends I love, and a boyfriend I can see myself settling down with. Do I give it all up and move back to London? Family should be the most important thing, and I feel guilty I have not prioritized it. My parents have been nothing but supportive and loving my whole life. I know it is parents’ duty to wave their children off into the world, but I don’t want to regret anything when they die. I also don’t want to give up a wonderful man and the life I’ve built here.
CONFUSED AND GUILTY
A. Regarding “family being the most important thing,’’ you and your brother are family, and you’re here. Perhaps because I have a child living part time in London, I just see it as another city. I hope you will not give up the life you’ve made here. When you say your parents have been supportive and loving, my bet is that, while they miss seeing you more frequently, they are happy for you and your brother. Should your mother outlive your father, my bet is that she will wind up over here, as well. I hope you put this concern to rest and bag the guilt.All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dearmargo.