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Ask Amy

Husband can’t recover from wife’s affair

Q. My wife and I have been married for more than 25 years. During our engagement (all those years ago) she had a three-week affair. I did not want to lose her and made that very clear. She said that the affair “meant nothing” but never apologized.

We now have three wonderful children and a very nice life together. The problem is, I constantly rehash these past circumstances in my mind nearly every single day. I often think about how my life would be different if I had bailed out back then. She is keenly aware of how much this hurt me.

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My wife is very happily married and, really, so am I. I think these thoughts have intensified since our children have become young adults. Watching them in their relationships makes me wonder what her reaction would be if my son’s fiancee cheated on him.

How should I handle this? Involving my wife in this matter now is out of the question.

A. So far, your wife’s three-week fling has caused you approximately 25 years of anxiety. If you want to move forward, you should not turn over any more of your personal power to this ancient betrayal.

Please don’t say that involving your wife in this issue is out of the question. You declare that you need an apology (I agree), but this will be impossible if you won’t discuss it. This is not fair to you or your wife.

At this point in your marriage, you should choose to be brave enough to face this issue honestly and directly. Continuing to ruminate on the path not taken will prevent you from growing, in or out of your marriage.

Give yourself a gift and see a counselor with expertise in dealing with men in midlife. Unmask. Be vulnerable. And let your wife in.

Q. Early on, I warned my daughter about her boyfriend’s clingy mother, though otherwise she is a lovely, generous person who adores my daughter.

The boyfriend still lives at home at age 29 but works and attends school and pays his own way. He’s a respectful son who will drop everything to help his parents.

When he is out late or when the two of them are away together, “Mom” will call and text my daughter if the son hasn’t contacted her in what she feels is a timely manner. My daughter has often been awakened in the middle of the night by phone calls or texts from his mother asking where the son is.

My daughter has begun turning off her phone at night. She announced on Facebook that she’s getting more sleep now that she isn’t being disturbed by calls and texts. The boyfriend’s mother is incensed, posting on Facebook that my daughter has now shown her “true colors.”

Is it possible to escape a clingy relationship with a parent, or should one “run for the hills” if someone you’re seeing is trapped in one of these?

A. I’d say if a son is 29, living at home, and still tied that closely to his mother, he would have to work very hard to create and maintain adult boundaries, and he doesn’t seem willing to do this, perhaps because he likes things as they are.

At the same time, however, your daughter’s choice to announce her triumph on Facebook shows questionable judgment. The boyfriend might be the one who should run for the hills. He is trapped between two passive-aggressive women.

You can contact Amy Dickinson via e-mail at askamy@tribune
.com
. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or “like” her on Facebook.

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