Q. My wife of over 25 years is foreign-born. She travels to her home country for an extended period almost every year. I’ll join her for a few weeks, and she’ll stay a while longer after I return home.
Recently when she returned home, she told me that after I had left, she was introduced to a male acquaintance of her family’s. She said that they did not have a conversation, but did notice that he stared at her constantly. Afterward this man tracked her down and sent her a text message, which she let me read. It was quite lengthy and, frankly, incredibly audacious. He told her how attractive she is, how he wanted to spend time with her, and suggested how to discreetly contact him to arrange a rendezvous.
Her response to him was overly polite: “I’m flattered, but I’m busy. Perhaps some other time.”
I made a note of his phone number and a few weeks later sent him a terse message (I’m fluent in his language), that he was rude, unmannerly, interested only in a sexual encounter with my wife, and to back off.
He did not answer my message; instead he forwarded it to my wife, who got angry and said that I embarrassed her and violated her privacy.
I told her that while I may have ruined her other man fantasy, someone had to put him in his place, and I was proud to do it.
My wife is a very attractive woman. I am aware of the attention she receives. To me, however, that man went way over the top.
Did I do the right thing, or was I being meddlesome?
A. Your wife shared this man’s text message and her reply, which you describe as “overly polite.”
I interpret her message differently. In its ambiguity, “Perhaps some other time” can be read as something of an invitation. The politeness she extended was to this acquaintance, but not necessarily to you.
In response, you stewed about this for weeks and then acted out in anger toward both of them.
You were trying to protect your marriage by being direct, but your wife is the one who should have drawn a firm boundary around your marriage. You could have asked her to make a more definitive statement, rather than doing it yourself.
She was honest with you regarding how your behavior made her feel.
At this point, without discussing his behavior or hers, you should talk to her sincerely about how this has made you feel: “This text exchange made me very sad and angry. I’m worried about our relationship, and I’m trying to protect it.”
Q. You recently wrote: “I have mentioned this many times (especially lately), but the ubiquity of DNA testing is basically coming for everyone. Each of us should try to anticipate the possibility of being contacted by DNA relatives.”
Our situation is that an uncle who was an ob-gyn donated sperm to a bank many times throughout his career. (He’s 94 now.)
Children that were conceived from his generosity and kindness are NOT our relatives! They are members of the family that raised them!
This seeking out of bio parents, in many instances, is an invasion of privacy and totally disrespects the love, sacrifice, and support of the family they were raised with.
DNA ISN’T EVERYTHING
A. You say your physician uncle donated to a sperm bank. I assume he was NOT a fertility doctor. (If he was a fertility doctor using his own sperm to inseminate women without their consent, then he was not “kind and generous,” but a liar and a criminal.)
If dozens of infertile couples within his own community used his donations to conceive, these children all have important reasons to learn their DNA heritage. DNA-related siblings growing up in the same community could conceive children together and face extreme health, emotional, and social consequences.
So buck up. Any people coming forward may not be family members of yours — but they are related to you.
Q. “Overwhelmed” asked about a yard sale to get rid of a deceased girlfriend’s stuff. My idea of a brutal hell is holding a yard sale, and I’m not the only one.
You should have suggested arranging with the owner of a secondhand store to come get ALL the stuff and negotiating a price to load it in a truck and haul it off.
Easy, quick, relatively painless.
A. This is a great suggestion, and thank you.
Amy Dickinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.