Q. My wife of nearly 20 years and I are headed toward divorce unless the dynamic of our relationship changes. This is made all the more difficult by the fact that we have a 12-year-old son and are currently living overseas.
We hit a rough patch a few years ago when I came to believe that my wife might be cheating on me. She had been attending a martial arts school for several years when I began to suspect that her relationship with the teacher was more than just friendly. She became very involved in the dojo, and was in constant contact with him via text message and e-mail.
After helping out at the dojo one weekend, her story seemed fishy. I looked through our phone records to find out to my dismay that she had been sending texts to the teacher’s number continuously. I then snooped on her phone and saw that all of those messages had been deleted. She did not delete messages from other people.
I desperately wanted to believe her claims of innocence. After a second episode, she agreed that if the situation were reversed, she would be suspicious, too. However, she has always sworn that I am simply reading too much into an innocent situation.
She says she is done talking about this, and that the problem is mine. I cannot talk to her about it without our conversation escalating to a shouting match and her threatening divorce.
Am I being overly suspicious, or is this a case of “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me?”
I am awaiting your sage advice.
A. Evidently your wife isn’t as afraid of divorce as you are — because when you raise your suspicions, divorce is her fallback. Does she want to be in the marriage?
If nothing in your situation changed, would you want to stay in the marriage?
Would she welcome your occasional presence at the dojo, where your assistance might lessen her volunteer burden?
These are the questions you two should tackle in marriage counseling. Her private, engrossing relationship has interfered with your marriage for years now, and you should bravely try to get to the bottom of it. If she won’t attend counseling with you, you should go on your own.
Q. I was recently included in a group party where you all go to a shop, pay a fee to paint a select portrait and bring your own beverage of choice. It’s a new trendy thing, and it is quite fun.
The shop provides each group with a tub of ice where guests can cool their beverages.
During the evening, a complete stranger from a different group was “browsing” the beverage tubs and asked if she could try a glass of the wine I brought.
I responded, “Well, that depends. What do you have to trade?”
She curled her lip, shook her head and rolled her eyes. I really didn’t give it much more thought, but later that night one of my friends said that I was rude.
The BYOB part is not in fine print — it’s an important part of the whole concept.
I think that unless her intention was to offer a glass of what she brought in exchange, she was rude for asking in the first place.
What do you think?
A. To me, it sounds as if your response was good-natured and very much in the trendy, bartering spirit of the place. If she didn’t have a beverage to trade, if she had been clever, she could have offered to pay you for it, sing a song for your group, give you a sketch of an empty wine glass or perhaps trade a special cerulean paint mixture of her own devising in exchange for the drink.
The friend who thought you were rude to the interloper could have also offered up one of her beverages.
Q. You were harsh in your answer to “Worried Husband,” who worried about the health risks of his wife, who had put on weight. Essentially, you said that her weight is none of his business. Would you have responded the same way if his wife was a smoker?
A. Essentially, yes. This husband wanted to continue to educate his wife about the health risks of extra weight. I responded that his wife likely already knows the health risks. The same goes for smoking.Amy Dickinson can be reached at email@example.com.