When Turning the Other Cheek Is Not the Thing To Do
Dear Margo: I wrote to you four years ago when my wife was openly chatting on the Internet. Predictably, it led to an affair, but we worked through it and had a good couple of years. At 45, she is now having another affair. Rather than issuing an ultimatum, I am working on persuading her that our relationship is worth persevering. There is, on my part, lots of TLC and as few judgmental statements as I can manage. Our relationship has improved significantly as a result, but she says that despite this man’s rather low ranking on the social scale (suggesting he is not a marriage prospect), he is so good in bed that she is not inclined to give him up.
I travel a lot for work, and she feels that what we do when apart does not matter. Nevertheless, I want her to stop this behavior. Giving lots of TLC is fun in a way, a bit like courting again, but it is draining without any enthusiastic feedback. Luckily, I’m not a jealous person. I am unsure, however, about how long I should persevere without positive action on her part. Another three to six months? Do you have any experience with this approach and its ultimate success rate? I am emotionally able to split, but not before doing all I can to hang on to the family life we have. — Forever the Giver
Dear For: I hope you are Catholic, because I believe you are a saint. What is going on is an open marriage … though it seems only for your wife. When you say you are not jealous, are you tolerant enough to permit your wife to have bedroom friends who are not replacement material for you because she finds them socially inferior? (By the way, should this not have dawned on you, it is quite insulting for her to say she’s disinclined to give him up because he’s so good in the sack. Just sayin’.)
As to your direct question: I have no experience or data on the approach you are talking about. You sound to me like a good schnook with a paycheck, especially when you say you are not getting positive feedback, and the situation goes back at least four years. I suggest that you have, in fact, done all you can do to hang on to your family life, and you should cut your losses and reclaim your dignity. I think you are being played for a fool. — Margo, lucidly
A Sister Who Does Not Tell the Truth
Dear Margo: My sister is a chronic liar and has been for years. Over the years, as tough times have befallen her (getting fired, husband losing his job), she increasingly has drawn attention to herself by exaggerating — whether it’s physical ailments or financial problems. She has had some actual physical problems, including Meniere’s disease, which, of course, would draw someone’s compassion. But she goes on to completely fabricate other medical conditions, not to mention other facts about her life. An example: “I took a two-hour walk today,” when two days previous she could barely walk.
Long story short, I feel guilty that I no longer call her, but I find myself unable to listen to the lies anymore. My distance alienates her — which intensifies the fabrications. What to do? — Sally
Dear Sal: If you feel unable to stop communications altogether (your call, no pun intended), when you do talk to her, simply hold the phone away from your ear and every so often say, “Mmmm.” Or you could also try telling her your news. I suspect you’ve already discovered it does no good to call her out about her conflicting stories. When I am trapped on a not particularly engaging phone call, I mute my computer and play Spider Solitaire. Just a thought. — Margo, pragmatically
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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dear-margo.html. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.
COPYRIGHT 2011 MARGO HOWARD
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