I’ve been fairly happily married for 20 years, to a great guy, great dad.
For no reason, I read his emails while looking into business stuff. I discovered his correspondence with his ex-girlfriend from 30 years ago.
She was with him long before he met me. She broke his heart.
For over a year, there are only a dozen exchanges, initially to just catch up. Both agreed they felt guilty not telling their spouses.
My husband wrote lengthy emails about our life. He also emailed her at Christmas and her birthday.
The latest email upset me, as she mentioned a romantic trip, and he replied fondly. He left his phone number asking her to "think about talking," to each other.
I’m not too worried about an actual affair happening because she’s married and lives very far away in another country. But it’s where my husband's family lives, so we travel there every few years.
He mentioned having a drink together next time he goes back there.
I’m so devastated by this. Floored. It's all I think about. He's always been so honest, decent, does the right thing.
I know he loves me. We have fun and travel and do a lot together.
I tried to give him the chance to tell me, by casually asking if he ever thinks of her. He denied, changed the subject.
Everyone’s entitled to his or her memories and secrets, but I wish I never knew. Sometimes I want to scream, "How could you?"
But he’d not be forgiving at all of my snooping.
Crisis of Conscience
You’ve already decided that you can’t reveal what you know. You’ve also wisely reassured yourself of the positives – his love for you, and your good life together.
Now you need to convince your emotions of what you already believe…. that this 30-years-later contact is about nostalgia and memory, not an imminent affair.
However, he’s skirting the edges of mischief – perhaps because of mid-life daydreaming, or long-repressed hurt from her past rejection.
Here’s where your role as lover and life partner can keep him on track, knowing this blip in his behaviour isn’t about you.
Consolidate your intimacy together by taking time for quiet talks, romance, and lovemaking.
Tell him how important he is to you and the children, how much you value your life together.
If he decides to visit his parents, accompany him if at all possible (as a couple or family visit).
If he must go alone, ask gently if he’d ever look her up, and say how you’d feel. At the least, that’ll jolt him into awareness of what the risks would be.
My older brother and I have drifted apart. My calls (once a month) aren’t returned.
It’s been four years since my dad suddenly passed away.
My brother's been distant since before that.
I've asked if he'd consider family counseling, as the "vibe" from both my mom and brother is: "Not until YOU get better. Then maybe we'll talk."
Last year, my fiancé and I eloped. It was too hard to have a wedding without my dad.
Was I wrong to move ahead with my life?
Hopeful of Reunion
Grief takes many forms, especially after a sudden loss.
It seems your brother resented your decision. It’s unfair and unkind to you and your husband.
But there’s been no discussion to resolve this. Stay in contact with your mom the best you can, and keep reaching out to him occasionally.
But if you still find you’ve lost their support, consider getting your own grief counselling.
FEEDBACK Regarding the widow who resented her mother-in-law’s boardwalk memorial and photos (April 7):
Reader – “The widow should realize that her mother-in-law is also in pain and grief. Her MIL found comfort in the memorial boardwalk and probably thought it’d comfort the widow. That's why she sent her the photos.
“After my 20-year-old son suddenly died, I too, took comfort in purchasing a granite memorial paver in my son's name, as part of the local fundraising project to restore the cenotaph.
“Losing a child is the deepest grief of all because your child comes from you, and your child isn’t supposed to die before you.
“If the widow could imagine for a minute, what it would be like to lose her daughter, then perhaps she’d have some compassion for her MIL.
“Instead of alienation, sharing their grief and memories may help them in their healing.”
A Still-Grieving Mother
Tip of the day:
An understanding loving spouse can use a partner’s daydreams to bolster their own relationship.