Dear Annie: Three months ago, my husband and I were introduced to a couple through mutual friends. My husband could not take his eyes off the woman all evening. They arranged to go on an all-day seminar course together. The course leader took a suggestive photo of them that he circulated to all his male friends. Shortly after, he asked for a divorce out of the blue, saying I criticized him too much.
I snooped on his computer and found the photo along with other highly flirtatious emails, one of them arranging to meet this woman during the day. Both of them made excuses, telling her boyfriend and our mutual friends that they had accidentally bumped into each other. Shortly after that, she broke up with her boyfriend while he was undergoing chemotherapy.
I never told my husband that I knew about their flirtation, as I wanted to see where it was headed. When my husband said maybe we should work on our marriage, we went for couples counseling. That’s when I brought it up, showing the counselor all of the photographs and emails I found.
My husband says he did nothing wrong, that I ruined a good friendship, and that he feels “violated” because I snooped on his computer. He has since changed all of his passwords. But he still wants to work on our marriage.
If he thinks he did nothing wrong, it makes me believe he will do it again, and who knows where it will lead? How can I work on our marriage if he won’t acknowledge that his actions were more than “friendly”?
— In Limbo
Dear Limbo: Your counselor should be addressing these issues during your sessions. If that hasn’t happened, please go back and try again. Your husband needs to admit that his interest in this woman was inappropriate and put your marriage at risk. There are also trust and communication issues. This is what counseling is for. The two of you have a lot of work to do, but it requires honesty all around.
Dear Annie: My aunt’s son is a drug addict. He has been in and out of jail and treatment centers, and she has not spoken to many of us over the years.
My aunt is planning on coming to my grandmother’s home for Christmas dinner and bringing her son. I do not feel comfortable around my cousin. I think he is dangerous. My relatives say it’s time for the family to heal, and I should forgive him. They are all willing to sit down with him because they think he is clean and drug-free. I don’t trust that he is, and I don’t want my children in his presence. What do you think?
Dear Niece: You should protect your children from anyone who poses a danger. But you aren’t giving your cousin a chance to reintegrate himself into the family if he is, in fact, clean. We understand your reluctance to be around him, but addicts who are making a sincere effort need the emotional support of their families. How long has he claimed to be drug-free? Is there any evidence that he has relapsed? You might consider stopping by Grandma’s house without your children to check on the situation and say hello, and then have your Christmas dinner elsewhere.
Dear Annie: This is for “North Carolina,” who does not appreciate his boss’s language. Since the boss is willing to work on it, I suggest he place a “Fine Jar” on the table with a list of words and their corresponding fines. Every time anyone says one of the words, he has to pay the fine. The money can go toward refreshments at the next meeting or to charity.
This game makes light of the problem while reinforcing better behavior. It worked for me in a highly sensitive job where the boss had an enormous ego.
— Neighbor in Kentucky
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