Dear Carolyn: My husband and I are newlyweds. He had a long-term relationship with a woman who turned out to be married. When they first started dating, she lied to him about her marital status. He eventually found out but, by that point, had developed strong feelings for her and did not end their relationship.
They have remained in constant contact over an 11-year period, with occasional weekends together. She always stayed with the husband, claiming she was “staying for the children” – who are adults!
Since she learned of our marriage, she is tearfully telling my husband about how she “almost” left her family for him, that she thinks I have him “whipped,” and that he “doesn’t even sound like himself anymore.” I really resent this woman’s intrusion into our lives and have clearly communicated this to my husband. He has yet to respond. I believe he is going to say that he wants to remain friends with her. How should I handle this?
– Why Do I Feel Like the Bad Guy?
A: You handle it with an attorney.
This isn’t advice I relish giving; I prefer to lay out options and let the couple sort it out. However, if it’s marriage to someone who takes marriage lightly, if he pushes to stay friends with a married affair partner who lied to him, whom he might still love and who is actively trying to undermine your marriage, then that’s hardly marriage. That’s his cake, had and eaten, too. Surely you didn’t sign up to be that.
Friends on ‘B’ list
Dear Carolyn: Two years ago we bought a vacation home. We go practically every weekend for three seasons a year. Friends have commented how we’re never available anymore, and I will admit we’ve grown very lax about returning calls, texts whatever. When we are home, we don’t let people know because we’re trying to catch up on tasks we’ve dropped.
We used to do holiday meals at our house for a group of people, but only a handful showed up for Christmas and just one for Easter. I asked why and she said, “To people who used to see you several times a week, two years of being basically ignored feels personal. They understand the vacation home thing, but not being ignored when you are home.” I felt bad, especially since I’d just asked her if she minded being on the “B” list for our son’s wedding.
She left soon after, and when I called to ask if she’d help cater the shower, she said she had other plans. We don’t feel like we’ve done anything wrong. How can we get our friends to see things have changed, but it’s not personal?
– Old Friends Disappearing
A: Maybe it’s not “wrong” or even “personal,” but saying to your friends, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you … when we need kitchen help or filler guests” is mind-bendingly obnoxious. If you want friends, then you reciprocate their whatevers. You know – care?