Dear Carolyn: Whenever I am at a party with my wife’s girlfriend, she flirts with me. No … not flirt; groping and teasing is a better description. Sticking her hands in my back pockets, grabbing my butt. First time it happened was when I showed up at a party without my wife, and she said, “I am SO glad you are here alone!”
I got caught cheating on my wife two years ago. I am in “recovery,” as I really have a problem being faithful. This will not end well if I don’t do something, but I don’t want to stir the pot, so I put up with it. Confession … she is doing a good job! This could end badly. Help!
A: Are you in recovery, or in “recovery”? Meaning, do you admit to an emotional problem and intend to get better? Or do you accept the way you are, merely nodding as people say you have a problem, and secretly hoping you won’t get seriously tempted, or seriously caught, again?
If it’s recovery, the real deal, then you already know the only chance your marriage has is the truth . You tell your wife immediately what’s going on with her “friend,” because said friend is already stirring the pot and your passivity equals permission.
If instead you’re in quote-unquote-recovery then that’s what you need to admit, to yourself and then to your wife.
Either way, make this not about monogamy for the sake of it, but about living honestly as who you really are. That means admitting the fidelity you’ve maintained lately is purely an act of will. But first: You suggested twice in your letter that this will end badly, yet I’m not sure you’re even sure how you would define ending well. Your chances go from slim to … less slim if you know that going in.
Bad news blues anxiety
Dear Carolyn: There’s so much bad news in the world lately (Ebola, Gaza, Syria, airplanes shot down) that I feel really overwhelmed and anxious. I care about what happens in the world and I want to stay informed, but I feel like I’m at my bad news saturation point. How do I stay informed but not get overwhelmed?
A: You’re not alone in this. It’s OK to go on a media fast (or just words, no images) until you regroup.
As a longer-term solution, it’s also reasonable to redefine “informed.” Yes, there’s value in following world news, but I can argue the most effective citizens are the ones who focus their attention within reach of their influence.