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What's in a Name?


Dear Annie: My wife and I were both married before. Last year, she confessed that she'd had a 35-year affair with a married doctor. At the time, she was in her early 20s and he was in his early 40s. After 35 years, she decided he was too old for her and ended things.

She told me the doctor's name, but when I did some checking, I discovered it was a fake name. I am not upset about her past. But I am terribly unhappy that she is lying to me. She met this doctor in his office, so she knows his name. How can she expect me to believe she didn't know the identity of a guy with whom she had a 35-year affair? I no longer trust her and don't like the dishonesty. Is there any way to trust her again, or do I move on? — Lost in El Paso

Dear Lost: She may be protecting this man's identity because she doesn't want you to confront him. Or you may know him. Or she could be lying about the affair. She obviously didn't expect you to check the veracity of her story. Now you need to discuss it with her. Tell her what you discovered. Ask her why she lied. Quite frankly, it serves no purpose for you to know this man's name, and you should say so (and mean it). She is less likely to hide information when she believes you will not judge her or go looking for old boyfriends. It might help to have this conversation with a counselor who can mediate.

Dear Annie: My in-laws divorced 10 years ago because of my father-in-law's homosexual infidelity. Shortly after the divorce, my mother-in-law attempted suicide.

I don't think she has ever sought therapy for her emotional pain. To this day, she continues to badmouth her ex-husband in front of her children and grandchildren. She seems to vent mostly to me, probably because I'm related by marriage and she figures I'll be more receptive.

Sometimes she'll make up stories about him.

I believe she wants me to hate him. The truth is, I don't. In spite of what happened, he has been a wonderful father and grandfather, and we love him. How can I get her to stop bashing him without seeming to take sides and hurting her feelings? — Dumped Upon

Dear Dumped: It is perfectly OK to tell your mother-in-law that you don't want to hear such criticisms and simply ask her to stop. Or get up and leave when she starts in. But you might also say with genuine concern that she seems obsessed with her ex and you are worried about her mental health. Suggest she seek therapy not only to vent to a professional, but to learn how to move forward with her life.

Dear Annie: I'd like to share how my family handled a situation similar to that of "Old in Indiana," the 90-year-old woman who wondered how to divide her possessions among her daughters and daughters-in-law.

I'm one of three siblings, and the folks had several generational heirlooms that none of us wanted to see sold or given to one of us as a show of favoritism. Our parents put numbers on each item, and then we drew matching numbers from a bowl. We agreed that if one of us wanted an item someone else had drawn, an offer could be made to trade or pay its monetary value. Anyone who didn't want something they were given had to give notice to the other two siblings before putting it up for sale, allowing the others to buy it and keep it in the family.

All of this was written down and agreed to in the presence of a lawyer, and added to the will. There have been no regrets or disputes. — A Happy Heir in Nebraska

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



32 Comments | Post Comment
LW1 - your wife lied to her first husband & lived a lie for around half her life. Her ability to create that massive deception doesn't set off any alarms, but you are upset because she told you a small lie, the guy's name? You're really missing the big picture and focusing on the wrong details. She probably told you a fake name to prevent you from looking the guy up, which was a good guess on her part since that's what you quickly did. Giving you a fake name is nothing compared to the lies you say you're okay with. If you really have no problems with her past & think it has no bearing on her current character, then I'd forget the fake name thing, too.
LW2 - I feel bad for your mil. The wife of one of my friends left him for a woman after a few kids & many years of marriage, and he felt like his whole life was a lie, like he'd been played by the person he trusted most in the world. He wasn't. It just took his wife a long time to come out. Telling your il you no longer wish to hear this bashing is a good idea. The suggestion for therapy may be better from a blood relative than an in-law.
Comment: #1
Posted by: kai archie
Wed Apr 11, 2012 9:25 PM

LW3 refers to the first letter on 11 February 2012, and was also discussed on 30 March 2012.

Comment: #2
Posted by: Miss Pasko
Wed Apr 11, 2012 10:15 PM
For Mike and Ike

Have a great day today!
Comment: #3
Posted by: Miss Pasko
Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:18 AM
Soprry, but I don't buy the Annies mamby-pamby rationalisations. It took her 35 years to decide the man was too old for her? Yeah, right. What happened here is that it took 35 years for him to grow too old for the age difference to stop being less important than what she was getting out of this secret little tryst.

Why would be "confess" to something like that and then lie about his name? It is absolutely certain that she knew his name. She didn't want you to check him out and you probably know the guy, the Annies are right about that one. Nevertheless, she is a lying b!tch with no morals, and what's to say she's not replaced the ageing doctor with an younger one even now? This woman is not to be trusted. Leave her to her secret life and to her lies. And get yourself tested.

P.S.: You have a problem with not getting the guy's real name, but not with the fact that your wonderful wife was the mistress of a married man for 35 years? I'm afraid your priorities are out of whack, and you don't that much morals yourself, siree.

As much as she originally had a legitimate complaint, your MIL appears to be stuck in the past. Yes, you can tell her to stop, and get up and walk away from the room when she gets started on her usual spiel but, considering she has become unhinged about this enough to start making up stories, it WILL be perceived as "siding with him". Any attempt to say "with genuine concern that she seems obsessed with her ex and you are worried about her mental health" will be understood to mean you think she's crazy.

I'm not saying you shouldn't do any of these things, in fact they're pretty much ALL you can do, but that's the way it is. Perhaps a better option would be to learn to tune her out and "yes, Mom" her.

Comment: #4
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Thu Apr 12, 2012 2:27 AM
LW1 - You're not upset that your wife had an affair with a married man for 35 years, but only that she didn't give you his right name so you could snoop and possibly cause trouble for the man and his wife? I wonder if her first husband found out about the affair and did just that. In any event, I find it troubling that the LW doesn't seem to care about the fact that she cheated on her first husband and lied to him. Only that she told him the wrong name. And why does he need to know the doctor's name? If he is really not upset about the cheating, then why does he need to know that? Sounds to me like they deserve each other. She's a cheater and he's a trouble-maker. Good grief!
Comment: #5
Posted by: Kitty
Thu Apr 12, 2012 2:39 AM
LW1 - You're not upset that she was sleeping with a married guy for 35 years - probably while she was also married to her first husband - but you are upset that she lied to you about his name?? That doesn't make any sense to me! I also don't know why you're surprised that she lied to you about his name. Your wife was a cheater and cheaters lie. I would be more concerned that you have a wife who was a mistress for 35 years and doesn't seem to have any remorse for that.

Oh, and that "it took her 35 years to realize he was too old for her" is crap. It doesn't take 35 years to realize someone is "too old" for you. If he was in his early 40's when she started with him, that means he was in his late 70's when she ended it. The issue was that he became an "old man" or he could no longer get it up or perhaps he became sick, etc.

LW2 - I personally wouldn't suggest therapy. That never goes over well. I would simply say, "I understand that you're upset but I don't want my kids to hear bad things about their grandfather. I'm not condoning what he did but he is still their grandfather. Please refrain from saying anything around me or them." If she still does it, get up and leave. If she gets mad at you...oh well. At least you won't have to hear it anymore.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Michelle
Thu Apr 12, 2012 3:09 AM
Sounds to me like the wife is lying to get out of the marriage.
Comment: #7
Posted by: happymom
Thu Apr 12, 2012 4:35 AM
LW2: "MIL, you know how much we love you, and we hurt for you -- you were placed in a terrible position that no one should ever be in. Yes, your life would have turned out much differently had he not felt pressured to become "normal" all those years ago, and left you free to marry someone else. Would it have been better? Maybe. maybe he would have lbeen a faithful, hard-working guy. But Maybe not. Maybe this phantom husband would've struggled with mental illness that pulled his whole family down; maybe he have been a criminal or a womanizer; maybe he would have gambled away your life savings. Maybe he'd have died of a heart attack at age 35 and left you with 4 young kids and no life insurance.

"Whatever your regrets from your marriage, know this: Without your marriage to him, you would not have THESE children and THESE grandchildren, who have been treated well by your former husband and who love him. Hearing you trash him does not diminish their respect for him; it tears them apart, because they love you, too, but itultimately builds up frustration and resentment against YOU. I would hate to see you suffer this insult on top of injury; we love you. But we're not equipped to help you move past this very real emotional injury. I feel like you're asking us to treat a broken leg with a Band-Aid. MIL, I really believe that a few visits with a counselor will help free you of the pain you're still in -- I've collected a few names of good therapists that friends and neighbors have recommended. Does your insurance cover this at all, or should we see which of these accept patients on a sliding scale basis?"
Comment: #8
Posted by: hedgehog
Thu Apr 12, 2012 4:41 AM
Off Topic:
I have the day off work today, and I have just read the BTL from 4 April, and see that there was a discussion of my PSAs. (I certainly hope the intervening days do not have a continuation of the discussion.) I don't wish to drag it out, but I want to thank those that defended me and to accept Dave Galino's apology, so I think it is best to make this post today.

Dave - no hard feelings, apology accepted.
Thank you to Kitty, hedgehog, alien, moon, AWC, Annies Fan and Lise B. Special thanks to Mike H – luv ya, big guy!
My apologies to anyone I've left out. Please do not respond to this message! Let's keep the rest of the day On Topic.

Comment: #9
Posted by: Miss Pasko
Thu Apr 12, 2012 4:45 AM
LW1: I agree with those who wonder why you are not more upset about your wife's 35-year, ongoing broken trust with her former husband and her seemingly callous casting aside of him, NOT because what they were doing was wrong and had the potential to hurt many other people, but because he was suddenly "too old." I think you've been given a warning, but you are concentrating on one very puny little sapling rather than the ginormous forest all around it.

Comment: #10
Posted by: hedgehog
Thu Apr 12, 2012 4:45 AM
Licensed health care providers have to goby their legal name at work, but that's not to say they might not go by a different name socially. Perhaps the doctor was a socially progressive man who used his wife's last name socially?
Comment: #11
Posted by: Jodie
Thu Apr 12, 2012 5:29 AM
LW2--Dear Kettle, why don't you go ask the pot why she is being deceitful in concealing her long-term doctor paramour's name. What on earth were you hoping to achieve in looking this guy up? The man would be in his mid to late 70's by now; surely he's no longer a threat to you or your marriage. And speaking of that, it should speak volumes to you that your wife would carry on a salacious affair with a married doctor for 35 years and THEN decide that he was too old for her. I hope you have a sterling bill of health because unless I miss my guess, your wife is going to flee into the arms of yet another man faster than a cat can lick its ass at the first sign of overcast skies in any aspect of your marriage.

LW2--"How can I get her to stop bashing him without seeming to take sides and hurting her feelings?" While I can certainly understand the depth of pain and betrayal your MIL must be feeling over her former husband, bashing the man in front of anyone who will listen isn't healthy. I have prided myself over the years with having the ability to remain perfectly neutral in the midst of in-fighting or animosity between family or friends. The next time MIL starts spewing diarrhea of the mouth about her ex-husband, you can simply smile sweetly and say "Hmm, it's weird you feel that way about 'Joe', because I never see that side of him..." Then counter immediately with an example of his being a wonderful father or grandfather. Repeat as needed.
Comment: #12
Posted by: Chris
Thu Apr 12, 2012 5:46 AM
LW1: My fellow posters, especially kai, have this one covered for the most part, but what irritates me about this woman is that she left her affairee when he got too old! I wonder what she was getting out of the relationship: it certinly wasn't love because she would hve stayed with him. I think you'd better to look to your wife's past to see your own future.

LW2: My mother badmouths my father STILL and he's been dead for several years! She does not do it, however, in front of me anymore, because I won't tolerate it and haven't for many years. Suggestions for LW2:

1. Whenever MIL starts badmouthing her ex, first of all get ALL the grandchildren out of the room. Immediately. When she asks why, simply say "We don't need the kids to hear this kind of talk". Simple. the kids DON'T need that drama. That alone should be a bit of a wakeup call.

2. When she starts to talk about your FIL, simply say, "Mom, I love you, and I also love Dad. I know he hurt you, but you are hurting US now when you keep talking badly about him. Please stop." With my mother (I know it's different) that seems to be the only thing that will get her to stop. I think it's because she doesn't KNOW what she's doing and seeing us reminds her of Dad and triggers something in her that makes her just unload about her past (and yes she's been through therapy). We have to stop that and the best way to do that for Mom is to say "Stop! You are hurting ME!"

3. As another poster said, suggesting therapy is probably not going to go over well. At least, not from YOU. It very well could come across as smart if it comes from a trusted friend of your MILs. Are you friends with any of your MILs friends or members of her church (if she goes)? I would try a 1:1 with them to vocalize your concerns about her mental health. I did go to one of my mom's friends at one point who interceded for me: it didn't work, but it made Mom more aware that we were concerned about her and that stopped the rampages for a bit.

Bottom line: you have the right to stand up to your MIL about this. The fact that she attempted suicide and then never followed up is very telling here: she is in victim state ("It's all his fault my life has fallen part!") and she is comfortable there. As a wise man once said: A baby sometimes doesn't want it's poopy diaper changed even though it's bad for them because the diaper is warm and it's HIS. You have got to change this dialogue from your MIL if not for her (change the diaper) than for the children involved (nobody needs to be in a room with the poopy baby).
Comment: #13
Posted by: nanchan
Thu Apr 12, 2012 6:19 AM
Thirty-five years? That's far longer than most marriages, and I'd bet good money it wasn't one of those "meet me in the broom closet between patients for a quickie and nothing else" affairs. My hunch is the emotional aspect of the relationship was far more powerful than the physical. And "too old" for her now? More likely, he either passed away or has a serious medical condition that caused them to realize they couldn't continue seeing one another without going completely public about the past 35 years. (hey, they might even have a child or children together - its not unheard of!). Regardless, my intuition tells me she "confessed" because she is missing this man, feels lonely and emotionally adrift, and is needing her current husband to understand. She's grieving a loss of a relationship which was a big part of her personal history, and she is seeking comfort. This is one instance where I think counseling is vital - for each of them individually, and as a couple. A 35 year relationship - whether it's an affair, a marriage, a partnership, a friendship or other - shows she is more than capable of a long term commitment and I think their marriage could easily come through this revealation intact and stronger. A single, long term affair with one person does not make a man - or woman - a serial cheater jumping from one bed to another. Oh, and the LW doesn't say she was involved with this man while she was married to her first husband or while married to her current husband - what if the 35 years was while she was a divorcee? She wouldn't have been "cheating" on a husband; she would have been closer to being a second wife in a polygamous marriage.
I agree it's bothersome that the current husband is more focused on finding out the mans true identity than anything else, but I imagine he wants to see what kind of man could keep a woman devoted and in love with him for three and a half decades.
Comment: #14
Posted by: Jo
Thu Apr 12, 2012 6:45 AM
Re: Chris

great post!
Comment: #15
Posted by: nanchan
Thu Apr 12, 2012 7:12 AM
LW1 -- I usually try to be nice when I respond to LWs, but seriously, you're an idiot.

LW2 -- I think you've gotten excellent advice at the BTL. IF you are going to suggest therapy, DO NOT USE THE ANNIE's WORDING, saying she seems "obsessed" with her ex. She MIGHT be open to therapy if you suggest it differently, similar to hedgehog's wording. This woman isn't "obsessed" -- she's hurting. Acknowledge her pain, which is perfectly understandable and not "obsessive," and then tell her that because your own feelings in the matter are so mixed that you just can't talk about it with her. And, as others have noted, this conversation needs to be had in private without any children around. I particularly liked nanchan's post related to reminding her EVERY TIME that this cannot be said in front of the children.

But I also wanted to suggest that you may well be the perfect person for her to vent to, if you can stomach it, so long as no one else is around. Regulars have read previous posts from me about my evil BIL. My MIL, whom I genuinely love and enjoy, has both anger and guilt toward and about this son. For reasons that would take too long to go into, she cannot talk about this with her husband or her other sons. She frequently seeks me out as a sounding board and/or simply to just vent because even though I'm a member of the family, she knows it doesn't hurt me to hear about all of this the way it hurts her husband and sons. Now, the big difference here is that I never much liked this person, and he has PURPOSELY done things to hurt people, whereas your FIL never intended to hurt anyone (and therefore isn't evil, like my BIL) and you sincerely love him. So, you may not be able to stomach it, as I do. But if you can, you might really be able to help your MIL come to terms with all that has happened. If not, go with nanchan's and/or hedgehog's advice.
Comment: #16
Posted by: Lisa
Thu Apr 12, 2012 7:13 AM
@Chris -- not that accolades from me mean anything, but just wanted to second nanchan -- great post today!
Comment: #17
Posted by: Lisa
Thu Apr 12, 2012 7:14 AM
There's nothing new about women fantasizing about their doctors and there's nothing new about spouses lying. Personally, I think there's a good chance this nutty woman made up the whole thing. What motivation would she have for telling her husband this tidbit now anyway unless she just wants to make a fantasy seem real by making him jealous about it? And if there IS any truth to it, it would be easier for me to believe that for however many years (she could make up a number) she was a willing sex partner. They both sound a little screwy to me.
Comment: #18
Posted by: Maggie Lawrence
Thu Apr 12, 2012 7:30 AM
Oh for goodness sakes you people really need to calm down screeching about how she's a lying slut with no morals and how he should get tested and she's probably still cheating... People grow up and realize the error of their ways. Situations change and they may not feel a need to be cheating anymore. Further, there is no guarantee she was cheating on her first husband. LW1 simply says they were previously married, not WHEN. It's entirely fathomable she divorced her first husband in her early 20s then was with this man for 35 years on the side. The fact she told her husband (no idea why) is a good indication she's not into that lifestyle anymore.

Frankly I'm more worried about her brains than her morals. Anyone who spends that much time being second best side dish has serious self esteem issues or is plain stupid.
Comment: #19
Posted by: wkh
Thu Apr 12, 2012 7:43 AM
nanchan how on earth would she "stay" one he was too old? She was his mistress, not his wife! It's possible this man has dementia and is in a home now.
Comment: #20
Posted by: wkh
Thu Apr 12, 2012 7:46 AM
Re: wkh

I was with you until your last sentence; and then you go and make assumptions about LW1's wife as well!

She and the good doc were together for 35 years... She may not have been the side dish you think she was. Some affairs are incredibly complex and, well, deep. I'm NOT saying it's okay, at all, but while we're speculating ("she may have been divorced at the time of the affair") - the doc may have been with a distant wife, a marriage of convenience, where he was tacitly permitted to carry on a meaningful relationship with LW1's wife. We don't know... And it's not really the issue.

The issue is that LW1 doesn't trust his wife and he has good reason not to. He's making it about the fake name but that's not the crux of it. I suspect he DOES have a problem with her past but he's focusing on the lie.

LW1, you can't prove a negative. That MAY be his real name, and not his practicing name. Also, the guy is probably almost 80 now, and his name may not be "out there" if he had a small practice or stopped practicing at an early age (say, 50 - which would have been 25 years ago).

Talk to your wife. She was forthcoming about the affair, and may have a simple explanation if she did in fact lie. She may have been trying to protect a dying man's family for all you know. But talk to her, and decide if you trust her.
Comment: #21
Posted by: Zoe
Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:23 AM
Re: Jo
"She wouldn't have been "cheating" on a husband;"
Except that she was having sex with a man who was cheating on his wife. That doesn't exhibit any respect for that woman, nor for their marriage vows.

"she would have been closer to being a second wife in a polygamous marriage."
Except that the First Wife will know about and generally approve of the "sister". Some first wives even choose the second wife themselves.

A lot of women only find out about their husband's long-time mistress after going through his personal effects after he died. The number of wives knowing and approving of the mistress is so rare that, until evidence of the opposite, I will take for granted she isn't one of them.
Comment: #22
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:49 AM
Re: wkh

Why on earth would she cut things off simply because he was "too old"? I think he's either retired and the funds are running out/limited or she's just callous enough to cut a man off from her affection (not necessarily sexual) because there is nothing else for her to gain from the relationship.

Comment: #23
Posted by: nanchan
Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:52 AM
She and the good doc were together for 35 years... She may not have been the side dish you think she was. Some affairs are incredibly complex and, well, deep. I'm NOT saying it's okay, at all, but while we're speculating ("she may have been divorced at the time of the affair") - the doc may have been with a distant wife, a marriage of convenience, where he was tacitly permitted to carry on a meaningful relationship with LW1's wife. We don't know... And it's not really the issue.
Affairs that are "incredibly complex and deep" tend not to break up because one party realizes after 35 years that the other is "too old".

Of course, it's entirely possible that he was the love of her life, that she's lying to her husband about the nature of and reason for the breakup (doc dumped her and she still pines? she found out he was cheating on HER, too? his wife threatened her?). Or even that BOTH of them had tacit permission from their respective spouses. Or she may have changed several details including profession AND his age, to divert suspicion from someone still in her life (even if the affair has ended). None of these is looking very good for his wife.

As to why she told him... this sounds to me like the result of one of those "how many times have you been in love?" if not "so, how many people have YOU slept with?" and quite possibly after a bottle of wine was consumed.

I dunno. I just think LW believes he has this all locked down except for that one, tiny little detail that she's not being honest about -- and I'm not sure that he knows very much he doesn't know.
Comment: #24
Posted by: hedgehog
Thu Apr 12, 2012 9:32 AM
Re: hedgehog

Breaking up after 35 years because of age is unlikely in any relationship, don't you think? Even in a legitimate relationship that is great for more than a quarter of a decade, partners split up and a reason like "too old" could mean any number of things that LW1's wife didn't want to get into; maybe they'd grown apart, maybe the old guy died, maybe he has alzheimers. I have a hard time believing that a 35 year relationship was anything but meaningful - a fifty year old woman doesn't stay with a seventy year old man because he's young enough but then he crossed the 75 year mark and boom, he's too old.

At any rate, my point is not that the wife was justified or trustworthy, it's that speculating about what a dirty, stupid STD-riddled tramp serial cheater with low esteem she is, is pointless and not helpful. We have no idea what the relationship was like, how it started or why, and how it ended and why.

We don't even know how the confession came to be. Maybe she mentioned something and LW1 pushed until he got most of the truth. Or maybe she drank a bottle of wine and spilled the beans, I don't know.

But LW1 asked for advice on how to trust her again, and whether he should move on and no one can answer that but him. But if he reads BTL and all he sees is "your wife is an amoral b*tch who probably gave you the clap", he may throw away a relationship that has promise (remember that whole "people change" thing?). Not everyone who has had an affair is automatically a bad person or incapable of an honest relationship. LW1's wife may be a cheating slut but he needs to talk to her and decide for himself if she sounds like a woman who was in love with a married doctor and had a relationship with him for 35 years, or if she just didn't want to be faithful to her husband, got bored and slept around. And then decide if he can and wants to trust her. Presenting an incredibly biased opinion on that isn't helpful. To be clear I thought your initial response to LW1 was fair and that's not what I'm referring to here.

I'm referring to comments like these:

"she is a lying b!tch with no morals"
"get yourself tested" (okay, not bad advice, but in context it was demeaning)
"you don't that much morals yourself"
"She's a cheater and he's a trouble-maker."
"she left her affairee when he got too old" (this simplistic interpretation is highly unlikely to be the full story)
"it certinly wasn't love because she would hve stayed with him" (I protest - many people fall out of love, or leave the people they love for complex reasons)
"you're an idiot"

I know this makes it sound like I'm defending her actions which I am really not. I guess I just don't like the thought that LW1 could be swayed by these mean comments and let OUR opinions of someone we don't know make his decision for him because honestly we have almost no clue of what went on. And I also don't believe that cheaters are unforgivable - especially this kind where it was long, obviously meaningful, where the man is no longer a threat, as opposed to a serial cheater who has affairs and one night stands with anyone who looks at them the right way.
Comment: #25
Posted by: Zoe
Thu Apr 12, 2012 10:40 AM
Yes, maybe LW1's wife had tacit permission to cheat (or wasn't married at the time), and maybe the doctor had tacit permission to cheat, too. Who knows -- maybe LW1's wife, her husband, the doctor, his wife and the neighbor down the street regularly had group sex and everyone got off until the doctor got too old! Seriously, does ANY of this matter? The issue, as Zoe so perfectly put it, is that the LW doesn't trust his wife and has good reason not to. Because even if Maggie Lawrence's theory -- that the wife fantasized about an affair with her doctor and then told her hubby about it as if it were real -- is correct, it still leaves us with a man who doesn't trust his wife and has good reason not to (though, perhaps, not for the reasons he thinks).

And the Annies' response, which pretends to believe the LW when he says he doesn't care about her past, just the fact that she lied to him, is ridiculous. LW is fixating on the lie because he knows that his wife's past isn't supposed to bother him, since her past isn't about him. He's treating this as if it's all part and parcel with the whole thing about how people shouldn't be upset by the number of people their SO slept with before they met, but I think there's a difference between getting upset by a number, and getting upset by someone's past cheating (OK, maybe she wasn't cheating on her husband -- but apparently being part of an adulterous relationship was just ducky with her, and not just once but for 35 years). But my guess (and yes, it's speculation, so it could be wrong) is that the LW is just as upset -- if not MORE upset -- by the affair than the lie, he's just not willing to admit it.
Comment: #26
Posted by: Lisa
Thu Apr 12, 2012 10:40 AM
Rather than bash the letterwriter (again) and talk about how stupid and without morals he is, maybe it would help to remember that this guy is as human as the rest of us, and therefore prone to dealing with really large situtions by dealing with it incrementally.
Finding out that your wife had an affair for 35 year is HUGE and says volumes about her character, regardless of the details that we don't know. It really can take time to wrap your mind around something that mindblowing and then have to face making a decision about how you are going to handle that. I'd be willing to bet a lot that this man is breaking this situation down and focusing on those details that it appears he can handle and do something about - right now it's finding out the man's name. I have no doubt that as time passes he will feel more able to deal with the giant blow of who his wife has shown herself (in the past) to be. This is quite often how human beings deal with things.
Now, despite how righteously people here write, I know that every single person here has made mistakes or dealt with situations in a way that has made everyone around them shake their heads in wonder. Sometimes it seems like perfection is expected with the human race, and there is a complete lack of compassion or effort in understanding.
I just had to say something because I feel so humbled at how compassionately those in my real life have treated my piss poor decisions and how they've offered comfort when the inevitable caught up with me due to those decions; or how I've been offered good advice for problems that mired me down and I couldn't see the forest for the trees, but the right answer was so effing obvious to everyone else. Now, anyone here who hasn't experienced that, go for bashing the LWs, but perhaps the rest of you all could find a bit of compassion in your hearts. Ok, off my soapbox now.
Comment: #27
Posted by: kristen
Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:17 AM
Because even if Maggie Lawrence's theory -- that the wife fantasized about an affair with her doctor and then told her hubby about it as if it were real -- is correct, it still leaves us with a man who doesn't trust his wife and has good reason not to (though, perhaps, not for the reasons he thinks).
That's it, in a nutshell. I get what you're saying, Zoe -- but not all those derogatory comments made BTL about the wife are extrapolated from our feverish imaginations -- LW tells us that: "After 35 years, she decided he was too old for her and ended things." His wife said that this (at least) 75 YO man is now too old for her. She didn't say, "he died" or "he's got Alzheimer's, so seeing him anymore is problematic, because he's always got people with him and doesn't remember me anymore" or "he had surgery for prostate cancer, and now I visit him him only as a friend -- his wife likes me and we go to lunch sometimes."

Nope, Any of those might leave room for LW to wonder how he measures up to Dr. Sparky in his wife's mind. She wants her husband to believe she is DONE with this guy and harbors no romantic feelings whatsoever for him anymore -- that she'll never leave her husband for him or even that she'll continually measure LW against the memory of a Dead Guy.,) That means she must tell LW that she called it off with Dr. Sparky.

So, she grabs for the best way she can think of to assure LW he's No. 1 -- Yep, you're YOUNGER than Dr. Sparky! He's, like, OLD -- wants to eat the early bird dinner specials, clips coupons, doesn't like to travel anymore. Doesn't even wanna have sex anymore because of that heart condition thing. Also, his skin is getting kinda spotty and wrinkly. And that's not the way I want to spend my remaining years of good health and vibrancy, so I called it off.

My guess is that most LWs read in newspapers rather than online, so this LW is probably not reading any of the comments...or if he IS, he's realizing they're worth exactly what he paid for 'em, and rolling his eyes at the more absurd ones. But I don't think it's at all off limits for commenters to point out that if he wants to be able to trust his wife, there are more things to worry about than fixating on Dr. Sparky's real identity.

kristen -- LW learned f the affair last year, not last week. While he might have fixated on a small detail as he tried to get a handle on things, it's been at least several months and he has not let go of that detail. Those of us who are pointing that out actually believe it might be more helpful for him to start thinking big picture.

Comment: #28
Posted by: hedgehog
Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:39 AM
Do we all remember that totally immoral Jackie O who spent 12 years with her love Maurice Tempelsman? I can't remember hearing horrible stories about her. Just one example that all is not what it may seem to be. Then again, maybe it was. Nobody BTL knows what the circumstances were. 35 years is no fling. What is the LW hoping to get out of this information? He doesn't even know that she lied. The good Dr. could be dead or moved to Kentucky. I don't know what the solution is besides 'forget it' and move on or move out depending on how much of a deal breaker this is. I probably would be curious too and ask but if he was happy with his wife before I don't see that anything has changed.
Comment: #29
Posted by: Penny
Thu Apr 12, 2012 2:06 PM
Re: hedgehog
I get what you are saying, hedgehog, but it's not up to you to decide the time limit that the LW has to work with in dealing with his problems.
Perhaps I can be more compassionate here because it took me a long time (I won't write how long) for me to wrap my head around all the things my ex-husband did that brought about our divorce. Other people were, I'm sure, thinking "hell, all it takes is ONE of those things and he's history and you cut him from your life; he's a prick and who cares about understanding."
But I had to take each thing piece by piece and deal with them that way because it was completely beyond me how someone I thought I knew so well could be hiding such a different person inside and could be such an awful, hateful person that I had zero respect for. I never did figure it out, but I did figure out that it doesn't matter if I understand - only that I accept that this is what it is. But again, it took me a good length of time to get to that final piece.
I will admit, too, to being really frustrated at how people bash the letter writers. I think it's pretty crappy to get on your high-horse and tell people how stupid they are for having the problems that they do. It's really easy to view other people's problems with great clarity, but when they are close at hand it's almost always murky. I think people could employ a lot more compassion, if only because it's good karma. I think I'd much rather see posters bash eachother because at least posters can defend themselves. I can only imagine what LWs think when they read the nastiness that is written in response.
Comment: #30
Posted by: kristen
Thu Apr 12, 2012 2:48 PM
Re: Zoe

From the letter: "After 35 years, she decided he was too old for her and ended things. "

The LW simplified it, I DIDN'T.

Thank you. nanchan

Comment: #31
Posted by: nanchan
Thu Apr 12, 2012 5:26 PM
Re: Penny

In the Wikipedia biography of Jackie Kennedy, it says "From the mid 1970s until her death, her companion was Maurice Tempelsman, a Belgian-born industrialist and diamond merchant who was long separated from his wife."

This is actually very different than what you describe. First of all, Mr.Tempelsman was "long separated" from his wife. In some European circles (and in other countries as well), it has been long been the custom to stay married and have affairs... obviously Mrs. Tempelsman did not WANT a divorce and neither Jackie nor Mr. Tempelsman felt it necessary.. this is a bit different than the LW's situation.

In the LW's situation, the affair was terminated by the LW's wife with the long term love because "he was too old" (again, LW's quote, not mine). In Jackie's case, although one party WAS married (and yes, there WERE people who judged her for it), most of the country and (more importantly) the PRESS was so in love with Jackie Kennedy that she could have broken most any social rule and gotten away with it, and since Mr. Tempelsman was SEPARATED, it wasn't brought up much. And, more importantly, Mr. Tempelsman DIDN"T DO A DASH ON JACKIE WHEN SHE GOT SICK!!! He was there for her. The whole world watched as the family mourned and he did too!

I guess, I have an issue more with the way the LW describes his wife just letting go of a 35 year long affair. I have FRIENDS I've known that long that I will never let go of, much less someone who I was "in love" with. That's why I don't think she was in love with him. If she had any kind of real affection towards this man, she would not have ended the affair because "he was too old". She MAY have tapered it off, become his friend, but if she CARED, she would not have been so cold as to leave an affair as long as many marriages (as another poster said) because he was old.

Yes this is judgemental (but not towards the LW, towards his WIFE), but I think the LW's wife sounds like a cold fish. Strike that: I love sushi. She sounds like a a cold beeee.... well you finish the word.

And ALL of the self righteous posters here were to switch sexes on this? I'll bet just about everyone here thinks people like John Edwards is a scumbag for cheating on his sick wife, and that another candidate was pretty icky for asking his then wife for a divorce while she was recovering from breast cancer.... ok, how is that different than some cold woman dumping a guy for getting OLD? It isn't.
Comment: #32
Posted by: nanchan
Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:28 PM
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