Dear Annie: I recently obtained proof of what I had long suspected: My husband of more than 40 years has been seeing prostitutes and having affairs for the past 20 years. During this time, he was always considerate and loving to me. I thought we had a wonderful marriage. When I confronted him with the evidence, he finally confessed. We went to a counselor, but after a single half-hour session, he wouldn't go back.
Aside from dealing with the shock and humiliation of the betrayal, I have two problems: First, I cannot forgive myself for not taking a firm stand when I first suspected his cheating. I put it out of my mind and continued as before. The second problem is that I cannot erase images of his affairs.
My counselor, along with some books I have read, says to reestablish our close, loving relationship and let the past go. So I made the effort, and our marriage now seems fine. We are happy with each other, but I still suffer with the mental images. I fear that I have demeaned myself by reestablishing an intimate relationship with him. I wonder whether I might regain my self-esteem by telling him our marriage is over.
I know there are other women in this situation, but I haven't been able to find a support group. I am fortunate to have a job I am passionate about that allows me to enrich the lives of others. I know I am a useful human being. Please help me get over this. — California
Dear California: You must decide whether you are truly ready to leave your marriage. Forty years is a long time. But your husband's track record doesn't inspire confidence in his future fidelity, and his unwillingness to commit to counseling indicates that he wants things to be exactly as they were before. First, see your doctor and get checked for sexually transmitted diseases, and then find another counselor. The one you are seeing is not helping you make the best decisions. You also can find online support by typing "infidelity support group" into your search engine.
Dear Annie: I have a granddaughter I have seen only three times in the past 15 years. I never heard from her in all that time. Recently, I was sent a note to save the date for her wedding.
I am not going to the wedding. I wouldn't know that girl if I saw her on the street. She has ignored me all these years, and I don't believe it is fair that she expects me to buy her a wedding gift. I think this is the only reason she remembered that she has a grandmother. Am I wrong to feel this way? — Forgotten Gram
Dear Gram: You are not obligated to attend this wedding or give a gift if you don't wish to. However, while most kids truly value their grandparents, some don't pay much attention, especially if the grandparents live far away. The parents can help encourage the bond, especially during the teen and young-adult years. Of course, it can change over time, but both parties must make the investment to work on it. Please try to send your granddaughter a card with your good wishes.
Dear Annie: I can only imagine how bothered I would be if my childhood artwork were all over my parents' house like "Not an Artist." One or two items can bug me on the wrong day, but all of the rooms all of the time? Yikes!
I'd suggest "Not an Artist" purchase a nice large book or portfolio that most of these works could fit in and present it to his folks as a gift, along with a family photo to hang on the walls instead. The parents would still be able to see and share the work they love, but it would remove the skin-crawling weirdness their adult son feels. — D.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], 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 www.creators.com.