March 9, 2020

By Marcy Sugar

By Kathy Mitchell

March 9, 2020 4 min read

Dear Annie: I have been married to "Ralph" for 30 years. Recently, I discovered that he has been speaking with an ex-girlfriend on his cellphone. These conversations have been going on for 10 years. They both say they are only friends, but I don't believe it.

This woman is married and lives out of state. Can two married people secretly talk to each other for 10 years behind their spouses' backs and it just be innocent conversation? By the way, this isn't an ordinary ex-girlfriend. Ralph planned to marry her after high school, but she chose college, and he had to let her go.

When I confronted Ralph, he said, "This has nothing to do with you. My feelings for you have never changed, and I never treated you any differently." But I feel as if I have been cheated out of 10 years of my marriage because his ex-girlfriend was taking part of him from me and I didn't know.

Ralph is a phenomenal father and has been a great husband. He wants me to let this go so we can move on. But how can I ever trust him again? — Feeling Betrayed

Dear Feeling: Sharing a conversation is not the problem. The fact that you were unaware of it for 10 years and this woman was romantically important to your husband is what's bothering you. Has Ralph been sharing intimate thoughts with her? Has he confided problems in his marriage to her? Has he expressed an interest in getting together with her? These are the questions you need answered. Ralph may feel that if there was no physical affair, he did nothing wrong. But anything that loses your trust damages the marriage.

Please ask Ralph to come with you for a few sessions with a marriage counselor, who could help him understand why this matters and help both of you fix it. This is how you "let it go" so you can move on.

Dear Annie: After raising my two daughters for 25 years, they were told by their mother never to speak to their paternal grandparents or me again, so they haven't.

What part of the brain makes people who seem normal and rational take this stance? They decide they will never even discuss the possibility of reconciliation. Do they have to take this hate, anger and stubbornness to their graves, no matter how much it hurts them? Is there any way to start the healing process? — Florida

Dear Florida: We assume there was a nasty divorce and not abuse, which does not require their forgiveness. Your daughters may feel a great loyalty to Mom and believe it is necessary to respect her wishes, no matter how unfair or hurtful. They may be angry with you, as well. Please continue to reach out to your daughters, regardless of their response. Let them know you love and miss them, as do their grandparents. We hope at some point they will decide they miss you, too.

Dear Annie: I'd like to add some advice to "Desperate for Answers," who is always being unfavorably compared to her older sister. I had the exact same situation growing up, and I wish someone had told me the following:

Your parents love you. They compare you to your sister because they don't know how to motivate you and help you do the best you can. They don't mean to hurt or diminish you. Concentrate on the talents, skills and characteristics you have that make you unique.

I made the mistake of competing with my sister and hating her for decades. I missed so much by doing that. It isn't her fault that your parents are comparing you. Make her your ally. — Been There

This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2015. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: congerdesign at Pixabay

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