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 [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.