Dear Abby: I have been married almost 20 years. Eight years ago my wife began an emotional affair with a co-worker. It lasted a year, until he left the company. Although they never had sex, they did have some physical contact that most people would consider inappropriate, and my wife considered ending our marriage because of the feelings she had for him. She now says the episode was a huge mistake and she loves me more than ever.
The problem is, she wrote many entries about him in a journal. I know she kept writing about him several years after they lost contact, including saying that she loved him more than a year after he’d left.
I want my wife to remove the portions of the journal pertaining to this guy. She doesn’t want to. I’m still hurting from this and am considering counseling, but for now, what do you think? Should she get rid of the journal?
— Considering Counseling
Dear CONSIDERING COUNSELING: Because you are still hurting seven years after the fact, stop “considering” counseling and get it now.
If your wife is a serious journal writer — and many people are — that she would want her writings to remain intact in spite of the fact they reflect her emotional affair is not unusual. If that’s the case, instead of insisting she edit or destroy her journal, my advice is to stop reading it.
Dear Abby: I’m a 47-year-old man who was single until seven years ago. Then I met “Maggie,” the most wonderful woman I had ever known. She wasn’t the hotsy-totsy one-nighter type I was used to. She was a real woman who fulfilled everything I had ever dreamed of (including bringing a wonderful 4-year-old little girl into my life). The biological father is out of the picture.
Maggie had wrestled with some health issues — nothing serious until last April, when she had surgery. Complications set in, and I lost the only person who ever mattered, aside from our little girl.
My question is, since we were never married, how do I refer to Maggie when relating what happened? I am in the process of adopting her daughter and explanations to strangers are tough. (“Wow, you’re taking on a child when you don’t have to?”) How do I respond to these remarks? I know this is a multi-part question, but I have so many unanswered questions lately, I figured I’d ask you for an opinion.
— Grieving in Missouri
Dear GRIEVING: Although you and Maggie weren’t legally married, you were a couple for some time. I’m very sorry for your loss. It would be accurate to refer to her as your late significant other, your partner or longtime girlfriend.
I would like to compliment you for stepping up to care for the girl when her biological father did not. And I do have suggestions for how to respond to anyone insensitive enough to ask why you would “take on” a child you didn’t “have to.”
The first would be to ignore the question. The second would be to avoid such a person in the future, and the third would be to reply, “I love her like a daughter, want to make sure she’s secure and provided for, and that’s why I’m doing it.”