DEAR AMY: I’m a married man of several decades. For the most part we are quite happy.
Recently I discovered that my wife has been having an e-mail/phone affair with an old boyfriend who has come back into her life. He lives in another state. There are consistent references stating “I love you,” ‘’You are the love of my life” and the occasional sexual innuendo in their e-mails.
This has been going on for more than a decade. I was able to determine this by doing a search of e-mails she had put in the trash and never deleted. My wife is a professional woman and computer savvy. That lack of caution on her part makes me feel that she almost wants me to find them.
In one e-mail exchange, they decided that this should be their secret and the bottom line is that “no one can get hurt.”
The e-mails occur four or five times a month. I don’t know how often they phone each other. I’m afraid it is affecting our marriage. She has seemed more distant to me lately.
I had one short affair many years ago, which was sexual in nature. I admitted it to my wife and she was great about it. She was deeply hurt but initiated counseling, and we worked our way through it and back to a good marriage.
The nature of her affair is very different, but one that I believe is having an effect on our marriage that, I fear, can be just as damaging. I would appreciate any advice. -- Adrift
DEAR ADRIFT: Well, you know the drill; you must repeat the process your wife initiated when you had an affair, and do what you can to understand, repair and forgive.
There is no question that an emotional affair can be very destructive and extremely challenging to recover from, especially one of this long duration. Because of your own experience of infidelity, you may possess some insight about what your wife is seeking in this other relationship.
My instinct is that she might not have recovered from this previous infidelity to the extent that you think; she is either retaliating or was already engaged in (or contemplating) this other relationship at the time you were unfaithful, which is why she was so “great” about it.
It’s just a theory. Be very honest about every single emotion you are feeling. Talk this through with a counselor, and invite your wife to join you.
DEAR AMY: My granddaughter recently got married. She is upset over her parents’ phone calls. Her parents call her almost daily. This went on all during college and has continued; they even called her on her honeymoon.
She is searching for independence and feels angry about the phone calls. I asked her to tell them not to call so much, but she says it will not do any good. What would be considered a normal amount of phone calls, and what is the best way for her to cut the telephone umbilical cord? -- Too Much Contact
DEAR TOO MUCH: The next time your granddaughter complains to you, tell her gently that she is complaining to the wrong person.
First of all, I don’t think there is anything wrong with calling a bride on her honeymoon, necessarily, but the big question is, why does your granddaughter answer?
It is extremely easy to dodge contact (my kids do it all the time). Some parents and offspring talk every day for a lifetime. Your granddaughter should retrain her folks by answering the phone only when she wants to talk to them and occasionally calling them to establish a new dynamic.
DEAR AMY: The letter from “Sleepless” broke my heart. This young adult was grappling with a terrible situation — his abusive and alcoholic mother who currently has foster children in the home.
I hope he takes your advice to act on behalf of these kids to get them out of there. -- Sad
DEAR SAD: There has been an outpouring of sympathy and support for “Sleepless” and the foster children in his mother’s home. I hope it gives him the strength he needs to act.