Ask Amy: Unfaithful partner wants to recommit

June 30, 2012

DEAR AMY: I am a 34-year-old male at the end of my rope. My relationship of almost six years has seen better days.

Seven months ago I made the mistake of having an affair during the lowest point of the relationship. During the period when I was having the affair, my partner’s mother died. That phone call snapped me back to reality. I admitted the affair to my partner.

A week later the affair was over and I made up my mind about what I really wanted and needed to do. For the last seven months it’s been very tough even though we have pursued therapy.

I have tried my hardest to show the woman I love that this is where I want to be. Is it wrong for me to ask my partner to tell me if she really wants to work toward a better relationship or should we just go our own way?

All I am asking for is an equal effort toward building a better relationship. I know I stepped out, but going to therapy has shed light on the bigger issues that led up to it. -- Heartbroken Heartbreaker

DEAR HEARTBROKEN: For your partner, having a loved one cheat on her and another loved one die is a double-whammy that she should not be expected to immediately bounce back from. You need to understand how grieving over her mother’s death will impair her ability to heal from your unfaithfulness.

Of course you should ask her if she really wants to work on this relationship with you — but you should not expect her to be able to instantly commit to the process, or to your needs, when she is trying to recover from this other loss.

She may be expecting you to cut and run. If you want this relationship to survive, show her that you’re willing to work on bigger issues and that you will be patient and faithful while you do.

DEAR AMY: We have some very good friends from Europe coming to stay with us for two weeks in July. Both of them smoke and no one in our house does.

We stayed with them for two weeks last year and did not ask nor expect them to stop smoking in their own home (and they did not stop).

My wife feels that it would be very rude for us to ask them not to smoke in our house since they were so hospitable during our visit. I feel that just as they did as they pleased in their home, I should be able to apply our rules (no smoking) to our house. What do you think? -- Stymied in Seattle

DEAR STYMIED: The difference between smoking in your home vs. other European/American cultural differences (like taking a tea break at 4 p.m. or referring to soccer as football) is that smoking will affect your health.

Europe has changed more slowly than the States in terms of limiting or banning smoking in public areas, but the tide has definitely shifted to the extent that your European friends would not necessarily expect to light up everywhere.

You should not have to tolerate a toxic substance in your home in order to be hospitable. Before they arrive, tell them, “We know you’re smokers but you’ll find that smoking is not permitted in most public places here. We’d also rather you didn’t smoke in the house, but with the nice weather we hope it’s not too much of an imposition to ask you to step outside when you want to smoke.”

DEAR AMY: Responding to the letter from “Anxious,” the teen whose mother wouldn’t let her out of the house on her own, we live in Los Angeles and have recently started letting our 14-year-old daughter take neighborhood walks, but with her cellphone and our very protective dog.

We also have a 19-year-old girl in college, with whom we had the same rules. At some point, they are going to be on their own. You need to let them learn life skills before that happens. -- Safe Parent

DEAR PARENT: I completely agree with your technique.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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