Annie's Mailbox: He keeps thinking of other woman

Dear Annie: My wife and I have been together for 17 years — married for the past nine.

This is a second marriage for both of us. We have no children together.

Things were good for the first several years, but then I became complacent and lost interest.

Sex happened only on rare occasion. We started doing things separately.

My wife told me she loved me, but she’d met a man who made her feel good and wanted to be with him.

Annie, I knew she was unhappy with me, but I didn’t want our marriage to end. So I gave my consent for her to spend more time with this man — and she did. After several months, she said I should go out and meet someone.

Three weeks ago, my wife and her boyfriend went out of town for the weekend, and I decided to go for a few beers.

I met “Nancy,” and we really hit it off. Being with her was exciting, and I felt alive for the first time in years.

Here’s the problem: When I told my wife about Nancy, she went ballistic. She broke down and said she is still in love with me, and the thought of my being with another woman is more than she can handle.

I realize it’s unfair that she got to be with her guy for a year and now the rules change. But in the past two weeks, we’ve done a lot of talking and soul-searching. I feel the right thing to do is forget about Nancy.

The problem is, I can’t stop thinking of her. I’m afraid if I agree to stay in the marriage, it will never be really good, and that’s not fair to either of us.

Any advice?

— Emotionally Drained

Dear Drained: Your wife obviously wanted to have it both ways. Still, the solution is not to accept being miserable. It’s to find out why things became so muddled and how you can fix them — or go your separate ways.

What you found appealing about Nancy could simply have been the novelty of having someone take an interest in you.

Please ask your wife to go with you for counseling and work on these issues with the help of a professional.

Dear Annie: My daughter sent a nasty, hateful letter about me to her siblings.

She broke my heart. Until then, she was the perfect daughter, and we had a close relationship. I waited for an explanation or an apology. She made several e-mail attempts, saying she was sorry I was offended by her joke. That was not acceptable to me.

I said I want a face-to-face apology, an admission of wrongdoing, a showing of remorse and a request for forgiveness. It’s been four years, and I have not seen her or my grandchildren.

Now the granddaughter has invited us to her winter graduation. I think it’s best not to go because I do not want to be near this daughter and will not speak to her until she offers a sincere apology.

I don’t want my attendance at the graduation to give her the chance to do so at the event. Are my expectations too high?

— Brokenhearted Mother and Grandmother

Dear Broken: By not attending the graduation, you are depriving your granddaughter of your presence, and you are deliberately trying to make your daughter grovel in order to be forgiven.

While you certainly deserve an apology, you don’t have to make it so hard. It will only prolong the estrangement. If she uses the graduation as an opportunity to apologize, isn’t it worth it?

Dear Annie: Years ago, I worked at a warehouse where someone kept stealing lunches, so I spiked my tuna sandwiches with as many red pepper flakes as I could stand.

The next day, someone took my lunch, and it was obvious who did it because the woman was by the water cooler trying to drink the whole jug.

— H.

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