Dear Annie: I’ve been married to “Julia” for 30 years. Last November, she was contacted by an old boyfriend through a reunion website. Since then, they have been trading e-mails and text messages several times a week. Julia has told me about the e-mails and texts, but she deletes them as soon as she responds.
I accidentally opened Julia’s e-mail account and saw that this guy has tried to convince her to meet secretly for lunch so they could hug each other and talk for several hours. He says he is sexually attracted to Julia, but is afraid of regrets if they “did something.” He also wrote that he does not have frequent sex with his wife. This guy has a cell phone with an unlisted number and an e-mail account unknown to his wife. He also has not mentioned this correspondence to her.
I haven’t told Julia about seeing the e-mail. She knows I have concerns about this guy, but insists she isn’t attracted to him. She says she loves me and would not cheat. She hasn’t had an opportunity to respond to his lunch suggestion yet because we have been on vacation.
Julia has offered to cut off the correspondence if I ask. Should I let this play out as two ships passing, if no damage is done? Just glimpsing at his technique, I suspect he has done this before. Should I contact his wife and possibly risk destroying his marriage?
— Internally Torn Apart
Dear Torn: No. That would be overly aggressive on your part. We think your wife is having a flirtation and nothing more, but these things can take on a life of their own, and we don’t blame you for being concerned. Julia has offered to stop contacting this fellow. Take her up on it, and make sure she follows through.
Dear Annie: I have been cleaning houses for years, and in all that time, only one client has given me a raise. I go above and beyond. If it takes me an extra 30 minutes to finish, I will stay and not ask for additional pay.
Why do people think that cleaning help don’t deserve raises or bonuses? These clients have found me to be trustworthy. Nothing ever gets broken, and I am always committed to being there. I never get a paid vacation and haven’t received a Christmas bonus in more than 10 years.
What are the proper guidelines?
— Appreciate the Cleaning Ladies
Dear Lady: Most clients would give you more money if you asked. Otherwise, they don’t think you mind, and they are quite content to continue paying the same amount. Tell them you have raised your hourly rate, and cite a specific figure. Remind them if necessary. Bonuses are not mandatory, but clients should remember you during the holidays, the same way they do their hairdressers, doormen and anyone else who provides an ongoing service.
Dear Annie: Your response to “Devastated and Frustrated” made my blood pressure go up 10 points. She has a terrible daughter-in-law. You told her to find something to like about her because she could catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
Instead of having her apologize to her snooty daughter-in-law, you should have advised her to discuss this matter with her gutless son and try to resolve it. But if that doesn’t work, she should cut all ties with these worthless people. If that means no contact with the grandchildren, too bad. I wouldn’t put up with the whole lot of them.
I don’t think she can find anything to like in this daughter-in-law, especially after 12 years of her nonsense.
— Outraged Reader from Tallahassee, Fla.
Dear Tallahassee: If one is willing to cut off all contact with one’s own child and the grandchildren, your solution is certainly one way to handle the situation. We don’t believe most parents would want that, however, and advised accordingly.