Dear Annie: Fifty years ago, I met and fell in love with the most beautiful, perfect woman.
“Denise” and I were both teenagers, and due to errors in judgment on my part, we went our separate ways. But I never stopped thinking about her.
We are both divorced from our first spouses, and our children are grown. Denise remarried, and I have been in a relationship with a nice woman for 25 years.
About two years ago, we saw each other for the first time since high school. Believe it or not, we still felt the same as we did way back when.
We are both old enough to know we missed our chance, and we are both in committed relationships. However, we get together to visit when we can, to share our life’s experiences and to for the company.
The question: Do we keep our friendship knowing there is a possibility we will one day be tempted to do things we shouldn’t?
I can’t get Denise out of my heart and mind, and she has acknowledged the same feelings, although not in the same words. I miss her terribly when I’m not with her, and it feels as if I need to see her to keep my sanity. What am I to do?
— Still Crazy About Her After All These Years
Dear Crazy: You apparently anticipate that an affair is only a matter of time. While we don’t deny the appeal of a 50-year-old passion, you are not behaving honorably by having a clandestine relationship.
If you sincerely want to put the brakes on, it might help to invite Denise and her husband to join you and your partner for dinner.
Normalizing the friendship instead of sneaking around could alleviate a great deal of the romantic tension.
Dear Annie: I have an etiquette question. I was a widow for many years and have recently married “John Smith.” However, for a variety of reasons, I have decided to retain my former married name, “Edna Johnson.”
What is the proper way for me to be introduced by persons (particularly children) who wish to address me as Mrs. Whatever?
— Nameless Spouse
Dear Nameless: “I’d like to introduce Edna Johnson (or Mrs. Johnson) and her husband, John Smith.” You can flip that around any way you like, but as long as you include the relationship between you and Mr. Smith, there shouldn’t be any confusion.
And if Mr. Smith is not present, you can be introduced as “Mrs. Edna Johnson.”
Dear Annie: This is my first time writing, but the letter from “On Strike” struck a chord with me.
I am married to a woman who is on the staff of a large international women’s service organization. I participate equally in maintaining our home and consider myself enlightened about the challenges of women in the world today.
That being said, I suggest “On Strike” look at the dynamics within her family. Who wants to be at these gatherings? Who organizes them, and who would miss them if they ceased?
I suspect it is the women who most value these times together and that the men would be happier to stay home.
If that is the case, they can hardly be blamed for their lack of enthusiasm when it comes time to help out.
If “On Strike” could genuinely offer her husband the chance to opt out — without guilt — her problem might solve itself.
— Husbands Are People, Too
Dear Husband: Intriguing, but major family gatherings are more than the sum of their parts.
They are how families learn to get along with each other, how children are taught to respect their elders and become friends with their cousins, and how in-law families blend.
Every member of the family should attend, even when they’d rather stay home and watch TV.