Annie's Mailbox for April 28, 2011: Struggling to regain trust in husband

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Dear Annie: My husband and I have been married for 12 years. We've had our difficulties, but the latest setback has me stymied.

After a two-month separation, "Cliff" and I tried to reconnect. We started to cuddle in the early morning, exchanged goodbye kisses and hugs, and our conversations became more two-sided. He would call or text to say how much he loved me and wanted me back.

When I decided to return home, I discovered that he had gotten drunk at a bar with some of our friends and caressed a female co-worker's leg. I did some digging and found out that Cliff and this woman had been texting after midnight on the same evenings he had been telling me how much I meant to him.

I called this woman and asked what was going on. She denied everything. I was furious that she was not upfront and honest, although Cliff admitted to everything. He also claimed the text messages were not sexual, but were simply chitchat about their workday.

Cliff has never cheated on me. I have forgiven him, but he sees this woman every day at work. He is open to answering all my questions, but I'm not sure his answers are the truth.

We live in a small city and have run into this co-worker a few times when we were out. She and Cliff never acknowledge each other. If everything is as innocent as Cliff claims, why do they act this way? I love my husband with all my heart. How do I move on from this?

— Need To Get Over the Past

Dear Need: It is obvious that your trust in Cliff has eroded. You cannot be expected to get over something when you fear it may still be going on. Insist that Cliff go with you for counseling so you can work on this and he can understand why his behavior is so damaging. As always, if he won't go with you, go without him.

Dear Annie: My brother married a woman with two kids from previous relationships. Since they were little, these kids have been nothing but ungrateful, mean and disrespectful to me. The daughter ignored my family when we visited. The girl is now 17 and pregnant. I have not seen her for three years, but today I received an invitation to a baby shower. I do not plan to attend, but am I obligated to give her a gift simply because I was invited?

— Baby Shower Dilemma

Dear Dilemma: You are not obligated to send a gift for a shower that you are not attending. However, we hope you will reconsider. It is not the baby's fault that this young woman is ungrateful and disrespectful. It sounds like that child will have a hard enough time, and whatever help you can give would be a kindness.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Life Isn't Always Positive," who has a friend who constantly cuts her off or interrupts because she doesn't want to hear "downer" news.

You should have told her to turn the tables and say, "I don't want to hear anymore," so she knows how it feels. Or say, "I don't find our conversations friendly when the topic is driven by you. You decide which parts of my speech are negative and then redirect the conversation to something you find acceptable."

Fulfilling friendships have ebb and flow, and that's what makes them authentic. Many of us have to stay artificially upbeat all day long as part of our jobs. Real friendship is where we can share our feelings, worries, hopes and dreams.

— Jane

Dear Jane: We agree that a true friendship includes listening to the bad with the good.

Dear Readers: Today is Administrative Professionals Day. If you have assistants who make your job easier, let them know how much they are appreciated.

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