Annie's Mailbox for March 10, 2011: Husband's continued emotional affair ruining marriage

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Dear Annie: A few years ago, my husband had an emotional affair with an old girlfriend. This woman has caused problems throughout our marriage. I never seem to measure up to her. The first time I discovered that my husband was seeing her, I told him it had to stop. But just before our anniversary, he told me he wanted to be with her instead of me. I was devastated. Of course, a few days later, he got down on his knees and begged me to forgive him. He promised not to see her anymore.

However, he refused to stop speaking to her. I found his e-mails and had an emotional breakdown. When I told him in order for me to stay he had to cut her off completely, he did, but mourned as though she had died. We worked through it and became closer than before. I thought he loved me the way I loved him.

Two years later, they were e-mailing again. He said he didn't think I'd mind! He found out she had breast cancer and told me if no one was available to take care of her, he would do it even if it meant ending our marriage. He made it plain that she was more important to him than I was.

I told him this was his last chance, and he promised to give her up, so I forgave him. I made it clear that if I discovered he was in touch with her again, I'd divorce him.

Well, last year he joined her online high school website. He didn't even go to that school. He says it isn't cheating if they aren't having sex. But emotional affairs are just as devastating. Cheating is doing something when your partner is not around that you wouldn't do if they were with you. Cheating destroys lives. And marriages.

— Still Hurting in Tennessee

Dear Tennessee: Cheating is when one partner shares intimacies, sexual or otherwise, with someone other than the spouse. Your husband has offered this woman time, energy and devotion that belong to you. Since he doesn't seem to understand your objections, please try counseling before walking away.

Dear Annie: I was friends with "Nora" for several years. She was always caring and supportive. A few months ago, I made some comments about a mutual friend that she misunderstood and thought were mean-spirited and nasty. I tried to explain what I meant, but she brushed me off, indicating she wouldn't have time to further communicate with me.

I wrote her a few more times, telling her how much I miss our friendship, and apologized repeatedly for offending her. I thought she would forgive me, but she ignored my e-mails and finally said she was too involved in other things to write me.

She has shunned me completely and unfairly. I miss our friendship. What do I do?

— Sad in Salem, Ore.

Dear Sad: Nora doesn't believe your explanation and has decided you are no longer worth her time. She doesn't seem to be the forgiving sort. Sorry to say, this friendship is over.

Dear Annie: "Frustrated" wrote to say she is upset because her parents are not living up to her style code.

As a senior woman, I understand why her parents might feel this way. They have lived long enough and are confident enough to dress any way they please and not worry about what somebody else might think. Thank goodness that as we get older we are freed from some of the restrictions that younger people worry about. Frustrated needs to find something more important to occupy her mind and leave her parents alone.

— L.C.

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