Annie’s Mailbox for Feb. 7, 2011: Alcoholic husband violated my trust
February 7, 2011
Dear Annie: My husband, “Don,” is a recovering alcoholic. Last year, I discovered that he had a balance of $27,000 in credit card purchases for expensive watches, tool machines and alcohol. This nearly destroyed our 15-year marriage.
Ten years ago, Don relapsed with alcohol and stole my prescription pain medications. He has a history of lying, so the discovery that he was actively drinking again equaled the enormity of the credit card balance. I felt so betrayed by his deceit that we separated for a few months. During this time, he entered an outpatient treatment center and saw a counselor on a weekly basis. One of the conditions of reconciliation specified that he discuss with me any large purchases beforehand so we could be on the same page about how it would be financed.
Today, a 20-inch computer monitor was delivered to our house. When I asked Don why he bought such a nice monitor for our dinosaur computer, he confessed that he had actually purchased a brand-new computer. I was stunned.
He claims he was afraid I would say no, but, Annie, I have never refused any of his requests when he’s discussed them with me first, and our computer needed replacing. Don doesn’t seem to get that this is an absolute betrayal of my trust. He whined that he doesn’t like having to ask permission to buy something. This is not about permission. It’s about being honest. Don lies about everything, even when there’s no reason. Can you explain to him why this upsets me?
— Disrespected Wife
Dear Wife: Someone who has spent his life lying to others may not only find it difficult to stop, but might not grasp how honesty works. Marriage is a partnership. Purchases that affect the family bank account should be discussed because that’s what partners do. Someone with Don’s credit history is especially vulnerable to impulse buys and should get a second opinion to reduce the chances of going into debt. Since he violated the terms of the reconciliation, insist he go back to counseling.
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Dear Annie: My co-worker “Rachel” sells makeup from our office. She keeps all her supplies in her desk, and her customers come to our office to pick up their purchases. Sometimes when she is busy, she’ll ask me or another co-worker to attend to these customers. Our boss has no idea.
I’m sure this is a big no-no for our company. I realize we should not have allowed it to begin with, but it was hard to say no. Rachel has quite a temper. But it has gone on for too long, and we are all quite sick of it.
How do we tell her to stop without causing a big rift? Should we speak to her? Should we tell our boss or human resources? We don’t want her to get into trouble. We just don’t want to lose our jobs.
— Won’t Lose My Job for Her
Dear Won’t: As a group, inform Rachel that you are worried she could lose her job if the boss finds out about her second business. Add that you cannot afford to risk your own jobs by covering for her, and you will no longer deal with her customers. The longer it goes on the more likely it is that the boss will find out. Tell her it would be safer to have the customers pick up their merchandise elsewhere.
Dear Annie: “Kay in Indy” used Mary Todd Lincoln as an example of women keeping their maiden names as middle names. Mary Lincoln referred to herself and signed her letters as “Mary Lincoln.” Lincoln biographers refer to her as “Mary Todd Lincoln,” but she herself never did.
— Nitpicky in the Land of Lincoln
Dear Nitpicky: Dave Blanchette at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill., backs up your facts. He also said that after the Lincolns’ first two sons were born, Abe referred to Mary as “Mother,” but she always called him “Mr. Lincoln” (a type of address not uncommon in the 19th century).