Relationship 'wrongs' haunt couple

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Dear Amy: Ten years ago, while married, I became romantically involved with a woman who also was married at the time. A few years ago, my wife and I divorced, but the girlfriend "Leigh" remained married (her husband was a traveling salesman, so he wasn't home a lot).

A few years ago, I felt that Leigh was fazing me out of our "relationship" and was never available to spend time with me, so I dated a different woman for a very brief time. I felt bad and ended that romance, hoping to rekindle things with Leigh. Well, Leigh found out about the "affair," which of course made her angry and upset.

Shortly after that incident, she got a divorce from her husband and wanted to start a serious and permanent relationship with me. We have been together now for a few years. She constantly brings up my infidelity. I often explain to her "our" two wrongs don't make it right. I say that becoming involved with one another while originally married was the start of something wrong in the first place.

I truly love this woman and want a future with her. But the constant blasting of "my" infidelity is taking a toll on the relationship. Should I just chalk it up and move on or hope that it will eventually stop?

— Wrong Foot

Dear Wrong: Two wrongs don't make it right — they make a mess. You have correctly identified your mutual infidelity as being at the root of your current relationship. This is not exactly the best foundation upon which to build your happy home.

In relationships, one partner will sometimes express her own shame by accusing the other of a relationship crime. This doesn't excuse your partner's behavior, but it might explain it. She may feel that your "affair" with another woman forced her hand to end her marriage. Her reaction is hostile, and it won't stop unless she deals with it.

You two should commit to couples counseling. Because this issue keeps surfacing, the best way to try to work it out is with the help of a neutral third party.

Dear Amy: I have been dating a man for several months. He is divorced, with two young children. My problem is that he has never let me meet his kids.

He is very busy with them, coaching teams and involved with their schools, and I feel like we are at the point where I should at least meet them. I'd like to get to know them, and I'm starting to resent the fact that he doesn't seem to want to introduce us.

What should I do?

— Upset Girlfriend

Dear Upset: Careful parents are extremely judicious before introducing their children to anyone they are dating. On the other hand, your guy may be using his parenting as a way to enforce a distance between you.

If he wants to have a fully integrated relationship with you, he will have to bring his kids into the fold — at least to the fringes — of your life.

You'll have to talk about this. If he doesn't want you to even meet his children, he'll have to be honest with you about the reason. Is he not "officially" divorced? Is he nervous about his ex? Does he worry about how the kids will react to the reality of his dating life? You'll need to accept his explanation and make a choice about whether this is what you want.

Dear Amy: I wanted to commend you on your excellent advice to "Office Mate," who works with someone who stutters.

I am a speech-language pathologist and your advice is completely in line with recommendations we would make to teachers, family and friends. I would extend that to anyone in verbal contact with a person who stutters. Make eye contact, relax and be patient.

I also appreciated your viewpoint that conversing with someone who stutters as a gift. We all could use a little more patience.

— Speech Pathologist

Dear Pathologist: These communication challenges demand that we slow way down and appreciate the opportunity to take a deep breath and concentrate on listening attentively.

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