Emotional affair leaves trust in the dust

Dear Amy: My husband and I have been together for over 31 years and for the most part have had an amazing marriage and partnership. He is truly my life partner.

I am, though, struggling with my insecurity stemming from an "emotional affair" he had with a colleague about six years ago. They had the opportunity to travel together and connected emotionally. He said he was unhappy with our marriage and fantasized about being with this other woman. He got to the point that he was willing to leave our marriage to pursue this relationship. I felt blindsided.

Fortunately, he did not act on his emotions, and after marriage counseling and reigniting our commitment our marriage has blossomed into something wonderful; I am truly blessed.

However, he still works with this person. Although they no longer travel alone, she occasionally joins him for business dinners. They have gone to lunch alone and he has to interact with her daily. He is open with me, and I am grateful for that.

However, I sometimes let fear take control, which opens the door to the insecurity. I worry about our relationship and fear that I will be blindsided once again. How do I move past this? How do I let go of the fear and totally trust him?

— Blindsided Wife

Dear Wife: You are providing a template and an example for how couples can recover and reconnect after an affair. Congratulations on your success. This sort of recovery is especially challenging when the two people involved in the affair are colleagues.

However, your husband should not be having lunch or dinner alone with his affair partner. This may seem like splitting hairs, since they interact at work during the day, but sharing a meal alone together outside of the workplace environment is different — and you know it is different because of the way it makes you feel. Don't simply be grateful for your husband's transparency — ask him to take this very common-sense step to shore up your emotional security.

You two should also commit to continuing occasional couples counseling — just to check in, tweak your progress and mark your success.

Dear Amy: I am a 36-year-old Italian who lives in London. The reason I came to London is because I was laid off last year and this is where I found a job. I like it here. I have a decent salary now but I miss my family and my friends so much; I miss my home country.

I would love to go back to Italy, even for a lower salary, but my fiancee expects me to settle down in the U.K. because she believes that money and a good career matter more than sentimentalism about a country — one that some people see as an almost bankrupt place.

Is it just a matter of feelings I should face as an adult person? Should I force myself to focus on my job and force myself to stay here? Or should I do what my heart tells me and go back to my beloved Rome?

— Alfredo

Dear Alfredo: When you describe a place as "my beloved Rome" and say that is where your heart is, then I say you should go. You wax more eloquently about your homeland than you do about your fiancee.

Ideally you will find another good job at a high salary back home (don't go back until you find employment). Then the question is whether your fiancee will be able, emotionally, to leave London in order to be with you. Buy her a copy of Elizabeth Gilbert's inspiring memoir "Eat Pray Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia" (2007, Penguin), and see if the magic happens.

Dear Amy: You were way too easy on "Politely Pondering," who had a minor quibble with his wonderful girlfriend's table manners.

I cannot for the life of me imagine why this would matter to someone claiming to love someone else. I wish you had delivered a zinger right in his kisser. What happened?

— Disappointed

Dear Disappointed: Answering this question, I was reminded of a time when my (now) husband lovingly delivered a little course-correction about my own table manners. It was easy to stop doing something that was driving him crazy.

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