Dear Amy: I just found out (from reading an exchange of text messages) that my husband of 40 years has reconnected with an old girlfriend.
They have been actively corresponding for about a year. Both are in their 70s.
Their relationship is far more than a happy re-connection between old friends, catching up and sharing their news. They act like they are in love.
They text, email, and FaceTime. He hasn’t talked to me at all about her.
He has been very agitated toward me, snaps at me, and gets upset over nothing.
Unbeknownst to me, he invited her to join us on our overseas vacation.
He told her that I like her and that I will be a good friend to her. (Keep in mind that I am not supposed to know any of this.)
I am very distraught about this, but I haven’t said anything yet.
Should I confront him?
How do I go about it?
Dear Distraught: You interpret and present this communication as a direct threat to your marriage, and because of that, you must be brave enough to discuss it with your husband.
I assume that your hesitation about raising this issue is at least partly due to your fear about what this conversation might reveal. Does your husband want to end the marriage? You will have to do your best to prepare yourself for almost any answer.
One response that you will be able to predict with complete accuracy: Your husband will blame you for finding this out. I hope you can remain calm during these initial blame-making moments. Take responsibility for snooping (if you have done), and move onto the next phase of this very tough conversation, which is – “What now? What next?”
A marriage counselor could help you two to navigate this; therapy would also be useful for you alone. Even if you don’t solicit the help of a professional an empathic family member or friend can both guide and support you.
Dear Amy: I am 74. My only biological brother is three years younger.
We are not “close,” but we pulled together when our parents died and after one of our step-siblings passed away, last year.
His wife of 50 years has just died. It was unexpected.
He is a guy of few words, but he texted me that there will be a memorial service in September. My heart sank, because my spouse and I have a bicycle trip planned in France with another couple in September!
Would it be totally wrong for me to tell him about our away dates before he schedules something?
I know it is not all about me, but I want to be at my sister-in-law’s service and b) I do not want my spouse and I and our friends to have to change reservations.
Dear Concerned: You should contact your brother now and ask him if he has chosen a date for the service. If he has picked a date and it conflicts with your trip, you can then try to change your reservations.
If he hasn’t yet picked a date, you can say, “Please, let me know as soon as possible – Bernie and I are scheduled to be overseas for the last two weeks in September, and I want to make sure we can make arrangements to be at the service.”
Dear Amy: The woman who signed her question: “Don’t Ask Me” reminded me of a dynamic my late wife and I had going after our child was born.
Don’t Ask Me didn’t like her husband’s habit of interrupting her with questions.
From the viewpoint of the one who’s being snapped at, I became fearful of interrupting any activity that claimed her attention, or even a train of thought she was on when she seemed not to be busy.
This probably would have ended our marriage, but we found a solution.
I insisted that she get counseling, and she became a lot less irritable when she started taking antidepressants.
We remained together and were a devoted couple until she died of cancer two years ago.
While you did your usual admirable job of responding to “Don’t Ask Me” in the terms in which she presented her problem, I’d suggest that whenever someone complains of irritability, you should note that it’s one of the most overt symptoms of depression in many people.
Dear Tim: Thank you so much for your thoughtful and helpful note.
I love to hear from people who have found workable solutions to their own problems.
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