Husband emails girlfriends he had during 10-year separation

Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I were married for several years, divorced, then remarried 10 years later. During our separation, he had a lot of girlfriends. To this day, he keeps all their contact information. I discovered he has emailed some of them since we've been back together. I think he uses email to avoid any phone calls that I would be aware of.

Our marriage is overall going well, but I don't understand his need to keep up with some of these past "friends." When we remarried, I deleted all of my past contacts. I'm worried that he's still attached to at least a few of these women, and I don't think it's right. What do you think? It makes me very insecure and upset. What should I do? I'm already in therapy. -- UNEASY IN THE SOUTH

DEAR UNEASY: Marriage is a choice. Your husband chose to remarry you. I am going to assume that because of your insecurity, you have been hesitant to ask him directly why he feels a need to stay in touch with these women. Your therapist may be able to help you with this. If he/she is willing to invite him to accompany you for a session, consider posing the question there.

DEAR ABBY: I recently contracted coronavirus and had a difficult time recovering. It has been three months, and I am still suffering from long-term aftereffects.

When my co-workers and supervisors ask how I'm feeling and I tell them, they almost immediately downplay my response. Some of them ignore my response and tell me, "Oh, that's not bad. One time, I lost so much hair, blah, blah," or they say, "Well, you're working. You'll be fine." I feel like it belittles me and makes what I went through seem like a bid for sympathy. How would you recommend I reply? I can't ignore the people at work. -- DOWNPLAYED UP NORTH

DEAR DOWNPLAYED: All you need to say is, "If it happens to you, you will understand that I feel lucky to be alive. So many people weren't."

DEAR ABBY: I have a question about etiquette. My son is getting married soon. In a conversation with the bride-to-be, I asked if she had chosen a florist and was told that her mom will be making all the wedding flowers out of natural materials. Abby, I hate silk, i.e. "plastic" flowers! Would I be creating a huge problem if I offered to purchase my own wrist corsage from a florist, or should I keep quiet and deal with ugly fake "flowers" with my beautiful dress? Or, can I remove the fake corsage directly after photos are taken? -- OFFENDED MOM OF THE GROOM

DEAR OFFENDED MOM: The proper thing to do is keep your opinion to yourself and go along with the plans your soon-to-be daughter-in-law and her mother have made. Wear the corsage and your sweetest smile for the wedding photos. After that it shouldn't cause a problem if you quietly remove it.

DEAR ABBY: In three months, I will be marrying a wonderful man I'll call Harold. We are in our 60s and widowed, me for more than 30 years and him just under two years.

At first, I thought he had worked through his grief because his wife suffered from early-onset Alzheimer's and the last six years of their marriage she was very ill. We are not living in the home they shared, but a lot of their life together is in the home we are trying to create together.

Harold is a good man. I know he has a big heart with plenty of room for me as well as love for his late wife. My dilemma is the amount of memorabilia he has here -- pictures of vacations they took together, their unusual wedding cake, a piece of furniture she made for them and a painting of the home they shared. Many of the items are in a downstairs office, where he spends a lot of time.

The closer we get to our wedding, the more I find myself losing sleep worrying over whether the strong reminders of his former life are an indicator of whether he truly is ready to move on. Am I being overly sensitive? I do understand loss and working through grief. In no way do I want to pressure him if he isn't ready to move forward. I am just conflicted. -- LOSING SLEEP IN NEW YORK

DEAR LOSING SLEEP: Harold's loss is much more recent than yours. With time, he may decide to retire some of his memorabilia. Keep in mind, your "rival" is no longer on this side of the sod, and letting it keep you up at night is unproductive. If this doesn't resolve itself, have a frank conversation with Harold about the fact you are not comfortable with the amount of memorabilia in the house.

DEAR ABBY: I have been dating a wonderful, low-key, easygoing man for two years. "Stan" is crazy about me. To him, I'm a princess, and he treats me like gold. The downside is he lives an hour and 20 minutes away because he got laid off and had to move back home. We used to live near each other, which was great. He is now taking care of his parents, who are 81 and 84.

The long-distance relationship is making me very stressed because I see him only twice a month on weekends. Because his mom is so sick, I'm starting to see him even less often. He plans to stay with them to the end and promises we will be together one day. I rarely go to his parents' house because his mom can no longer enjoy company.

Abby, is this all worth it? He keeps telling me he loves me and says he will propose down the road. I'm 58. Should I keep this sweet, loving, long-distance romance or move on, which would devastate him? -- MISSING HIM IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR MISSING HIM: Although you wrote that you miss Stan, I am struck by the fact that nowhere in your letter did you say you actually love him. Would ending the relationship also devastate you? Have you considered relocating to be closer to him? Many couples survive being separated for long periods of time, but if you can't sustain it, then perhaps you should move on, knowing that men like him are not easily replaced.

DEAR ABBY: I have recently found out that someone I thought was a good friend is the person who snitched and got my daughter in serious trouble at school. Our daughters attended the same preschool, middle school and high school. Although they were friends, the friendship was more between us moms.

Before middle school graduation, the students had an outing at the beach. Some of the girls, my daughter included, decided to bring vodka and orange juice. A few days later, my daughter was called to the principal's office where she was thoroughly reprimanded. Any awards she was to receive were rescinded. I learned from one of the teachers that this "friend" is the person who turned her in.

Why didn't she come to me and tell me? I almost feel like she wanted my daughter to get in trouble. I have run into her a couple of times and have been cold and distant, but I want to confront her. I was going to write and tell her why. Do you think this is a good idea? -- FURIOUS IN FLORIDA

DEAR FURIOUS: I don't blame you for being upset, but an eighth-grader bringing alcohol to a school celebration is wrong on many levels. I do not advise putting anything in writing. Convey your message and get the answer you want by doing it directly, face to face.

DEAR ABBY: Thirty years ago, I dated a guy I'll call Allen. We had a child together. Our relationship ended when I found out I was pregnant. He married a woman he chose over me. I later married someone else, whose name is on my child's birth certificate.

Fast-forward 30 years. We are now back in each other's lives. I told my son about his biological father, and they are getting to know each other. Allen has children from his marriage, which lasted about 25 years. His wife is now deceased.

Allen's two other children and his parents and extended family know nothing about our son. He's afraid to tell them, although it was before they were born and before he was married. Do you think he should tell everyone? -- SECRET KEEPER IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR SECRET KEEPER: Yes, I do. As you stated, this happened before his marriage to his late wife, and your (and his) son should not be regarded as a shameful secret. However, I cannot make this decision for Allen, and neither should you. If he isn't strong enough to stand up and stand by his first child, then you should reconsider your relationship with him.

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have been married 50-some years. While we were discussing sex and the pandemic, she revealed that she could imagine having sex with someone while both of them were masked. I said no, the masks would become superfluous and would go just before the clothes. Who is right? -- HYPOTHETICALLY SPEAKING

DEAR H.S.: Are you serious? Your wife gave you some valuable information that you are ignoring. Where is your sense of humor? Try it. You might like it and discover the masks stay on until, in the heat of passion, they slip off (or not).

DEAR ABBY: A friend of mine has recently discovered that her husband of 40-plus years has been hiding a decades-long porn addiction. The discovery has caused a problem in their marriage. They have had counseling.

He says he wants to save their marriage and has vowed to give up the porn. I was told he told his wife that if she decides to divorce him, he will tell the entire family and their children that SHE was the one addicted to porn, and it is the reason he's divorcing her. My question is, what kind of person would treat his wife this way and think this is an appropriate way to save the marriage? -- TWISTED IN KENTUCKY

DEAR TWISTED: Unfortunately, the husband has a problem greater than his porn addiction. It's his lack of character and honesty. His threat is not only inappropriate, but also a valid reason to end the marriage.

P.S. I can't imagine why her family would buy that lie.

DEAR ABBY: In 1972, when I was 12, my father died by suicide. I was told it was an accident. I was given an explanation, but the facts didn't add up. I suspected it was suicide. In 1998, my brother also died by suicide. Afterward, I asked Mom if Dad had done it, too. She denied it, but I knew better.

Around the time of my brother's death, I lost my best friend/co-worker/father figure of 17 years to suicide. His son was told his dad had had a heart attack. He is now a father in his 40s, and I think he deserves to know. Should I remain silent as I have for more than 20 years? -- IN A MORAL DILEMMA

DEAR DILEMMA: Years ago, when a family member died by suicide, it was considered shameful and kept a family secret. Because depression can run in families, these kinds of secrets can be harmful. Today we know more, and there are programs available to help families who have suffered this kind of tragic loss. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255) offers support to surviving family members.

I do think you should talk to your friend's son. Introduce the topic by telling him what happened in your family, how much his father meant to you and your concern for him and his own family, which is why you are bringing it up now.

DEAR ABBY: It's not the first time, but certainly will be the last time I'm invited to a close friend's house without my baby girl, my 12-year-old retired therapy dog, "Lady." Everyone loves Lady. So does my friend. (I even have her portrait tattooed on my leg.) Is it rude to not want to visit my friend because Lady is not welcome? -- LOVES MY LADY

DEAR LOVES: It's not rude. It is a choice. What I DO think is rude is attempting to blackmail someone into allowing a loved, but unwanted, pet into their home knowing it isn't welcome. If Lady were still a therapy dog, I might feel differently, but Lady is now retired, and her presence is no longer a medical necessity.