Dear Amy: Last year I sought your advice regarding my wife’s codependent relationship with her daughters. Your counsel to me was to either accept things as they were or leave.
I saw your wisdom and knowing that I could never be happy in that life, I decided to move on. After a bitter legal conflict, we divorced.
Recently, my ex-wife contacted me. She says she misses our life together. She says she recognizes the error in not prioritizing our marriage, and that she wants to start over. She blames her attorney for the bitterness of our legal conflict.
I love her dearly, and yet I am emotionally wounded. I also worry that past habits will destroy our relationship once again.
My inclination is to work together to put this behind us, but I know we still face an uncertain future.
Do you have any thoughts on what our path should be?
Dear Uncertain: To recap your previous situation (if I recall correctly), you entered an entrenched family system with a new wife and her two live-in adult daughters who, by their own admission, froze you out of the family. Your wife waited on them hand and foot and spent the majority of her time with them exclusively.
The justification for my stark advice was that the family members were aware of the dynamic in the household and had declared that they didn’t intend to try to change it. So yes, given that, realistically your choice would be to accept the family dynamic, or leave the marriage.
I certainly hope you aren’t relying solely on my advice to make such huge life choices, but yes, for a second marriage with a blended family to work, both spouses need to be willing to make very big changes over time, and then give the family time to adjust. To have a strong and lasting marriage, a couple must consider the marriage itself to be central to the couple’s family structure.
In terms of reconnecting, please commit to mediation.
Dear Amy: What started out as a favor for my girlfriend, led to an unsettling discovery. We’ve been dating on and off for about six months.
Both of us have been married before.
She needed me to unlock her phone for her, because she left it at the house and needed some information from it.
What happened next is completely my fault. I began scanning through a few text messages. I found out she has a “friend” whom she met for breakfast and lunch recently. She made no mention of this male friend to me.
I also found a message from someone in her past who was telling her how much he missed her and that he loved her. She agreed that she missed him and loved him, too.
I obviously can’t disclose to her that I have violated her trust. I did tell her that she was talking in her sleep and said the guy’s name from her past. I asked about him and she said he is just a childhood friend from her hometown and yes, she loves him just as she does her other friends.
I pressed her about a past relationship and she denies it, despite me having seen for my own eyes via text and pictures that it is a lie.
Do I reveal how I found out about these things and challenge her? I know I created the situation, but I am confused. Help!
— Guilty and Confused
Dear Guilty: Yes, you should confess what you’ve done, because, yes, it is the truth! The truth is the truth, and if you want to have an honest, authentic relationship, then you should both ask and answer questions about past and current relationships. Do not confront her in anger or accuse her of anything (she doesn’t seem to have done anything wrong); simply ask her to talk to you about her likes and loves, past and present.
Your off-and-on-again girlfriend of six months can then make a choice either to blame you for what you’ve done or to engage in an honest conversation about the people in her life who are important to her. You can hope that you are one of them.
Dear Amy: I was so amused and truly comforted to see the question from “Screw Loose in Lucedale,” the woman who worried about the fact that she talked all day long to her cat.
I’ve been doing this for years!
Dear Lucid: Hundreds of readers responded: If this is wrong, I don’t want to be right!
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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