Dear Amy: My late-husband had a significant indiscretion about 10 years into our 35-year marriage. We stayed together and in fact, I was his caregiver for over 10 years, until he died of ALS.
I never told anyone about his extramarital affair because I thought it would complicate a messy matter unnecessarily.
After his affair, I think I gained confidence, even though he became increasingly difficult to communicate with about daily activities, our children, and issues in our relationship.
I would like my grown children to better understand both their father and me. I am struggling with telling them about the affair since their father isn’t here to explain himself, and I’m wondering about the costs/benefits of revealing such a long-ago truth.
My children are now married with children of their own, and they do ask questions about their father that could be better answered if they knew about his affair.
I know they would be very disappointed to learn this about their dad. After many years of debating the pros/cons of telling my kids, I am tired of being conflicted about it. When I decided to “get over it” and stay in the marriage I would never have imagined the consequences would persist over a lifetime.
Any thoughts you have that might shift my thinking would be appreciated.
— Still Conflicted
Dear Conflicted: You state that your children “ask questions about their father that could be better answered if they knew about his affair.”
Unless you are leaving out important details, the broad strokes of your long marriage seem to paint a portrait of human frailty, forgiveness, and stalwart caregiving.
In my view, every married person should be told a story about a relationship healing from infidelity — because many do heal. And any adult child would benefit from understanding that their parents made mistakes, or even emotionally wounded one another, but also made positive choices in order to stay together.
“Family” is not a designation meant only for people whose lives seem to flow in a slow and perfect current. Families are made — and sometimes made stronger —through trials, tribulation, recognizing human frailty, and — when tested — choosing love and loyalty.
Describing your very long marriage in these terms might inspire your children to learn from your story, even though they might at first be shocked or disappointed.
Dear Amy: My family and I are going through a move right now.
What are some ways we can be less stressed about it?
Dear Anonymous: The pandemic seems to have inspired scores of people to move. Data compiled from “change of address” forms and published by the Wall Street Journal in 2021 show something of an exodus from major metropolitan areas into smaller metro areas, suburbs and rural counties.
Perhaps you are part of that trend.
I’ve moved several times — including overseas and back — and my recommendations are:
Recognize that moving is one of the most stressful life-events humans experience. An oft-quoted survey by United Van Lines of 1,000 people who had recently relocated said that a majority found moving to be more stressful than divorce. (I wonder if the people surveyed had actually experienced divorce, because — having experienced both — I beg to differ.)
Be as organized as possible, and use the move as a reason to “downsize” your possessions.
Get help! Packing is always more time-consuming than you expect it to be. Research quotes from moving companies. Some will wrap and pack much of your stuff, and it might be worth the cost.
Ask a friend who will basically let you order her around for a day or two for help. (Friends who will help you move are worth their weight in beer.)
If you have children, ask them to pack and label some of their own boxes. One parent or family member might want to take the kids to the new location one day before the movers come, if possible.
At least one evening, you will sit at the kitchen table, exhausted, surrounded by boxes and drinking from a mayonnaise jar because you’ve packed all your glasses. Toast your own survival — and the adventure ahead.
Dear Amy: Oh, that infuriating letter from “I Miss Her,” the woman who was upset because her grieving sister-in-law who had lost a baby couldn’t delight in others’ baby celebrations.
Thank you for this line: “…from where I sit it seems less like a shot across the bow and more like an anguished cry in the dark.”
Dear Fan: The anguish here was palpable.