Dear Margo: How do I fix my life? I recently left my wife of 21 years.
I’d been having a two-year affair with a married woman, and I became part of the family. I interacted with her young children and was friends with her husband, as well. She played it that we were just friends. Recently, she decided she no longer wants anything to do with me because I am in contact with my wife to discuss matters having to do with our children. Her contention was that I shouldn’t have to talk with her, and that I certainly didn’t need to be nice to her. I am devastated by the loss of this relationship, but I’m also realizing what a fool I have been.
Two questions: I am sure she is ready to go out and have another fling, so do you think I should alert her husband? And second, do you think it is possible for a marriage to recover from an affair of this magnitude, and if so, what is the first step? — Kicking Myself
Dear Kick: Forgive me, but you and your former squeeze sound like a couple of lulus. Hanging out with her family is pretty low, as was her request that you not have civil communication with your children’s mother. Or any communication! Between her demands and your shared duplicity, you are well out of her life, but your marriage may be the price you paid for getting into it. Do not inform her husband, since he would not take kindly to your, uh, privileged information and could very possibly feel justified in knocking your block off. As for trying to repair the colossal damage you’ve done to your wife, your only chance is to make a sincere mea culpa, mea crazy confession, and plead for forgiveness. — Margo, forlornly
Dear Margo: My husband and I have been together nearly seven years and married a year and a half. He often tells me about how he was treated as a child by his father: beaten with a belt, made to cut the lawn with a scissors and basically demeaned on a daily basis. He talks about it a lot, and I can tell it still affects him every day. The more he tells me, the harder it is for me to a) keep my mouth shut and b) visit his parents — which I rarely do now anyway. Lately I have not been so good at keeping my mouth shut, and I’ve told him he’s not obligated to have this jerk in his life. He wasn’t upset with me for saying it, but I do not want to walk down that slippery slope. When he talks about it, how can I respond in a supportive way, without badmouthing his family, which I feel could backfire on me? — Biting My Tongue . . . Barely, in Minnesota
Dear Bite: I suspect you’ve already badmouthed his family, so consider yourself on the record. What would be supportive, I think, and helpful is if the next time he brings up the abuse you tell him you’ve been thinking about what he’s repeatedly told you, and a positive way to put all this behind him would be to see a therapist who could help him to excise the demons and lay the unhappy past to rest.
This is just a guess, but a professional might tell him it would feel mighty good to bag the visits altogether. You can suggest that you entertain his mother, alone, when it’s convenient for her . . . assuming he does not consider her complicit. — Margo, restoratively
Dear Margo: I am struggling with my mother’s distaste for tattoos. I have several in places that are easily covered by clothing, so they would never disrupt my chances of getting a job. Another reason they are easily covered is because my mother is still unaware of them. Her Jewish faith states that the body should not be desecrated; therefore, one cannot be buried in a Jewish cemetery if they have tattoos. I got them to help me overcome fears and was fully aware of the Jewish prohibition. They do not interfere with my faith. She also told me I would be shunned for a lifetime were I to get any.
I am positive that the repercussions of telling her would not fade over time. On the other hand, she instilled in me the belief that pride should be taken in everything I choose to do. I would love to share my pride in the tattoos with her, but I’m concerned about losing her forever. S
he only stands to discover them if she is present with me while I’m birthing a child, which is several years away. Should I bite the bullet and risk losing her, or keep my secret? — Happily Inked College Girl
Dear Hap: To share with you the opinion of that sage Kelly Osbourne, now 25: She regrets having the tatts and would love to get rid of them.
But because you already have yours, we can skip over that one. Given what you say about your mother’s feelings, I see no point in revealing your body decorations to her.
You are just asking for trouble. I suggest you show your pride in the artwork to your girlfriends. Oh, and when the time comes, keep your mother out of the delivery room. — Margo, prudently.