DEAR AMY: My family hates my husband because he cheated on me.
I took him back and chose to forgive him — and not throw away 23 years of togetherness. This was four years ago, and my family doesn’t invite us as a couple (only me) to family gatherings, such as birthdays.
I don’t go to Christmas or Thanksgiving gatherings because he is not invited. My family misses me as I miss them. What can be done? — Missing
DEAR MISSING: The element that is really missing here is your husband. Perhaps your family members are waiting for him to acknowledge his behavior and apologize for the impact his betrayal of you has had on them.
Infidelity has an ancillary impact, especially in close families such as yours. Your family members also spent 23 years with your husband. He hurts you, he hurts them.
He needs to express: “I hope it’s not too late to apologize for how much I hurt your daughter/sister. She and I are in a good place now; she has forgiven me and I hope you would, too. She misses you very much, and I realize that I bear some responsibility for that.”
If he acknowledges his actions, this gives your family members the opportunity to forgive him — and then both parties could gingerly try to repair this relationship. He should do this out of compassion for you.
DEAR AMY: After being married for 35-plus years, without warning my husband announced that he wanted a divorce and had papers for me to sign to divide our assets.
I wasn’t going to sign any papers without a lawyer. At first, our communication was fine but quickly turned nasty because I wasn’t doing what he wanted quickly enough. I took the high road, I thought.
We have been divorced for almost 15 years. When I was cleaning out my old files I found our written communications. I started to read them, but after the first page I stopped. Now I don’t know what to do. Do I want to review that crazy time again to put it to rest? Do I want to see if I really behaved well? Do I want the kids to see these papers? Should I trash them without reading?
Your advice would be much appreciated. — Clean Jean
DEAR JEAN: You would like to prove something to yourself. If so, there is no greater teacher than facing the printed reality.
The evidence may be appreciably different from what you remember, and it could be a good thing to view this event from two perspectives: From a distance and through documents.
If it were me I would review each page as I fed it into the shredder (unless there are legal reasons to keep them). When contemplating sharing this with your children you have to ask yourself, “What good would come of it?” They already know you are wonderful. Surely you don’t need to prove it.
DEAR AMY: I had to respond to the letter from “Mom” about the 8-year-old girl who shows up unannounced at a neighbor’s house. Once I was that little girl, afraid to go home, looking for someplace safe to spend time. When you’re 8, your parents have the ability to make your life heaven, or in my case, hell.
I encourage this mom to contact the girl’s family, not by phone — but to meet them face to face. Ask questions. Listen to what is not being said. Watch the child’s reactions.
My family members were pillars of the community, but our home life was hellish. In the end, the letter writer might not be able to do anything to help this child except offer an abuse-free environment where she can just be an 8-year-old girl for a while. So please be kind.
I might not be here today if it weren’t for the many people who throughout my young life welcomed me into their families because they saw my need and gave me a safe place to harbor when times were tough. — Been There
DEAR BEEN THERE: Thank you, and thanks to the families who offered you safety and security during your childhood.