Ask Amy for May 31: Does he have right to know about wife’s exes?

2014-05-31T00:00:00Z 2014-07-03T11:06:32Z Ask Amy for May 31: Does he have right to know about wife’s exes?By Amy Dickinson Tribune Content Agency Arizona Daily Star

DEAR AMY: My wife and I have been together for 25 years. We have four beautiful children. We started dating just after high school. I had had only one previous sexual partner and told her everything. She told me about several people she’d been with, mostly mutual friends from high school.

I’ve since found out that there were several more. I’ve asked her for full disclosure, and she refuses. She says I don’t have the right to ask her.

With our 25th high school reunion coming up, I feel I have a right to know. Do you think I have a right to know? — Unhappy Husband

DEAR UNHAPPY: In theory, I think you have a right to know about your wife’s previous sexual partners.

In actuality, I think you carry the potential for making your 25th high school reunion exciting, to say the least. But instead of worrying about ancient history, you should dance to your favorite Milli Vanilli song and try your hardest to have a great time.

Surely your wife is nervous about your reaction to this list — as well as possibly embarrassed by how busy she was in high school.

After 25 years of togetherness, the power of these liaisons should diminish. I’m left to conclude that there is more underneath the surface of this query, even if you are not sure what that is.

The burden is on you to convince her that you can be trusted with this information. I don’t think you’re there. A marriage counselor could help to mediate this — after your reunion.

DEAR AMY: I am a 28-year-old married woman, and I live across the country from my family. I visit as often as I can, probably two to three times a year. I obviously want a relationship with my parents and other adult siblings.

My family has always been dysfunctional. My parents fight a lot, and my mother nags my father to no end. He ignores her until she yells, and then he yells. Whenever I am there, I find myself in the middle of their disputes, trying to help them communicate — to no avail.

They both complain to me about everything the other parent does.

They have been married for 38 years and only seem to grow more annoyed with each other. My mother is too proud for therapy, and my father will never leave her because his own father abandoned him.

What can I do to make our visits more pleasant? My husband and I are expecting our first child this year, and we don’t want our kids around this type of behavior. — Annoyed

DEAR ANNOYED: The first thing you should do to protect yourself is to not stay with your parents during your visits home. The stress of staying with them in their home during their visits could make everything worse.

You need to establish a new way of interacting with them, instead of becoming both the symptom carrier and the mediator for the family dysfunction.

You should respond to your mother by saying, “Mom, I’m sorry. I cannot help you. I’m worried about you. Please get professional help to deal with this. I can help you find someone to talk to.” Repeat as often as necessary.

You should redirect their attention when they act up and also give them a warning that you need for things to be at least minimally peaceful during your visits.

When things get crazy, you have to be brave enough to leave the scene. Be calm, steady, get your coat and go. I’m not saying that you should be unsympathetic, but that you should not let your parents draw you in. You cannot fix their relationship.

DEAR AMY: “John” is a Silicon Valley worker who complained about a co-worker who routinely copied his clothing style.

That guy should start his own consulting business on the side. He could do well dressing those of us who work in tech fields and don’t know what we’re doing, fashionwise. — In the Valley

DEAR VALLEY: If “pulled from the rummage bin” was a definable fashion style, tech workers would have it made.

I like your suggestion.

Contact Amy Dickinson by email: askamy@tribune.com

Follow her on Twitter @askingamy or “like” her on Facebook. Amy Dickinson’s memoir, “The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town That Raised Them” (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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