DEAR AMY: My wife, “Cari,” and I have been married for almost 30 years and have four wonderful children, the youngest in high school.
I love my kids, and I love my wife, but over the years, the passion in our marriage has dropped to the point that my wife has asked more than once if I am having an affair with another woman.
Each time I have replied, truthfully, “You are the most attractive woman in the world to me.” I add the promise “I will never have an affair with another woman.”
What I have not yet mentioned to her is that, in my heart-of-hearts, I am not so sure that I could turn away another man.
This is my dilemma: Should I — and when should I — tell Cari that I really don’t have any sexual interest in women?
I expect no understanding or acceptance from Cari when I’m honest with her.
A therapist I have seen told me to wait until I’m fully prepared before I come out. A gay pastor counseled me to work through as much as I can, but make sure I come out before I meet a boyfriend — to keep the focus on orientation rather than love interests.
A third opinion came from a book whose author is a woman whose husband left her for a man. This author’s advice — in very blunt terms — is to tell her immediately, so that she can grieve and then get on with life.
What would you suggest? — Want to Be Honest
DEAR WANT: I agree with all three pieces of advice. And now that you’ve sought advice from the counselor, the clergy, the self-help book and the columnist; I’d say that it’s time for you to do what you obviously need (and want) to do.
You will not be able to inoculate your wife or kids from the shock and confusion this will cause. You will not be able to time this process perfectly.
When you are ready, you should seek the help of a counselor to navigate through this with your wife.
You cannot expect instant understanding or acceptance, and this is because when one spouse drops a bombshell into the relationship, the other spouse tends to feel upset, angry and betrayed. But you can continue to be a good and loving partner to her and a great father to your kids.
Your wife would benefit from connecting with the Straight Spouse Network: straightspouse.org.
DEAR AMY: Please settle an argument I have with one of my close friends. I believe that husband and wife are still entitled to some kind of privacy.
I don’t believe in going through my husband’s wallets or pockets to find out if he is cheating or hiding something. Nor do I believe that he should go through my purse and open my mail and texts to see if I am cheating or doing something I shouldn’t be doing.
My late husband and I respected each other and trusted each other. I think it’s so self-demeaning to check up on your spouse just on an off chance he or she might be cheating.
My friend believes there shouldn’t be any privacy between husband and wife.
She believes that husband and wife have every right to go through each other’s things whenever they like.
She also believes that a wife shouldn’t pursue her own interests without her husband. I believe that even after marriage we are still our own person with our own wants and desires apart from our spouse. And I believe that husband and wife should be supportive of each other’s personal dreams and goals.
My friend thinks I’ve been reading too many books. — Bewildered
DEAR BEWILDERED: I think your friend has been reading too few books.
Trust is not defined by rifling through someone’s belongings — that is the opposite of trust.
DEAR AMY: Your attitude about porn does not surprise me, of course. But many happy and healthy men basically learned about sex from their stash of Playboys, and it didn’t cause any harm. — Husband and Father
DEAR HUSBAND: Today’s Internet porn is not your dad’s Playboy. And it can definitely be harmful.