Dear Readers: Every year I step away from my daily column to work on other creative projects. I’ve gathered some topical “Best Of” columns from 10 years ago. Today’s compilation deals with questions related to sexually unfaithful partners. (Some content has been lightly edited.) I’ll be back in two weeks with fresh columns.
Dear Amy: My husband is almost 70 years old. He is a doorman in an apartment building. I just found out that he has been fooling around with other women who work in the building for almost 20 years.
We live near where he works, so everyone knows he’s married. He says it means nothing — that it’s just “free booty in the elevator.” He doesn’t want to break up our marriage and said he would die without me. He comes straight home after work and says he is very happy in our marriage, and I’m trying to stay in the marriage.
I’m under a doctor’s care and trying to cope. He won’t change, and I know he’ll never leave me!
What kind of woman accepts this type of relationship? — Sad Wife
Dear Sad: I can imagine wanting to stay in a long marriage where there is a tremendous emotional investment. There are also valid practical reasons to stay in a marriage. However, your husband is not only unrepentant about his elevator booty calls, but according to you he lacks the intention and ability to change.
I disagree. Any of us is capable of change, given the proper motivation. You should supply him with this motivation.
Your husband is sleazy and unethical on the job. His behavior could (and should) lead to him losing his job. Beyond your anger and sense of betrayal, surely you are re-calibrating your personal estimation of him. He should be given a clear directive about his options. He should also agree to meet with you and a professional counselor.
While you’re working things out, you should consider stepping up your presence in his professional life — if you’re available, you might want to bring him coffee at unexpected times and perform your own unannounced elevator inspections.
Dear Amy: I am a 53-year-old male engaged to a wonderful woman several years younger. She is honest, sweet and attractive. She has a goodness that few others possess.
My problem is that even though I love her, I am not in love with her. We have not been intimate for a long time because I just do not feel that way about her. Instead, I have sought and found intimacy with others.
These other women were just fulfilling a need. But about a year ago I met someone special. She knows about my fiancee and has pressured me to break off the engagement. But I cannot find the way to end it because I know it would devastate my fiancee.
She is much too kind and sweet to be hurt in that way. We have talked about us not being intimate, and I make excuses (such as made-up medical problems causing impotency).
How should I handle this? — Perplexed in Pittsburgh
Dear Perplexed: There is an old saying: “The truth will set you free.” Well, in this case, the truth will set your fiancee free. And frankly, of the two of you, she’s the one I’m concerned about.
I frequently suggest scripts for people to use as blueprints for challenging conversations. Here’s yours: “Honey, I am a lying, skeevy horn dog. I don’t deserve you. I know that people often say that, but in this case, it’s really true. I really don’t deserve you.”
Tell her what you’ve been up to. Then apologize to her, to all of the people who suffer from actual sexual dysfunctions (whose maladies you’ve made a mockery of), and to anyone whom you might have used sexually and perhaps emotionally misled in order to fulfill your own needs. You also should suggest that your fiancee get tested for STDs.
If you want to make things easier on her, don’t sugarcoat this. Tell her everything. Her relief at being done with you will ease her devastation.
Dear Amy: I hope you remind those wives whose husbands cannot be monogamous that they should be tested occasionally for sexually transmitted diseases.
This would truly be a valuable public service announcement. — Williamsburg Nurse
Dear Nurse: I agree that anyone in a sexual relationship should be tested for STDs, whether or not they suspect their partner of cheating. Thank you for this healthy reminder.