DEAR ABBY: My wife and I are in our 60s and have been married more than 40 years. It hasn’t always been great, but we’ve made it.
Recently, while going through some old boxes in the basement, I ran across her diary and discovered that she had an affair while we were engaged. This has left me depressed, hurt and feeling very down. Should I confront her with my findings? — Hurting in Ohio
DEAR HURTING: If you feel the need to bring this up after 40 years, then rather than let it fester and ruin the next 40, tell your wife what you have found. However, before you do that, remember diaries are supposed to be private, and you will have to explain why you took it upon yourself to read something that was never meant for you to see.
Hoping for generational change
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DEAR ABBY: I’m a 41-year-old mother of three. I was raised in a good household, but we didn’t have a lot of love. My folks were strict, straight to the point and good providers, but I don’t remember many hugs and kisses, or moments of real expressions of emotion or intimacy between them.
Now I realize I am the same way with my kids. I’m very matter-of-fact, strict and too serious. I love my children more than life itself. But how do I become more loving? I don’t know how to play or be silly. My hubby tells me it bothers him sometimes when he’s trying to tell me how much he loves me and I make a joke or say something acerbic.
The problem is, my daughter is 9 and she is turning into me and my mother. She’s not frivolous, like a little girl should be. She’s serious, studious and almost cold in her assessment of everyone around her. It worries me. How do I combat this? How do I change myself so I can help change her, before it’s too late? — Bad Role Model in Missouri
DEAR BAD ROLE MODEL: You have already taken the first step by recognizing the pattern that is being repeated. Another step in the right direction would be to discuss your discomfort with expressing emotion with a licensed therapist, because it has affected not only your daughter but also your relationship with your husband. While a therapist may not be able to help you “be silly,” a good one can offer suggestions on how to become more playful and communicate your feelings more openly.
However, I would caution you about one thing you said in your letter. Not all 9-year-olds are “frivolous.” Many of them are serious and studious and that’s a plus. If she “judges” contemporaries to the point of being sarcastic or cruel, she should be corrected before she’s perceived as a bully or turns herself into an outcast. I have always abided by the philosophy that if you think something nice about someone else, you should share it. You might suggest that to her.
Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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