Dear Annie: I recently learned that my spouse had a brief affair with someone else early in our relationship. He was an old lover with whom she had had an affair years before, when he was still married.
When first confronted, her response was to give a long string of excuses denying blame. When asked why she had done this, she said she had had dozens of lovers, that sex was just good clean fun and boosted her self-esteem and that I should just "get over it."
I admit I was disturbed by the number of her lovers but have come to realize this is a matter of my own insecurities and a fear that I could not compete with her past. What hurts most is the relationship we had at the time could not compete with the temptation of a one-night stand. She has come to finally admit that what she did was wrong, but I perceive no remorse whatsoever.
Because I have failed to completely "get over it," she now constantly disparages me. I am willing to go to marriage counseling to try to save this relationship, but my question is: Given her basic attitude in all this, would there be any point? -- Where To Go Next
Dear Where To Go Next: I think you're heading in the right direction with marriage counseling. Her flippant attitude of "get over it" could be just who she is and how she feels, in which case it seems like she is not the most caring and empathetic of partners. Or it could be a defense mechanism where she feels guilty for what she did, but instead of assuming responsibility, she goes on the offensive and blames you for your feelings. But deep down, she feels really bad.
Regardless of her reasoning, a good marriage counselor can help both of you move toward a happier and healthier relationship, either together or apart. If she refuses to go and continues to disparage you, it might be time to find a new partner.
Dear Annie: I have done everything I can to win some friends.
I have, for my whole adult life, coasted on the coattails of a dominant best friend or my charismatic ex-husband to befriend others.
Once they made the contact, I was able to come out of my shell a little and continue nurturing the friendships. However, I divorced my ex-husband due to his drug abuse, and his abuse toward me, but he lied to all of our friends, and they all believed his story. I was too modest and private to tell anyone the truth.
This was five years ago. The one friend who I did keep, my "partner in crime," so to speak, moved to a location that is two hours away from me, and he became rededicated to his children and new girlfriend. This has meant that I am less able to have him all to myself. I have no one else.
Friday I'll be reading my work at a local art walk. I'm not just seeing this as an opportunity to make some contacts. How do I, at 52, reach out to strangers and develop new friends? -- Lonely Writer
Dear Lonely Writer: I am sorry that you are feeling so alone. Congratulations on reading your work locally and putting yourself out there. Just that act alone should tell you that you are getting closer to making friends and meeting like-minded people. You could also join different groups in hobbies that interest you.
If there are any charities that you are passionate about volunteering for, that is always a good way to meet like-minded people. But let your expectations go of having a ton of friends. Quality is always better than quantity in friendships, and if you continue to pursue your passions, you will no doubt meet people who will become your friends.
"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.