Ask Amy: Chance discovery changes everything at home
Dear Amy: I just found a box of condoms in my husband’s sock drawer. The manufacture date was 2015.
They weren’t for our use because I went through menopause long before that, and we haven’t used condoms in 20 years.
I am fairly sure that my husband had an affair 15 years ago, although he always said that “nothing physical happened.”
Given the “business trips” that were never paid for by his company, I doubt he was being honest, and from that experience, I know that he can look me in the eye and tell me a bold face lie.
I feel sick, lost, and helpless right now.
I have been a great wife and mother, and he has never wanted for emotional or physical love. I am not sure where to turn next. — Lost and Alone
Dear Lost and Alone: I’m so sorry you are going through this turmoil. There is no lonelier feeling than losing trust in your partner, with the growing awareness that you might be living with a person who suddenly seems like a stranger to you.
You say you don’t know where to turn, and before you turn to your husband to confront him with your suspicions, you should research your legal rights and responsibilities (and perhaps meet with a lawyer), in case you — or he — will ultimately choose to leave the marriage.
Educating yourself in this way does not mean that you are giving up on the relationship, but it will empower you to face this possibility, and give you an idea about your more practical options.
Yes, you should assume that he will deny this, or come up with an explanation or excuse for having recently purchased condoms.
When you have this conversation, listen to your own body; pay close attention to your own instincts concerning his behavior. Trust yourself, even if you don’t trust him. Do not take this as a referendum on what kind of person, wife, or mother you are — his choices are not your responsibility, and they are not your fault.
A couples’ counselor would help you walk through your own feelings and reactions, and could work with you and your husband together, if you and he choose to try.
Dear Amy: About a year ago, my sister and I found a half-sibling on a DNA site.
Although this was quite a shock to the half-sister, I did have an opportunity to meet her, and we are all starting to develop a nice relationship. Long story short, she is very nice.
My dilemma is how do we tell our mom? I honestly don’t think she would care. Our dad has been deceased for over 35 years.
When we first discovered this connection, my younger sister mentioned to our mom that we found someone who looks like a half-sibling, but when we found out that she is only about two weeks older than me, my sister dropped the conversation and didn’t bring it up again.
Mom inquired about it again, but we responded that maybe it was a fluke. Mom replied that DNA doesn’t lie. She said that when she married my dad, people said he might have another child somewhere, because he had been single for eight years when they got married.
Any suggestions? — Found Sister
Dear Sister: Your father impregnated two women at around the same time. He married one of them. You may not know the particulars of your parents’ decision to get married that long time ago; their relationship might not have been longstanding, stable, and exclusive when your mother got pregnant with you. Regardless of your folks’ relationship status at the time, this is further proof that people are complicated. DNA findings are challenging many families to come to grips with this fact.
It is possible that — on some level — your mother has anticipated this. She has already followed through on your original finding, and so your question is really about how to bring up this challenging topic.
The way to have a difficult conversation is to be brave enough to initiate it, and wise and sensitive enough to be patient concerning its course and outcome.
Dear Amy: I felt for “Heartbroken in Dallas,” whose partner left just after he had recovered from cancer.
I found that the one thing that brought me through a heartbreak was music. It has mysterious, but effective, healing powers. — Been There
Dear Been There: Music rearranges emotions, moods, and a person’s outlook. Great suggestion.