Ask Amy

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 1:00am
Amy Dickinson

DEAR AMY: I have a friend from the past whom I was intimate with many years ago. I recently heard from this friend after 18 years of no contact.

Now we talk frequently by phone, and neither spouse is aware of our relationship. I enjoy the conversations. They bring back fond memories.

It is really comforting to me, and I find myself looking forward to the next call. I am afraid to tell my spouse for fear of losing this relationship.

Is it wrong to keep this harmless relationship private?

A part of me says it's wrong to keep this from my spouse, and a part of me says I'm entitled to have this person who emotionally supports me in my life.

— Confused

DEAR CONFUSED: You are entitled to have a person in your life that offers you emotional support. Ideally, that person is your spouse.

This secret relationship is placing your marriage at great risk. One clue to how dangerous it is, is your fear that disclosing this secret will cause that relationship to end.

First you should ask yourself how you would feel if your spouse chose to have frequent, emotionally charged, secret contact with a former, intimate partner.

Then you should open the windows, let in light and air, and come clean about this relationship, then do the brave and difficult thing and end it.

This episode offers you an opportunity to explore what is missing in your marriage. Then you should work with your spouse to recover the emotional intimacy that is so obviously absent in your relationship.

Every marriage faces challenges, and every relationship changes based on how partners react to these challenges.

You and your spouse could strengthen your relationship by working through this together. A marriage counselor would help.


DEAR AMY: I graduated with my bachelor's degree last spring.

I sent out my graduation announcements in May last year, and I still have not sent out my thank-you cards!

It has been so long that I have pretty much decided not to send any.

I know this is incredibly rude and I am very embarrassed about it!

I had about 100 thank-yous to send, and I was waiting to get everyone's gift so I could send the cards all at once.

Then I was busy with moving and with finding a job and working, so I never got around to mailing them.

Do you think I should still mail them, one entire year later?

I know the saying "it's better late than never," but this just seems ridiculous, and I'm sure my relatives don't want to hear my excuses as to why this card is so late.

What should I do?

— Procrastinator

DEAR PROCRASTINATOR: You didn't seem to have a procrastination problem when you were sending out 100 graduation announcements.

You are so fortunate to have an abundance of people in your life who care about you. Most of us don't even know 100 people — and you are treating your great good fortune like a burden.

You could write one common letter to insert in each personalized card.

In the letter, apologize for your procrastination, but say their support has meant a great deal to you as you've embarked on this next stage of your life.

If you don't thank these people, your personal reputation will suffer, your parents who raised you will be blamed — and many of your generous friends and family members will eventually contact me wondering why young people are so selfish and rude. Please, spare me.


DEAR AMY: As a mother who raised three good boys, I have one thing to add to your advice to "Mortified Mom," whose adolescent son was telling inappropriate jokes.

My rule on this is the "three strikes and you're out" rule.

Mortified should take her son aside the first two times, with a warning, "That's strike one (or two). Third strike and you're out. If you embarrass me, I will embarrass you." Then do it.

I believe a good parent allows a child to experience the natural consequences of poor choices.

— Judy in Illinois

DEAR JUDY: Thank you for a sensible solution. Let the mutual embarrassment begin!

Send questions to askamy@tribune.com

Filed under: Lifestyles

1 Comment on this post:

By: courier37027 on 5/13/09 at 3:54

Dear Confused, if someone is contacting you after eighteen years I would think that caller wants something. Keep an eye on your wallet and emotional well being. Your eardrums will take a beating as your former flame regales you with stories of failed relationships, loser dates, drug problems and whatever else went wrong. Once you make it clear you are nothing more than a doormat or sounding board, your old flame will move on to the next ex-lover, who may have more money than sense.