DEAR AMY: My wife passed away seven years ago. Two weeks ago, I was reading a travel diary that my late wife wrote while in Europe on business.
My wife and I were not married at the time of this trip, but we had been a couple for 12 years, since our school days.
My wife was staying in a converted castle, along with managers from all over the world who had gathered there for a seminar. They all ate together, had 24-hour access to the kitchen and could request any sort of meal they wanted.
I read in her journal that one day she had lunch and dinner with a man named "Jerry." I was destroyed. I have brought this up to a few friends and relatives, and most of the women said the same thing — that it was just lunch and dinner. I am angry that she accepted the invitation at all. I know I don't have any way to get the truth about this, and I also have no recourse.
I talked to an old girlfriend of hers, who said my wife was a "one-man woman." Sure, I'm thinking — maybe only one man at a time.
Am I being too critical? I am really mad. — Devastated Husband
DEAR HUSBAND: Being angry, confused or upset is one thing. But when you start slinging accusations and insinuations around about someone who can't defend her own reputation, you tip the balance and seem irrational and even cruel.
I can think of several very reasonable explanations for your wife's actions. As her loving husband, your instinct should not be to jump to the harshest conclusion but to assume the very best about someone whom you loved and who presumably loved you.
You really need to get a grip about this, but if you find you are obsessing, still angry and can't let it go, see a counselor.
DEAR AMY: When my ex and I were struggling — before our divorce — he chose to publicly make accusations about me to all of our friends/acquaintances behind my back. Things turned ugly.
No one ever asked me what happened, and I didn't share, as I felt that this was a private matter. My ex's statements were outrageous falsehoods. Because of his statements and because I was the one who filed for divorce, I am the villain and have lost most of my/our friends.
Part of me says that if they chose to believe everything he said then they really weren't my friends to begin with, but on the other hand, it really hurts and I miss them. Short of composing a letter to all of them to let them know what really happened, how do I rekindle these friendships? — Lonely
DEAR LONELY: Don't send a letter. A document outlining and refuting these accusations would inflame things.
This is best handled one person at a time. Start with the person you believe will be the most sympathetic toward you and work backward. Call or e-mail, and say, "I'm so sorry you got dragged into this. That's not fair to you. I'd love to get together for coffee to catch up with you."
Don't say that you want to refute each of your ex's accusations, but tell your friends that you know your ex said a lot of things in anger, that none of them are true, but that you'd like to move on.
Express your interest in the other person. People immersed in their own personal dramas often neglect the people they need the most.
DEAR AMY: Your advice to "Shelly" to be honest about telling parents she's not comfortable sending her son to a house where they drink and smoke was spot on.
My daughter has a friend whose mother asked us before their first visit if we have guns in our home.
We do own a gun that is locked safely away but we completely understood when she said she would rather have the girls at her home. She joked a bit about it to soften the message ("call me crazy, sorry"), and we never took offense.
If they take offense, they probably have deeper issues about their own habits than Shelly needs to bother with. — Chris
DEAR CHRIS: Thank you for reflecting the view that reasonable parents understand when other parents have questions or concerns about health and safety matters.
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