Q: My husband has become very involved in online message boards, to the point that it’s all he talks about. There is a woman on several of these boards with him. She lives across the country, but I know they Skype a lot. He doesn’t think he’s doing anything wrong, but I don’t want to have this intrusion into my marriage.
A: Your husband seems to assume that if he’s not breaking marriage vows, then he need not bother to care about your feelings. That’s troubling.
Explain to him that you’re not accusing him of leading a secret life, and you recognize that he can and should have interests and relationships outside of what he shares with you. But there’s a level of closeness with this person that feels intrusive – and therefore, yes, it matters. It’s not about a specific crime; it’s about two married people who have chosen to spend their lives together acknowledging that sometimes they have to make compromises in order to not hurt their partners. And backing off of this relationship seems a reasonable one.
Q: A good friend of mine flaked out on attending my father’s funeral. She said she had car trouble and wasn’t feeling well. But part of me knows it’s because she didn’t feel like waking up early enough to make the drive. I don’t want to end the friendship over this, but my resentment is strong.
A: If this relationship is worth saving – and presumably it is – then you owe it to her to express your feelings and try to work through them, together. She might have no idea how much she’s hurt you, or she might realize it very much and be tongue-tied and avoid you because of her shame.
Drop her a note and say you want to talk privately. When you meet, you can start: “It’s not fair to you if I keep holding this in, but I’m feeling really hurt that you weren’t able to pull it together to come to my dad’s funeral. I know you had some complications, but I feel like you should have overcome them for me. Maybe you didn’t realize how important this was to me, in which case I’m telling you now so that we can try to work through this, because I want to move past it. Where do we start?”