Carolyn Hax: The benefits of an honest marriage

March 3, 2014 

While I’m away, readers give the advice.

On confessing (or not) an attraction outside the marriage: Early in my marriage, I was attracted to someone not my husband. I grappled with whether to fess up to him, and ultimately came to the conclusion that it was vital to our marriage that I could unload my burden on my best friend, to help uncork the guilt and distress that I was keeping inside (and that was affecting my marriage). I knew that if I didn’t share this “armchair affair,” then the attraction would likely become that much more powerful, since secrets and fantasies are inherently powerful.

So I told my best friend, my husband, and he handled it beautifully. He neither took it too personally nor panicked, but proved a worthy sounding board. He took it as a good sign that I wanted to unload, and by the end of our discussion, I was feeling lighter, more free.

The whole incident ultimately fortified our marital trust, rather than destroyed it.


On resenting siblings who received better treatment from your parents: My siblings are 18-21 years younger than I am, and for most of my childhood, my mom was pretty neglectful of me. My siblings are all teenagers now. They don’t have to work and buy their own clothes, they get to play instruments and be in sports, their parents go to all their games, they live in a nice house (as opposed to couch surfing with relatives for half their childhood).

Anytime someone asks if I’m jealous, I say, “Of course not!” I explain how I realized, when jealousy first started to creep in — following that train of logic — that for me not to be jealous would mean they were neglected as badly as I was. BAM. Jealousy gone.

I love them so much and could never wish that on anyone. I’m so grateful my mom grew up and got her act together. I’m so happy my stepfather learned, on me, how not to treat people (I’m strong, I can handle it) and learned how to be a good dad to them. I love the people they’re growing into, and feel blessed that the story has a happy ending (so far, knock on wood).


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