Dear Carolyn: My wife renewed an old friendship on Facebook that ended with an affair. Now she wants to be with this guy and regularly visits him for a week at a time. I have moved out and she wants to keep the house and invite him to live with her, but wants me to pay all the household bills until he can move in about six months. Please advise.
I can’t tell whether you’re shockingly decent or just in shock.
So how about this: No.
No to her setting the terms, and no to her flipping logic on its butt to justify not merely bouncing you from the marriage, but also choosing you as the one who sacrifices to make that happen. Wow.
Now, that said, there’s a certain spare beauty to saying yes to everything necessary for you to wash your hands swiftly of someone you no longer want in your life. Certainly people have handed things over in divorces when any objective witness would agree they were the wronged parties and owed their exes nothing; the mere idea of extending their interactions with a legal battle was awful enough to make the sacrifices feel like money well spent.
There’s also the possibility that you didn’t treat her well during the marriage, though her choosing to cheat her way out of it clips that excuse at the knees. I only mention it here because I’m reaching for ways to explain your willingness to underwrite her affair. It’s either that, or the other extreme — she’s kicking out a truly decent soul who won’t strand even his cheating soon-to-be ex without heat.
But you’ve given me so little to go on — do you want your marriage back, do you want your house or your share of any equity, do you want out as soon as you can put ink to paper, has your head cleared enough yet to think? The answers to these questions are how you can determine what your next step needs to be: therapist, attorney, mediator, checkbook.
Please do think of it in terms of what you need to get yourself settled best into your next phase of life, and don’t be afraid to go at your own speed till you’re sure. Best of luck to you.
Dear Carolyn: What does it really mean when someone says they want “no drama” in a relationship? It’s almost always guys who say this, and it comes across as, “I want a woman who will never complain or call me out on my behavior, no matter how hurtful or awful it might be.”
I get that constant arguing, name-calling, shouting, public displays of anger, etc., would certainly fall into the category of “drama,” but I seem to know a lot of men who consider any expression of negative emotion toward them to be “drama.” Women are (generally) more expressive and this can make (some) men uncomfortable, but how does one know when the line has been crossed? If one person says it’s drama and the other says they’re just trying to express hurt, frustration, etc. — is there ever a resolution to this difference of opinion?
Yes. It’s called maturity.
Mature people (male or female) will take the time to figure out whether a request of someone else is fair to ask, and whether there’s a realistic outcome that would make it worth asking.
Mature partners of mature people (male or female) will listen to such requests with an open mind and decide if they’re willing to accommodate, or whether principle demands that they refuse.
A mature couple (male, female, or one of each) will then figure out if this exchange, or the accumulation of such exchanges, affects their ability to stay together.
If they miss the exit to Maturity at any point on the path of an argument, they do a U-turn at Kneejerk, circle back and try again. “I’m sorry I got so defensive. It was a fair thing to ask, and I will give it some thought.”
If instead the only thing keeping a couple from “constant arguing, name-calling, shouting, public displays of anger, etc.” is a swallowing of all negative emotions, then that’s not an absence of drama; that’s just drama deferred until all the suppressed concerns metastasize into rage. A ban on “no” is not the same as “yes.”
So. If you rephrase “I don’t want any drama” as “I want to be with someone who genuinely likes and accepts me as I am instead of trying to change me to fit their idea of who I should be, and it’s mutual,” then I'll stand and clap at my desk.
Putting gender tags to it also doesn’t help, by the way. If you’re expecting men to be a certain way and women to be a certain way and their problems therefore to have a certain predictability, then right there, that “line has been crossed.” Date people for who they are, not who you expect them to be.
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