Ask Amy: Estranged husband should cut the knot
DEAR AMY: I am 72. I've been married for 50 years to the same woman.
Three years ago, I moved out of our beautiful home of 35 years because she became verbally abusive. She has been a harsh, judgmental person, driven by worry, for most of our lives. I concluded that I was enabling her behavior by trying too hard to make her happy.
We raised two beautiful, productive, professional "kids" in our partnership, who are now in their 40s. We don't have grandchildren.
Now I have fallen in love with a 71-year-old woman who is quite the opposite of my harsh spouse. She is warm, generous, positive, and hopeful. Her longtime husband is an alcoholic.
She has adult children and grandkids that she loves and that depend on her.
This woman and I have had a deeply serious emotional, physical, sexual, and intellectual relationship for the last two years. I will not close the door on this "end of life" renewal with this spiritually beautiful woman. But I would also never intentionally hurt her extended family relationships, nor do I want to hurt my wife.
What do you think we should do? How will this end? — TORN
DEAR TORN: My crystal ball is on the fritz, and so I don't know how this will end, but I assume it will end the way most complicated entanglements end — with a variety of responses and reactions across a wide spectrum.
You have already left your wife, and perhaps you should complete the process by legally dissolving your very long marriage. Will this hurt her? Probably. Will she blame you for her hurt? Definitely.
Given what you describe about your affair partner and her tight family, she may choose to stay in her marriage.
Many huge life choices boil down to the tension inherent in the need to live in relationship to others — and yet not be controlled by them.
I would never want to judge or deny any two good people a beautiful late life love. But to conduct your relationship with integrity, you will both have to make some tough choices, understanding that your choices will hurt some other people.
DEAR AMY: I suppose everyone reacts to the stress of this pandemic in different ways, but I am finding myself very annoyed and resentful — even hurt — by the way that "friends" and relatives are coming out of the woodwork to call, email or text, wanting to be in touch.
I even got a message yesterday from a woman I haven't seen or heard from since high school (55 years ago) wanting to "catch up." These are the same people who could never be bothered to respond to cards, calls, emails in the past because their lives were "so busy."
Trust me, my life was as busy as theirs, but I could make time to reach out to people. They now open a call or email: "I'm so bored I thought I would call you." Or "I have nothing better to do so I thought we could email back and forth." REALLY? Is that supposed to make me feel good or glad to hear from them?
I would have been very happy to stay in touch over the years because I once cared for these people. But I certainly don't feel valued or important to them now if the only reason they are in touch is because they need something to do to relieve their boredom.
I don't know how to respond. Do I ignore them? Do I pretend that I'm happy to hear from them? — TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE
DEAR TOO LATE: You are feeling defensive about the way people from your long-off past are reaching out, but before you blow them off, you should examine your own reaction to determine if you are perhaps shooting yourself in the foot.
You might be denying connections and reconnections that would be fulfilling for you.
However, if someone contacts you after more than 50 years and their opening line is, "I'm so bored I thought I would call you," (and you definitely don't want to talk to them), you could respond, "Well, I'm not quite bored enough."
DEAR AMY: Thank you for running the amusing letters from "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," who reported on their coronavirus quirks.
It really made me smile. I've been learning to bake bread, which makes everybody else smile — because my "fails" are hilarious. — HALF BAKED
DEAR BAKED: The best part of baking fails is that you get to eat the evidence.
You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.