DEAR CAROLYN: Whenever I am at a party with my wife’s girlfriend, she flirts with me. No … not flirt; groping and teasing is a better description. Sticking her hands in my back pockets, grabbing my butt. First time it happened was when I showed up at a party without my wife, and she said, “I am so glad you are here alone!”
I got caught cheating on my wife two years ago. I am in “recovery,” as I really have a problem being faithful.
Confession … she is doing a good job! This could end badly. Help!
DEAR ANONYMOUS: Are you in recovery, or in “recovery”? Meaning, do you admit to an emotional problem and intend to get better? Or do you accept the way you are, merely nodding as people say you have a problem, and secretly hoping you won’t get seriously tempted, or seriously caught, again?
If it’s recovery, the real deal, then you already know the only chance your marriage has is the truth – that and a redoubling of your effort at whatever treatment you sought two years ago. You tell your wife immediately what’s going on with her “friend” (get it?), because said friend is already stirring the pot and your passivity equals permission.
If instead you’re in quote-unquote-recovery – if your marriage isn’t a commitment so much as prowlus interruptus – then that’s what you need to admit, first to yourself and then to your wife.
Either way, make this not about monogamy for the sake of it, but about living honestly as who you really are.
DEAR CAROLYN: There’s so much bad news in the world lately (Ebola, Gaza, Syria, planes falling from the sky) that I feel really overwhelmed and anxious. I care about what happens in the world and I want to stay informed, but I feel like I’m at my bad-news saturation point. Any suggestions on how to stay informed but not get overwhelmed?
DEAR S.: You’re not alone in this, certainly. It’s OK to go on a media fast (or just words, no images) until you regroup.
As a longer-term solution, it’s also reasonable to redefine “informed.” Yes, there’s value in following world news, especially at election time for national offices – but I can argue the most effective citizens are the ones who focus their attention within reach of their influence.
If you’re equipped to make a difference globally, then do. If you aren’t, then consider zooming in locally – region, state, county, town, block. Since every level needs caring, responsible, informed people on duty, and since helplessness is what overwhelms us most, give help fulness a chance. That is, after some much needed rest.