Dear Amy: I’m a 50-year-old divorced father of three wonderful daughters.
My previous marriage was not a healthy one. My wife had several affairs.
I’m now in a very loving relationship with someone I adore. My girls love her and she’s a great motherly figure. We’ve talked extensively about marriage. We rarely argue or disagree. Our relationship is fantastic.
The one thing that bothers me involves texting and social media. She routinely gets text messages from a male co-worker during the evening and weekend hours. I firmly believe that it’s inappropriate and unnecessary for the communication between the two of them outside of work.
She is a devoted life partner, but why does this continue, even after I have expressed my concerns?
Early in our relationship, before we were fully committed, she went on a trip that was previously planned to visit a man she was in a prior relationship with. She wasn’t fully forthcoming about this until she returned home. She said she didn’t think we were in a fully committed relationship. I have forgiven her.
I’m thinking about getting engaged, but I wonder why these behaviors continue. She’s a very friendly and caring person, which may at times come across as flirtatious.
Am I being unreasonable and insecure, or should I be concerned? — Just Wondering
Dear Wondering: Your girlfriend is a “devoted life partner.” Devoted life partners get to have friends outside of the partnership. These friendships should not be conducted in secret and should be acknowledged openly — and occasionally shared — with the family.
The friendship with this co-worker predates your relationship. As you two continue the process of braiding your lives together, you should meet one another’s friends and learn the backstory of these various friendships. Platonic friendships outside of the primary relationship are not “inappropriate” or “unnecessary.” In fact, these friendships can demonstrate (as well as expand) a person’s capacity for other relationships.
Yes, texting and posting on social media during “together time” is distracting and rude to one’s partner. Perhaps as a couple (and family group), you can all agree on parameters regarding phone use.
You need to differentiate between human instincts (when you just know in your bones that something is amiss), and the toxic trust issues perpetuated in your marriage and triggered by this work friendship. Discuss this tactfully with your partner, encourage her to be open and transparent about her friendships, and show an interest in meeting all of her friends.
Dear Amy: Over the past year, my husband has come to believe that conversation consists of asking lots of questions, even if they relate to details regarding a range of topics that I cannot possibly know.
Topics run the gamut from information in the news to details about my relatives. This has gotten worse over time. Sometimes our “conversations” seem like an interrogation. He does not converse with others in this way.
Recently, I returned home after driving seven hours to arrange an assisted-living facility for my mom — an emotionally draining experience.
Upon entering the house, I was confronted with intense questioning about issues surrounding my mother’s trust and estate. I felt like getting back in the car and driving away.
The next morning, I told him that his way of welcoming me home was highly undiplomatic, and that intensely questioning someone is not carrying on a conversation.
We are both 65, I am fully retired, he is partially retired, and we do not have financial stress. I do not have secrets from him, and we trust each other completely.
What gives? — Interrogated
Dear Interrogated: This might be a sign of a cognitive problem, except your husband doesn’t seem to do this with other people.
Arriving home from a stressful trip — not to a greeting but an interrogation — is not the best way for him to love you. Point this out during a calm moment.
Encourage him to dive into his outside friendships — because it seems that he is storing up a lot of what he sees as “conversation starters” for you. If this gets worse, he should get a medical check-up.
Dear Amy: I was shocked by your response to “Annoyed,” the young mother whose foreign-born mother-in-law constantly makes nonsense baby noises to her baby.
The reason your response shocked me was because you got it right.
“Annoyed” should perhaps take the opportunity to listen to a podcast while her mother-in-law is “goo-goo-gooshing.”
Thank you for encouraging this kind of adult-baby communication. — Shocked
Dear Shocked: I accept your backhanded compliment — and thank you.