Originally published Sunday, March 11, 2018 at 06:00a.m.
Dear Annie: My wife, “Andrea,” bumped into an old friend, “Gary,” at our tennis club’s New Year’s Eve party. They were friends in high school, but he moved out of the area for college and didn’t move back until recently. (His parents have both fallen ill, and he and his wife are taking care of them.) At the New Year’s Eve party, Gary and my wife exchanged a passionate kiss on the dance floor at midnight. Our other friends in attendance looked at me to see what my reaction would be, seeing as Andrea and I have been married for 20 years. Needless to say, I was shocked and embarrassed and could only look on in astonishment. The rest of the evening was ruined. On the way home, I asked Andrea what that kiss was all about. She told me that she and Gary were just good friends. I told her that regardless of whether they were old friends or not, that kind of behavior was very hurtful to me and very inappropriate. She insisted it was nothing, just a friendly kiss between old friends.
Gary will be hosting a party and invited my wife and some of their other old friends. For obvious reasons, I’m uncomfortable with her going.
Annie, I don’t know what I’ve done wrong. I’ve always tried to make Andrea feel special. I’ve remembered every important holiday. We have a nice home and go on trips.
Anyway, I guess my immediate question is: Should I attend the party at Gary’s if asked? Should I insist that I attend? Should I talk over expected behavior? -- Crisis in California
Dear Crisis: I think you should go to Gary’s dinner party with your wife and talk over expected behavior beforehand, if she insists on going. But her past behavior is as hurtful as it is bewildering. It’s impossible to tell exactly what she’s thinking from your letter. She may be having a midlife crisis and trying to relive her high school days; she may be acting deliberately cruel; she may be telling the truth when she says the kiss meant nothing to her. But the point is it meant something to you, and that’s reason enough to take it seriously. What I can say for sure is that marriage counseling would help get to the root of these issues. Implore her to give it a try, and if she refuses, seek counseling on your own.
Dear Annie: I am a few years older than “Sad Grandpa,” who wrote to you about being bullied, and I wish you would tell him something. When I was a child, I participated in bullying, and at this time in my life, I cannot relate at all to the mean little girl who did that. Please tell him that I suffer every day of my life for what I did. There are no words to say how sorry I am for that. -- Ex-Bully
Dear Ex-Bully: I’m glad you wrote. The idea that bullies could one day look back on their actions with shame and remorse might give a young person reading this some comfort. At the very least, it shows how life is long and rife with opportunities for learning, growing and starting over.
Please do not torment yourself over things you did as a child. Where you’re going matters far more than where you’ve been. If you’re interested in volunteering to help victims of bullying today, visit https://www.stopbullying.gov.
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