Dear Annie: I was married for 21 years, until my wife decided to call it quits. It’s been four years since the divorce. She is now dating someone from work. I suspect this co-worker is the reason she left me, but I truly do not care anymore and have moved on with my life.
For the past two years, I have been dating “Lois.” We don’t live together. We both have teenage children and don’t think living together is a good idea. But, Annie, every morning I ask myself: Should I stay, or should I go? I am 49 and Lois is 42. We often argue about stupid things. She quickly gets over these spats, but I don’t.
So, tell me: How do I know whether it’s love or just companionship? — Need Advice
Dear Need: If every morning you question whether you should stick around, the answer is no, you shouldn’t. You don’t mention that you love Lois or even enjoy her company. You seem to fight often in ways that disturb you. Being with someone who doesn’t make you happy is not the solution to loneliness.
Dear Annie: My parents divorced after 15 years of marriage. My father remarried and passed away in 2004. My mother married a man and divorced him after 18 years. He, too, has passed away.
My mother believes that my aunts, uncles and cousins on my father’s side are still her relatives because they are related to me. She says she is still the aunt to my cousins on that side of the family. My brother adds to this dilemma by bringing Mom to some of these family gatherings where my paternal aunts ignore her and my cousins ask why she is there. She seems hurt by this.
So is Mom still a part of my dad’s family? She has nieces from her second marriage, but she has never included me in those gatherings, and I don’t even know them. Are these unknown cousins relatives to me? — Child in the Middle
Dear Child: Your mother is related only insofar as the relatives want her to be. If she was “aunt” to your cousins for 15 years, they may still think of her this way. However, it sounds as if they are not interested in being related any longer, in which case, they don’t have to be. The same goes for your stepcousins. Unless you are suddenly interested in getting to know them better, you do not need to consider yourself related.
Dear Annie: I’m writing in response to “Heart Full of Joy in Pennsylvania,” who divorced her cheating husband after 35 years and finally found happiness.
I’ve been married for 36 years, and my husband has lived a secret life the entire time. I’ve known about it, but turned my head and kept up a good front so the children could have a happy childhood. Now the kids are grown, and I’ve decided I cannot live the lie anymore. I told the children that their dad has been unfaithful, but I didn’t disclose the details that he has been living “on the down low,” having casual sex with men at public parks and going to swingers clubs.
My kids are hurt, and feel that their happy childhood was a lie. I often wonder if I am being selfish. After all, the marriage isn’t horrible, but it isn’t a true marriage. My counselor says the kids will come around eventually and will realize that I am much happier now that I’m out of my dysfunctional marriage.
I just want to say that “Heart Full of Joy” has given me hope. Though I’m not interested in finding someone else right now, perhaps there is a man out there who will cherish me, honor me and truly love me. — Tired of Living the Lie
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.