Dear Amy: Six months ago, my fiancée and I split up after 13 years together because of my emotional cheating.
I know what I did was wrong, and I’ve taken full responsibility for my actions.
For obvious reasons, she has lost all trust in me, which I completely understand. I love her, we have two children together, and I wish for nothing more than to work things out and move forward with our life together.
This is the second time we’ve split up.
I’ve noticed that I throw chaos into our relationship. I tend to drift away from the relationship when things get tough.
I admit that when I violated her trust, I was in a dark place emotionally.
I was depressed and unhappy. I didn’t like the route our relationship was taking. We lacked communication (on both our parts) — but more from me.
It wasn’t easy for me to admit what I was feeling.
We barely made any time to spend together, and when we did it would be either with the kids or a group of friends.
We almost never made time for us.
What can I do? Can we bounce back from this?
She says that things won’t be the same. I understand why she believes that, but I know that we can find a way past this. She has said she is still in love with me. She wants to be with me, but she needs time and space and doesn’t know how she can trust me again.
What should I do?
— Broken Trust
Dear Broken: You demonstrate impressive insight into what you believe is the root cause of your behavior.
Despite your insight, your behavior reflects an immature response to the stress in your life. Children lash out and then blame their behavior on their feelings. Adults are supposed to take their insights and actually do something differently in order to have a different outcome next time.
You perpetually “throw chaos” into your relationship, and then disappear when things get tough. You help to create the problem and then you run away from the problem. This is classic “fight or flight” behavior, and you can change it.
You need to imagine what this is like for your family. Your children are being taught that they can’t count on you.
“Bouncing back” is not in the cards for you. But you can rebuild your relationship and help to repair your family’s life, as long as you are willing to put in the work.
Counseling would be helpful for you and the mother of your children. I also suggest that you start the process of dating her. If she is willing to see you, you should arrange responsible childcare, and you should start the process of trying to reconnect.
You and your partner might benefit from sharing, “9 Steps to Heal Your Resentment and Reboot Your Marriage,” by Tanja Pajevic (2014, Abbondanza Press).
Dear Amy: I’m an introvert and find it uncomfortable to participate in group discussions.
What bothers me is when someone in the group (usually the loudest person) turns to me and blurts out loudly, “Smile, John!” or “How come you’re so quiet?”
It usually derails the conversation with an awkward silence as the other group members stop talking to look at me.
I feel such remarks are not only rude, but commenting on another person’s facial expression or demeanor in a group setting is hurtful.
I often feel angry and wish to verbally retaliate, but remain silent in the interest of peace.
What could you recommend I do in such situations?
Dear Quiet: You are right about how disrespectful it is to call out someone publicly and to comment on their demeanor or facial expression — unless this is done out of concern for the person’s welfare.
As hard as it is for you to speak up during these moments, I wonder if you could say, “I’m quiet because — I’m listening.” To someone who tells you to “smile,” you could respond (privately, if that is preferable), “Please don’t tell me to smile. It makes me extremely uncomfortable.”
Dear Amy: In response to “Wondering,” she shouldn’t send money to two young college grads she barely knows. Just a card is enough. Why do so many columnists think people need monetary recognition for nothing?
They’ll be fine without your money.
— Being Real
Dear Being Real: I suggested that “Wondering” should only do what she wanted to do, but if she chose to send money, to keep the amount very modest.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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