DEAR ABBY: Attention paid to ex-fiancee angers wife for 20 years

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I were married 30 years when we ran into an old girlfriend (and ex-fiancee) of mine at a function. I spent a good part of the evening dancing with her and ignoring my wife. My wife says I was “indecent” with the girlfriend, and it hurt her badly.

It was 20 years ago, but my wife lets me hear about it every day. I can’t take it any longer. She refuses to get help or forgive me. Our marriage has gone downhill ever since. What do you recommend I do to make it up to her? I’ve tried a few things, to no avail.— PAST ISN’T IN THE PAST

DEAR PAST: Your performance at that function must have been deeply humiliating to your wife. Was your regrettable behavior with your exfiancee a one-time thing or has it happened since?

You stated this happened 20 years ago and you have attempted to make amends to no avail. Unless there’s more to this story than you have written, it appears your wife enjoys carrying a grudge and punishing you -- which is, in my opinion, worse than what you did.

Please quit allowing her to continue to punish you. Get counseling if you need to, and offer her the option of counseling again. Understand that if she refuses, you have important decisions to make about your future. Discuss with your therapist what emotionally healthy options there may be for you, but don’t continue to settle for the status quo.

DEAR ABBY: My husband’s mother passed away recently after a long illness. She lived in another state. He couldn’t be there while she was sick or when she died because he was also ill. He carries a lot of guilt about it.

I saw a cellphone message from her before she died, saying she was dying and asking him to come help her. I deleted it because hearing it would have put added stress on him and made him sicker. Now I feel guilty. Should I keep quiet or confess? He still is not well. — GUILTY DAUGHTER-IN-LAW

DEAR GUILTY: You made a rational choice for a solid reason when you decided to delete the message instead of sharing it with your husband. If you feel you must “confess,” disclose it to your spiritual adviser or someone you can trust who is closer to you than I am. Personally, considering the state of your husband’s health, I think the choice you made was the correct one.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.