DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: My wife and I had some troubles -- a meaningless affair of mine came to light -- and now she and I bicker over everything. She starts it over groceries, money, the car, the dogs, anything, and then goads me into arguing back. We fight over everything. The affair was over last fall already. I can't go on living like this. Last night I said as a half-joke, "Why don't you go out and have an affair and even up the score so we can get on with this marriage?" and she said, without smiling, "What a good idea! I never thought of that. I know just the man." Well, I went crazy and we had a full-scale World War 3. Now we're barely talking and you could cut the tension with a knife. -- S.O.S., Transcona
Dear S.O.S.: Once the evidence of an affair has come to light and the innocent partner can no longer look the other way it is common for bickering over other things to start as an outlet for continuing anger and suspicion. Why stay married unless you both decide you want an open marriage, or you decide to be faithful? Face facts: if you actually wanted an open marriage, you wouldn't have blown up when your wife said she had a man in mind.
You two have reached the tipping point. Either you take this marriage into serious long-term counselling and embrace monogamy, or you walk away now. The bickering has escalated to WW3 and daily life is becoming dangerous. Either you try to change your ways with professional help or you part.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I love my 18-year-old daughter, but she is a flirt with older men, particularly my friends. I started noticing at the lake when friends came to visit as a group. She lives with me part-time and was up at the lake for a week. My buddies came out to go fishing and play cards and she really laid it on. I told her three different times to go change into a bathing suit with some actual material. Recently, she has been a pest at my poker parties and has taken up with a boyfriend who is eight years older than she is. Why does she want an old guy when there are so many guys her age who obviously like her? What is wrong with her? -- Upset Dad, South End
Dear Upset: She's missing her dad's attention. She's competing for your attention by flirting with your friends and making you upset -- at least you notice her then. When you are with her as a part-time dad you should actually pay attention to her. It's OK for her to bring friends out to the lake where you barbecue for them and take the crew fishing like a real old-fashioned dad, but it's not all right for you to use the precious time you have with your daughter to entertain all your buddies playing cards or fishing.
There are two ways of looking at visits with your daughter: you are either babysitting or you are entertaining a guest. In either case, it's not OK for you to be partying with your buddies at the same time. Pay proper attention to your daughter -- take her places and introduce her to new experiences in the world. If you happily pay attention to her and she gets dad back she may not feel the need for an old boyfriend to protect her, or that she must flirt with your friends.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My husband I are snowbirds but didn't go this year because of his mother who is seriously ill. I am going crazy up here in the cold and would like to go down to our mobile home with my sister for a month. My husband says it isn't fair to leave him here alone with his mother, although there are other brothers and sisters to go see her. He says his mother might die and then he'd feel terrible if he weren't here. I have never been close to his mother. What do you think? -- Longing for my Southern Home, West Kildonan
Dear Longing: If you aren't close with his mom and you go down south, she won't mind. In fact, she gets her son to herself and will see him more. Your husband is upset because he'll miss out on the fun and be spending a lot of time in a hospital. How would you feel if your mom was seriously ill and your husband went down south to kick up his heels with friends? This would be a good time to be loyal to your partner. If you stay and support him, it will pay off emotionally in the long run. If you don't, it will be a sore spot. Be patient and loving to your hubby at this time. If your mother-in-law is seriously ill, she won't be here next winter and you can go for an extra long time.
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