DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: My wealthy alcoholic mother-in-law, who lives in a mansion, got really drunk and fell in her dinner at a recent family gathering. I had the audacity to laugh. It was so absurd, the giggling just came out -- it was like slapstick comedy. I couldn't help it. What was I supposed to do: look horrified or show some kind of insulting pity to the rest of the family? No one else laughed and my husband looked at me with tears of humiliation in his eyes.
I didn't think less of him for his mother's behaviour. It was just a silly moment. That woman is no reflection on my husband, who is the nicest, kindest guy, but he was hurt and later disgusted by my reaction and went cold on me. I don't know if that one unfortunate laugh is going to be the end of the best part of my relationship with him or not, but I feel a serious change. How do I get back over the line? I didn't mean to do anything, it was just a knee-jerk reaction and now he thinks I'm a mean-spirited person. We talked today and he said: "I don't recognize you. I didn't know you could be so cruel." That terrified me. Please help. -- Shame-Faced Joker, Winnipeg
Dear Shame-Faced: Make a heartfelt apology with no excuses to enable him to express his feelings and try to help break the ice. "I don't know what came over me. I'm so deeply sorry. I don't think your mother's drinking is a joke or a shame. I don't think less of the family or you about it. It was not a funny moment. Perhaps it was a nervous thing. I will never know. I am really and truly sorry from the bottom of my heart. Can you forgive me?"
If he still seems withdrawn toward you days after the apology -- like he doesn't trust you -- suggest some counselling around this issue. Go for one session alone and talk to the counsellor openly about your feelings towards the mother your refer to as "that woman" -- her wealth, the mansion and the trouble she causes your husband.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My husband got drunk on Christmas Eve. At about midnight, he started crying and told me: "I'm so sorry, but I have fallen in love with someone else." Although he still loves me physically, and says I'm his sex goddess and he'd much rather have sex with me, he says he loves this other woman emotionally. He even told me her name. He said he met her at his gym and that he'd never cheated on me sexually. He acted like he'd made some big sacrifice for me by not touching her. Big deal! I wish he had and I was the one he was still in love with.
I am livid. We have three little kids and I'm just the sex buddy now? This other woman has his heart? Excuse me while I kick a chair across the room! He said she's "not a looker" but she's "just so warm and understanding." I just want to throw up. I know what's happened. He's a big mama's boy and his mother died a year ago. I thought he would turn his affection to me with her gone, but it looks like he found a new mother instead. What am I supposed to do now, just take it? -- His Sex Object? Tuxedo
Dear Sex Object: Fight for your family! Make a quick change in this triangle that your husband is now controlling. Phone up this "warm and understanding" substitute mother and have a little talk with her. Ask her to meet you -- she will not want that and will just listen on the phone. Tell her your husband is missing his mother terribly and that she has filled the void for him. Tell her verbatim what your husband said to you: that she's "not a looker," but she's "warm and understanding" and he wants sex with his goddess woman, you.
That will be news to her or she may only think of him as a friend. Make sure you lay it on thick about your three children and how they need a real family with their mom and dad. Then tell her clearly to leave your family alone and that you will be joining the gym to make sure she does. These moves will take the fun out of this secret flirtation, if that's what it is. Insist your husband go with you for marriage counselling and see what happens. You may discover this can be fixed, or you may have already lost so much respect for him you don't want him anymore.