DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: My husband insisted on going to the lake by himself in May for three weeks "to clean and open the cabin properly." It was up-and-down weather, so I said, "Go ahead!"
Last weekend I went to the lake with him, and a female lake acquaintance I ran into in the little store, said she saw another car at our cabin the last few weeks, and wondered if I had a new car. Red alert! My husband has been acting strangely and secretively for the past few months. Is he cheating again? He hasn’t for years. I’m afraid to ask.
— Fearful He’s Cheating Again, Winnipeg
Dear Fearful: Lay out the conversation you had with your lake lady acquaintance to your husband, quoting her exactly and saying, "This is what she told me. What do you have to say? What have you been doing, and with whom?" Then watch his face intently, and if he won’t look at you, say, "Please look at me. This is very important to me." Then it’s time to talk openly, remembering the last time you dealt with this and it worked. Or, did it really? Please write back with how this goes.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My always-angry wife tried to hit one of our teenagers with a frying pan. She missed, thank God! He packed a few things and ran to his grandmother’s house (my mom’s) a few blocks away, and says he’s never coming back. That was a month ago.
I told my wife I’d leave and take the other kids with me, and she’d be left alone if she didn’t get immediate help from a psychiatrist for her anger and violence. And she must continue until she’s totally well.
She has been doing that and has been acting extra nice to our younger children. My wife is very calm on her new pills, but she isn’t happy with me deep down and is sleeping in our missing son’s bedroom, avoiding me. He was her favourite, but he fought with her the most.
My wife is cold with me because I won’t "make" our son come back, and I’m giving his grandmother and him financial support plus spending money.
Past history? She gave up her art-related job to be a stay-at-home mother. I think she really needs something more than staying at home, now the kids are older. I gave her a whack of art materials last Christmas and she hasn’t touched them. Do you have any ideas for our awful mess?
— Upset Dad and Husband, Winnipeg
Dear Upset: If your son is not averse to seeing his mother with you there beside him, and with no intention of your getting him to come back home for good, everybody might feel better. Perhaps he could come over for a barbecue and a board game with the family. (Promise your older son you’ll drive him back to grandma’s after dinner, or earlier, if things don’t go well.)
It’d be good if the cold war and the long silence end. It’d also be good for the younger kids to know their older brother has not disappeared forever. Ask him to call his siblings for short conversations, so they don’t feel such a loss, and take them over to grandma’s house for visits and meals regularly, so they can see him.
As for the relationship between you and your wife, ask if you can attend some meetings with her and her psychiatrist and/or a marriage counsellor when she’s ready for that to happen. If she says no, see a counsellor yourself, because you’re obviously upset and suffering.
As for the art supplies she has rejected, she may simply need a job of any kind to get her back into the world of adults and back in balance. Staying home with kids for years can be isolating, and for some personalities, a disaster.
Please send your questions and comments to email@example.com or Miss Lonelyhearts c/o the Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6.
Each year, the Free Press publishes more than 1,000 letters to Miss Lonelyhearts and her responses to the life and relationship questions that come her way.