DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I met a young woman in a lingerie store when I needed help buying something pretty for my wife’s birthday. She was so sweet and sexy, I was reminded of everything my wife used to be — including very highly sexed when we married five years ago. She’s a cold fish now.
I cheated once on her, in the third year of our marriage, and I apologized from the bottom of my heart. We have been OK since, but never great. I don’t know where my wife’s red-hot sex drive went, but she’s been suspiciously happy lately, without much sex from me.
I cheated that one time because my old girlfriend came to town, and we met for a drink and she took me upstairs to her hotel room and served me more drinks. I forgot my commitment to my wife, thinking no one would ever know.
I came home with love bites on the back of my neck, and all hell broke loose. I’m sure my ex intended for my wife to see, as she was angry because I left her — to marry her highly sexed friend, my present wife.
My life is so complicated! I don’t want to leave my wife and the little kids, but life is pretty dull in the bedroom and I’m finding myself pathetically attracted to any young women, like the one in the store.
Is it possible to make my marriage what it once was? How the heck do I do that? Maybe I should give my wife a gift certificate for one night with an old boyfriend, totally forgiven?
I’m desperate because I don’t want to keep living like this, and I don’t want to lose my children, either.
— Depressed About Cold Marriage, Silver Heights
Dear Depressed: If only it were that easy — if one night of straying could be wiped out by offering your partner the same thing as payback, and if saying you’re terribly sorry would restore trust. It doesn’t usually work that way.
You say your wife is very highly sexed and seems suspiciously happy. Perhaps she is already getting what she needs with a lover, as payback for your cheating.
Also, your wife is not completely innocent. She knows you and she devastated this friend — the one who set up the hotel seduction with the love-bite clues. This ex-girlfriend was aiming to punish both of you — and it worked.
Your marriage is shaking worse now, as your wife is "suspiciously happy" lately, perhaps acting like a woman with a new lover. You need to take this marriage into counselling ASAP, if your wife will even go.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I’m thrilled that I met a gorgeous new man this year. I hate being single and alone during special seasons when all my friends and family are married.
I have one big problem. I have no desire to get married to this particular guy. He has been acting strangely — that dazed look in the eye — and I’m afraid he’s getting ready to give me an engagement ring this Christmas. I even spotted a catalogue from a jewelry store in his back seat, half-covered with a sweater.
Should I tell him I don’t want his engagement ring and embarrass him now, or wait until he’s given it to me, and then wait a few weeks and get him to take it back? He’s a great guy, but I’m not the marrying kind, at least not with him.
— Feeling Guilty and Worried
Dear Feeling Guilty: Tell him you saw the catalogue in his back seat and say you hope it wasn’t the ring section he was looking at, because you don’t want to get engaged at this point in your life.
He can then deny the catalogue had anything to do with you and say he was thinking of buying some jewelry for his mom or sisters. Let him save face.
If you play along and accept the ring, there will be a big fanfare and a lot of talk during the holidays about wedding plans. Then getting it back in his face would be embarrassing for him.
Prepare to be dumped after this conversation if you have hurt him deeply. Then you’ll be alone at Christmas and New Year’s, but it’s better than carrying on a hurtful charade.
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.