Q: My wife has had an on/off affair for a couple of years. She says it is over now, but she has said that before and it doesn't matter anymore anyway. We will be formally separating soon.
Is there an obligation to let the man's wife know what's been going on? We've known this other couple for some time now as friends, and I don't think she has a clue. I recognize that only part of my motivation is generous. There is a part of me that is angry that he is "getting away with it." Still, that by itself does not necessarily mean I shouldn't tell her. It would be messy. There are young kids involved all around. What do you think?
A: Until your motives achieve 100 percent generosity, stay out of it. Unless of course she asks you directly. Then you can say what you know — facts only, please.
It's about honoring the deceased
Q: So often, upon a death, one is asked to not send flowers but to donate to a Christian church or organization. As I am Jewish, I do not want to support this type of group. I usually donate to something else they were close to.
Recently I was scolded because I had not sent a donation to "Mother's" church, as requested. As the lady had died of cancer, I'd donated to cancer research.
Did I do wrong? Why should I be expected to fund someone else's religious beliefs?
A: Because you're not registering your beliefs, you're supporting those of the deceased. Unless you found the work of a particular church to be objectionable (which is certainly possible), I would lean toward honoring the person's memory as instructed.
But, no matter — you executed a neat little ethical bypass for mourners in doubt, and honored the deceased without straining your own values.
The person who scolded you for being generous, on the other hand, simply because your generosity didn't stick to the script, strains any value system worth having. Let's hope it was the grief talking.
Offer olive branch
Q: I'm the ninth of 11 children in my family. I'm the only female who resembles my mother, and have gotten attention because of it. I'm also the only one in my family with a college degree, one I worked hard for as a single parent. I've recently become widowed and feel a great deal of sadness that my sisters and I aren't closer. They leave me out of their get-togethers just as they did while we were growing up. I do have a lot of friends and have always been well liked except by my own sisters. My brother and I get along fine. Any suggestions on how to move forward without looking back and feeling hurt by my sisters' treatment of me?
A: I suppose you can try to imagine how it felt to be one of nine girls who mattered less because they didn't resemble their mother.
Then you can approach them with an eye to what you share — a needlessly divisive upbringing — instead of all the things you continue to hold over them and against them. Try: "I'm so sad we aren't closer, and I'm sorry for my role in that."
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