While I'm away, readers give the advice.
On ex-spouses who soar when they leave the marriage:
I felt genuinely sorry for the guy who wrote saying that suddenly, now that she's with Man B, his wife likes cooking and socializing; but it occurred to me that, if we ever split up, my husband would probably be saying the same things about me.
Because if I ever remarry, I will be sure to find:
A man who compliments my cooking instead of acting like he's eating it because he has to;
And who will tell me that I look nice when we're going out;
And who will pay some attention to me once we're out — not sticking exclusively by my side, mind you, but at least not forgetting I'm even there.
My husband has a lot of fine qualities, but that woman's response to "Man B" just struck the most incredible chord with me.
The Shoe from the Other Foot
What helps me keep parenthood in perspective is the saying: To the world, you may be only one person; to one person, however, you may be the world. With my now 10- and 12-year-olds, for whom the first 8 or 9 years were a mix of hell and heaven, it helps me take a deep breath when I feel like screaming.
On parenthood, continued:
If it is supremely arrogant for a single parent to make a choice to have a child without first asking the "unseen, unknown child," it certainly follows that it is at least as arrogant for two parents to have a child together without first obtaining the child's permission to be created. If everyone were to follow this imperfectly reasoned conclusion, there would be no children. It is a flawed syllogism based on the impossible premise that the unconceived should be given a voice in the debate. Having children is always a selfish act from the children's perspective: They never get asked.
For a prospective parent or parents, there are tons of relevant questions to be contemplated — whether, for example, you are convinced that you have the capacity, love, wit, character, intelligence, patience, resources, resolve, and on and on — necessary to provide that proposed child with an enriching, meaningful foundation for life, but not whether you will be committing a selfish act. You will be. Just try to make it worthwhile for the "victim."
Anon in Maryland
On recovering from a mate's affair:
I would add some advice that is very old: Heal thyself.
When my (ex-)wife began seeing one of her co-workers, I sought to repair and preserve the marriage. I got us into counseling, but she was not interested. I continued, thankfully. What I learned essentially saved my life, and comes down to this: Know what you control. When I realized I had absolutely no control over my ex's past or future actions, and I controlled completely how I would permit her (or anyone else's) actions to affect me, I was released. It took some practice, but it led me to an inner peace and knowledge I could have found no other way. I now view my ex's affair as the most wonderful gift ever bestowed upon me, aside from my children and my present wife.