Tell Me About It: Sister learns the hard way to be present in marriage

Published September 10, 2018
Updated September 5, 2018

Q: I just got off the phone with my sister, who is married and has a 9-year-old daughter. Her husband has been having an emotional affair with his high school sweetheart. My sister knows because she has been going through his phone; apparently, he sends the sweetheart text messages and emails and has said that she (the sweetheart) is his "queen." Ick.

My sister has a high-pressure job. She makes more money than her husband and is fiercely independent. She has always made work a priority, sometimes at the expense of her family. She realizes this and has started to try to be more present when she’s at home, realizing that her husband is probably feeling emasculated and in need of attention. She has a session scheduled with a counselor. Any other steps you can advise?


A: For her, no (except to get out of his phone). She’s apparently doing the hard work she thinks she needs to do. I expect that will eventually have to include her telling him what she knows.


I’d take exception to the "emasculated" line of reasoning. Money earned is (literally?) a paper-thin way to define masculinity. And everyone, not just the representatives of one gender, craves relevance.

Plus, she is who she is. Playing a role to flatter his ego is not anyone’s long term solution. I hope.

The part about attention, though, is as valid as it gets. Not being present in a relationship is lethal to it, no matter where it is you’ve misplaced your attention -- be it on a high-powered career or baking bread from scratch all weekend for the 12 children you home-school during the week.

Or did you mean, any other steps for you? Not much there, either. Just listen to her and encourage her to be true to herself, no matter how she chooses to approach this. That’s the only way it’ll work.

Friend wants to reject Southern name tradition

Q: I have some new friends with two young children, both of whom I like a lot. Their mom is from the South, as am I, and she always insists the kids call us "Miss and Mister [First name]." I dislike this convention and so I try to interact with the kids just using my first name, but their mom inevitably corrects them.


Is it reasonable for me to say to the parents, "Hey, I’d love for the kids to just call me by my first name," or would I be overstepping?

First Name

That’s OK, but present it as a question: "Would that be OK with you?" And take no for an answer.

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