Ask Amy: Long-term marriage deserves real renewal

November 29, 2013 

Dear Amy: I've been married coming up on 50 years. My wife strayed from our marriage bed on several occasions and, frankly, never satisfactorily explained to me why. In any event, she decided to stay married. We have gotten on well together for years and successfully raised two fine children.

My daughter wants to throw us a 50th anniversary party, at which she wants us to repeat our wedding vows. I find this to be a terrible idea.

My wife made the most solemn oath in front of a church full of family and friends, and then she broke it. While I still love her and want to remain married, I find the idea that we would repeat what was a travesty in the first place to be unacceptable.

When I told my daughter I did not want to do the vow thing, she pushed back. All I could think to say was, "I don't need to show my commitment. I'm still here, right?"

She sees this as a grouchy old man's answer and is attempting to steamroll me. Meanwhile, my wife says as little as possible about why I seem to be so hardheaded about the issue. How can I stop this renewal of vows?

— Hurt husband

Dear Husband: What stands out most glaringly is the fact that you and your wife don't seem to have talked about this. You don't know (or understand) her motivation for straying. You don't seem to have forgiven her; you have only moved on. You deserve better.

I'd like to encourage you to take this tremendous marital landmark as an opportunity to discuss the state of your union. Stop circling and be brave enough to expose how bewildered and hurt you feel. Talk. Listen. If you and your wife can't find a way to have this conversation, enlist the help of a counselor.

Ultimately, you and your wife might mutually decide that a renewal of your vows will be just that — a renewal — and also an opportunity to start over. If you decide against it, then you will make this choice together.

Dear Amy: The letter from "Divorced Holidays" hit home for me. Honestly, I couldn't believe that you would suggest that adult children should pull in their divorced parents for a family celebration. This sounds like a holiday in hell to me.

— Daughter of divorce

Dear Daughter: This couple had been amicably divorced for 20 years. My suggestion was for the adult children to host the celebration and invite both parents, leaving it up to them to decide whether to alternate years or attend together.

 

You can contact Amy Dickinson via email at askamy@tribune.com, follow her on Twitter @askingamy or "like" her on Facebook.

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