DEAR AMY: I’m an older man, married for a number of years. Not a “terrific” marriage, but I’ve lived it so long I’m just used to it. But that’s another story.
A few years ago I met a single woman. We started talking; one thing led to another and we spent the night together.
It had been well over four years since my wife and I had relations. I’ve carried on a sort of relationship with this woman, and have seen her a few times.
She’s now demanding I come to be with her. I know it’s just my money she wants from things she has said.
I know she’s sleeping with other men. I want to get her out of my life, but she has threatened to tell my wife everything if I don’t “get my act” together.
I’ve tried all I can think of without making her mad enough to do it. I honestly don’t know if she would or not. I can’t come clean; it would kill my wife. Her health is poor.
I know I’m a stupid jerk for getting into this; I’ve never done this before and feel so guilty about it.
I need help.
Stupid in Texas
DEAR STUPID: Do not let this person blackmail you. You need to own this and find a way to tell your wife and deal with the fallout in your marriage in a way that is respectful and loving. If you don’t tell your wife, the blackmailer’s threat will keep you off-kilter and your lie and the secrecy will continue to affect your marriage – and your well-being. Do not negotiate or discuss this further with the person who is threatening you. To do so will only compound your mistake.
DEAR AMY: I almost had a fight with my neighbor.
I have been getting her mail by mistake and opening it before I realized it wasn’t mine. As soon as I realize my mistake, I have taken the mail to my neighbor.
Today she was downright snotty with me. She asked me why I was opening her mail. Just for the record, I have no interest in her affairs and am tired of receiving mail that isn’t mine. I considered sending this person an email telling her I don’t want her stupid mail and that maybe she should talk to the letter carrier, but I decided to write to you instead. Am I being oversensitive?
Trying to Be a Good Neighbor
DEAR TRYING: This mail-opening incident should not have happened more than once. From your note, it sounds as if this has happened more than once.
There is no excuse for your neighbor to be rude to you, but think about it – wouldn’t it bother you if you repeatedly received mail addressed to you that had already been opened? Our mail contains much vital, personal and private information, such as medical information concerning test results, as well as private financial information such as account numbers and balances.
It is illegal to knowingly or intentionally open mail addressed to someone else. Keep that in mind as you receive and rip open mail without first checking to make sure it is addressed to you.
Yes – you should suggest to your neighbor that she speak with the letter carrier. And you should take any mail delivered to you by mistake, write “delivered to wrong address” on the envelope, and leave it – unopened – for your letter carrier to redeliver to the correct address.
DEAR AMY: You run lots of letters about grief. Everyone grieves differently. Some of us grieve long after the actual loss. My own mother died in August. To my friends, I seemed so strong they wondered if I had no feelings toward my mother. Months later, my friends asked me if something was wrong in my life; I was not myself. I told them I was grieving my mother’s death. Fortunately, my friends understood. I think they were actually relieved.
When my uncle died, my sister could not seem to stop crying. I told her to go ahead and cry. I told her I was confident she would work it out, but what was the hurry to stop crying? He was an important part of our lives.
As a health care professional, I have helped several families navigate through the final days of a loved one’s life. I have yet to see two reactions be the same. Let’s give ourselves a break and allow ourselves to grieve as we grieve.
Celia RN, MS
DEAR CELIA: Very wise. Thank you.
Email Amy Dickinson at email@example.com.