Desire for attention drives wife back to old boyfriend

Published 8:05 am Wednesday, July 27, 2022

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DEAR ABBY: I have been married to my husband, “Jim,” for three years, but we have been together for seven. It hasn’t been an easy road for us. I love him, but he doesn’t give me the attention or time that I want.
We have two kids we’re raising from previous relationships. I didn’t intentionally set out to hurt him, but three years ago, I reconnected with someone from my past I’ll call “Mac.” Mac and I have been off and on since reconnecting. Now I find myself not wanting to hurt either of them, but I’m in love with both of them.
I have thought about leaving Jim several times, but I can’t bring myself to do it. I feel like I’m living a double life. Jim suspects that I’m talking to someone else but won’t come out and ask me directly. All I want is to be happy and not hurt others in the process. Please give me some advice. — THOROUGHLY CONFUSED IN THE EAST
DEAR THOROUGHLY CONFUSED: Your husband is already suspicious. If you think you are doing him a favor by keeping silent, you are kidding yourself. He hasn’t come out and asked you directly because he may be afraid of upsetting the apple cart. This is not just a “choice” you are making between two men. There are children involved, and where will a divorce leave them?
If your problem is Jim’s lack of attention, don’t you think you should tell him that? He won’t enjoy hearing it, but it may give him a chance to rectify the situation. After that, if he decides he is through with you, your problem will be solved and you can enjoy your big Mac.
DEAR ABBY: I have a 5-year-old daughter, “Kim,” whose father is not in the picture. If that’s not tough enough, I don’t know his whereabouts. I haven’t heard from him in a year because he has had past trouble with the law. He obviously isn’t interested in being involved in her life, and I’ve accepted that. However, he has family members who live not far away, and they haven’t made any efforts either.
My teenage son is close with Kim’s father’s nephews, as they have been friends since he and I dated. I have been debating whether to reach out to my ex’s sisters to address their lack of involvement in Kim’s life. If they want no part of it, I guess I’ll have to give up trying, although it’s a shame she doesn’t know her family on “Dad’s side.”
The main reason I want to contact them is so she can get to know them or, if they choose not to, I can at least explain to her (when she’s older) that I tried. Do you think it’s worth it to reach out? Or should their absence confirm their lack of interest? — UNCOMFORTABLE SITUATION
DEAR UNCOMFORTABLE: Because you feel it’s important for Kim to know that you “at least tried” reaching out to her father’s side of the family, give them a call. However, it seems to me their absence is already sending a strong message that — for whatever reason — they prefer to keep their distance.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
Good advice for everyone — teens to seniors — is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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