Ask Amy: Betrayed wife could move on by moving on

Dear Amy: My husband let me know that he and our two daughters will be traveling 2,000 miles to celebrate his brother’s 70th birthday, which is two days before my 70th birthday.

I am so angry and disappointed that he would do this.

His brother and wife have never visited us in our home state.

This was all done behind my back, and then after I learned about it, I was told that we would celebrate my birthday sometime in the following month.

We’ve had many problems in our marriage, but this feels like the last straw.

But I can’t seem to move on.

Any ideas on how to move on and get over my anger?

— Had It

Dear Had It: One way to move on would be to actually move on.

Given the way you have described this (topping off a troubled marriage, your husband plans a secret trip with your daughters to celebrate his brother’s landmark birthday, while deliberately ignoring yours), I think you should use their time away to contact a lawyer and educate yourself about your financial prospects, as well as the personal and emotional consequences of you leaving the marriage.

Truth be told, it seems that your husband has already at least partially left.

After doing this research, you may decide to stay, at least for now, but it will be your choice.

You can use the anger you feel to spur you to action. Being armed with real information and an actual choice could empower you to feel more in control of your own life, and your anger should dissipate. (It may morph into other very challenging emotions.)

If you do decide to stay, a therapist could help you to move through the emotional fallout from this “last straw.”

Dear Amy: Many years ago, while I was at work, my sister-in-law asked my 3-year-old daughter (who is very mature) if she would like her to be her godmother.

I found out later when my daughter asked me, “Auntie asked me if I wanted her to be my godmother. What is that?”

I was completely offended by this very inappropriate behavior by an adult. This is not a conversation to be conducted with a young child in the absence of the parent.

When I confronted my brother about this, he did his usual behavior of hiding the truth by claiming it was a misunderstanding. He was certain she meant “fairy godmother” or something imaginary like that.

I hated being played for stupid. I expected an apology, so later, I confronted my SIL. To this day, she blames my daughter for misunderstanding, and has never apologized for stepping over a serious boundary.

And to make matters worse, she threw my very daughter “under the bus” for misunderstanding her, rather than acknowledging her own misdeed!

This has caused a many-year rift in family compatibility, which has been uncomfortable.

So, trying to be practical about things, I told my SIL, “I will drop this, but I will never believe you about this.”

I am tired of their obnoxious attitude of betterment and disrespect for others.

Now things are a bit better in the family relationship.

How do you recommend I move forward knowing that my SIL will NEVER admit an error and makes terrible judgment calls?

— Played for Stupid

Dear Played: You say this happened “many years ago.”

You have ruminated and fumed about this incident all that time. Surely it is time to stop, if only for your own sake.

At this point, you have all the information you need to have regarding your sister-in-law’s long-ago behavior, as well as the fact that she will never apologize for it. You have acted on this information and have stated your boundary.

Your daughter is older and should be able to defend herself against manipulation and create her own boundaries.

Moving on is now a choice you need to make.

Think of yourself as a detective working for years on a “cold case.” You’ve done your investigating and made your determination. Now it’s time to declare this case officially closed.

Dear Amy: I did not like your response to “J,” who wondered about inviting family members of a deceased classmate to a 50th high school reunion.

Doing so would turn this event into something else, entirely!

— Disappointed

Dear Disappointed: There are many factors to consider, including the size of the class. But I do believe that inviting surviving family members to attend one reunion event over the course of a weekend could be meaningful for everyone.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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