Dear Annie: Several years ago, I had a much talked about affair with an older married man at my office. It lasted for several years. I was single at the time, and I met him at a very low period in my life. He told me I was smart, pretty and fun to be with. He showered me with flowers and gifts. He led me to believe his marriage was loveless and his only happiness was seeing me at work and talking to me on the phone. We did everything leading up to sex, but never actually completed intercourse due to religious reasons.
After a few years, I met the man I am now married to. The older man became very angry and began harassing me, emotionally and verbally. I reported him to my supervisors several times, but it only made matters worse. He has finally retired, but I still feel him watching me. I can't prove anything, and I can't tell my husband because he has no idea how involved we were. Aside from warning other women to beware of married men bearing love and gifts, what can I do? -- Learned My Lesson
Dear Learned: If your affair did not include intercourse and it happened before you met your husband, he may be more understanding than you think. Everyone makes mistakes. Also, if the people in your office are aware of the relationship, your husband may find out about it anyway. A loving spouse can be a tremendous source of support, and your husband may be perfectly willing to forgive this lapse in judgment. Nonetheless, it will help you to talk to someone, and if your husband is not the right person, please consider discussing your fears with a counselor or clergyperson.
The more serious problem is the possibility that the ex is stalking you. If you ever catch him watching your home, car or office, or following you anywhere, please notify the police immediately and, if necessary, get a restraining order.
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Dear Annie: I have read many letters in your column from mothers-in-law who don't understand why they have a strained relationship with their daughters-in-law. May I add a perspective from the other side?
We lived a couple of miles from my in-laws. We had a good relationship until our children were born. Then my MIL dropped in unannounced at least once a day. She refused to call in advance, despite numerous requests to do so. Her attitude was overbearing and critical. She had nothing positive to say, and criticized our house, child rearing and financial decisions. She loudly and repeatedly accused me of putting my kids in front of the TV all day, which was blatantly untrue. A new job across the country helped separate me from her venom.
Her terrible behavior and her efforts to hang on to her son cost her a decent relationship with my husband and any connection to her grandchildren. Perhaps the letter writers need to honestly examine their own behavior to determine the cause of their family strife. It isn't always the daughter-in-law. -- Been There, Survived
Dear Been: How sad for everyone. We hope all estranged family members will make a genuine effort to consider whether their own actions need adjusting before placing the blame on the other person.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailboxcreators.com or write to Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies.
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