DEAR ABBY: I have been with my husband for five years, and we have two children together. It's my husband's second marriage and my first. He and his first wife, "Gretchen," had no kids, but they did have a long and messy divorce. She and her family live in the same small town as we do. Her favorite pastime is telling anyone who will listen that my husband physically abused and raped her.
I know my husband. In our five years together he has never so much as raised his voice to me or our children. I don't presume to know what happened between him and Gretchen during their marriage, but I know in my heart it never got physical. I have spent five years listening to this garbage and hearing her put him down and say nasty things about me. I have reached my limit. Should I confront her or just keep refusing to acknowledge her? — DRAMA WITH HIS EX
DEAR DRAMA: You know that what your husband's ex is saying isn't true because you have been with your husband long enough to see the kind of person he is. Continue to ignore and avoid her. If someone repeats her stories, tell them that in your experience what she's saying couldn't be further from the truth. People who know you will understand what Gretchen's saying for what it is — unhappiness and vindictiveness.
DEAR ABBY: I'm at a loss and need some outside advice. I'm a man, married for two years. My husband and I have a great marriage, but last week my father was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, and I'm having trouble processing it. My husband is super supportive and has had my back 100 percent. But yesterday I woke up and a friend of mine wanted to meet with me and we ended up having sex.
What's wrong with me? I have never cheated before. I have been cheated on in the past, and I know how much it hurt, so I vowed never to do it. But it just happened. I regret what I did, and I feel gross. Why would I do this? Is it my way of coping with Dad's illness? I need to understand what the hell happened. Please help. — OFF THE RAILS
DEAR OFF: I, too, suspect that your infidelity may be related to trying to deal with your father's diagnosis. It is not as unusual as you may think for people to react to grief, trauma or death by doing something uncharacteristic. However, if this becomes your default coping mechanism, discuss it with a licensed psychotherapist so it doesn't destroy your marriage.
P.S. Unplanned sexual encounters can have unplanned consequences. To make sure this one hasn't, contact your doctor about being checked for an STD. And consider coming clean to your husband, because it would be disastrous if your friend let the truth slip out accidentally. (And, of course, if you've developed an STD, tell your husband right away.)
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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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