Ask Amy: Husband needs to re-watch “Pretty Woman”

Dear Amy: My wife “Linda” and I have been married for 20 years and have two teenage kids.

We are close in all ways imaginable — except for sex. We have not had sex in many years.

That part of our relationship is over but has been superseded by a deeper love.

About 10 months ago, Linda said, “I’ve known this man from our West Coast office for a few years. Now he tells me that he can’t stop thinking about me in a sexual way. And when he visits our office every three months or so, he wants me to visit him in his hotel. He is crazy about me, but he is a family man and doesn’t want our relationship to go beyond his room.”

The “he is crazy about me” part really affected her.

Linda is a beautiful woman and apparently craves the type of attention that I don’t give her.

I agreed that she could give it a try. And since then, they’ve had three of these “Pretty Woman” meetings.

Afterwards, she doesn’t say much but does seem content. She has told me that they don’t take chances and never leave his room.

Meanwhile, our relationship remains strong. I am not really upset. In fact, this is a relief to me, and I no longer feel guilty about sexual tension or attention.

Can this somehow be OK?

Do you think that this should continue, or should I ask her to stop?

— J

Dear J: This can be OK because — evidently it is OK, at least for now. This is your marriage and your life, and you and your wife have the right to conduct yourselves honestly and forthrightly the way you want to, as long as your children are not negatively impacted.

I think it’s important for you to understand how “Pretty Woman” ends: With Richard Gere clutching flowers in his teeth and climbing a fire escape.

My point is that “Pretty Woman” sex can often lead to coffee dates, holding hands at the movies, and powerful emotions.

Colleagues engaging in torrid affairs are risking their careers and marriages.

You feel relief at being off the hook, sexually, but you are taking a risk, too.

At this point, if you asked her to stop this sexual affair, she might decline.

Dear Amy: My adult stepchildren routinely exclude me. My husband denies this and says I need to try harder.

Recently his son asked for his father to arrange and pay for their annual beach weekend for the family — that does not include me.

When the stepson called to firm up plans, he was on speakerphone and I asked why I was excluded. He said, “You were not included before you married my father [four years ago], and I decided to keep it that way.”

I thought this was great because the elephant in the room had been exposed. No more gaslighting — they really do exclude me on purpose.

My spouse was furious with me that I had put his son on the spot.

This was the beginning of a three-day fight.

I said, “You are the problem, not the kids. You routinely throw me under the bus rather than stand up to them.”

He walks on eggshells with them because they believe he cheated on their mother (he didn’t, she did, but he won’t correct the record).

I want him to go to therapy. I have had it.

— Had It

Dear Had It: It sounds as if your husband both pays for and then goes on this family vacation without you. Yikes.

If so, I think: If you’re not going to have your spouse be part of your family, then why bother to get married?

It’s challenging to bring a new spouse into the fold. It takes patience but also a firm resolve. It is possible to be sensitive to others’ feelings, without being manipulated by them.

I agree that therapy would be helpful.

Compassion toward your husband is also called for. Walking on eggshells in fear of his own children is exhausting and terrible for his self-esteem.

Dear Amy: I was fairly disgusted by your “advice” to “Caring for Canines,” the woman whose husband left for weekend trips while she stayed home and took care of the dogs.

I couldn’t believe you suggested he should basically “pay” her for doing this! Nothing in marriage should be transactional. Nothing!

— Good Husband

Dear Husband: I think many marriages clip along nicely powered by equitable and playful transactions and compromises.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] 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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