Dear Annie: After 35 years of marriage, my abusive husband asked for a divorce. I had stayed for the children's sake, but now know that was a mistake. Children grow up thinking abuse is normal.
Since the divorce, I have fallen in love with "Derek." Derek and his ex-wife both engaged in affairs when the going got rough. Derek has been totally honest with me about this. He's in counseling and is committed to being a better man.
The problem is, I can't kick the feeling that I can't trust him. Early in our relationship, Derek attended a reunion, drank too much and ended up having sex with an ex-classmate who came to his room. He was forthright about it and very regretful. He swore it would never happen again. We were not having a "rough time" in our relationship, so I don't know why this happened. Do you think he's a sex addict? Does he just like the challenge of a conquest? Does he need the excitement of a new partner? Is it to boost his ego?
It's been four years, and he's been faithful since. He has talked about marriage, but I'm not sure. I do love him. But the pain of being rejected by my husband was bad enough. It took a lot of counseling to regain my self-esteem. An affair in a second marriage would devastate me.
How can I trust Derek so that I am secure when he's not with me? Is this relationship too great a risk? We've had counseling together and separately and discussed this issue, but I'm still confused. - Want To Make the Right Decision
Dear Want: One episode of cheating in four years does not constitute a sex addiction. We think it's more a behavior pattern, and counseling plus motivation can change that. However, no marriage comes with a guarantee of fidelity. Derek is trying hard to prove himself trustworthy, but that doesn't ensure he won't cheat if your relationship takes a dive. All relationships require a leap of faith, although you do not need to commit to marriage if you aren't ready.
Dear Annie: My sister put on an antique show at a nearby hall and asked whether I would provide refreshments as a favor.
An elderly man bought a chocolate-chip cookie and broke a tooth. I apologized and explained that I freeze the cookies after they are baked to keep them fresh. But they had been sitting out for 45 minutes, so they should have been plenty soft. He told me that he has problems with his teeth and knew something like this would happen someday, but he's on disability and wants me to pay for his dental bill.
Am I liable? I am totally clueless. - Cookies No More
Dear Cookies: We have no way of knowing exactly what happened or why, whether you are at fault or whether the man is trying to con you. If you are being threatened with a lawsuit, please talk to a lawyer immediately. If he is simply asking for money and you feel responsible, whether to offer him anything is up to you, but get a release from him in writing saying that this settles the matter and he will make no additional claim against you.
Dear Annie: This is in response to "Pennsylvania," the woman whose husband supposedly has been calling escorts. We have not heard his side. She could be a liar.
If he is calling escorts, that means she is not doing her job as a wife. If she checks his cellphone bills, she cannot be trusted. If my wife ever pulled that stunt, we would no longer be married. Not that she could find anything. I keep my private matters well hidden. - S.
Dear S.: You're quite a guy. Your wife has our condolences.
Annie's Snippet for St. Patrick's Day (author unknown): A best friend is like a four-leaf clover: hard to find and lucky to have.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.
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