Dear Annie: For close to 50 years, my friend “Chloe” and I have met for dinner once a week, and she always discusses her husband’s past affair, which occurred over 50 years ago and lasted a year. They are still married and had a few children after the affair ended. She seems to refuse to believe he has told her “everything” and still asks him questions about it.

I empathize with her pain and repeatedly tell her that forgiveness is about her being happy again within herself and that it does not mean she condones her husband’s past behavior. She has been very mean to him all these years and says hateful things to him, which distresses their daughters.

They have been to couples therapy a few times, but nothing has changed with her. I am at a loss to figure out why she keeps this up after all these years. I need some understanding of why she repeatedly expresses hate for her husband but continues to live with him. Does she need to be a victim? — Concerned and Confused

Dear CC: You are a good friend with wise advice, and Chloe is lucky to have you on the receiving end of her weekly pity parties.

It sounds like Chloe is using a “victim mentality” to avoid dealing with deeper relationship problems. If she forgives her husband’s infidelity, she’ll have to assume some responsibility for the failures in her marriage. It’s far easier to just lay the blame on him.

Still, it is clear she has some unresolved feelings of rejection. Fifty years is a long time to be carrying around so much anger, and she must be tired. Chloe has two options here: leave her husband, or forgive him.

If she chooses to forgive, remind her once more that forgiveness is not a stamp of approval for his actions; it is merely an acknowledgement that their marriage and their family are more important than a mistake he made 50 years ago.

Dear Annie: I have been with my partner for 10 years. While he was going through his divorce, his mother lived with us. At the time, she had nothing nice to say about his ex-wife. She acted like seeing her was a chore when one of the children graduated high school (I was not allowed to attend the graduation).

Since then, the children he shares with his ex have grown up and they are on their own. The older child now has children of her own. My issue is that his mother stays with the ex when she comes into town and still sends her presents.

Now, if my partner had been mean to the ex, or if the kids were still young and at home, I could understand. But that isn’t the case. The ex also hosts parties for the grandchildren, and we are never allowed to attend them.

Can you please help me understand why his mother still has this friendship with the ex? Again, during the divorce, she had nothing nice to say about the ex at all. She told me how abusive she was to him. — Fed Up

Dear Fed Up: It sounds like your partner’s mother felt defensive of her son during his divorce and likely hurt and disappointed herself. Still, no matter how much water is under the bridge, your partner’s ex is and will always be the mother of her grandchildren.

The relationship the two of them choose to have doesn’t concern you. Instead, work to foster the bond you have with your partner’s mother (and with his children and their children). After a decade together, that should take priority — not scrutinizing what friendship his mother may or may not have with the old flame. Don’t see their closeness as competition: You’ll only end up losing.

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