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Wake-Up Call

Emily Flake

By Mink Stole | Posted 8/21/2002

To many of you, my response to Mrs. Monster (Think Mink, Aug. 7), whose husband's early-morning bad temper is upsetting the kiddies, was perhaps a wee bit irresponsible. You have, many of you from personal experience, suggested that Mr. Monster may be suffering from one of several quite serious physical conditions for which he should seek immediate medical attention. These include hypoglycemia, sleep apnea, caffeine-withdrawal-induced migraines, and diabetes. You say that your own symptomatic morning wretchedness was greatly improved upon diagnosis and treatment of these various disorders. You further suggest that at the very least, instead of the three or more cups of coffee he uses to jump-start his disposition, he would do well to forgo caffeine altogether in favor of breakfast.

This column is, admittedly, almost entirely self-referential. I have been self-medicating my own (mild--very, very mild) morning bitchiness by gulping down at least two cups of coffee before fully opening my eyes each and every morning, with or without food, for years. I have regular physical checkups, which fortunately haven't revealed any of these medical conditions, so I was naturally more concerned with the negative effect Mr. Monster's behavior has on his family than on his personal medical condition. I am not qualified to give medical advice, nor was I asked to, but I am happy to pass on the information. Thank you for sharing.

My husband and I have been married for 12 years and we don't have kids. He's a terrific guy, but a little on the boring side, so three years ago I started an affair that lasted about a year and a half. All the sneaking and lying was incredibly exciting for a while, but eventually I started to feel this enormous guilt and I ended it. I've been paying my husband a lot more attention since then, and things are really good between us. I love him more than ever, but I'm tortured by guilt and sometimes have trouble looking him in the eye. He suspects something is wrong, but he thinks it's about my job, so now he's acting sweeter than ever to make me feel better. In some ways, the affair made our marriage stronger, but I still feel like a heel. Should I tell him the truth? I don't want to hurt him, but doesn't he deserve to know?

Guilty Gal

Dear Gal:
Whatever ill feelings I may have toward the Catholic church, I do remember how good it felt to leave church on a Saturday afternoon after confessing my sins and reciting my penitential Hail Marys. To skip back into the sunlight secure in the belief that--with my soul freshly purged of all its youthful rottenness--I could be run over by the very next bus without fear of eternal damnation. I felt so light, so clean, so righteous. This is what you're after. However, unless you think it's worth causing your husband an enormous amount of pain in order to satisfy your need for absolution, this is not what you will get. If you have some sort of confessor or therapist, that is whom you should tell--not your husband.

You know that what he truly deserves is for you not to have cheated on him in the first place. You can't give him that. What you can give him is continued peace of mind. An 18th-century British poet named Thomas Gray once said, "Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise." Or, in other, less flowery words: What he doesn't know won't hurt him. Fidelity may or may not be an unrealistic concept in marriage but, unless you have mutually decided otherwise, it's part of the deal. He married you believing you would be faithful. If he's like most people, he needs to continue to believe that you are. Why break his heart over something he can't do anything about?

I'm assuming, of course, that you haven't contracted a sexually transmitted diseases; if you have, you must tell him. As awful as it would be to hurt him, it would be infinitely worse, and totally irresponsible, to allow him to contract any STD without giving him the opportunity to get proper medical attention.

Otherwise, your behavior was shabby; but making him carry the burden of it is shabbier still. At the risk of sounding incredibly pompous, and drawing upon my Catholic childhood, I suggest that your penance for the sin of infidelity is living with your own guilt. And the next time you feel the need for some extra excitement, try skydiving.

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Territorial Rites (4/5/2006)

Family Guy (3/15/2006)

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