DEAR NATALIE: I recently found out that my wife has been having an affair. I have been sick with long COVID and it has impacted our lives immensely, to the point where we haven’t been intimate in almost a year. I discovered her affair when she left her phone out on our dining table and the texts popped up from the guy she’s “seeing.” She was very remorseful and said she loves me. She has no desire to leave me but has been lonely and craving attention. I can’t say that I blame her. I don’t feel like myself, I can’t function like I once did and sex is the last thing on my mind. I am not sure what to do. We both are committed to our marriage and our children… is this just the point where I turn a blind eye and let her have her fun when she needs it until I’m feeling “better”? -SEXUALLY DEPRESSED
DEAR SEXUALLY DEPRESSED: Only you and your wife know what a “dealbreaker” is in your marriage. If this isn’t one, then you have to decide on boundaries and how to make this work. I also want to acknowledge your situation in experiencing long COVID. This is a topic we aren’t talking about nearly enough, even though it is impacting people everywhere. I hope you are seeking whatever care and support that you have access to. I also hope that you and your wife can find other ways of being intimate together. Whether it’s simply snuggling on the couch to watch a movie or sneaking a kiss at the start of the day or whispering in the dark before bed, creating points of connection that aren’t only sexual in nature will help to keep your bond intact while you navigate uncharted territory. You may also want to work with a couples’ counselor who focuses on sexual health and intimacy. Whatever arrangement you decide on with your wife, you both need to feel secure in the decision. She can’t continue to lie and you have to decide what your boundaries are.
DEAR NATALIE: My daughter – who is 12 – came home from school today and told me that a couple of girls in her classroom were making fun of her for wearing a mask. Our son – her younger brother – has cancer and we are trying to protect him as best we can. She was in tears and said she didn’t want to go back. She was having major anxiety about catching COVID and possibly giving it to her brother. She is a gentle, sweet girl and I am horrified by how we aren’t even pretending to care about our kids anymore. I called the school and they basically told me to take it up with the parents of the kids. I am not asking anyone to mask – although I wish we all would – but I am just asking for my daughter to be left alone. What should I say? I am frustrated, exhausted and angry. -MASK UP
DEAR MASK UP: I wish I could wave a magic wand and take us back to the fall of 2019 before the politicizing of this virus began. Perhaps in retrospect we would do things differently and wouldn’t be in this situation almost three years later. However, here we are. I feel incredibly frustrated for you, your son and your daughter. Here she is trying to be safe and mitigate the risk of bringing home COVID, and she is shamed for it. You could call the parents and tell them what is going on. If they don’t know, they may not have realized what transpired. There would be some who would say that will make the situation at school worse for your daughter. Letting her fight her own battles is one approach. But, considering how high the stakes are, it sounds as though she needs support. This is an incredibly challenging time to be a kid on so many levels. Having the support of her mom may make all the difference. Talk to your daughter first. If she wants you to help, then reach out to the parents and share with them what is going on in your own home. Hopefully once they hear what you are going through, they will encourage their children to back off. All you are asking is that they leave your daughter alone.
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