DEAR ABBY: I am a 37-year-old mother of four. I recently confided to my husband the attraction I feel for a male friend of ours. He did not take the news well. We have had problems in our marriage for some time. I had not been shy in the past about telling him about my feelings. He dismissed it then, but was unable to now.
He approached our family and friends for support. My mother, in particular, was very supportive of him. I begged him over and over to keep our problems between us. I said it was only adding fuel to the fire and it had to stop. This was not only suggested by me, but also by a marriage counselor. He continued dumping on my mother.
It has been several months, and it still hasn't stopped. I am still feeling Mother's wrath, and she won't stop meddling. She has approached former teachers of mine, co-workers, present and past friends and family members. I'm not sure if she is trying to humiliate me or change my feelings. What gives a mother the right to do and say whatever she wants? -- PUZZLED IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR PUZZLED: Your mother may be enjoying the excitement she is generating -- or she may simply be a gossip. However, at this point that should be the least of your worries.
I don't know what you thought would be gained by discussing your attraction to other men with your husband. If you wanted his attention, you certainly succeeded. But how did you expect him to react? A good rule to follow before opening one's mouth is to pause and ask yourself, "Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it kind?" If the answer is no to two out of three, the wisest thing to do is to keep your mouth shut.
Instead of marriage counseling, which your husband ignored, I recommend individual counseling for you to determine if your marriage is worth saving and to separate emotionally from your mother.