Dear Amy: One evening at a party about five months ago, I inadvertently witnessed a passionate kiss between the husband of the family giving the party, and the nanny to the children.
It was dark in the room (I had been resting there).
When the man subsequently turned on the light, I said nothing.
He urged me to “give him a chance to fix it,” and not to tell his wife, the hostess.
Several times during the evening he sought me out and asked for time and silence.
I told him I did not keep secrets from my partner (his wife’s father). He told me he would be seeking couple’s therapy.
He then stunned me again, by saying that he and his wife hadn’t had sex for 12 years.
I told my partner what I had seen, and he was much less concerned, saying his daughter might not even mind if she found out.
The nanny cried and told me how sorry she was, and that she was desperately in love with the husband. She said that she was returning to school abroad.
The nanny didn’t leave for a couple of months, which was agony for me. I kept my distance from everyone. Keeping this secret was a burden.
I was worried that my friend would find out later that both I and her father knew, and that she would resent us.
The husband still has not told his wife, although he promised to. He tells me he has a lot of rage, that the situation is very delicate, and he is afraid if he tells his wife, the marriage will be destroyed.
I don’t want to be the cause of a total breakdown of the marriage, at the same time, I need to have an honest relationship with people I care about.
How should I proceed? Forgetting what I saw is impossible, of course.
— Accidental Witness
Dear Witness: On a very deep level, none of this is any of your business, and yet the principals won’t shut up about it, so with every entreaty, they are drawing you further in.
You are even being gaslighted into this statement: “I don’t want to be the cause of a total breakdown of this marriage.”
You haven’t caused anything. The husband’s marriage is his responsibility, not yours.
(I’m also wondering about how he hasn’t had sex with his wife for 12 years and yet has children young enough to require a live-in nanny.)
The next time he seeks you out for a confession, you should either tell him to kindly STOP TALKING, or just commence the process of blackmailing him (just kidding, folks), and get it over with.
There is no “right” thing to do; you might start a “ticking clock” and tell the husband that you can’t in good conscience keep this secret, and either he talks to his wife by a deadline you set — or you will.
When that date arrives, assume that the deed has been done and they are working things out privately, don’t act further, and move on.
Dear Amy: I have a friend who recently “broke up” with a girl he was dating. He seems to be handling it well, but an old attraction of his (who is NOT good for him at all) has resurfaced, and I’m worried that she’ll take advantage of his emotional state.
What should I do?
— Worried for a Friend
Dear Worried: What you do is put your hands together, hold onto your thoughts, and hope for the best.
If you are asked to weigh in, tell your pal that you are worried that he is at risk of repeating a bad pattern.
It is extremely challenging to witness people in your circle make questionable choices. But some people need to get burned a couple of times before they know to stay away from an old flame.
Dear Amy: “Upset” seemed incredulous at the thought of a six-year-old knowing about sperm and eggs.
My mother began teaching me about body parts, what they do, and how, from a very young age.
At age 4 or 5 I absolutely knew about sperm, eggs, and how they met each other. I never became a promiscuous teen mom or a drug addict.
People do not give children enough credit for their ability to learn about the world and life.
Please! Teach you little ones about what bodies do
— Precocious, Not Promiscuous
Dear Precocious: Information leads to knowledge, which leads to self-awareness.
Your mother did it right.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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