The couple cannot cope with the feelings of guilt


When he’s drunk, he blames me for “stealing it from his wife.” When he mobilizes, he apologizes, but it happens again.

How can we both let go of the guilt?

He knows he should be in therapy, but he just can’t seem to adjust. We want to stay together, but sometimes it’s very hard.



A. Feeling guilty when you have behaved badly is appropriate.

You and your man have had an extramarital affair and are now living together, despite the fact that he is still married. The guilt attached to these choices means that you both think and feel about people who have behaved in regrettable ways, but you don’t want to feel the discomfort of the consequences. Poor you!

The way to get rid of the guilt is to take responsibility for the behavior, apologize to anyone you’ve hurt, and hope others find a way to forgive you.

Your man has transformed his own guilt by feeling sorry for himself and then blaming you for his behavior. This is what toddlers do.

He needs treatment, advice, and big decisions to maybe lead his life differently.

Anyone who has time to wallow and cry in their cups but who doesn’t seem to “fit” into therapy obviously needs to readjust their priorities.

The next time he gets drunk and blames you for “stealing it from his wife,” I suggest you offer to give it back to him.

Q. After years of encouraging my (adopted) son to find his birth parents so that he has a medical history, he has found them and I find it all so embarrassing and uncomfortable.

I feel so insecure. He keeps telling me with a lot of love: “You are my mother and nothing has changed”, but it is.

Her maternal biological family lives in another country. We sent emails with them. Her biological father is here. My son looks like him. They share a lot of interests and I find myself slipping into the background.



A. Your son is telling you because it is true. Also, you obviously raised him very well because you encouraged him to reunite with his biological family members and in doing so he recognizes how difficult it is for you. He looks sensitive and kind.

Biological family contacts or reunification are more and more frequent with the rise of DNA tests. These efforts create joys and challenges across a broad spectrum. It is new territory for adoptive families.

When our children reach adulthood, they form all kinds of relationships that can seem to throw the family out of balance. They associate, develop close friendships, and move apart. In close families, it can be overwhelming.

As a parent, you have no choice but to live with it, anchoring yourself on an essential principle of parenting: your job is to teach and encourage your children to love others. How you cope will affect your relationship with your son.

Your emotional efforts should be aimed at dealing with your own feelings and learning to tolerate your discomfort. Be as gentle as possible to yourself and to others.

Other adoptive parents facing this challenge could be very helpful and supportive.

The Adoption Support and Education Center offers information and counseling services to adopted persons and their parents. Check their website for information, support groups and counseling services:

Q. I would support your advice to “Distant,” whose friendships had fallen apart during the pandemic and who didn’t know how to reconnect. You suggested that this person send postcards to friends.

When my roommate and I had grown apart, I asked if I would ever see her again and she said no. A year later, I sent her a quick note, just to let her know I was thinking of her, and received a two-page letter in return.

She had made some changes in her life and was excited to reconnect. Since then, we have been very close, almost 40 years!

I say send the postcards.


A. I have dozens of postcards pinned to my wall. I like to send and receive them.

Amy Dickinson can be reached at [email protected].

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