John D. Spooner is an investment adviser, author and novelist. His most recent book is No One Ever Told Us That: Money and Life Lessons for Young Adults. Here, he responds to queries from advice seekers of all ages. Send your conundrums to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two weeks ago, I married a man who I have dated for 14 years. I have a 12-year-old son with him. I just learned that my best friend of 30 years has been having an affair with him—and she was my maid of honor! He’s trying to save the marriage. What should I do? Well, this is living proof that life is complicated. My first thought in your situation is that you should try to work through your upsetting news and stay with your marriage. Someone very smart once told me that marriage has three distinct phases, if you stick it out long enough. The first phase is sex, and it seems you’ve been through this initial part. The second is phase is children, and you’re into that now. The third phase I call cozy. It’s when you’re used to each other, comfortable in so many daily ways. This might be the best phase of all. You’re familiar with the bumps and the laughs and the individual peculiarities. Cozy. In my view, this is mostly much better and easier than going it alone. Loneliness is a big problem in society.
You imply that your husband wants to stay with you and your son. I know you feel betrayed by two people, but my answer—based on a lifetime of observing human nature and writing about it—is that if your husband is honestly contrite, you should reach an accommodation. Vote for companionship. Vote for cozy.
I am traveling out of state in the coming weeks for a music festival. I have always loved traveling and always loved live events. This time, however, I’m going by myself. I’m a little nervous about being so far from the familiarities of home without my friends and family. Do you have any advice on prepping for this big trip? You obviously enjoy one or several of the bands or performers playing at the festival, so you will already have the potential for making many new friends who have similar tastes. As for traveling away from home, it’s about time to get out of your comfort zone. Strangers you meet and bond with over the bands, the booze and whatever else helps you relax will help you with any unexpected problems. Just avoid anyone who wants to take you to parties several miles away because they can’t believe what an interesting person you are. But mostly, in a crowd of believers, you can, as they say, trust in the kindness of strangers. It can help as well if you wear something a little different, like red glasses or a green Greta Garbo T-shirt. Never be afraid to be original. Once you realize what a good time you can have playing “away games,” you’ll never stop doing it.
When I went to college, I met a lot of cool and interesting people from all different walks of life. There was this one girl—call her Sam—with who I was particularly close. We remained good friends after I graduated, but life threw some curveballs and I went through some personal issues. I couldn’t help but notice who stayed in my life when I was struggling—and who didn’t. Sam was not one of the people who stayed in it, but she’s always on my mind. Should I reach out and try to reconnect with Sam now that I am in a better place or call it a day? If someone from your past keeps popping up into corners of your mind, never look back and say, “I should have tried to find her.” But pay attention to your phrasing if you email or text. Do not remind her that she let you down. Pretend it never happened or fazed you. Romance can be a game, with the players as actors and actresses. What you want to do is pop back up in her life and make her sorry she isn’t in your life anymore. Plant a seed. Tell her how happy your life is, how much you like your job and how you’ve been encouraged to “think big.” Imply you’re on the road to adventures and soon climbing the ladder of success. Sometimes the old cliches are true, including “all’s fair in love and war.” ◆