Just read the latest Annie’s Mailbox and the comments made by readers.  That poor woman, Betty–sends an old friend and co-worker a nice Christmas card, trying to get back in touch, and now people who don’t even know her are saying such things as,

HE IS OBVIOUSLY IS 5CREWING AROUND WITH THIS 5TINKING VVHORE.  ANYONE WHO THINKS OTHERWISE IS  BLIND, RETARDED NEANDERTHAL. (commenter on the Arcamax link [now removed])

People are saying things like, the note was too personal.  One commenter said,

Sorry I don’t know any woman outside of a formal requirement who would send a card to a married man she wasn’t plowing, missed plowing, or was wanting to plow for exactly the reasons listed here.

I feel sorry for this poor Betty.  For one thing, it’s been three years and, from what she wrote, it sounds like they haven’t seen each other in those three years.  We have nothing more to go on than a jealous wife’s claims–and even her children are telling her to let it go, already.  It’s absolutely ridiculous.

Fortunately, most of the commenters on these two sites are far more reasonable, and modern, and see this as an innocent note which the wife is blowing way out of proportion.  They’re far more concerned about the husband’s actions.

But as has also been noted, while his actions could be those of a guilty party, they’re also likely to be those of a guy who knows he’s innocent and doesn’t want to get into a fight with his jealous wife.

An affair is not at all the only reason why some people hide things from their spouses: Some people will fly off the handle about things that do not deserve it.  So either way, Bill and his wife need counseling.

I mean, geez, I send notes like that to people all the time.  Maybe a Christmas card, maybe a letter, Facebook post, an e-mail.  Male, female, married, single, it makes no difference.  And I’m a respectable woman who does not go around trying to “plow” anybody but my own husband.

My husband, too, looked at the column, and said that Betty did nothing wrong.  He said it’s quite likely that “Bill” just feels like he’s doing nothing wrong, does not want to be forced to drop an innocent friend–especially if he’s feeling lonely and missing his old co-workers–and doesn’t want to get into an argument over it, so that’s why he hides it.  And note that he did try to display the Christmas card; why would he do that if Betty were his mistress?

It just burns me up that there are still people who think that jealousy without actual cause (this card from Betty is hardly cause) and trying to control their spouses is somehow “right.”  That people are accusing this Betty of things that she probably was not doing.

People need to lighten up already.  The circles I’m used to, are far more relaxed about opposite-sex friends.  I’ve even been accused of keeping my husband on a “long leash” because I didn’t want him to share a hotel room with one of our female friends for an out-of-town medieval recreation (SCA) event.  (I’m still scratching my head over that one, but it shows the general mindset of faith and trust of the people I’m used to being around.)

Faith and trust leads to long marriages.  If your spouse still cheats on you, it’ll all be on his own head, not yours for being a shrew who drove him away.  It’s often been noted that jealousy can actually drive your spouse into the arms of somebody else.  Be the one he wants to come home to, not the one he wants to get away from.

As commenter #76 stated, and as I have stated myself in the past, marriage does not equal ownership.  You’re not the jailer keeping your spouse under lock and key, only letting them do what you okay.  You are two partners, and two individuals.  Jealousy is actually the number one indicator of a potentially abusive marriage.

See here for Carolyn Hax’s view on the subject.  Control is also a crucial element of spousal abuse, as is isolation from family and friends.  Controlling your spouse’s friendships, having to “approve” friendships, is a huge indicator of abuse.

Imagine Bill being in the place of the wife; would jealous behavior seem so appropriate if his wife had received this card from a friend?  Of course not!

And imagine if it had come from a same-sex friend.  The wording is exactly the same, but now it seems perfectly innocent.

People are reading in subtext when they should be looking at the actual words, not their imaginations.  Subtext gets you into trouble–as is evident on Internet forums when people often start getting into fights over things that nobody actually said.

A few commenters had a much better idea: The wife should be pleasant about it all, ask to meet the friend, maybe make a day of it while she goes off shopping afterwards and lets them catch up for an hour, then wife and Bill go see the grandkids.

Being aware of a friendship is perfectly fine; you don’t have to be best friends with the person yourself, but it’s good to know what’s going on, and to meet the person.  If Bill balks at that, then you can smell trouble.

Besides, it may turn out that Betty is older than him, or hasn’t aged well.  Or even if she’s young and pretty, maybe she has zero romantic interest in a guy old enough to be her father, sees him as a father figure or mentor, and misses their long talks about her problems with her boyfriend/in-laws/abuse/etc.  Or maybe she’s a lesbian.  Or very plain.  You can’t tell just from one card.

If it’s a mirror you want, just look into my eyes
Or a whipping boy, someone to despise
Or a prisoner in the dark
Tied up in chains you just can’t see
Or a beast in a gilded cage
That’s all some people ever want to be

If you love somebody, set them free

You can’t control an independent heart
Can’t tear the one you love apart
Forever conditioned to believe that we can’t live
We can’t live here and be happy with less
So many riches, so many souls
Everything we see we want to possess

If you need somebody, call my name
If you want someone, you can do the same
If you want to keep something precious
You got to lock it up and throw away the key
If you want to hold onto your possession
Don’t even think about me

–Sting, If You Love Somebody Set Them Free

If you never give him room
You’re gonna lose.
He’s feeling like he’s tied up in a knot
Ev’ry time he comes home late he’s on the spot.
Trust him to be the kind of man he wants to be
You aren’t gonna keep him long if you give him
The third degree.

Let him go
Let him go
Do the things he’s got to do

Give him the freedom that he needs even though it worries you.
Let him go
Let him go
Have the faith that he’ll be true
It’s the only way you can be sure he’ll come back to you.

You want your life with him to work so well
You forget the love you need to give yourself.
I understand your desire to keep him near
But you poison love when you mix it up with fear.
Trust yourself to be the woman that you want to be
If you both have room to grow
Then you’ll live in harmony.

–Animotion, Let Him Go