Featured Short Letter

This Week - Marshmallow Man

I made a big mistake. I've been with my girl for a while now, but on vacation a week ago I got caught up in the excitement with my buddies. I ended up playing a game of strip poker with two of my guy friends and two girls they know.

Nothing happened other than the game itself. I refused to have physical contact with either of the girls, and over the course of a few days I came clean with my girlfriend. I have so much remorse and would never do anything like this again. Is this repairable? Is what we had lost forever?

Holt

Holt, in a famous experiment 4-year-olds were shown a marshmallow and told if they waited 20 minutes before eating it, they would get a second marshmallow. Then their behavior was recorded.

When the children turned 18, researchers checked to see how they were doing. The children who waited were discovered to be more confident, trustworthy, and reliable, and they had much higher test scores. The lesson? Impulsivity often forecasts a grim future.

Your girlfriend knows when someone is in a relationship with a person they love, that person walks with them wherever they go and whatever they do. Now she is trying to decide whether an experiment with 4-year-olds forecasts her future with you.

Wayne & Tamara

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Last Week - Twice Bitten

My fiancée cheated on me. We dated in college and broke up because she cheated on me and I found out. That was five years ago. Since then we've been together off and on. We are best friends to the core and love spending time together.

We got back together last December and got engaged in April. A quick engagement, but we know everything there is to know about the other and can't imagine not being in each other's life. We are both 27 and, I thought, ready for marriage.

Well, three weeks ago she went to an environmental conference in France. We emailed each other every day until last week. Since then I've received two emails, both short and missing her normal upbeat tone. I knew something was up.

So I went into her email account yesterday, which was completely wrong of me. I couldn't help myself. From a heart-wrenching note to her best friend, I learned she cheated on me with a 35-year-old Englishman at the same program. She is not sure she loves him but has serious doubts about marrying me.

I love her, but at the same time I am absolutely furious. The worst part is I must wait another week to see her. Her family loves me and will be so upset with what she has done. Can this be fixed? Can we move past this and stay engaged?

Anthony

Anthony, Paul Ekman is a psychologist who has spent much of his career studying lies and liars. This is what he says about lying: "Nobody knows the ability it takes to reestablish trust. You can't work with someone, let alone live with someone, if you don't trust them."

Billionaire investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett expressed the same idea in different words. He said, "You can't make a good deal with bad people." He also said something you should have paid attention to last December. "You don't have to make money back the same way you lost it."

When you notice a mole changing color and shape, you go to a doctor to see if it is malignant. That's what you did when you went into your fiancée's email account. You had reason to be suspicious, and you discovered your suspicions were correct.

Five years ago you were offered a chance to learn a lesson. If you had mastered it, you might be married to the right woman now. But as an old cliché says, when we don't master a lesson in life, it keeps coming back at us until we do.

Wayne & Tamara

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Two Weeks Ago - On Hold

I have been with my boyfriend for 11 years. We started dating his junior year of high school, my senior year. We lived apart while he finished his senior year and I went to college. We then moved closer together and continued with school.

We have never lived together, not even now. Because of our busy schedules, we only see each other Saturday and Sunday unless I stay at his house. Sexually we have only been with each other. I am now 29, he is 28, and I am ready to get married and buy a house.

He says he is interested, maybe even buy the house first, but it is not the right time for marriage. I am hurt and confused. After all this time he should know. I am in love with him, and we do really well together. We have a good sex life, a good social life, and enough in common and enough differences to make it interesting.

I have asked if he wants to end it, and he says, "No way!" He does want to get married someday, and we have even been out looking at houses. But when I push he says he is not ready, and I end up in tears. Should I wait, or am I blind to the fact he won't ever be ready?

Demi

Demi, many golfers don't want to play golf seven days a week. For them two days a week, on the weekend, is enough.

Usually when a relationship drags on for years, the odds are it won't progress. Most of us suffer from the Lake Wobegon effect, named after Garrison Keillor's mythical town where "all the children are above average." We think our case is not average, and we will beat the odds. Odds apply to other people.

Psychologists have a twist on this idea. They call it anchoring. They suggest we often anchor on an idea in our head, then view the whole world in terms of that idea. You, for example, may think if this one man doesn't marry me, I won't get to have marriage, children, and a home.

Anchoring on one man explains why some women don't end a relationship until it goes to marriage followed by divorce. Only after forcing a wedding do they realize the man did not love them.

Your story reads like this. "There once was a young woman who met the man of her dreams. She proposed marriage each year and each year he said no…." That doesn't sound like a story which ends in happily ever after.

Tamara

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