While I'm away, readers give the advice.
On the destructive power of the anonymous note:
Thirty years ago, I'd taken a part-time job at a shopping center to supplement my income. I really enjoyed it and the people I met through this job. I was married with three children and I'm not inclined to engage in affairs.
An anonymous letter turned up in the mail one day accusing me of "fooling around" with the people at work. Even though my husband was unemployed at the time, I immediately quit the job because he felt someone there had sent it.
He immediately became distrustful and accusatory. No matter what I said or did, his trust in me was shattered. He then escalated to emotional abuse, drugs and bad checks, and developed a criminal record.
After several years of this, I could stand it no longer and left him. To this day, I have no idea who might have sent this letter.
On being religious and in love with someone who is not:
What is more important than being outwardly religious is how someone lives his life. When I contemplated remarriage, it bothered me at first that my fiance did not seem to be as religious or spiritual as I am. But although he had left the Catholic Church, he truly lives his life by the Golden Rule, and how he treats people every day would make Jesus proud.
So even though he has no outward trappings of faith (and goes to church on high holidays only to please me), his moral center is strong. And our child sees this, sees how he helps others no matter how inconvenient, how patient with children he is, how dutiful with his elderly parents. He just quietly and steadily does the right things, which includes respecting my needs, spiritual or whatever.
I can see now that I should have respected his choice also way back when. We've been happily married now for over 20 years, and mutual respect for each other's choices is bedrock to what we've built.
On dealing with a gossip:
A woman in my apartment building is a famous gossip. One day I said to her, "Jane, I heard someone gossiping about you, and I think that's terrible, so I said, 'Jane is a friend of mine, and I think you should talk directly to her when you don't like something.' " At first Jane was very surprised, and then "recovered" and said, "Well, they have to talk about someone."