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Dear Amy: I am a 50-year -old woman. My husband and I have two sons.

I recently found out that my husband has been exchanging texts with a married woman who he met in a writing workshop.

My husband told me that the woman confided in him about her marriage problems and their terrible sex life. She also told my husband that she was having an affair with another man.

Her statements seemed fishy to me. Why would a woman confide in a married man about her marriage problems, her affair and her sex life?

My husband told me that he was not interested in her, but he kept encouraging her to share her personal problems.

I was hurt, but he kept insisting that nothing was going on between them. He said he was just using her stories as fodder for his upcoming novel. Is that a justified reason?

Should I be worried?

Amy says: You don't mention how you learned about this correspondence, but I agree with you that its substance raises red flags.

It is inappropriate for people who are in a committed relationship to complain to a new acquaintance about their marriage and sex life.

At the very least, this level of instant intimacy indicates that she is indiscreet and doesn't respect boundaries. At the most, it signals that she is available and interested.

Your husband also has a problem with boundaries. He should not develop an intimate friendship with another woman; it interferes with his relationship with you.

He also should not exploit this person for the purposes of "writing his novel." This is a tired and disingenuous excuse for his own behavior. Only rank amateurs — or scoundrels with gullible spouses — ply this particular fiction.

Kids vs. no kids

Dear Amy: Why do people choose to have children?

I am 27 and in a wonderful seven-year relationship with a lovely man my age. We hope to get married in the next couple of years.

We are on the fence about having children. It is not a matter of means, nor do I think we would be poor parents.

Every time we ask parents for their opinions, we are told how difficult, expensive and tiring it is. Meanwhile, we are being badgered by our parents for grandbabies, and many of our friends are having children.

In a society where we have more choice than ever about whether or not to procreate, why do people choose to do so? What do you recommend?

Amy says: Sometimes, couples on the fence about having children become parents when nature takes over.

But overall, the choice to have children doesn't seem like one choice but many choices made over time, and fueled by different motivations. Some people seem headed toward parenthood from the time they are young children. For others, forming a loving attachment with a partner seems to kick-start their desire to have a child.

Other people don't want to have children, until the day they wake up and suddenly do.

The worst reasons to have children are to get your parents off your back, or because your friends are doing it.

When I was contemplating this in my own life, a wise person told me: "Be absolutely certain that this is what you want, because what no one ever tells you is that parenthood doesn't always work out [for the parents]."

The person telling me this, wryly, was my own mother. But I appreciated the heads-up, because — yes, parenthood is difficult, tiring and expensive.

But it has also been the hardest job I have ever loved.

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