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Dear Amy: After my spouse of over 40 years died last year, I have moved forward in my life in a positive manner. I am having a relationship with a married woman ("Brenda"). Her adult son and daughter have supported her in allowing this relationship to continue and grow. Brenda's husband is clueless to everything going on.

Brenda and I enjoy our time together, we have very long phone calls, and we have a very exciting sexual relationship. Her house is across the street, and she has her own bedroom separate from her husband. He is distant, withdrawn, and very unsociable.

Brenda doesn't want to leave her house and move in with me because her daughter and granddaughter are also living in the home with her. At what point should Brenda's husband be clued into all this, and what approach should we take?

Amy says: I appreciate the fact that you believe you are moving onward "in a positive manner" after your loss, but I would ask you to reconsider the meaning of the word "positive," and at least acknowledge the possible negative consequences that your and Brenda's behavior might have on others.

Brenda's husband's might be withdrawn and unsociable, but he is the innocent party here. Using the modern vernacular, Brenda might propose that they "open up" their marriage. Might he also want to step out, or would he prefer to maintain a "don't ask, don't tell" sort of arrangement, where he and his wife basically live separate lives under the same roof?

He should be presented with the truth, because he has the right to make informed choices about his own life. The coziest course might be for Brenda to move across the street to cohabit with you, allowing her husband to stay in his home, but so far she doesn't seem to want to make any substantial changes in order to be with you.

Behind bars

Dear Amy: My father is in prison for a violent crime he committed many years ago. He was hardly the model citizen or dad of the year before his incarceration. I have to admit that after he was gone, my life improved a lot.

I have a great husband, and we have a 5-year-old son. My son has asked a couple of times about his grandfather. I know I need to tell him something about my dad, but I don't know how to. Can you help get me started?

Amy says: Tell the truth, but do so in a way that is age-appropriate and simple. We parents tend to ramble and pile on too much detail when we're nervous. Try not to do this.

You can say, "My Dad's name is John. When I was a kid, he broke the law and hurt someone. He had to go to jail for doing that, and he is still in jail." Answer questions honestly, and if the answer is, "I don't know," say that.

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