DEAR ABBY: Because my fiance and I had bad experiences in the past, we settled on just living together for the last 17 years. He has been like a husband to me and faithful all these years. Recently, however, I caught him in an online affair.
I checked his phone one day out of the blue -- something I have never done before because we respect each other's privacy. The emails were daily, back and forth, with only one mentioning a sexual encounter at the beginning.
He confessed that he had made a big mistake once and refused to see her again in person but had kept up the correspondence. He begged me to forgive him and I agreed, since we were together for so long.
The problem is, now we argue about his phone. He still expects the same privacy with it. I don't feel comfortable with that now. Does he still deserve the same privacy? -- HUNG UP IN OHIO
DEAR HUNG UP: No, he does not. What he deserves is the chance to rebuild your trust, and that involves accountability on his part, which includes allowing you access to his phone if you feel insecure.
After 17 years together, both of you have a large emotional investment in this relationship. Because of that, it might be beneficial to schedule some sessions with a licensed relationship counselor to figure out where it went off the rails.
DEAR ABBY: I read your column every day. I know sometimes you suggest people see a doctor, either medical or psychological. What do you do if you are terrified of doctors?
I have asthma and consult my doctor via a computer, but some doctors (like dentists) can't do that. I have horrible panic attacks and anxiety. Then my asthma kicks in, I can't breathe, and I cry uncontrollably. I don't want to take medications because they make me sleepy.
Because I'm so doped up, someone has to come with me to the doctor to drive me home and watch me be an uncontrollable mess. Also, missing a whole day of work for a one-hour doctor appointment is, in my opinion, ridiculous. I think I'd rather be sick than go to the doctor.
My family insists it's all in my head and I should just get over it, but because of many horrible experiences at doctors' offices, which I believe caused my fear, I just can't. The current situation with the worldwide covid epidemic has made my anxiety worse. Your thoughts? -- TERRIFIED TO GO THERE
DEAR TERRIFIED: My thought is that you need to ask your doctor or your insurance company for a referral to a licensed psychologist who specializes in phobias and panic attacks. Many of them consult with their patients online these days. Once you finally get a handle on that problem, the rest will be easier. While few people relish the idea of going to the doctor or dentist, NOT doing what is necessary to protect your health can be dangerous.