Direct Answers from Wayne &Tamara

Relationship advice authors and columnists Wayne & Tamara Mitchell

Relationship Advice Authors and Columnists

Direct Answers from Wayne &Tamara

Relationship advice authors and columnists Wayne & Tamara Mitchell

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Advice - Q&A's by Issue

Looking for Love

where, when



Why can't we all just get along


Clinging to a past relationship

Can't or won't let go


The Straw that Broke the Camel's Back

The seemingly insignificant thing which causes the inability or unwillingness to endure any more of the burden.

Gift Giving



Q I met my now husband seven years ago. When I first met him, he was getting out of a tumultuous relationship with a woman who ended up pulling a gun on us one night. It was horrible.

     Another night we drove up to his house and found a “box of love” that she left. In it was everything he ever gave her. I didn’t look, but he told me he bought her pearls and she returned them. I’m not sure what type of pearls, or if it was earrings, a necklace, or a bracelet. He just said “pearls” and that he gave them to his mother.

     Here we are seven years later, and I had my birthday over this past weekend. At my party I received a beautiful pearl necklace, bracelet, and set of earrings. I was extremely happy and they are beautiful. Twenty minutes later it felt like a ton of bricks hit me. I thought back to the time this woman returned his gifts.

     So I nicely said, “How did you do this without me knowing?” He said, “A little bit at a time.” You see, we share a bank account and we both keep an eye on it. So I just said okay, and let it go.

     Today, for some reason, I can’t let it go, and it’s making me feel like an unappreciative selfish person. Maybe I am since I’m thinking this way! We did receive cash from his mom for Christmas, and he put that in a safe place in the house. I saw he deposited some of it in our account, and I believe I accounted for the rest after we used it on a trip.

     Should I let this go and be happy with pearls that I’m going to make a family heirloom, to be passed down to my daughter and to her daughter? I don’t see any way of asking him, “Are these the pearls you gave so-and-so?” But should that matter?


A Kirsten, in one Zen teaching story two monks, a student and a master, are traveling along a road. When they come to a stream, they see a beautiful young woman unable to cross, so the master picks her up and carries her to the other side. Then the monks resume their travels.

     Later that night, when the student scolds the master for having intimate contact with a woman, the master replies, “I put her down on the other side. Are you still carrying her?”

     Sometimes it’s hard to know what to put down and what to carry. There are reasons to think these are not the same gems. Would an ex-girlfriend return a set of heirloom-quality pearls? Would someone who pulls a gun be likely to think, “The right thing to do is give them back.”

     But even if this woman once had them, after seven years the whammy has worn off the pearls. And if they are not the other woman’s, what a horrible thing to bring up to your husband.

     We look at it this way. Pearls are assets, like bonds, Krugerrands, or diamonds. It would be ridiculous to let something of great value go to waste, or to take them to a jewelry store and not receive full value. After seven years it is not regifting. After seven years they are his.

     Our favorite detective story is “The Moonstone” by Wilkie Collins. In that tale a gem is stolen from the head of an idol in India and through treachery ends up in England. But legend says the jewel will always return where it belongs, and in the end that is what happens.

     Perhaps this incident is a sign to let this woman go as if she never existed. Even if she once had the pearls, they have returned to their proper place. They were meant to adorn the woman who is his wife.

     Wayne & Tamara