Dear Annie: Is it possible for two married co-workers of the opposite sex to be friends?

I have been married to “Jane” for 15 years. A year ago, she discovered that I was texting my co-worker “Lisa,” with whom I have a professional relationship. Jane became upset and said a male and female could not have a friendship because eventually one of them would want more. So I discontinued all outside communication with Lisa.

Eight months later, Lisa caught her husband cheating and moved out of her house. I began texting her to inquire if everything was OK during this difficult time. Well, my wife saw those messages, and now she thinks I’m cheating on her. She is ready to file for divorce.

For the record, I have never once seen Lisa outside of work or ever called her, just texted. I am being persecuted for something I never did, which still boils down to my question: Can a male and a female be friends without strings attached? — Not Guilty, but with a Good Female Friend

Dear Not Guilty: Yes, but with provisions. You should not be so attracted to the co-worker that you are vulnerable to an affair, and you may not contact the co-worker about personal, non-work-related matters without your spouse’s knowledge and consent.

We don’t know whether you are guilty of the first, but you are certainly guilty of the second. By hiding your initial communication with Lisa, you raised doubts in your wife’s mind, and she became suspicious of your motives. By resuming clandestine contact after agreeing not to do so, you also violated her trust. It will go a long way if you can acknowledge your part in this mess and appreciate your wife’s feelings on the subject.

Dear Annie: I am in a quandary. I asked my brother and his wife to buy a raffle ticket to benefit my grandchildren’s youth athletic boosters. They agreed and promised to get the money to me the week before the drawing.

By the night of the drawing, they still had not paid for the ticket, so I paid for it myself. This ticket actually won the raffle. I asked the people in charge what to do, and they said the ticket was mine at the time of the drawing, so the winnings belong to me.

My brother showed up a week later with a check that was dated the night of the drawing. I told him the raffle was over, but he would not take his check back. I didn’t tell him the ticket won. What should I do? — Want To Do What Is Right

Dear Want: Technically, the ticket belonged to you at the time of the drawing. However, it is obviously still a source of anxiety, so we suggest a compromise. You purchased this ticket for your brother and were holding it for him. He provided a check in good faith, albeit late. Unless there are legal repercussions, we think you should give him the winnings or at least offer to split them. You’ll feel better.

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