Question:

My wife and I both have wild pasts. We believe we have found a relationship we can commit to. The potential problem: She enjoys the company of men from work and will stay late one night a week to "socialize," which she enjoys. She drinks wine and that affects how she acts.

Since I occasionally travel, I am bothered by her "socializing" for four to five hours, drinking wine, discussing personal issues with others that seem to evolve into the others' love lives, and just getting home late.

I trust her, but wine creates uncertainty here, and she only tells me a version of events that she thinks will not upset me. If I basically trust her, should I not worry? When do my worries and comments to her about this become controlling?

Answer: So you trust her, except for the lying, the drinking, and the getting chummy into the wee hours with bunches of men from work?

Do you trust that your wife: won't humiliate you by getting too chummy, much less cheat; might get a bit too chummy but still won't sleep with another man; won't cheat unless she has one too many; might cheat but it won't mean anything?

Or - do you just trust that she loves you, and hope the rest takes care of itself?

When it comes to drawing lines within a relationship, you first have to know where your lines and limits are.

It isn't controlling to tell a mate where you believe the lines are, or how you feel when she colors outside them; it isn't controlling to ask her where she believes the lines should be. Controlling is when you insist on having things your way, or else.

If your conversation reveals different ideas about commitment, then hear each other out, as equals. If you don't respect each other's position enough to find middle ground - or at least a marital referee - then you either make peace with the status quo, or go your separate ways.

E-mail Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, or chat with her online at noon Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.