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26ask-amy 10/26 RK/ mga

IGNORE SILLY EX-HUBBY’S INSENSITIVITY

DEAR AMY: I am a divorced but happily remarried woman.

I have two children with my husband of 10 years. My ex-husband is occasionally at gatherings of mutual friends. He has a girlfriend.

My problem with my ex is that when I talk to someone new at one of these parties, he informs them as quickly as possible that we were once married by saying, "Hey, can you believe I was once married to her?"

This makes the person he is speaking to uncomfortable. It irritates and embarrasses me, is disrespectful to my husband, is rude to his girlfriend and confuses my children.

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I have taken him aside and asked him not to do this, yet it continues.

He is 17 years older than I am and certainly should know better.

I would hate to avoid these gatherings, but I don’t know what else to do.

My husband already avoids many gatherings for this reason. I don’t blame him. I want to avoid them too, but I don’t want to hurt my friends’ feelings by not attending.

What else can I do? — Happily Divorced

DEAR DIVORCED: Your choices are to beat your ex to the punch line (you use it before he does); come up with a comeback ("What can I say? Like the Edsel or New Coke, being married to you seemed like a good idea at the time ..."); or figure out a way to tolerate this comment. I vote for tolerance.

If you start avoiding otherwise enjoyable gatherings because your ex might be there and might make this comment, then the boor rules the day.

We can’t have that, can we?

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The next time you are at a gathering and this happens, simply stand quietly and let the crickets chirp for 5 to 10 seconds.

Then you can turn to the new person and say something to the effect of, "How about them Cubs this year!"

The only people you really need to worry about are your kids. And if you give them a little eye roll to demonstrate that you are unaffected by this silliness, then they won’t be bothered, either.

DEAR AMY: My sister has a new boyfriend of four months.

My husband and I have spent four dinners with them in the past two months.

On each occasion, this man has been extremely vocal about disapproving of my sister’s actions, whether it is her social drinking or how she manages her career. (This was one of the first things he said to me.)

He is disagreeable, and I am worried about how he ostracizes her and those around him. He criticizes everything that does not suit him. I think he will make her unhappy in the long run, but I also do not want to try to control her the way I see him trying to control her. Should I talk to my sister about this? — Conflicted

DEAR CONFLICTED: You should talk to your sister about her relationship, but the talk would best be framed by asking questions and listening to her answers.

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"I’ve noticed that your boyfriend seems to have a strong opinion about some of your choices. How does that make you feel?"

Your sister might jump to his defense; you should respond by saying, "I’m sure he has many redeeming qualities, but you do too. I want for everybody to see and appreciate you the way I do, and I worry when he criticizes you. You deserve the very best from all of your relationships."

Your view about your sister’s relationship might not have a huge impact on her at the time, but you have opened the door to talking about it. If she is involved in a relationship with someone who isolates her from her support system, you want to make sure that your door is always open.

DEAR AMY: Lately I have noticed many letters in your columns about problems engaged couples are having about living together before marriage. The reason for this early cohabitation seems to be financial.

Why do you not question why they are waiting so long to get married? If they feel the need to live together because of financial reasons, then why not move up the wedding date?

If they can’t afford to live separately, do they need big expensive weddings to add more financial burden to their lives?

I’m just curious about why all these couples don’t get married sooner? — Jennifer

DEAR JENNIFER: You make a good point, but I would never counsel people to rush into marriage before they feel ready — for whatever stated reason.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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