Dear Annie: Four months ago, my wife of 22 years left me. She moved in with her parents, filed for divorce and said she is going to find happiness. She had an affair, and we tried to work through it, but she wanted me to heal according to her timetable, not mine.
I have custody of our children, and she rarely sees them. When she does, it is all fun and games and no responsibility. We both work professional jobs. I have been through all the hurts and emotions and everything that goes with a divorce. I keep hoping she will come to her senses and return home.
Since she doesn’t pay any bills or child support, she left us in a difficult financial bind. I recently met someone who is a sweetheart. But I still have a few feelings for my soon-to-be ex. Do I move on or wait?
Advice Needed in the Midwest
Dear Advice: See a lawyer and make sure your wife pays child support and has regular visitation with her children. They will need to see her, and you are entitled to the financial assistance. And while it’s possible that your wife’s desire to be irresponsible and immature will diminish in time, we see no reason for you to wait around unless she is willing to get into counseling and work on her marriage. It is natural for you to still have some feelings for her, but you should not be stuck pining away. Rest assured she won’t be doing the same.
Dear Annie: I am the step-grandmother of a 7-year-old whom I consider my granddaughter. “Missy” does not have a relationship with her father (my husband’s son), although we have been actively involved with her since she was an infant. Missy’s mother subsequently had another child, now 3, with someone else.
We recently were informed that Missy cannot visit us on weekends without her little brother. According to their mother, he “cries all weekend when his big sister is gone.”
My husband and I feel this woman is simply seeking a baby sitter for the weekends. We have resorted to elaborate reasons why we cannot have both kids, but I’m afraid we’re running out of excuses. We have not seen Missy for weeks now, but my husband refuses to take the 3-year-old. What should we do?
Dear Perplexed: You may be right that Missy’s mother is looking for free baby-sitting, but the price of saying no is rather steep. She seems perfectly willing to keep her away until you acquiesce, so you might reconsider and “adopt” the 3-year-old, as well. Missy might appreciate it. You also could try working out an arrangement that doesn’t involve weekends, perhaps taking Missy out for ice cream on Wednesdays or picking her up from school. It wouldn’t be the same, but at least you would remain in regular contact.
If there is any way to encourage your stepson to be more involved in his child’s life, that would be a positive move. And also look into grandparents’ rights in your state.
Dear Annie: I am in an abusive marriage. There has been some physical abuse along with verbal, emotional and mental abuse. It has gone on for three years, and I think about leaving every day. I cry all the time.
I have tried to be a good wife, but nothing I do is good enough. I have talked to counselors, and they tell me I need to get out. I want to, but I don’t have any money (he has seen to that) and I have no place to go. I don’t have any family or friends close by to stay with.
I’ve been in contact with the local women’s shelter a couple of times, but right now, they don’t have any available housing. How can I leave if I don’t have any money or a place to go? I just don’t know how much longer I can hang on.
Dear Crying: Please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (thehotline.org) at 800-799-SAFE (800-799-7233). The people there can help you figure out how to protect yourself and prepare to leave this relationship. In the meantime, don’t hide your situation. Let others know what is going on, including your family members and trustworthy friends. When you are able to leave, you will need their support.
Dear Annie: I can relate to “There’s a Lady in the House.” I’ve been married for four months. I, too, found out after the wedding that my husband cursed. I tried everything from kisses for good words to lovingly pointing out that I did not appreciate his bad language.
One day I lost it. After hearing the umpteenth curse word come out of his mouth, I simply responded in kind. The look on my husband’s face was incredulous. I said I was tired of butting heads over his language and if I can’t beat him I might as well join him and speak on a level he can understand. Was it drastic enough? You betcha! It actually worked.
That day, my husband’s language not only changed, but he now also appreciates me so much more.
Still a Lady in Texas
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