Posted: Wednesday, January 5, 2011 8:01 pm
Dear Annie: I am a 24-year-old mother of a 9-month-old boy and a stepmother to three older children. My husband’s ex treats me like the third wheel. She walks into my house without knocking and goes through my stepchildren’s drawers and takes things. She won’t even look at me, let alone talk to me. To top it off, my husband refuses to stand up for me. He kisses the ground this woman walks on, even though she was the one who initiated the divorce. Whenever she calls, he drops everything and goes to her aid. When her car broke down, he gave her one of ours, and I ended up stranded at work.
She constantly interrupts the few moments I have with my husband and son by calling and texting and asking him to do stuff. She rarely has her children with her, even though she gets paid a substantial amount of child support. And whatever she buys for them, she asks us to reimburse half.
I started going to counseling just to deal with the way my husband treats me because of her. How can I get him to stop doing everything she asks? I’m tired of feeling like — A Third Wheel
Dear Third Wheel: Your husband has put his ex-wife first in your marriage, and this is grossly unfair to you. The fact that she initiated the divorce did not make him bitter — it made him crave her approval. He needs to understand his motivations for being at her beck and call and how this undermines his marriage. Ask if he would be willing to attend one of your counseling sessions. It could help a great deal.
Dear Annie: Our son, “Troy,” is in love with “Jessica,” a young woman who got into debt with credit cards right out of high school. She has been repaying the money, but her credit history is ruined. The two of them now share an apartment, but Troy is not about to marry her unless she learns to be more financially responsible.
Troy has told us that Jessica does not save any money, and that she purchases things she will never use and then refuses to get rid of them. The apartment is a mess, and while part of that is Troy’s sloppiness, the other part is Jessica’s profligate purchases. They share the rent, but that’s all they share when it comes to income and expenses.
Troy doesn’t want to nag Jessica and cause stress in the relationship. Do you have any suggestions on how he might address the money issue? — Georgetown Parents
Dear Parents: Troy is smart not to marry Jessica until she can work on her spending habits, but he cannot help her if he is afraid to address the problem. This is not simple irresponsibility. Shopoholism is an addictive behavior. Jessica suffers from a compulsion to buy things whether she needs them or not. Sometimes it requires therapy to overcome. Troy should first contact Debtors Anonymous (debtorsanonymous.org) at 1-800-421-2383 for suggestions.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Losing it in Canada,” the parents of two children who chew with their mouths open. I suggest giving each child 25 pennies at the beginning of each meal. Every time the child needs to be corrected, he must give up a penny by putting it in the middle of the table. At the end of the meal, whatever is left will be converted into nickels, dimes or a quarter, which looks much better to them than pennies. They will soon realize they don’t want to part with their pennies. When they no longer need correcting, reward them with a special outing. — Temecula, Calif.
Dear Calif: Thanks for the great idea. Several readers wrote in with suggestions to correct a child’s table manners, and we will print more in future columns.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 1.5.11