Posted: Friday, October 28, 2011 8:01 pm
Dear Annie: I have been seeing my boyfriend for more than a year. “Keith” was divorced three years ago, but he and his ex-wife live in the same town and have four kids together, one of whom still lives with her.
I am bothered by their relationship, which goes beyond normal concerns for the children. They talk and text or see each other nearly every day, and it’s not always about the kids. She was a controlling wife who regularly emasculated Keith. She has money, so she pays him child support, and I’m guessing it’s a substantial amount. He doesn’t work and survives on her money.
They have keys to each other’s houses, and she will walk into his home and use his dishes and pool as if they were still hers. This bothers him, but he doesn’t do anything about it. Her mail still comes to his house, so he has to deliver it to her. She “hires” him to do jobs like moving her furniture.
The only disagreements we have had are about her and her intrusive and controlling nature. I believe this relationship is unhealthy, and I refuse to have her in my life. I’ve told Keith that I will not share him. I fear he would return to her in a heartbeat if she asked, mostly because of the money.
I realize they must be in touch for the kids’ sake, and I’m OK with that. But he is unwilling to limit the relationship with his ex, so I’ve put ours on hold. Do you think that relationship is normal? — Unwilling To Share
Dear Unwilling: We think Keith is still dependent, financially and emotionally, on his ex. If he refuses to limit their contact and you are concerned that he would go back to her “in a heartbeat,” we’d say your relationship is doomed. It’s time to move on. Keith is essentially unavailable.
Dear Annie: I was in charge of a recent event that was a huge success. Our committee planned it for a long time and raised a good amount of money.
My boss was also on the committee. Our business donated money, which we used to purchase snacks. Another business donated cases of water. After the event, my boss gathered all of the leftover snacks and water and took them with her. The next day, she told a co-worker that another committee member said it was OK to donate the items to another event she was involved in.
She also left the labels on the items, saying they were compliments of our business when they are actually the property of the event. What bothers me most is that she never mentioned it to me. It seems sneaky. Do you think this was a tacky thing to do? — Team Captain
Dear Captain: If you were in charge of the event, the boss should have asked whether it was OK if she took the leftovers and donated them elsewhere. However, we suspect she thought no one would mind if one donation benefited two good causes. She could have handled it more ethically, but it serves no purpose to hold a grudge.
Dear Annie: I’d like to tell “Sad Wife” that parental favoritism is not unusual. My first husband had three siblings. His parents doted on all of them, but not on my husband. My current husband also has three siblings and a similar situation.
One thing I noticed in both cases is that parents give their attention to the children they think need it most. To the left-out child, it feels like favoritism, but I truly believe the parents consider that child to be the most loved and think they need to dote on the others. I finally told my husband’s parents how he felt, and they were mortified.
Please tell “Sad Wife” not to feel bad for her husband. Feel bad for the siblings. — Making My Husband Feel Special Every Day
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Published in The Messenger 10.28.11