Several years ago, while my friend was out of the country, his then-wife withdrew half of their savings from the bank and secretly moved to another state. They divorced and we met. Last year his ex-wife decided to move back to our small town and bought a flat across the street from my friend’s house. However, she changed her mind and sold it quickly. Last month she bought another house down the street a little further away. (Sigh!) She also makes contact with my friend. He and I had decided that I would move in with him this fall, but should we choose a different neighborhood instead?
I understand your frustration. But in my experience, a woman who is secretly on the run and feeling ambivalent about her return can struggle with a really bad relationship. There is no evidence of wrongdoing on either side. The ex was probably entitled to half of their savings, and now she’s free to come home. (It’s her neighborhood too.)
And that’s where my interest in the ex-wife ends. The rest of the story is for you and your friend to work out. If you are bothered by his contact with his ex-wife, tell him. He can talk to her about it. If you don’t want to risk seeing her when you come and go from his house, tell him that too.
It is perfectly reasonable for us to discuss the terms of our partners’ relationships with their exes. Be honest about it. However, if you feel threatened by her closeness, examine that feeling: is it about the ex or your trust in your boyfriend? You’ll probably bump into her from time to time no matter where you live. The trick is to make that right between you and your partner.
Is it the thought that counts? Depends on who counts.
My daughter got married last month. My husband and I paid for the wedding; my daughter and son-in-law are not high earners. It was a beautiful affair. My sister and her husband came with their two children. They are extremely rich – like, flying-private-jets-to-expensive-holiday-homes-rich! (We don’t.) I assumed they would give my daughter a generous cash gift to use as an eventual down payment on a house. Instead, they gave her five place settings from her gift list that cost $500. I am hurt and angry at their lack of generosity. My mom thinks I should talk to my sister about this so it doesn’t affect our relationship. Your thoughts?
MOTHER OF THE BRIDE
You love your daughter and want the best for her. That’s fantastic! But it doesn’t give you the right to claim other people’s money. Your assumption that your sister and brother-in-law would write a large check to the newlyweds for a hypothetical real estate purchase strikes me as odd (for lack of discussion).
Where I’m from, $500 isn’t a fancy wedding gift. And you didn’t say anything about your daughter’s relationship with her aunt and uncle. So I disagree with your mother for now: don’t talk to your sister about her gift until you’ve come to terms with the fact that it was hers to give.
Breaking ties on Independence Day
My parents organized a party on the 4th of July. I invited a close friend of 20 years, and she brought her new boyfriend. He was nice when he showed up, but after a few drinks he started using vulgar language around my mother (even after I asked him to stop), started arguing loudly with the neighbors and harassing people walking in the street. The next day I called my boyfriend and told her that I don’t blame her for her boyfriend’s behavior, but since he disrespected our guests and I feel unsafe with him, I never want to see him again. She told me I was overreacting. Am I?
Well, “never” is very long. It was clear that the man was behaving terribly. It could have been a one-off disaster, or he could have a chronic problem with alcohol and anger management. It is your decision whether you want to see him again. (And if you feel unsafe with him, it sounds like an easy decision.)
Still preemptively announcing your position – there was no plan to see him again, right? – sends a hard message to your friend. It might have been more supportive to ask her what she thought of his bad behavior and go from there.
Eyes on your own glasses
You may tell me to mind my own business, but my intentions are pure: My sister’s fiancé is a handsome boy, but his glasses are too small. The arms don’t reach the back of his ears. This is an unflattering look. Should I say something to my sister?
Get in line! Many of us would love to tinker with the aesthetic choices of our friends (and strangers). However, it is none of our business and we can hurt people’s feelings. So unless you’re asked for your opinion, limit your input to issues that can be solved on the spot: spinach between the teeth, for example, or skirts that are inadvertently walked into underpants.
For help with your difficult situation, send an inquiry to SocialQ., to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.