Dear Annie: I have been married for almost 20 years to a somewhat verbally abusive and manipulative man.
We were separated for a year, but remained in the same house while I worked with him to understand how damaging his behaviour was. During that time, my husband befriended another woman. To my knowledge, it was not sex, only conversation about how they were mistreated and how miserable their lives were.
My husband and I reconciled, and I have been honest and proactive concerning our relationship. However, he still converses with this woman and shares everything about our relationship with her. I think he tells me about it on purpose (emotional abuse), and when I inquire about whether they were intimate, he has a fit and tells me I’m crazy.
I am an attractive person. I have a great job. I don’t need him financially, and emotionally he’s difficult. I continue to try to work things out, but, Annie, what is the story with this woman? Is he trying to make me jealous? It’s sabotaging our efforts to mend our relationship. He tells me how beautiful and sexy I am, but something is not right. What do you think? — Bustin’ To Get Loose
Dear Bustin’: Your signature tells us a lot. Your husband has found a sympathetic connection with this woman. She is someone to whom he can complain while making himself look like a victim. He tells you about it so you will feel guilty and upset that she fulfills a need you don’t — and can’t. If she were male, you might worry less, but flaunting this relationship is emotionally abusive, and he needs to stop.
Dear Annie: My husband’s sister is getting married next month. I’m excited for her, but one thing bothers me. My in-laws have not invited my parents to the wedding. My in-laws were invited to both of my sisters’ weddings. And my parents have been invited to the weddings of my sisters’ in-laws.
My parents recently asked whether they are getting an invitation.
I told them my in-laws were trying to keep the wedding small, which they are not. Last week, my husband’s brother became engaged, and I’m concerned they won’t invite my parents to that wedding, either. I know it will upset my folks.
My husband and I host all of the major holidays with both sides of the family. I don’t want this situation to cause any tension. How do we handle it? My husband and I don’t know how to bring up the subject tactfully. — Distressed Daughter
Dear Distressed:It would be nice if your in-laws invited your parents to these family celebrations, and it’s possible their exclusion was an oversight. Your husband should approach his parents and ask if they accidentally forgot his in-laws, giving them the opportunity to feign shock and rectify the problem. He also can add how much it would mean to him if they kept his in-laws in mind for future family events.
Dear Annie: You didn’t go far enough in your response to “Faithful Reader,” whose adult children were cleaning out her fridge and want her to set up a power of attorney. Her children were wrong to do things behind her back. However, now is the perfect time for “Faithful” to prepare for the time when she is not in complete control of her faculties. It is a wonderful opportunity to initiate a discussion on how her wishes are to be handled when the time comes.
My mother-in-law refuses to have a power of attorney, insisting she can take care of herself when, in fact, she is memory-impaired and deteriorating, and disagreement over her care has caused estrangement between her children. I am grateful my parents, while still in good health, set up all the mechanics necessary to relieve my brother and me of that responsibility. — Been There, Done That
Dear Been There: You are absolutely correct that these things should be done while everyone is capable of handling the details. We hope “Faithful” will follow through.