DEAR ABBY: I am a 57-year-old man who has been divorced for eight years. (My ex-wife was the one who filed.) I recently reconnected with my ex-wife’s sister, “Edith,” whom I hadn’t seen in years. We began a friendship, which has evolved into a serious relationship.
My ex is having issues with our romance and has been trying to turn friends, our grown children and our parents against us. We are both single and enjoy each other’s company. Is there any reason why we should not pursue this relationship, because “we’re upsetting my ex-wife’s family”? — TWO LOVERS IN NEW YORK
DEAR TWO LOVERS: When your wife left you, she lost the right to dictate what you should do with your life — including whom you date or even marry next. She is acting like the proverbial dog in the manger, and I sincerely hope your friends and family don’t let her get away with it. Now go and have a good life, because you and Edith deserve one.
DEAR ABBY: Ever since I can remember, I have felt like my mother hates me. Growing up, my two brothers got whatever they wanted while I had to beg for things I wanted. An example: My brothers were given a car for graduation; I got contact lenses. Neither one could do anything wrong in my mother’s eyes, but whatever I did was wrong.
Now that I’m an adult, she still treats me this way, and it’s making me depressed. I have medical issues that she refuses to believe I have. What can I do to make my mother like me? — DEPRESSED DAUGHTER IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR DEPRESSED: It would be interesting to know what kind of a relationship your mother had with her own mother, because it’s possible that she’s repeating a pattern she learned when she was a child.
I’m sorry you are hurting because of the way she has treated you, but it isn’t possible to “make” somebody — even a parent — have feelings that just aren’t there. What might help you is to discuss your dysfunctional relationship with your mother with a licensed mental health professional who can help you understand that if there is fault involved, it belongs solely with her and not you.
DEAR ABBY: I have a friend who calls 20 times a day. If one of my kids asks me something and I ask her to hang on while I respond, she hangs up on me. We have had a falling-out over this more than once.
I think it’s rude of her to just hang up. I feel it would be different if she called only a few times a week for a few minutes, but that’s not the case. She feels I am being rude to ask her to hang on, and that my kids should either wait until we are finished or go on about their business and come back to talk to me later. However, they can’t always do that. They try really hard not to interrupt, but sometimes they just have to because of time. Am I wrong to be upset? — HOLD ON JUST A MINUTE
DEAR HOLD ON: No, you are not wrong. Your children are trying to be cooperative and respectful. It is your friend who is being unreasonable. Your children should come first, and if the woman can’t understand that, perhaps you should cultivate friends who are more tolerant and less chatty (20 times a day!).
DEAR ABBY: I am in my 20s, married and seven months pregnant. My problem is my overbearing and manipulative mother. She guilt-trips me, uses social media to shame me and has tried to harm herself and blame me for it, saying I caused it because I’m a horrible daughter.
Now that I am expecting my first child, she’s trying to control everything. All the boundaries I set are being pushed and crossed. This is causing a lot of stress for me. What can I do to get free of my crazy, overbearing mother?! — NEEDS FREEDOM IN SOUTH CAROLINA
DEAR NEEDS FREEDOM: Recognize that as an adult, YOU are now in control. Stress isn’t good for you or your baby at a time like this. As a mother, your first responsibility will be to your little one.
If your mother has tried to harm herself in the past — regardless of her reasons for it — surely others are aware of it. Because she is toxic and unstable, you have every right to distance yourself from her drama. Draw the line. Accept that you can’t please everyone, and that includes your overbearing mother.
DEAR ABBY: My brother-in-law has been living with my husband and me for three years. We have been helping him out for about 11 of our 15 years of marriage. I don’t want him here anymore. My husband tells me that I need to be patient. I think I have been patient long enough.
My cousin said to give his brother an ultimatum, but he has a temper, and he doesn’t have normal arguments. He doesn’t hit, but he automatically yells. Because of that, I have been avoiding issues with him that have been bugging me. How should I go about telling my husband it’s his brother or me? — WANTS HIM GONE
DEAR WANTS HIM GONE: Unless you are prepared to follow through on your ultimatum, I don’t think you should put it in those terms. A gentler way to phrase it might be to tell your husband that he has been a wonderful, supportive brother, but he has been doing his adult brother no favors by fostering his dependence upon both of you. Point out that what’s been going on for the last three years has been extremely unfair to you, that you no longer wish to live this way, and that it’s time to set a certain date when either his brother is out of your home — or you will be.
DEAR ABBY: How do you think people feel about receiving greeting cards that have a charity organization’s name and address on the back of the card? I receive beautiful cards from charity organizations to be sent out by me and have often wondered if people think you are too cheap to buy your own cards. These cards include birthday, get well, Christmas, etc. I hate to throw them away, but I would like to know how people feel when receiving these cards. — SENDER OF GREETINGS IN VIRGINIA
DEAR SENDER: Speaking for myself, when I receive a card from someone, I am far more pleased that the person thought of me than how much was spent on the card. It’s the thought that counts, remember?
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