I recently got married and have a wonderful ten-year-old step-son.
My husband's previous marriage ended horribly, yet they’ve managed to remain good friends.
I know this is the healthiest situation for my step-son, who I care about deeply.
But I’m noticing that my husband's ex has boundary issues.
When he and I go away for a romantic weekend, she’ll text him up to 20 times a night with excuses, such as my step-son having a "sore tummy."
They’re also in constant communication to talk about personal stuff such as her work, dieting, dating, etc.
When she recently bought a new TV, she called my husband to help her set it up (they've been divorced for more than seven years).
Whenever she comes to our house to pick up her son, or drop something off, she can be very icy towards me, but will stand there and happily talk to my husband for an extended time about her personal life.
She remains very close with his parents and spends more time with them than I do.
Am I just being petty, or do I have a right to be concerned?
I don’t fear infidelity, but I feel disrespected by this behaviour and feel that she can be manipulative to get attention and ensure she still features prominently in everyone's lives.
Concerned Second Wife
You have reasons to be uncomfortable, but it’s your husband who has issues with boundaries and is letting her cross them.
As for the boy, he’s her son long before you came on the scene, and it IS healthy for them to be involved on his well-being and get along respectfully as much as possible.
That said, it’s up to your husband when away with you, to respond to matters like a tummy-ache once or twice, till they know it’s not indicative of something serious, then cut off the texting except for an emergency.
He should be giving her the name of trades people and repair experts, rather than setting up or fixing her things at home.
When she’s talking with him, he should bring you into the conversation, and cut it off if she acts disrespectfully to you.
This is still a new marriage, so it’s best to see things more clearly right from the start. It’s the boy’s father whom you need to set the priorities for your relationship together.
I love a man who’s deeply depressed but is normally functional.
He sees a therapist twice weekly, but also works every day. We don’t go out much.
He says he loves me, but he needs to try to get past some terrible traumas of his youth.
These include his mother’s death when he was 11, his father marrying a woman who was mean to him, moving at 13 away from close friends and relatives, etc.
Sometimes I worry that he’ll never get out of the gloom-and-doom feelings of distrust that he can ever be happy.
Should I be worried about our having a future together? He says he wants to marry me “sometime.”
Looking Ahead Through Clouds
Ask if you can attend a therapy session or more, along with him.
If not, see a therapist yourself. Explore whether you can empathize with his psychic pain, yet expect to eventually have an equal relationship, rather than become his emotional caregiver for years ahead.
Love can conquer a lot, but you need some sense that he wants to put the past behind, and isn’t looking to you to “rescue” him.
FEEDBACK Regarding the “best friend” who wasn’t asked to be maid of honour or bridesmaid (March 28):
Reader - “As someone who’s been a bride, mother-of-the-bride, bridesmaid, and maid of honour, I've decided that the best position is that of a guest!
“Your only responsibility is to look fabulous, bring a gift, and help the couple celebrate.
“I came to a full understanding of that when I was a guest just several weeks after my daughter got married. I was just having fun with no responsibility. I suggest the young writer be grateful to not be involved in the "wedding politics."
“The bride may’ve felt pressure from her fiancé to choose this other woman. I know from dealing with a multitude of weddings, that there are plenty of decisions made under pressure.
“I hope that "Feeling Like a Loser" will change her mind, go to her friend's wedding, and just celebrate the occasion.”
Tip of the day:
It’s the responsibility of a husband/wife to set boundaries with their ex-spouses.