Three months ago, a woman moved into the same apartment building where my husband and I have lived very happily for the past seven years.
The newcomer is a friend of another neighbour here. Both women are younger than me by at least 10 years. She introduced her friend to my husband and me as being “so much fun.”
Well, she wasn’t here more than a day before my husband called her our “new energetic neighbour,” and helped her carry her exercise bike into her new apartment.
I was shocked! She wasn’t here more than an hour of her first day, and my husband is inside her new home, serving as her “handyman!”
When he returned to our apartment, he was carrying a beer that she’d given him, and kept talking about her.
I stated that we don’t really know this person yet. I pointed out that she gets people to do things for her for a free beer, when we have a superintendent here who gets paid for helping people move.
My husband said it was ridiculous for me to be jealous. That started the biggest fight we’ve ever had! He refused to understand that when someone who’s a stranger gets too chummy, it’s a red flag about their motives and character.
He said that she just wants to be welcomed as a new neighbour in the building we share with many other people.
I felt that he understood her feelings and not mine. After several years dating and seven years of marriage, I thought we’d learned each other’s needs.
I don’t seek constant attention, but the bond between us is most important to me. That this woman could so immediately get all his attention and be in a private space with her, upset me terribly. He’s said that he’s sorry, but that I overreacted. Things are now strained between us. Do you have advice for me?
Your hurt is internal, within your mind and perhaps also stirring up past memories. All of us grow up through circumstances and events that help form our current reactions. This new neighbour may have appeared to you as a threat, related to your having long-ago insecurities.
Your husband reacted naturally by helping her, but he also could’ve simply told her that the building superintendent’s job includes helping out after the movers have gone.
This is an opportunity for you to be more open with your husband and strengthen the bond between you.
End the discussion about the new neighbour. Over time, you’ll likely find that she and her friend and their close companions spend a lot of time together and away from the building where you live.
However, if your hurt feelings persist, it may be time to seek counselling to clear your mind of past unhappy events and reactions.
My teenage daughter recently broke up with her boyfriend. He’s young, with only one thing on his mind. She got too close and physical, and became reliant on him. He crushed my daughter's heart. My wife and I began trying to move her away from him to smooth the transition. We’ve provided support, including counseling.
I don't minimize what happened to her. But as her father, I think, "Didn’t I warn you about this?" She has so many amazing opportunities ahead of her.
I felt like she didn't listen to me and now she’s in trouble.
A Loving Father
Even if she had listened to you, she’s young and vulnerable. As you say, she got too close and then hurt. You’ve done the right things. She’s learning through growth.
FEEDBACK Regarding the 35-year-old woman who’s unhappy about not being in a relationship, and dissatisfied in her job (March 4):
Reader – “While the things you said were true, you suggested that she should celebrate who she is. But I think that she’s suffering from a lack of self-esteem, and possibly even some depression.
“In my opinion, she’d be better served if you’d suggested she find a therapist who can help her work on her self-acceptance and self -esteem. To me, she really does sound like she’s suffering.
“It’s normal to feel down after a relationship breaks up. I’m sure that, at 35, she feels somewhat embarrassed to be back at home with her mom.
“Yes, she could join new clubs and meet new people, but I think at the core she needs some support emotionally. That’s why I would suggest a qualified therapist who can help her to love herself.”
Tip of the day:
Don’t jump to conclusions about someone’s behaviour that reminds you of past events.