Dear Annie: Six months ago, I became involved with a man 20 years my senior. It has become evident that his ex-wife is still very much in the picture.
They divorced 30 years ago, when he found out she was cheating. He gave her the house and half of his earnings until their children were grown. Yet he still phones her and asks whether she needs anything. Those “needs” are usually financial, in spite of her cushy job and mortgage-free life.
What sent me over the edge was a recent visit to his mother’s house. I randomly picked up a family photo of his parents’ 50th anniversary party, and there she was — right in the center.
I have voiced my displeasure loud and clear: Either I am “it,” or I am out! He says she is family. What is a divorce exactly if people are going to exchange gifts and phone calls and show up at family functions?
— Too Little Too Late
Dear Too Little: Every divorced couple is different. Many remain friendly with each other. Those who have children together have a lifelong bond, no matter how old the kids are. The in-laws may still consider the ex to be part of the family and so invite her to all of their functions. That is their business, not yours. While giving her money is not necessary, your boyfriend is not going to stop contacting his ex simply because you don’t like it. If you cannot deal with that, better to get out now.
Dear Annie: I am 61 years old and own my own home. I am retired and live off of my investments. I have lived in this house for 30 years and have taken good care of it.
I’ve been dating “Ralph” for five months, although I’ve known him for 20 years. Ralph’s house is worth twice as much as mine, and he’s hinting that if we marry, I should move into his home. I love his house, but if we marry and he predeceases me, I could not afford the taxes, mortgage and maintenance on such an expensive place. He’s already told me that he is leaving everything to his adult children. He claims I don’t need his assets unless I get sick.
I moved a lot when I was young. I have no children and want the security of knowing that I will not have to move again unless it’s to a nursing home. Ralph is very nice, but I’d rather live in my own house.
Also, he doesn’t want me to meet his daughters yet, so I don’t know whether they will accept his having a girlfriend, let alone a wife.
Dear Nancy: Tell Ralph you’d like to take things more slowly and not discuss marriage until you have met his children. But Ralph also could speak to a lawyer about setting up a trust that would pay the mortgage, taxes and maintenance on his house and allow you to live there until your death (whereupon it reverts to his children). If that would ease your mind, please look into it.
Dear Annie: I feel sure that, were she to pick up pen and paper, my mother would be among those parents wailing over their “heartless” children “abandoning” them. My mother would say that she was a loving, wonderful parent, and I’m sure she believes it.
Annie, this is a woman who told me every day that she wished she’d aborted me. When I was very little, she helpfully explained the term so I would know exactly what she meant. Very rarely are abusive parents capable of comprehending that they are, in fact, abusive. There is no child on Earth who wants to not have parents. If your kids have cut you out of their lives, there is a reason, and that reason is you.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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