Dear Annie: I am 29 years old, have been married for eight years and have two toddlers. I have decided to leave my husband.
When we met, I was in college and my husband had just graduated. I quit school with the assumption that he would pass his licensure exam. He has since failed it three times. He has trouble retaining information and will likely never pass.
Four years ago, I had the opportunity to return to school, all expenses paid. I started classes six weeks after our first child was born. My husband was initially supportive, but over time, he has become jealous. I have passed all of my exams with flying colors. While I am careful not to make disparaging remarks about his licensure exam, I believe he is threatened by my success.
The closer I get to finishing the uglier it gets. Twice he said, “I hope you fail.” He has told me to quit school, knowing we would have to pay back every cent of the tuition. He said he doesn’t believe it is God’s will for me to attend school. (He’s also said that if I don’t have sex with him, it will be my fault if he fails his exam again.) The biggest problem is what he says in front of the kids. He told our oldest that Mommy was going to lose the house and we would have nowhere to live.
I don’t have the resources to leave him until I graduate, but I have opened a separate checking account and am moving my things into a storage unit because I believe he will destroy them. I want him to be close to the children, but I don’t trust him enough to share custody. He will try to make our children hate me. How do I ensure that I get primary, residential custody of my kids?
— Surviving in Virginia
Dear Virginia: In his desperation to control you, your husband’s frustration has become emotional abuse. We are concerned that this will escalate. It is possible that joint counseling, particularly with your clergy, might help him realize that his attitude is hurting everyone. In the meantime, custody arrangements do not come with advance guarantees, so please talk to a lawyer. And call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (thehotline.org) at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233).
Dear Annie: I have been divorced for seven years. This past weekend, my daughter got married. Her father caught the garter at the reception. He did this a year ago when our younger daughter got married. I think this is in extremely poor taste. Why would a man want the garter his own daughter was wearing on her leg?
— Mother of the Bride
Dear Mother: You are reading too much into this. Your ex-husband is a single guy and, like all others in attendance, is entitled to fight for the bride’s garter. We agree that it doesn’t show much decorum on his part, nor is it what a good host would do (if he is paying for the wedding), but his boorish behavior is outside your control.
Dear Annie: I am responding to “Danged if I Do and Danged if I Don’t,” whose son and new wife don’t want her to contact the ex-daughter-in-law.
My son divorced seven years ago. My daughter-in-law is invited to every family function because she is the mother of my grandchildren. What would it say to them if I stopped having their mother over because Dad changed his mind about their marriage?
I invite my son and his wife to the same functions, and she is treated with respect. If she can’t handle it, it’s her problem. The children need to know how to forgive and move forward like adults.
— Been There in California
Dear California: Unfortunately, too many insecure second wives respond by cutting off all contact. Parents need to tread carefully.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. 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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