Man’s wife feels threatened by his high school sweetheart

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: I have a daughter-in-law I love to pieces and would never intentionally hurt in any way. I recently had contact with my son's ex-girlfriend, "Kayley." She had seen me at church with them, contacted me and came by our house for a visit.

She and my son were very young when they dated (high school) and haven't spoken to each other in years. I stayed in contact with her off and on over the years because I always thought a lot of her. Both of them have married others and created their own lives.

Our son and his wife live next door to us and were out of town the day Kayley stopped by, but returned before she left. My son chewed me out, and now my daughter-in-law won't speak to me. I tried to talk to her and would apologize if I had the chance, but she sent me a text saying I had crossed a line and how inconsiderate it was of me having Kayley drop by. She said it made her feel small and uncomfortable (they only saw her from a distance and didn't even know who it was at first).

Was I wrong for staying in contact with my son's high school ex-girlfriend? Was I wrong for inviting her to come by? What's the best way to handle this because I want to keep peace in our family? -- MONSTER-IN-LAW IN TEXAS

DEAR M.I.L.: You weren't wrong to stay in touch with someone you liked. And you should be free to entertain anyone you like in your home. It strikes me as sad that your daughter-in-law would react the way she has. It shows how deeply insecure she is.

Because you want to keep peace in the family, refrain from having Kayley over, and see her elsewhere. And if she asks you why, explain that it made your daughter-in-law uncomfortable.

DEAR ABBY: Years ago, my wife and I decided together that I would work and she would raise the kids. Well, times and the economy have changed. We need a second income. Even a part-time retail job would help tremendously right now. I have made countless sacrifices to keep our home and lifestyle afloat. All the while she refuses to pursue anything except what she believes to be "her purpose" or what represents her "best self."

What about me? My health? Our home? Our children and their education? How about a job that she might not be crazy about for a decent paycheck so we can save a little and not have to worry about how much our prescription costs are? My resentment is growing. I work 60 hours a week and gave up a career I loved. Am I asking too much? -- RESENTFUL IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR RESENTFUL: No, you are not asking too much. Times have indeed changed, and your wife needs to wake up and accept that her dream job may have to be postponed because of circumstances beyond her (and your) control. Successful marriages are partnerships, and because being the sole wage earner has become so stressful that you would write to me about it, it's time your wife took her head out of the clouds and faced reality. If a second income will take some of the stress off your shoulders, she needs to step forward for the sake of you and the children.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 60-year-old woman. My house is on a corner lot. Just about every time I walk outside, a male neighbor of mine stares at me. He looks like a hobo.

I felt bad for him, so when he came to the edge of his yard, I asked him from my deck how he was doing because of the quarantine. He responded by telling me to wear a dress because he wants to have sex with me! I was stunned and went back into the house. I didn't know he was that crazy. Besides ignoring him, what if anything should I do? -- SHOCKED NEIGHBOR IN CONNECTICUT

DEAR NEIGHBOR: Because this was a one-time occurrence, it's possible your neighbor may have been "under the influence," or has mental health challenges or a touch of dementia. From now on, ignore him, avoid him and warn the other women in the neighborhood about what happened. If I were one of them, I would like to know.

Other than that, there's not much you can do unless his behavior escalates and he becomes a nuisance. In that case, you may want to go online to the National Sex Offender Registry just to make sure your neighbor is not a registered sex offender. Then it will be time to file a police report.

DEAR ABBY: When seeing a therapist is not an option, I have found writing to be helpful. A cheap spiral-bound school notebook works great. The idea is to write at least one full page every day.

Some days, all I can say is, "I don't want to write," but I fill that page anyway, so that the commitment is met. However, other days I find I can pour my heart out, unload the things that are hurting me, express my anger, resentments, disappointments and longings. Sometimes, while I'm waiting for the thoughts to come, an insight or solution will present itself.

Because I'm afraid of my thoughts being found and read by someone else, I destroy each page after it's written. Names can be disguised. The simple act of getting those thoughts out of my head and onto paper helps to relieve stress tremendously. Just thought I'd share this with you. -- WRITING IT DOWN IN THE EAST

DEAR WRITING: Writing or journaling is a very effective way to organize one's thoughts and purge negative emotions. I'm glad you suggested it because I think it may help some of my readers. Thank you!

DEAR ABBY: I babysit my nieces and nephews. While we are grocery shopping and we get to the checkout, they'll ask for candy or chips. If I tell them no, it's usually because they have already had a treat, it's too close to a meal or perhaps because they have misbehaved.

What do I do when the person behind me offers to buy it for them? I know they assume I refused because I don't have the money, and they are trying to be helpful. Saying, "No, thank you," just upsets the child when he or she knows someone wanted to buy them a treat. Any ideas? -- NO MEANS NO IN GEORGIA

DEAR NO MEANS NO: Instead of just saying, "No, thank you," to the person making the offer, explain the reason for your refusal as you have explained it to me. That way, the well-meaning stranger understands that you are not short of funds, and your nieces and nephews hear the reason as well.