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Man is threatened by wife’s conversations with her ex

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Daryl," gets furious every time I talk to my ex, my two oldest kids' father. The only thing we discuss is my kids' issues, but Daryl loses it completely. He starts calling me names and says I don't respect him even though I do. I keep assuring him that there's nothing inappropriate being talked about (he is present during all the conversations since we talk over the phone and live in different states).

I don't know what to do anymore. My kids are 14- and 13-year-old girls, who are going through all these crazy teenage issues, which obviously, as their parents, my ex and I have to sometimes talk about, and it's not even that many calls. I'm wondering if this is normal because I've only been in two relationships in my life. I'm 33, and I feel like a goofball for not knowing what to do. -- TOUGH SITUATION IN TEXAS

DEAR TOUGH SITUATION: No, it is not normal. Your husband's jealousy and insecurity are over the top. You have a responsibility as the mother of two teenage daughters to see them through this time of great transition, and if you feel their father is in a better position to provide input than your husband, you have a right to seek it.

It's time to talk about this with a licensed marriage and family therapist because Daryl's behavior is abusive. If it isn't stopped, it may escalate. Do it now because if the verbal abuse continues and your daughters witness it, they will grow up thinking it's normal behavior, and it will negatively affect their relationships with men later in life.

DEAR ABBY: I have been diagnosed with PTSD by my doctor. I thought only people who have been in military combat would receive a PTSD diagnosis.

I have had a lifetime of verbal abuse from my mother. Once she had broken my spirit with rants of "dummy," "stupid" and "I wish you had never been born," I was easy prey for my older brother. To get laughs, he never misses a chance to make fun of me in public.

On second thought, I guess I have been through combat. Abby, do you have any ideas how to make life somewhat bearable? -- CONSTANTLY HURTING

DEAR CONSTANTLY: I sure do! Ask your doctor for a referral to a psychotherapist with expertise in family dysfunction and PTSD. Then make it a practice to avoid abusive people who seek attention by ridiculing and belittling others. If you do, your life will improve immeasurably. Trust me on that.

DEAR ABBY: What do you think about people having drive-by baby showers? I was recently invited to one, only to arrive and find the front yard filled with people, cake and balloons. But I had been instructed to just drop my gift and go on.

I did expect a few people to be there with the expectant mom to greet me and receive the gift, but after traveling 25 miles only to find a full-blown party going on that I wasn't allowed to join seems very rude to me. I think if that was the plan, she should have just had a shower for these A-list guests and forgone the drive-by part. What are your thoughts on this? -- TURNED OFF IN TENNESSEE

DEAR TURNED OFF: You may not have been singled out to be slighted. Those at the party may have "crashed" the lawn from their cars. What a foolish, risky thing to subject the expectant mother to. If the revelers weren't masked, the honoree and her baby were at risk of catching COVID!

Add your comments to the discussion.

DEAR ABBY: Years ago, I met a man through golf, and we developed a casual friendship. I lost track of him for a few years, but when I heard his wife was being treated with chemo for cancer, I took them food and offered my support. As our friendship grew stronger, we began playing more golf and became "refriended." He's a good golfer, but very serious, and he whines constantly on the course. I have kidded him about it, and he acknowledges it to a small degree.

He's also joined at the hip with his wife, so much so that when I invited him to our cabin for a guys' weekend, he asked if his wife and dog could come along. I nixed the dog and reluctantly agreed to the wife. A year later, I invited him again, but without his wife because two other friends were coming and it was guys only. He came, but he didn't really fit in.

Fast-forward to now. Our friendship continues, but his whining has grown much worse, and he can't go anywhere without his wife (although she's very nice). She has mentioned to friends that I'm one of only a few remaining friends, and she appreciates it very much. Now I know why! How do I "break up," Abby? I don't want to be around him anymore. -- ANONYMOUS IN THE WEST

DEAR ANONYMOUS: Because your friend doesn't fit in with the other guy friends, no rule of etiquette says you must continue to invite him. I wish you had mentioned what he whines about when you golf with him. If it is his wife's precarious health, it may be that he needs to vent in a cancer support group rather than with you. If it's the golf game, then you will have to decide whether he's such a valuable golf partner that you need him. If other members of your golf group no longer want him there, it would be a kindness to socialize with him and his wife less often rather than abandon them. If the shoe was on the other foot, isn't that what you would want?

DEAR ABBY: My siblings died a couple of years apart, and my parents treat me like I'm the one who should be gone. They often complain or compare the things I do to something they would have done.

My parents raised me to be independent and take care of myself, but all they do is show me that I don't matter. My niece shares that opinion. She thinks I'm not raising my son right. (Mind you, she's only 20 and doesn't know her behind from her elbow.)

I want to leave, but finances and obligations prohibit me. What can I do to make them see that I'm doing everything I can? -- NOT VALUED IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR NOT VALUED: I am sorry for what you are experiencing. The thing about being compared to a deceased person (or two) is there is a tendency to idealize the dearly departed. That you are being given short shrift for your efforts is sad. I think it's time to speak up and let your feelings be known. As to your niece, the "expert" on child care, tune her out as you would with static on your radio.