Dear Annie: What is a woman to do when her husband is still in love with his first girlfriend? I am a married woman with four children. My husband, “Shane,” continues to hold a torch for “Mary.” The thing is, Mary never really liked him that much. When we first married, I knew part of him would always love her, but I think it’s gone too far.
Two months ago, Shane met Mary in a cafe. He didn’t tell me. Mary actually called and told me she saw him. She said Shane didn’t bother to mention that he was married or that we have children. Mary, however, made sure to ask.
I really love my husband, but maybe love means letting someone go. Is that what I need to do? — Confused in Montreal
Dear Montreal: Shane is not in love with Mary. He is infatuated with the idea of her, and since she is unavailable to him, he has turned her into an obsession. It’s not romantic. It’s disturbing. And he would be no better off if he were unattached. Tell Shane you know about his meeting with Mary, you realize he is still fixated on her and that he has an obligation to you and your children to work on his marriage. Insist that he go with you for counseling and learn to appreciate what he has before he throws it away.
Dear Annie: I’ve been divorced for more than 10 years. In the process, my ex-wife has alienated my family to the point where they want nothing to do with her. The problem is that along the way, my family has left my children out in the cold.
My family avoids contact with the kids because they don’t want to deal with my ex-wife. Worse, my ex has taught the children that someone shows their love by what they buy for you.
I’ve moved closer to my children in order to take a more active part in their lives and, hopefully, to help them become closer with my family. I’ve been encouraging contact on both sides, but I’m meeting with some resistance, especially on the part of my sisters. What can I do? — Forlorn Dad
Dear Dad: Explain to your family that it is unfair to everyone if they give up on your children because the ex is so difficult. We assume you see the children on a regular basis, which means it’s up to you to be an involved role model for your children, teaching them that love cannot be bought, and seeing that they spend time with their grandparents, aunts and uncles, forming a closer bond.
Dear Annie: When my husband asked me to marry him, my only hesitation was, “Can I be married to a smoker?” He was handsome, smart and kind, and I liked him more than anyone I had ever met. I said, “Yes.”
We have been married 31 years, and there has been constant conflict during our marriage because of his smoking. I have been hypnotized to try to be able to stand cigarette smoke. He tried to please me by using smokeless tobacco and lost his teeth in the process. Nothing has worked.
Smokers and non-smokers are worlds apart. I don’t care if the guy looks like David Beckham, is as smart as Albert Einstein, as wealthy as Bill Gates and as kind as Jesus Christ, don’t marry him if he is a smoker and you don’t smoke. It is not fair to either of you. That person is addicted, and you are not going to change him. — Can’t Breathe in My Own Home
Dear Can’t Breathe: You are correct. An addicted person must want to quit. Your husband needs the help of his doctor and the support of family and friends. He also can learn more about the free stop-smoking programs offered through the American Cancer Society (cancer.org) at 1-800-ACS-2345 (1-800-227-2345) and the National Cancer Institute (smokefree.gov) at 1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669).
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. 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.
Published in The Messenger on 10.23.07