Dear Amy: At what point does one cut off contact with an ex after divorce when no children are involved?
My partner and I have been living together for a year. We are both in our late 40s. My issue is that my boyfriend's ex-wife constantly intrudes in our lives. She'll phone and expect my partner to drop everything and dig her out of trouble — things he has no business being involved in.
They've been divorced for three years. He insists he doesn't love her and there is nothing between them. The strange part is they are not even friends.
He is the love of my life and says I am his, and we want a long and happy future together. But I can't cope with his seemingly ongoing loyalty to assist her. He says he has no guilt — they both wanted out of the marriage — so I don't understand the reasoning behind the ongoing contact, and I have no patience for it. Shouldn't I get priority status in his life?
— Worn Down and Out
Dear Worn Down: You needn't claim "priority status" in your guy's life, but your relationship should definitely have priority status. This means that you will both have to learn how to create boundaries with family members, friends, colleagues, etc., and that you will also, to some extent, share these outside friendships and relationships with each other.
The next time your guy chooses to embark on a rescue mission for his ex-wife, you should go with him. She should get the message that you and he are "Team Smith." Once you become a functioning and involved team member, you will stop feeling so threatened. You will also gain the status to say to her, "You really need to call a professional repair person, don't you think?"
Dear Amy: For about two weekends per month for the past two years, we have been entertaining our daughter and her boyfriend. Both are out of college, gainfully employed and they live four hours apart. We live midway between them.
They arrive on Friday evening and her boyfriend says "hello." Then they sit on the couch and watch television. They sleep for 14-15 hours and continue to watch television all day Saturday and Sunday. They don't help with dishes or grocery shopping or any of the cooking.
When they leave on Sunday afternoon, her boyfriend says "goodbye" — that's a total of two words to us the entire weekend. My husband and I have decided after two years that we really don't like him.
She started talking about marriage, and I finally told her what we thought. We were hoping that she would see this for herself, but alas — no. She has asked us multiple times what we thought of this guy, and I was afraid to say anything for fear of a reaction like this.
She is now upset with us and has pretty much written us off. On the high note, they are no longer sitting on my couch and I'm not exhausted when I go back to work on Mondays. I have no idea if I did the right thing here. Any suggestions?
— Couch Evictor
Dear Evictor: No, you're good.
The basic message to your daughter should be, "We want you to live your own life. We will not interfere. But if you ask our opinion, we will always be truthful and honest."
Dear Amy: I have a solution for "Bothered," the neighbor who was constantly being hit up by cute neighborhood children selling fundraising items. It is very easy to make a deal with these youngsters.
The couple can say that they would be happy to purchase one thing each year from each child, and the child can decide which one thing he or she would like to pitch within a designated amount of money.
That helps the children weigh and measure which item is the most desirable to the couple, while also teaching the little entrepreneurs self-discipline.
I have used this deal for decades, and it works perfectly because the terms are understood by all.
Dear Tutor: Brilliant! I like it.