Dear Ellie: My separated wife of eight years recently informed me that she has been in a long-distance relationship. I’m fine with that.
However, she has invited him to move to our city and live with her.
We have shared custody without a formal agreement, due to her work schedule.
Our daughter is 14, sweet and purely innocent. She is autistic. She has never met this man.
As far as I know, my ex invited him without having had in-person contact.
She won’t divulge any information to me about his particulars.
I’m gobsmacked. We’re two adults in our 50s not acknowledging a dangerous slippery slope of uncertainty regarding our daughter’s frail socialization.
She’s highly influenced by the presence of adults in her life … including the influence of any strangers in a small apartment.
I’ve informed all our daughter’s support people and have started counselling for both of us.
A Head Shaker
We can both only assume that she’s in a highly charged, emotional relationship and throwing all caution to the wind.
It’s unclear how much time your daughter lives with her compared with with you, but your concerns for this sensitive young teen are realistic, regarding her reaction to finding an unknown man living with her mom.
You’re wise to have already started counselling for both of you, to discuss this new situation with a professional’s guidance. You don’t want to put in your daughter’s mind your own feelings and fears as an adult and ex-husband.
Try not to overreact, as it might cause your ex to shut you out and you won’t be able to meet/assess this man and form your own impressions.
Even if you have doubts about his character, let her start to see for herself that she’s moved too quickly to trust him unless you sense danger, when you must protect your daughter immediately.
It will likely be a stressful time for both of you at first. Stay strong and focused on her welfare, more than on your ex-wife’s lack of caution.
Dear Ellie: I’m a woman, 60, with two grown children, divorced for more than 20 years, with a friendship relationship with my ex.
My partner of 17 years and I share a house we bought together. No sex in all that time.
He works nights, I work days. He pays most of the bills, I take care of the cleaning, outside work, shopping and cooking.
He has developed health issues due to drinking. Now his health is always compromised because of alcohol and bad food choices.
He never changes his ways/habits.
I’m constantly looking to be healthy, active and make better choices. He’s a drunk and hypochondriac.
We’ve grown apart. I’m bored of living like this. He says things will change. I give him means to do so, but it stays the same. I don’t want to die like this.
With so many relationships that people write me about, there are two sides, and some options.
But some stories like yours have only one logical choice, since you’re the only one dissatisfied with everything involving you two as a couple.
Sell your half of the house (discuss this first with a lawyer since you’re common-law partners with a shared asset), and leave him.
There’s no love mentioned here, there’s never been a sexual bond and you have opposite life interests, habits, activities, goals.
And you’re rarely together at the same time.
Dying has no place in your mind, it’s life that you are seeking. You owe it to yourself and your adult children to pursue the life you want.
Dear Ellie: My wife of 30 years verbally abused me for the past 10 years. So, I left.
At court, the judge looked at me as if I’d been abusing her.
Now I have to give her $1,600 each month.
Where’s justice for men who are disrespected/verbally abused and can’t take it any more?
I’m 65 and can’t retire because I have to keep paying her till she’s 65.
How is that fair?
Unfair to Men
No man or woman should suffer abuse from a partner. It’s understandable that you’d leave that situation.
However, the court case was about divorce, not abuse.
The law on marriage breakup where you live grants equal division of money/house, etc., to both spouses, even if she didn’t work or earned less.
The $1,600 monthly is the support money she requires until she receives her pension.
But you’re free of her abuse, which is what you needed most. That’s justice.
Ellie’s tip of the day
When an ex-spouse’s relationship could threaten a sensitive child’s stability, get counselling and support services for help.
Note to readers: For years, I’ve answered your questions two weeks ahead, to be on time for their publication date. Thus, recent columns were written before the full reality of COVID-19 elicited your concerns. Some columns still include your pre-virus issues, but many will soon reflect how our relationships are affected in the new not-so-normal.
Send relationship questions to email@example.com.