Too Friendly with Her Ex
Q: I have recently proposed to a wonderful lady who has been on her own for about 13 years. We bought a ring though we haven't set a date yet. We're in our fifties. My concern is that over the years she has remained friend with her ex who has been happily married for 13 years. Yet he still asks my fiancee to housesit for him and pay his bills when he goes on vacation. Sometimes she irons some of his shirts for him. I feel a little jealous. Am I wrong in thinking my fiancee should start thinking of our future and not still be doing small things for her ex? -- Dave
Dr. Susan: You're probably in the majority here. It can be very hard to accept such a continuing relationship between your new love and her old love. You didn't say if they have children in common, but even so, house-sitting, paying his bills, and even ironing his shirts does seem a little bit too domestic for comfort. I would have to wonder if he reciprocates. For instance, would he be willing to change the oil in your car in exchange for her ironing his shirts? In other words, can you see yourself included in her friendship with him? If she insists on maintaining a totally separate relationship with her ex that excludes you, I would wonder what's in it for her. After all, her ex can hire someone to help him out with those tasks. The fact that this makes you so uncomfortable should be enough reason for her to cool it, at least until the two of you establish an unbreakable bond of trust. I suggest you share your feelings openly and hope that she will be willing to respect your current understandable insecurity.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.