My ex’s new wife saved my life.
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My ex remarried a few years ago to a woman 15 years younger than me, with a doctorate and quite wealthy. I basically owe him my life. My boyfriend was arrested, I got pregnant, and our house nearly burned down. She provided my children and me with an apartment she owns, paid for a nanny and helped rebuild the house. My kids spend most afternoons with their dad (including my 3 year old son, which saves me childcare costs). I’m back on my feet and stifling the nasty comments whenever my kids talk about her. I just simmer and sometimes I’m so ashamed that I make myself sick. What’s wrong with me, and how can I stop it?
You have been through an incredibly stressful and painful series of events, were saved by your ex’s seemingly perfect new wife, and are now exhausted from sitting in a position of constant gratitude. I don’t think anything is wrong with you – you feel resentment, insecurity and shame next to this remarkable woman who has done so much to help you, which is quite understandable – but I think there is is wise of you to seek to reduce your feelings. It’s wonderful that you are now able to take care of yourself and your children without outside help, and I think at least some of this newly freed up time and funds should be used to pay for a therapist. You are right to swallow your disparaging remarks in front of your children. They have a warm and loving relationship with their mother-in-law, and you shouldn’t try to damage it, either for you or for them. But you need someone to share your unpleasant and uncharitable feelings with, and a therapist will help you work through your resentments without hurting your relationships. —Danny M.Lavery
From: “To help! My ex’s new wife put me through a tough time, and now I’m resentful.(December 29, 2015)
Before meeting and marrying my husband 11 years ago, I felt like I was bisexual. I fantasized (and still do) about being with women and men; however, the opportunity to be with a woman never presented itself and I never pursued it. I’ve made jokes about being with a girl, but my husband says it “doesn’t matter” to him. Fast forward through the years and I still feel like I’m missing something sexually and blame myself for not doing it before I settled down. Our sex life has been hot and cold – my desire is much higher and I like more variety than him. I have a good friend who recently told me she is bisexual and we briefly discussed experimentation together. We are both secure in our marriages and not looking for a relationship outside of friendship and nonsense together. Plus, I think it can actually help me get what I need sexually while taking some of the pressure off my husband. I thought about going without telling my husband just to see if it’s something I like. However, I don’t like the idea of doing this behind his back and I’m just as nervous about telling him. I don’t want him to question everything in our marriage about this. Am I crazy to have thought of that?
I can’t tell if you were really honest with your husband about your sexuality. Joking about how you’d like to tour with Beyoncé isn’t exactly explaining that you think you’re bisexual. Since you are seriously considering finally following through with your desires, I think it is time to explicitly confess them to your husband. I recognize that sneaking around with the other woman can actually increase the thrill of this romance. But you’ll really put your marriage in jeopardy if you get caught. So talk to your husband about it. It will be a complicated conversation that will stir many emotions in both of you. He can be devastated. Alternatively, he may surprise you and say he sanctions your exploration. You, of course, have to be ready for him to express some of his hitherto unexpressed desires that he would like to act on himself. —Emilie Yoffe
From: “To help! My husband won’t take my hints about having a threesome seriously.(April 15, 2013)
When my wife and I got married in college, we discussed and planned a future: finish our degrees, live abroad for several years, then come back to the United States and have children. Then her father was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. We both dropped out of school and moved back to his small Midwestern hometown. I took over the family business while my wife supported her mother and helped raise her younger brothers. It was four years ago. My stepfather is fortunately healthy and in remission. My wife was able to telecommute to complete her education and works for the local school district. His brothers are in their senior years of high school. Last month we had a pregnancy scare and I panicked. I felt nothing but relief when it turned out to be a false positive and my wife and I had a serious argument. I love his family, but the business is tedious and mind-numbing. I’m good at it, but I want to at least TRY to live my dream, if only to say I gave it a shot. I told my wife that I wanted children but not now and not here. I want to come back to our plan. We have a lot of money saved. Even if it’s only been a year or two of hikes, hostels, and ridiculous hopes, I feel like it’s my turn. I need this. My wife tells me that I obviously hate her family and her hometown. I pointed out to her that I came here for her, took over her family business and gave up on doing my masters and seeing my family every day (we lived an hour away from them) . I’m happy enough to talk about having kids and moving here after our adventures. We still fight and spend most of the time in polite silence when we see our families. I do not know what to do. I love my wife and I don’t want to see the world without her, but I resent it. I gave and gave and now I feel lied to. Help me please.
Looks like it’s a conversation you postponed (maybe because you felt like you couldn’t have it while your wife’s father was still sick) until the only way to get it was to explode. Now, you two have to be scrupulously honest about what you want in order to catch up with the last few years of tiptoeing and guesswork. Does your wife want to stay in her hometown forever? Would she like you to run the family business for the rest of your life? Tell her that you thought you were both okay with graduating together and traveling for a few years, but she seems to have changed her mind – does she still want to? Is she ready to do anything other than live near her family? If she’s not willing to, are you willing to compromise and stay? Couples counseling will help you answer these questions, as there are many options between “traveling the world” and “staying by my father’s side until he dies” that could be available to both of you. But you need to make it clear if you’re not able or willing to spend four more years (or even a year) on your current situation, before the next pregnancy scare happens. Use protection while waiting. —DL
From: “To help! I gave up my dreams to help my wife take care of her family, and now I’m resentful.(December 13, 2016)
I recently found out that my husband has been texting a co-worker for over a year. I knew they texted about work, but now I know they texted mornings, evenings, and weekends about random things. None of the texting is romantic, sexual, etc., but it really made me feel betrayed. I knew nothing of friendship and constant contact. He frequently tells me about text messages he receives from other friends but this person has never been mentioned. He maintains that they are just friends and that nothing has been hidden from me. How can I pass this up when I feel like he’s been lying by omission for so long.
I may just be a misanthrope, but I don’t understand the thrill of an open line to exchange the banalities of life. You say your husband and his co-worker are texting endlessly about their day, so it looks like you’ve read the whole book. You’re the only one in the marriage, so you have to figure out if your husband is just one of those people who’s compulsively welded to his phone, or if he’s getting some kind of thrill from texting him messages like “Why is this that the person in front of me at Starbucks always buys for the whole office?” Under these circumstances, a semi-intimacy can develop which is not entirely fair, but which also leaves no incriminating traces. Your husband is in constant contact with a co-worker and they don’t discuss sales reports.I take it your question about how you let it go is one forced on you by your husband who insists you don’t “You have nothing to worry about. But at the very least, he owes you an honest exchange about it. It’s fair for you to say that you feel caught off guard by the fact that he has a seemingly close relationship with someone.” one at work he never lied about given the name and with whom he remains in frequent contact during your private time. —EY
From: “To help! My husband texts his co-worker all the time.(March 10, 2014)
More advice from dear Prudence
My brother is 30 and used to making bad choices including a DUI and probation. After several years adrift, he finally seemed to pull himself together. He was accepted into graduate school and did well enough to be offered a teaching job after graduation. However, I recently found out that my brother had been accused of sexual assault by an undergraduate student.