Friend is mak­ing a big mis­take

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - DEAR ELLIE el­liead­vice.com

Q. My close friend of many years just told me he’s go­ing to move in with his girl­friend of eight months.

They’re both di­vorced and have a to­tal of four chil­dren from their pre­vi­ous mar­riages. They’re look­ing for a house where they can com­bine their two fam­i­lies.

I met his girl­friend a few years ago. She was with her sec­ond hus­band then, and there’ve been sto­ries about how she’d cheated on her ex, been through a lot of guys since, and is con­sid­ered bizarre in her tastes and be­hav­iour.

She’s at least 10 years younger than my friend.

He’s a good guy, and his ex-wife is a nice per­son. I don’t know what hap­pened to end their mar­riage.

I’m wor­ried about him, and whether he’s caught up in this woman’s aura, or what­ever she does to at­tract new men. What should I say to my friend? A. Say lit­tle, and ask ques­tions in­stead. If you re­peat gos­sip about his girl­friend, it may be un­true and/or it may turn him against you and not be­lieve your warn­ings.

Your ques­tions need to show you care about him and his chil­dren, and not just come across as judg­men­tal. Ex­am­ple: what are the qual­i­ties he loves in her, how do they blend with his per­son­al­ity, what gives him con­fi­dence about com­bin­ing fam­i­lies and lifestyle choices at this stage in their re­la­tion­ship?

He doesn’t have to an­swer you. You can only hope that he thinks about his plans more deeply.

Hus­band not hon­est about ex

Q. I re­cently be­came aware of my hus­band’s sig­nif­i­cant amount of con­tact with his ex-wife. I’d ex­pect some, as they have a teen to­gether, but it was con­trary to what he had me be­lieve.

He’d al­ways made it clear we were both to have firm bound­aries re­gard­ing con­tact with ex-part­ners. He’d said nu­mer­ous times that it was dis­re­spect­ful for ei­ther of us to have com­mu­ni­ca­tion un­less ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary.

He prides him­self on be­ing an hon­est man. Yet he was quick to re­mind me he didn’t like my hav­ing con­tact with my ex-hus­band.

When he took my phone to con­firm a con­ver­sa­tion I said I’d had, I then took his phone.

I was shocked to see the great deal of con­tact that had oc­curred.

His ex-wife is hap­pily mar­ried and I have no sus­pi­cions about an af­fair. I’m not threat­ened by their re­la­tion­ship, but very hurt that he’d falsely por­trayed their re­la­tion­ship as be­ing al­most non-ex­is­tent.

I ex­pected an­swers, but was told to mind my own busi­ness.

I ex­pected some re­morse or ac­knowl­edge­ment. In­stead he’s an­gry with me. I don’t un­der­stand why I’m the bad guy, when he’s the one who hurt me with his dis­hon­esty.

A. You’re not “the bad guy.” He’s trans­ferred blame back to you to de­flect, from his own dou­ble stan­dard.

It’s a com­mon tac­tic for a con­trol­ling per­son­al­ity, and I sus­pect this de­scrip­tion of him isn’t a sur­prise to you, which is why you’re so up­set.

He doesn’t like or per­mit your con­tact with your ex. But he does what he wants in his own ex-spouse re­la­tion­ship.

Your feel­ing hurt and not un­der­stand­ing his re­sponse, only al­lows this con­trol dy­namic to per­sist. Mean­while, the fact that he grabbed your phone to check on you is a red flag.

Tell him he has noth­ing to fear from oc­ca­sional con­tact you have with your ex. But any house “rules” have to be equal and agreed.

Any fur­ther dis­plays of his anger call for rec­og­niz­ing that there’s a re­la­tion­ship prob­lem that you’ll need to face, hope­fully to­gether and with coun­selling.

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