Mom dotes on new boyfriend at ex­pense of her kids


DEAR ABBY: My wife, “Rita,” and I sep­a­rated a year ago. Our di­vorce is pend­ing. The man she’s see­ing, whom I be­lieve she was cheat­ing with be­fore we split, has a vi­o­lent crim­i­nal past. He has al­ready cheated on Rita with his ex-girl­friend, the woman who had him locked up in the first place.

Rita caters to him to the point that she ig­nores our kids. When he shows up, they of­ten “re­tire” to the bed­room and my chil­dren are on their own for din­ner. She even paid his bail when we were sup­posed to be sav­ing for our daugh­ter’s school trip, which meant I ended up pay­ing her half.

She is obliv­i­ous. She be­lieves the kids want to spend time at my place only be­cause there’s a game sys­tem here. Our daugh­ter is slightly over­weight, and Rita and I had agreed to make sure we keep up her self-es­teem. I don’t think Rita’s be­hav­ior is help­ing in this area at all.

My kids want him gone. They have ex­pressed this to their mother, but she keeps mak­ing ex­cuses to keep him around. They have told me she comes apart when he’s not there. Could she be ter­ri­fied of be­ing alone? Is it pos­si­ble to make her re­al­ize how this is af­fect­ing our kids? Or am I mak­ing too much of all this? — PER­PLEXED IN MIN­NESOTA

DEAR PER­PLEXED: Your wife may have a se­vere fear of be­ing alone, but if it’s true that she can’t func­tion when he’s not there, there may be other emo­tional is­sues as well. Please un­der­stand that now that you are sep­a­rated, you can­not dic­tate how of­ten she sees this man, or in what room of the house. How­ever, be­cause she ap­pears to be un­able or un­will­ing to be present for her chil­dren when he’s there, con­sider hav­ing a calm, nonac­cusatory con­ver­sa­tion with her about them stay­ing with you “a while” — a long while. She may sur­prise you and be open to it.

DEAR ABBY: A friend of a friend was look­ing for a week­end get­away. I of­fered my sum­mer home to the cou­ple at no cost. I love the place and spend all my summers re­lax­ing there. They quickly ac­cepted.

I gave them the keys, they left for the week­end and she texted me to say they ar­rived. Two hours later, I re­ceived an­other text say­ing that they could not stay there be­cause their al­ler­gies were re­ally bad and they had to leave.

I felt bad, but they were well aware of my two large, hairy dogs. I’m not a dirty per­son. Quite a few peo­ple come and stay at the sum­mer house, and no one has ever left be­fore. How should I re­act when I see them again? I thought I was do­ing some­thing nice. — FEEL­ING BAD IN PENN­SYL­VA­NIA

DEAR FEEL­ING BAD: You WERE do­ing some­thing nice, and you should not take what hap­pened per­son­ally. Some peo­ple are ex­tremely sen­si­tive to an­i­mal dan­der, which is what likely caused your guests to leave. It was in no way a crit­i­cism of your skills as a house­keeper. While you may have been able to re­move all or most of the dog hair, you may have missed flakes from their skin that were imbed­ded in the up­hol­stered fur­ni­ture and which trig­gered the al­ler­gic re­ac­tion. Let it go, and when you see th­ese peo­ple, treat them as you al­ways have.

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