Dear Annie: A year ago, our son, “Don,” discovered that his wife of eight years was cheating on him. It came as a shock to all of us. Don was devastated and angry, and quickly divorced his wife and got full custody of their three young children. He sold their home and bought one closer to us. It was obvious that he wanted to punish her. Our tight-knit family offered to help in any way.
Don’s ex-wife, a woman we loved and cherished, became Public Enemy No. 1. She tried to call us a few times, but Don told the family, politely, that we should not answer her calls, and if she knocked on the door, we shouldn’t open it. He said it would be best for him and his kids if we ignored her. I said I would do my best.
The problem is, I have been in communication with Don’s ex. (Her lover broke things off after Don found out.) She sees me as her only friend. Don won’t let her near the children. He says he doesn’t want them to think cheating is OK. She was so depressed, I couldn’t turn her down.
If Don found out we were in touch, he would be furious and would never trust me again. My husband wants me to cut off ties with her, but she is so helpless and sad. What do I do?
-- Confused Grandma
Dear Grandma: Please stop lying to your son. Either tell him the truth or cease communication with your ex-daughter-in-law. However, it is terribly wrong of Don to prevent his ex from seeing the children. He is still angry and hurt, but in punishing her, he is also punishing them. They need their mother. They will not mistake her presence for approval to cheat. The divorce is sufficient for them to understand how destructive her behavior was.
Please urge him to put his kids first and work out a civil relationship with their mother. They may otherwise grow up feeling abandoned and angry, and if they ever learn that it was Dad who kept Mom away, they may never forgive him. If he needs counseling to reach that point, encourage him to get it.
Dear Annie: I have a question regarding interracial attraction. Some of my friends have said they aren’t attracted to men of certain races. For example, my white friend says she simply isn’t attracted to black men.
I find these comments very offensive, especially because I am of mixed ethnicity, and if someone told me they weren’t attracted to women of my race, I would be insulted. Are such comments acceptable?
Dear Nebraska: No. At the very least, these comments are offensive because they stereotype. To say that one isn’t attracted to a particular ethnic or racial group presumes that all people in that group look alike, when obviously they do not. People who make such remarks are bigoted, although they may not recognize it. You might be able to enlighten some of your friends by expressing how offensive these comments are to you. If nothing else, they will realize they cannot say such things without repercussions.
Dear Annie: I’d like to add to your response to “S,” who asked how to address an envelope to a couple who are both doctors. My situation is slightly different.
I am a physician. My husband does not have a doctoral degree of any kind. The proper way to address a formal envelope to us is “Dr. Jane Doe and Mr. John Doe,” or “Dr. Jane and Mr. John Doe.”
Most envelopes to us are addressed incorrectly. Many say “Mrs. and Dr. John Doe,” which makes absolutely no sense at all. Hopefully this will clarify things.
-- Lady Doctor in L.A.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “RLS,” who doesn’t like to ask for separate checks when dining with friends at a restaurant.
When we go out with really good friends, we get one bill and divide the cost by the number of people. If one person buys a much more expensive meal or drink, that person pays a little more.
However, sometimes one person will order an expensive bottle of wine and still want to split the tab evenly. I think this is rude. I get the impression that these people purposely order more expensive items so they don’t have to pay the entire cost.
RLS should not be so quick to judge friends because they want separate checks. I know that I do not like to pay for other people’s extravagances, nor do I expect others to pay for mine.
-- Paid My Fair Share
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org