Husband of three decades still supports first wife

Published 8:39 am Wednesday, February 16, 2022

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DEAR ABBY: I have been with my husband for more than 30 years. We have no kids together, but he has three adult children from a previous marriage. All of them are in their 30s. He and his ex had a bad breakup, and she has never given up on him coming back to her.
In my opinion, he has strung her along. He buys her the moon and pretends our marriage doesn’t exist for the “sake of seeing the kids.” We used to be close, but since the pandemic I have learned he has been going to “their house” every day before he goes to work. He pays her mortgage and does everything there for her. I pay our house bills because he needs to “support her and the kids.”
They have grown super close now, and recently had a grandchild. He is too involved with her. He takes her everywhere she wants, and when I get upset or angry, he tells me I’m a selfish, childless b-word and if I had kids I would understand.
I love him, but I have reached the point where I have no self-esteem. I have asked him more than once why he doesn’t go back to her. He tells me I am insecure and paranoid. Abby, I am a smart, successful woman, but I am afraid to give up what we had. I am also afraid of being alone. Am I overreacting about his closeness with her? What do I do? — BEATEN DOWN AND FED UP

DEAR BEATEN DOWN: The man you married is emotionally abusive, selfish and dishonest. I don’t know how long this scenario has been playing out, but it’s as though he never really divorced his first wife. Has he been “visiting the kids” all this time, or did it start when the COVID quarantines began?
Start NOW to rebuild your sense of self-esteem by talking with a licensed mental health professional. Once you are stronger you will be in a better position to decide what you want to do. If you reread your letter, you will notice a glaring omission. Not once did you mention anything positive he does for YOU. There are worse things than being alone, and what you have described is close to it.
DEAR ABBY: Our 14-year-old granddaughter came out as a boy four months ago. The situation has been terrifying because he had thought about suicide. He was hospitalized and now sees a therapist and psychologist and is taking anxiety meds.
This has been a trying time for us as well. I love my grandchild but I’m having a very hard time with this. So is my husband. I don’t know how to tell my sisters and their husbands about this. One set is pretty understanding; the other set is extremely right-wing and over-the-top conservative. We want to accept our grandchild as who he is identifying as, but we are still bewildered. Thank you for any suggestions you might have for us. — THROWN IN TEXAS

DEAR THROWN: I don’t think you should rush to share this news with your sisters and their husbands. The announcement should come from your grandchild when he is ready. As to how you and your husband should “handle” it, the organization PFLAG has recently come out with a free publication titled, “Supporting Your LGBTQ+ Grandchild.” It’s a quick and easy read, and you may find the information it contains helpful. Find it at or by calling 202-467-8180.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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