Grown sons in the dark about couple’s ancient history

Published 8:31 am Monday, August 7, 2023

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DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have been married for 38 years. We were both divorced prior to our marriage. Our marriage is great, and we have demonstrated this to everyone and especially to our boys. We decided early on to not say anything to our children about our prior marriages. The boys are now in their 30s. We raised them with solid values, one school district, long-term home, etc. We have no regrets.
We have been updating our living trust and other legal documents and have come across places that name the prior spouses. We are exploring our options in either removing these mentions, having a family meeting to reveal the information, or writing letters for them to read upon our passing. I think our boys can handle whatever we decide, but we are nervous. What are your thoughts and advice? — NERVOUS DAD IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR NERVOUS DAD: Your “boys” are no longer children; they are adults in their 30s. They may be less shocked about you and your wife having been married before than that you have kept it hidden from them all these years. If you cannot find the courage to have an honest discussion about this, include a letter to be given to them when your trust goes into effect after your demise.
DEAR ABBY: I have read many letters to you about poor relationships with siblings, and I have some advice of my own. You do not HAVE to like them! After many years of trying to fit in to a dysfunctional family, I finally realized, and made peace with the realization, that I do not like these people. I have different values and have worked hard to acquire a great education. This is looked down on by my siblings, who have a very narrow worldview. Their M.O. is to be friendly for a short time while denigrating another sibling. That changes overnight; the target person is now their best friend, and the other one is shunned. Realizing it is not necessary to like someone because we share the same bloodline has been liberating. I found peace by just letting them go. – GOT WISE IN SOUTH CAROLINA

DEAR GOT WISE: Unfortunately, not all family relationships are healthy ones. If someone is manipulative or abusive, it is better to step back rather than tolerate it. I’m glad you had your epiphany and found peace. Not everyone recognizes what you did as quickly as you, and they have suffered for it. Your letter illustrates why many of them have formed a supportive chosen family.
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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