I have been married to my husband for five years. He's the man of my dreams, and we have a wonderful marriage. Recently, we learned that his ex-wife - to whom he was married for 20 years - has been diagnosed with a life-threatening cancer. They have two adult children together.
I have never questioned my husband's love or devotion to me. What's bothering me is his reaction to the news. They had a horrible relationship and never got along, but he is very upset over this. I'm not sure how to handle this. I don't want to seem insensitive, but the emotion he is showing for her has really hurt me. I realize she's the mother of his children, but they have been divorced for years. Please help me understand what's going on with him.
- Strong Emotions
DEAR STRONG EMOTIONS: Not knowing your husband, I can only hazard a few guesses. Although he and his ex-wife have been divorced for years, the idea of a possibly fatal illness striking someone who was once so close may be what's upsetting him. Or he may feel some guilt because of the circumstances of their divorce. Or her diagnosis may have been a chilly reminder of his own mortality. I hope this will give you some insight, because you are going to have to be patient with him until this is resolved.
How to leave your toxic work at work
DEAR ABBY: I need advice on how to enjoy my life and not allow the toxic environment of my job to overwhelm me. My job was nice when I started 12 years ago, and I enjoy helping people. I process payments for disabled people in a cubicle setting. However, my place of employment has become a backstabbing, uncaring, favoritism-oriented environment.
I am well-paid and have good health insurance, so I need to stay. But I am very sad each day going into work. It is affecting the way I interact with my children and my husband. Any ideas on how to get past the horrible day in the office so I can be at peace at home?
- Dreading It
DEAR DREADING: I do have a few suggestions. When it's time to take your break, use it as an opportunity to escape the toxic environment. Put on headphones and listen to upbeat music, read a book, or leave the office to eat lunch or have a snack. If possible, take a short walk or meditate and do breathing exercises to relax. Then, after work, before interacting with your children and your spouse, give yourself the "gift" of a 15- to 30-minute walk or jog, which may help you to draw a firm line of demarcation between your work life and your home life. And take your vacation time to get away and replenish your spirit.
Despise a gift? Accept it with grace anyway
DEAR ABBY: We have an adult relative who seems to feel it is appropriate to color a picture out of a coloring book in lieu of a gift or money for graduations, weddings, etc. She also seeks approval from everyone at these events to comment on how beautiful it is, to praise her for her coloring ability and for how much time it took. We are tired of getting coloring-book pictures as gifts. How can we get her to stop?
- Miffed in Minnesota