Dear Annie: What advice would you give to a divorced man regarding “moving on”? My boyfriend and his ex-wife have been divorced for 10 years, yet she continues to manipulate him and behave spitefully toward him. She and their adult children show no consideration for my boyfriend’s wishes. And I see him do a lot of tiptoeing because God forbid he upset the “posse.” He tried to establish that he’d like to see his adult children in settings other than his ex-wife’s home, but that rarely happens. And he is expected to still go to her house for birthday gatherings.
He has made some minor changes, which I hope, for the sake of his sanity, he adheres to. I suggested that he seek counseling, but to no avail. He puts his foot down, but as soon as she says “sorry” once, he picks his foot back up and goes back for more of the same disrespectful treatment. It is completely absurd that he thinks he has a good relationship with his ex or even with his adult children. The kids show him no respect.
I have learned I can’t change anyone but myself, but how do you coexist with someone who, because he feels guilty, keeps punishing himself? It’s not my place to tell him what to do, I have learned through my own counseling. When I try to help him work through the many incidents that occur, he tells me that I’m biased because I “don’t like them.” What I don’t like, Annie, are their actions. They show such disrespect, and if they can’t respect their own father, really, whom are they going to respect?
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Could he end up taking this nonsense until the day he dies? Will he ever free himself? I’m afraid that without counseling, he will never truly just put his foot down, say what he needs to and free himself of this abuse. Enough is enough! — Anonymously Bewildered
Dear Anonymously Bewildered: The advice I would give to this man matters little if he’s not the one who’s asking. And there’s the rub. You seem to recognize this — you mentioned that you know you can’t help anyone but yourself — so I imagine your letter was written more out of exasperation than anything else. I certainly sympathize. It’s frustrating to watch the people we love go through the same painful episodes again and again. But unless and until he himself decides that enough is enough, I’m afraid you’re in for a lot of reruns. My advice to you, seeing as you’re the one who wrote me, is to change the channel — if not by ending the relationship, then by disengaging from his family drama. I strongly recommend that you continue going to counseling, because it sounds as though it’s providing you helpful self-insight.
Dear Annie: I get a therapeutic massage in my chiropractor’s office and a dermabrasion treatment in my dermatologist’s office. Recently, someone in the latter office suggested that I should be tipping for these personal services. I never imagined that tipping in a doctor’s office would be expected or even appropriate. I am hoping some of your doctor readers will respond. — Tipped Off
Dear Tipped Off: I’ve never heard of tipping at a doctor’s office. You’re a patient, not a customer. The fact that someone there told you that you should be tipping sounds a little fishy to me, but stay tuned, and I’ll let you know if I hear from doctors on this subject.
“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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