On The Ropes

My husband’s sister lives around the corner from his ex-wife. I won’t go into the whole sordid story, but let’s just say this woman extorted $30,000 from him through a verbal agreement which didn’t legally modify their divorce. Then she stabbed him in the back by lying in court.

They divorced five years ago and we married three years later. Despite my husband’s requests, his sister continues to mingle with the ex like she’s still family. She says it’s an obligation because they are neighbors.

Needless to say, my husband doesn’t want her treated like a member of the family.

Recently, his mother started a deep decline. She needs round-the-clock care with all the siblings and their wives taking turns. So this wonderful ex-wife, to make a show of how great she is, volunteered to his sister to help out “with the rest of the family.” That was yesterday.

My husband is livid. He has been very direct about his feelings, but his sister just doesn’t get it. I told him to specifically tell her no way is he going to allow his ex to come in and help care for their mother. His mom didn’t even like this woman, but she is so far out of it she doesn’t know who any of us are.

Is there a way to get through to this sister? I guess some people are just clueless.

~ Marisa

Marisa, when I was in the sixth grade, I went with a friend to another boy’s house. This boy was shorter than me, but he was a weightlifter and a boxer. I had never boxed, but he pressed me to spar and I agreed.

At first he sparred gently, then he began punching hard.

I was torn. On the one hand, he was shorter so I didn’t feel I could hit back. On the other hand, he was taking advantage of his height to batter me, and I felt it was a matter of honor not to throw in the towel. So I gave him one good shot to the ribs.

He got the message.

Your husband has a valid reason for not wanting contact with his ex-wife. His sister is not clueless and she does get it. She is being deliberately dense. When people act that way, they are asking for a shot in the ribs.

What that shot should be is up to you and your husband. Perhaps it might be making a scene, or staging an event without inviting her. Perhaps it might be not showing up for an event, with no excuse or explanation given.

Good people seek to solve issues with finesse, but that is not always possible. Your husband’s goal isn’t to make his sister kiss the canvas, but to let her know that on this issue he is going the distance.

~ Wayne

Indecent Exposure

When I was 14, I was abused by my uncle. It went on for a year. Then when I was 22, I went through a rough time and ended up moving in with him and my aunt for a bit. We ended up messing around.

I’m still having issues. I want to write a letter to confront him, but I’m not sure how to start or what to say.

~ Cassidy

Cassidy, sexual abuse is not something people can deal with on their own. Rather than start by writing a letter to your uncle, we suggest doing two other things first.

1. Contact an organization which deals with sexual abuse for guidance on how to proceed. HotPeachPages.Net lists sources of help in virtually every locale on earth.

2. It is often helpful to read a good book on recovering from abuse, like “The Courage to Heal Workbook” by Laura Davis.

Don’t make excuses for not taking action, like I don’t have any money. Most help is free or low-cost.

~ Wayne & Tamara

Column for the week of September 2, 2013

Send letters to: [email protected] , or Direct Answers, PO Box 964, Springfield MO 65801.

read more relationship advice


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here