Dear Annie: Three years ago, my 48-year-old husband took a job out of state and began commuting. "Ethan" kept a small apartment near his office during the week and came home on weekends. A few months into the job, he met a 25-year-old woman and began having an affair. He told her we were separated after 22 years of marriage. This isn't his first affair. I know of at least two others.
We have three children, and even though we both work, we are in debt up to our necks because we are supporting two homes. Every month has been a struggle to get the bills paid. Last summer, Ethan's mistress moved into his out-of-state apartment. He said it would help us save money.
I wanted to file for divorce immediately, but I lost my job. Months have passed, and I'm terrified I'll lose my house if I file for divorce before I find employment. Meanwhile, I'm in a living hell, tied to a man who has abandoned his family to start his life over with someone else. I know I should move on, but I am dependent on my husband's financial support. Please help. Wounded in California
Dear Wounded: If you file for divorce, it does not mean Ethan is off the financial hook. He still has to pay child support and possibly monthly maintenance for you as well. Contact an attorney immediately, and find out what your options are. Ethan's behavior is reprehensible. You deserve better.
Dear Annie: I am a single, professional woman. I own my own house and live just a few miles from my parents. Unfortunately, Mom and Dad are always dropping by and letting themselves in when I am not home. Not only is it an invasion of my privacy, it is unsettling to know someone has been in my house when I'm away.
I occasionally have vacation days, and I like to relax at home or be alone with my boyfriend. My parents will pop over, and if I do not answer the doorbell, they let themselves in. Mom and Dad always have an excuse why they stopped by -- they have groceries, Mom bought me a blouse, Dad found some cheap light bulbs, and so on.
I talked to my folks about this once before, but they became really angry and didn't speak to me for several weeks. I wouldn't dream of letting myself into their house when they are not home. How can I make them respect my privacy? Driving Me Crazy in Florida
Dear Driving: Your parents have learned that emotional blackmail works on you and gives them the upper hand. You have two choices: You can say nothing and be stuck with their intrusive behavior forever; or you can change your locks and tell your parents, nicely, that they will no longer have a key, because you don't want anyone in the house when you aren't home. Let them be angry for a while. When they realize you are not going to back down, they will come around.
Dear Annie: I must comment on the woman who gives her small grandchildren grape juice and then complains about stains on the carpet. I have nine grandchildren and would never dream of offering them grape juice (except white grape juice) when there are many other healthful possibilities.
Adult guidance is needed here for the sake of the children's clothing as well as the carpet. She should stop complaining and take charge. Grandpa in Memphis, Tenn.
Dear Grandpa: A good point, but it's likely the children's father, not Grandma, was giving them grape juice. However, you are right to suggest that if Grandma provided other, less "colorful," alternatives, the kids would be just as happy, and the carpet would look a lot cleaner.
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