KATHY MITCHELL AND MARCY SUGAR \ Annie's Mailbox He should be allowed to cut the cord his own way
Dear Annie: I have been engaged to "Jeff," a terrific man, for eight months. We both have been married before, and between the two of us, we have five children.
The thing that really bothers me is that Jeff stays in touch with his ex-girlfriend, "Elaine," whom he dated on and off for several years after his divorce. He and Elaine had a tumultuous relationship and broke up six months before we met. The reason they couldn't stay together is because she could not deal with his children.
Jeff and I recently bought a house together. I have no reason to distrust him, but I cannot get over the fact that he still talks to Elaine, even though I've told him how I feel. He tells me he will eventually phase her out, but he doesn't want to make an enemy of her. Also, her parents are his clients.
I know that Jeff hates to hurt people, and Elaine was terribly upset when she learned of our engagement. I don't want to be a jealous shrew, but I have a hard time knowing my future husband stays in touch with a woman he slept with.
Jeff has been nothing but wonderful, honest and supportive in all other areas, and I don't want to make a mountain out of a molehill, but this weighs on my mind. Every time the phone rings, I wonder if it's Elaine. Is it unreasonable to ask him to stop speaking to her? Morristown, N.J.
Dear Morristown: It is not unreasonable, but it is unwise. How often does Jeff speak to Elaine? If it's more than once a week, you can ask him to cut back, but otherwise, leave it alone. You say he is honest and you trust him, plus there are business reasons for remaining cordial. Let Jeff cut the cord his own way. He will appreciate your confidence in him.
Dear Annie: I am planning to marry "Bob" next year. His family is quite wealthy, and mine is not. We don't want a lavish wedding. Something simple, yet memorable. My parents are not able to pay for everything, and I feel Bob's family could contribute more. However, they have not offered, and I don't know how to approach them. I already feel out-of-place with my in-laws because of the financial disparity between our families. Please tell me how to handle this. My parents are in dire straits. Bride in Alabama
Dear Bride: First, scale back your wedding plans so your parents don't have to go into debt. Then, discuss the finances with your fiance. It is not unusual these days for both sets of parents to split the cost of a wedding. If Bob thinks his parents might be willing to pay for more, he should be the one to approach them. Meanwhile, try to relax about your in-laws' financial status. We all put our pants on the same way.
Dear Annie: For the last eight months, my 21-year-old daughter has been dating a deadbeat who physically and verbally abuses her. I have tried to reason with her, but she refuses to leave him. When I asked how she could tolerate such poor treatment, she said it wasn't a big deal, since "Daddy is the same way with you. He swears and calls you all sorts of names." Her reply broke my heart.
I am angry with my husband for subjecting our family to such treatment and at myself for not leaving him before his poison infected our daughter. Please, parents, treat each other with respect and dignity. Children need to see how a decent, good spouse behaves. Mothers need to show their daughters that they deserve to be treated well. This will help protect them from destructive relationships. Regretful in Canada
Dear Regretful: You've said a mouthful. Children learn by example, and the most influential ones are those they see at home. Parents, if this is you, shape up, and Mom, give your daughter the number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 800) 799-SAFE (800-799-7233), just in case.
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