Ask Amy: I think my brother-in-law dated his girlfriend before his divorce


Dear Amy: My brother-in-law and his wife announced about a year ago that they had irreconcilable differences; They divorced after a long loveless marriage. To be honest, we have no idea why they’ve been together for so long.

About a month later, my brother-in-law introduced us to his new girlfriend. I was so happy at first that he had found someone new who seemed to really fit into the family dynamic better than his ex. But then his new girlfriend reached out via Facebook. I accepted her friend request and have been trying to get to know her by looking at her previous posts.

That’s when I realized that she and my sister’s husband had been in a relationship for at least five years. And I didn’t mention this to anyone else in the family except for my husband. I was brought up with a strong belief in the sanctity of marriage, and unfortunately I find their infidelity and unashamedness disturbing.

I try not to let this knowledge get in the way of me being friendly with them, but it always sits in the back of my mind, and I’ve found myself avoiding them so I don’t have to think about it. Do you have any suggestions as to what I can do to maintain this cordial relationship? I don’t want to hurt my husband’s family dynamic.

You don’t want to be judgmental

Quick judgment: No one knows what goes on in another couple’s marriage, but my observation is that even long, loveless marriages can survive until another potential partner enters the scene, which is often the impetus for a couple to finally break up.

In general, when a newly separated or divorced person introduces another partner to the family very quickly after separating from their spouse, it is a sign that the new person has been on the scene for a while. Perhaps your son-in-law and ex-wife had an understanding or were negotiating how to handle their marriage and outside relationships before their divorce.

The girlfriend’s public posts indicate that there is a general lack of shyness in regards to the relationship, and whether that is because she is actually being rude or perhaps reacting to a more complex personal situation remains to be seen. It’s really none of your business, but if you’re curious, you can ask – but I suggest you work hard to keep your harsh judgment in check.

Dear Amy: I have two friends, who live across the country, who like to call me up for long conversations. Both of these people talk non-stop and seem miraculously to have evolved out of a need for air, as I spend these calls waiting for the brief pause that will allow me to announce that I must leave.

When I imagine telling them I don’t like talking on the phone, I definitely feel like they’re going to be offended. As it stands, I only answer every third call or so, but that’s still a lot. Any ideas on how to end these calls without arousing hostility?

Desperate phone hostage

hostage: “I have to be honest – I don’t take all your calls because I don’t really like talking on the phone” is a description of personal preference, not an insult.

And — the way you describe these encounters as a hostage situation makes these people sound less like real friends and more like dull, boring phone bots. In short, if you want a monologue, watch Jimmy Kimmel. And he even comes for a breath of air.

If you avoid a call, you can use text (or email) to contact them: “I see you called. How are you?” This may unleash a new wave of discomfort, but it will be another challenge for another day.

Dear Amy: I thought your response to “Basically a single parentIt was basically awful. This father of two young children is addicted to his phone screen, and instead of telling him to watch his kids you suggest he listen to music?!

Disappointed: Other readers agree with you, and yes I also agree that the main issue is that this father was very withdrawn from his very young children. However, I raised the kids with the help of Broadway cast albums and NPR radio.

As long as you have your hands free and aren’t too distracted, I think it’s a good idea to play some background audio.

© 2023 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.


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