Dear Carolyn: After 40 years of an abusive marriage, I finally got my divorce and recently reunited with my first love. We’ve been together almost a year and were planning to get married.

I’m having second thoughts. He is obsessed with his adult children, who are married with children of their own. They both live over 1,000 miles away. If I get sick and need something, he ignores me, but if his son’s wife needs money, he can’t wait to send it.

I have tried talking to him about this and it just ends up in a fight. I tried telling him she wasn’t his responsibility, but he just doesn’t see it. What should I do?

– R.

A: Look at this through the lens of your strengths, vulnerabilities and experience. During those 40 years, did your inclination to stick around, set your needs aside, minimize your doubts and keep the peace serve you well?

You don’t mention any counseling after you left your abuser; given your long marriage to someone who mistreated you, and your impending marriage to someone who puts you third on his list – or merely takes advantage of the fact that you put yourself there – it appears you’re living by an old, unhappy pattern. If you question whether you can shred it and design a new one in its place, then I urge you to run these second thoughts about your relationship by a reputable therapist.

Something to keep in mind either way: When you ask your partner for something you value, and he refuses, your remaining options are these: stay on his terms or leave on yours. Don’t let other things clutter that point.

Worried about Facebook

Dear Carolyn: I have four siblings who constantly squabble, bicker and post negative comments about each other and many of their friends on Facebook. This interaction has caused one of them legal problems and has destroyed many of their relationships.

I do not have a Facebook account and ignore all of this for the most part. However, sometimes I can’t help but to wonder what is being said about me, if anything. Do you think Facebook and its significance should have me worried? Or am I right for simply writing off my siblings as middle-aged teenagers?


A: People who trash others to the point of legal calamity are trashing you. No need to waste time wondering whether your name ever comes up.

Facebook and its significance are worrisome on many levels, but none of them warrants your doing anything but the sensible thing you have already chosen: ignoring “all of this.”

As apt as your “middle-aged teenagers” remark appears to be, anyone who wants to fly below (or above) detection by negative-minded people would be wise to avoid any appearance of looking down his or her beak.