Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Quickies: “My Husband of 25 Years Flirts With My Sisters”

I recently read the story of the flirting SIL and the smirking husband. I have a similar situation. My husband (twenty-nine years together, twenty-five married) started flirting with my sister shortly after our wedding. I told him numerous times how much this hurt me. He laughed and told me I was reading it wrong or I was too sensitive. Even after our talks he kept flirting with her. I just grew to ignore it and look past it and live with it. In addition, I was never allowed to show affection to him in public. If I tried to hold his hand or hug and kiss him, I got shoved away and told: “Stop, we are in public, people will see us.”

Then in 2011 I was sent a letter of a private message between him and my other sister flirting. My husband had said to her: “I can’t wait to see you in those short skirts, come on summer.” I confronted him and at first he lied. Then I showed him the letter and he said: “That’s not flirting — it was just a conversation.” How do I forgive and forget? — Dismissed

After twenty-five years of this behavior and being brushed off, laughed at, dismissed, and told you are “reading things wrong,” or being “too sensitive,” what you do now is dump the asshole and reclaim your time, independence, and dignity. Only then can you begin to forgive. Forget? Not likely…

I have been with my boyfriend for three years. I’m 50 and going through a long, drawn-out divorce. I have my own house which I live in with my 22-year-old son, and my boyfriend rents a flat very close to me. He has four kids, has been married twice, and doesn’t own anything. We talked about his moving in with me, but then I realized it would be hard as he has nothing to bring to the table and I don’t want to gamble with my son’s inheritance. He has now finished with me over this. What are your thoughts? Do you think he was just looking for security? I’m so sad he ended it over this as we saw each other every day. — Finished With

I mean, maybe he ended things because you told him he has nothing to bring to table because he doesn’t own anything? That might make someone feel pretty crappy and like he isn’t really appreciated and like maybe he’d be better off moving on. Then again, you’re smart to protect your assets, and if you had a gut feeling this guy might be using you for security, better to know now than after letting him move in with you. Frankly, I don’t know why you’d want to live with him anyway. You aren’t even divorced yet, you already have a roommate (your son), and your boyfriend (well, ex-boyfriend) lives close by, so what would you gain out of living with him? More headache, it sounds like. I would have framed your desire to continue living separately around wanting your own space, rather than your boyfriend not bringing anything to the table, but what’s done is done, and if this is the issue that broke you, then you weren’t right for each other in the long run. Enjoy being single and independent for now — especially since your divorce papers haven’t even been signed yet.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy​(AT)​dearwendy.com.

16 comments… add one
  • LisforLeslie November 17, 2017, 9:14 am

    LW #1 – I got nothing, this person has spent 29 years telling you your feelings either don’t matter or simply you don’t know what you’re feeling. He’s clearly skilled in gaslighting as well as flirting. Is there any thing that he does for you that is positive?

    LW#2 – Why do I suspect that he brought up moving in together or somehow manipulated the conversation so that there was a discussion about how much his rent is and blah blah blah so that it was a “Well, we could live together…” opening the door to the idea. You expressed valid concerns about finances with someone. Had he truly cared about you he would have acknowledged the issue and your concerns and worked with you to make sure that the arrangement was equitable.

    However, I’m not sure why at 50 you’re worried about your son’s “inheritance”? You don’t “owe” him an inheritance unless there is some financial trust account that you didn’t mention. You owe it to yourself to live your life and spend your money as you see fit. Now if the ex started talking about how you could support his 4 children, yeah, I’d be slamming on the brakes but your son should not be planning his future based on anticipated inheritance.

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    • Bree November 17, 2017, 10:44 am

      I’m definitely in agreement about the inheritance issue. NO ONE is guaranteed an inheritance. To be blunt, most of that planned inheritance for your kids usually gets spent on long-term care anyways. I definitely like the LW’s desire to hang onto her money, but she needs to hang onto her money in the likelihood that she will need it. At least 70% of all adults will need some form of long-term care during their lifetime, and you’re looking at paying privately (unless you have long-term care insurance, which most people don’t) out of pocket. Medicare only covers 30 days, which is next to nothing. Then Medicaid kicks in, but only after you have spent all of your money to the point where you are literally impoverished. That gets very expensive very quickly. In Washington State where I am, it easily $5,000 per MONTH for long-term care.

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    • dinoceros November 17, 2017, 12:56 pm

      She doesn’t “owe” him one, but if it’s important to her, she has a right to plan for one. If saving for a child’s inheritance means that the parent is harming their quality of life or financial stability, then yes, they should reconsider. But she hasn’t indicated she’s doing that or that her son is assuming he’ll get one.

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  • Brise November 17, 2017, 9:58 am

    LW2: you were right. There was an imbalance and a couple should be able to discuss openly about finances. For a sound situation, you could have made a rental contract for him with a lawyer, so that you protect your and your son’s property. He didn’t accept the discussion, put the blame on you, so it is rightly over. Anyway, you had doubts, right? The project was premature for you.

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    Cleopatra Jones November 17, 2017, 10:37 am

    I’m not even sure that LW 1’s husband and sister are even in the flirting stage anymore. I think they passed that stage a looonnngggg time ago, and have probably been in a full blown affair for some time.
    LW #1: 29 years of ‘flirting’ with your sister is way too long. Hell, 29 minutes is too long, and I wish you had shut that shit down a long time ago. But you didn’t so do it now. He seems like he’s always been interested in her, so let her have him, and all of his problems. Please get out of this relationship, and go enjoy your life!

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  • Northern Star November 17, 2017, 10:56 am

    LW 2, your letter bugs me. You know that as a live-in partner, he would get nothing financially out of helping you make mortgage payments, right? Don’t buy anything large with him, keep your finances separate, and don’t get married. That would be a potential solution you could offer. Instead, you told your boyfriend of three years he brings nothing to the table. That would make anyone feel utterly worthless.

    Before you start dating again, get your divorce finalized—it’s amazing that you haven’t handled that yet. Because let’s face it: Being SINGLE is a pretty basic asset that you do NOT “bring to the table.” Get it handled.

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    • wobster109 November 17, 2017, 12:12 pm

      Yes! I do not see how having him live with her would affect the son’s inheritance whatsoever. Living together doesn’t mean she has to put him on the house title. Even if they got married they could get a pre-nup about keeping some assets separate.

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      • ron November 17, 2017, 12:16 pm

        If he’s a mooch and he gets her to support him beyond what he is able to afford, they might run through any potential inheritance in not that many years, especially since he has 4 kids to support.

      • LisforLeslie November 17, 2017, 12:21 pm

        She provided no detail that says he offered to pay rent or split the bills. For all we know he could have said “Why should I pay rent when you’re already paying your mortgage?” or worse “I should be on the deed because I’d be paying into the mortgage”.

        We don’t know but clearly it was unbalanced enough that they broke up over it. If I was dating someone and I wanted to protect myself (and my kid) financially and they had a hissy fit over it…. good riddance.

      • Northern Star November 17, 2017, 12:34 pm

        The LW provided no details that implied he was planning to live with her and pay nothing toward the mortgage or bills. Why would you assume that? Presumably he has a job, or he wouldn’t be able to afford rent on his current flat (or child support).

        And if he was indeed planning to be a mooch, he wouldn’t have dumped her. He would have tried pretty hard to convince her to change her mind. They had been dating for THREE YEARS. If he was a mooch, he would have been asking to move in loooooong before now.

        The signs point toward this guy having some integrity, to be honest—and he is right to move on, given the low opinion his former girlfriend has of him.

        She’s “sad” he moved on after she called him worthless. Please.

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        Kate B. November 17, 2017, 12:48 pm

        I agree with Northern Star. I don’t see the guy as being a deadbeat. I see him as someone doing the best he can with the resources he has. For all we know, he’s paying his two ex-wives alimony or paying for his kids’ education. Or, maybe the divorces left him with debt he’s trying to pay down. He probably doesn’t have a lot of disposable income. If he wanted the LW for her money or her home, he wouldn’t have left. He’d have stayed and tried to manipulate his way in. She doesn’t say anything about that.

      • dinoceros November 17, 2017, 12:57 pm

        I think she’s unsure if he’s a moocher or not and doesn’t want to find herself in a situation where she’s covering all the bills or whatever. Sure, there’s no financial liability, but moving in together signifies a deeper commitment and if she doesn’t trust him not to mooch, it’s not a good time to commit.

      • Northern Star November 17, 2017, 2:18 pm

        And if, after three years, you don’t trust your boyfriend not to steal your kid’s inheritance—don’t be surprised if he decides to move on and find someone who DOES think he’s a quality person.

        I wouldn’t stay with someone who thought I was a lazy mooch and potential thief.

  • dinoceros November 17, 2017, 11:52 am

    LW1: You don’t. Since it’s not possible to go back and time and leave him when you realized that he didn’t respect you or your marriage, then do it now.

    LW2: I don’t think you two are right for each other. You, for whatever reason, believe he’s a moocher. Either he is or you just don’t trust him. Neither reason is a good one to stay together.

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    Kate B. November 17, 2017, 12:13 pm

    LW1: Dump the husband and dump the sister while you’re at it. They are both terrible people and you are better off without them.
    LW2: A woman is always smart to protect her individual assets, but you could have handled it a little better. Maybe he didn’t own anything, but divorce is expensive. So are four kids. Any money he has probably goes elsewhere. Money isn’t the only thing someone can bring to the table. He must’ve had some value to you or you wouldn’t have been seeing him for three years. If you want to make sure your son is taken care of, a good lawyer can see to that. There are plenty of people whose children don’t suffer because their parents are in a relationship.

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  • Fyodor November 17, 2017, 5:12 pm

    Maybe I misread something, but I don’t know why everyone assumed that he was planning to mooch off of her, wasn’t planning to pay bills, etc. It doesn’t say that he’s unemployed and he’s presumably paying his own rent now. All I see is that he wanted to move in with her, she told him that he “didn’t bring anything to the table,”( presumably referring to her previous sentence about how he doesn’t own anything).

    I’d break up with her too. Even if she hadn’t given such an obnoxious reason, if someone wants to progress and the other doesn’t, usually the relationship ends.

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