Live-in boyfriend shames wife for being a mother

Dear Abby,

I am a divorced mother of two teenagers. I’ve been seeing my friend ‘Sean’ for almost five years and when the pandemic started he moved in with us. I’m supposed to share custody of my teens with their father every other week. However, his job requires travel and the kids are with me more often than not, with little to no notice. They also reach an age where they don’t always want to see their father.

This has caused some tension with my friend. He feels like we’ll never have “alone time” again. He then withholds affection from me, as if I did something wrong by having my children. Since he moved here, our sex life has almost disappeared. He refuses to be intimate when the kids are home, but he hasn’t made the most of the “alone time” we do have when the kids aren’t around. He usually goes to bed early, without even giving a goodnight kiss. Or he goes out on weekends and not me.

I’ve been cheated on in the past and my insecurities are starting to rear their ugly heads. I don’t know how to talk to him because he gets defensive and pushes all the issues I bring up. I don’t feel safe sharing my pain with him, let alone sharing my anger at him for trying to make me feel bad for being a mom. I lose hope and feel myself shut down. How can I approach him in such a way that he doesn’t get defensive?

— Fighting a lost battle

There are red flags all over your letter. You will be an active mom until your kids are at least 18. That this man moves in with you and gives you heartburn about your responsibilities is terrible. You say your sex life is over, and if you bring up other important issues, he’ll kick your ass. That doesn’t bode well for a healthy future.

His defensiveness when you try to have a mature conversation with him isn’t your real problem. Getting him out of your house and your life before he wastes any more of your time is what you need to focus on.

Dear Abby,

What is proper etiquette when attending an event and sitting at a table with more than six people? I think it’s rude to talk to someone on the other side of the table. Talking to a person next to you is acceptable. Talking to someone on the other side of the table is rude because the other guests have to stop talking to the person sitting next to them and are forced to listen to your conversation. It’s getting more and more annoying to see this happen. What do you think?

— Forced to listen

While that rule of etiquette may have been true in Edwardian times, table etiquette is not so rigid today. While it is of course desirable to talk to the guests sitting next to you, unless communicating with someone on the other side of the table requires someone to yell – which would be distracting and disruptive – I don’t see anything rude about it.

Dear Abby

Dear Abby

Dear Abby was written by Abigail Van Buren, aka Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or PO Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

This article originally appeared in The Providence Journal: Dear Abby: Live-in boyfriend shames wife for being a mom

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