DEAR ABBY: For the past three years I've been with a man I believe is the love of my life. Early on, he admitted to a porn addiction that has plagued him his entire life and sabotaged past relationships. With my support, he began his first real attempt at recovery, which included a team of mental health practitioners.
His progress over the past three years, while not linear, has been tremendous. He's an entirely different person. I would describe our relationship as 90% joyful, 10% agony (he has had four brief relapses, during which he has said incredibly hurtful things to me). I agree the cycle must be broken, and only he can do it.
A week ago, he had a difficult relapse and ended our relationship. His therapist feels he needs to be on his own to focus on recovery. While I am devastated, I agree. But I can't understand why he's giving up on us forever and making big decisions like getting off the mortgage on the house we bought less than two years ago. He swears it has nothing to do with me, and that if it weren't for this addiction, he would spend the rest of his life with me.
If his plan is to live alone, be single or celibate, and focus on recovery, why wouldn't he also pause on major financial decisions? Why is he so completely done when there is clearly hope for recovery and reconciliation? -- BROKEN-HEARTED IN OREGON
DEAR BROKEN-HEARTED: You have involved yourself with someone who has a terrible track record when it comes to relationships. Whatever his plans for the future may be, he does not want a committed relationship with you, nor does he want the financial responsibility and the tie to you that the house represents, which is why he wants off the mortgage. It is now time for you to start looking after your own needs and goals. If you stay busy and don't isolate yourself, it will lessen the pain you are feeling.
DEAR ABBY: My brother divorced his first wife 10 years ago. Since then, he has married a wonderful woman my family adores. The problem is, my ex-sister-in-law insists on showing up for family events, which makes these celebrations extremely awkward. Even her children recognize how uncomfortable her presence makes everyone.
I don't mind being the "bad guy" and telling her that she's no longer welcome at family events, but I don't want to cause an ugly scene. How can I diplomatically (but firmly) tell her to stay away? Any suggestions would be appreciated. -- FLUMMOXED IN PHILADELPHIA
DEAR FLUMMOXED: What a sad situation. Your BROTHER, not you, should deliver the message to his ex, well before she shows up at your next family event. He should inform her that when she shows up uninvited, her presence makes everyone uncomfortable, and it would be best that she not impose again. You could lessen the hurt by occasionally seeing her separately, depending upon the circumstances of the divorce.