Dear Amy: My husband had a long first marriage. He got divorced two years ago, and we started dating shortly after.
We have been married for over a year now, and we have a newborn daughter.
The problem is that my husband talks to and communicates all the time with his ex.
I confronted him about this and told him I was not confident about his choice to do that. He said that she was a very important part of his life and that I need to wise up.
He said he has a lot of memories with her, and honestly, I understand that part, but after almost two years I don't think this should continue. What should I do?
Amy says: Even if your concerns were not valid (and I think they are), it is disrespectful for your husband to respond to your honesty by telling you to "wise up."
You are wise enough to see his relationship with his ex-wife as an encroachment on your marriage. Your husband simply does not get to tell you what to think or how to feel.
Nor can you force him to exit from a relationship with his ex that he seems determined to continue.
What you both must do is find respectful ways to communicate and to engage in behavior that grows and strengthens your young marriage. You owe it to yourselves and, of course, to your child.
Many ex-spouses find positive ways to maintain a friendship, but if he hasn't successfully emotionally separated from his ex, then she is entangled in your relationship. Simply put, both you and your husband need to put one another at the center of your relationship-world.
You will gain insight into marriage's trickier dynamics by reading John Gottman and co-author Nan Silver's "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide From the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert" (2015, Harmony). Read it and discuss some of these principles with your husband. He should be inspired to read it, too.
Gottman's research reveals that successful couples create indelible relationship imprints, and turn toward one another (not their exes) to tackle life's challenges.
Friendly, not friends
Dear Amy: My neighbor "Sara" and I are not friends, but we are friendly, or so I thought.
We make small talk when we see each other, usually about our kids, our town, etc. Sometimes Sara speaks first, other times it's me.
Sara and I have a few mutual friends on social media, so I sent her a friend request. She ignored it.
Her Facebook page is very public and she posts stuff often. I feel like asking her, "Hey, what gives?"
Should I confront her regarding this slight, or should I let it go?
Amy says: If you never, ever want to be connected with your neighbor on social media, then definitely confront her about it.
She may use social media differently than you do, filtering out people who post political content or who follow pages she disagrees with. She may like you as a neighbor, but not want you to know the particulars about her life.
Many people keep "friend requests" in a queue and only click through requests periodically.
Or — possibly "Sara" is happy to chat with you over the backyard fence, but is otherwise not that interested in you. There is nothing wrong with this. It is the way of the world. In some ways, maintaining a cordial bit of friendly distance is the ideal situation for neighbors.
Continue to be personally friendly toward your neighbor, stop Facebook stalking her and — yes — let it go.
Send questions to Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.