There's no way to end ignorant judgments
Dear Annie: After 30 years of marriage, I have filed for divorce. It has been a tumultuous marriage, filled with continuous emotional, verbal and sometimes physical abuse. With the loving support of close friends and a good counselor, I have finally found the strength to leave. Though the divorce process is devastating, I am looking forward to a new life.
The problem I have is the reaction of our friends and family. Even though I have lived with the abuse for years, it always has been behind closed doors. I put up a good front, too proud and ashamed to let others know. My husband is perceived to be the most wonderful, caring man, but he is a closet abuser, and now I am being made to look like an ungrateful, back-stabbing wife.
I am not listing abuse as the reason for divorce (we have agreed upon "irretrievable breakdown"), and I am only asking for a fair share of our household, yet I have been accused of emasculating my husband. I have lost 30-year friendships in this ordeal. His family will no longer talk to me.
There are two sides to every story. How can I get these people to stop passing judgment without knowing the whole truth? Name and Location Withheld
Dear Friend: You can't. Even if you were to publicize the whole sordid story, you may not be believed. Keep your chin up, behave like a person of integrity, and eventually, your true friends will show themselves. You needn't worry about the others.
Dear Annie: A friend of ours recently had a quickie wedding at the courthouse with just immediate family present. My husband and I were invited to attend a dinner reception at a restaurant after the ceremony. When we arrived, we discovered that the dinner included only the bride, groom, her parents and two other relatives.
When the bill came, it was placed between my husband and the groom. It became very apparent that they expected my husband to pay this quite expensive tab. At that point, my husband turned to the bride's father and politely asked if he would like to split it down the middle. The bride's father said that wouldn't be possible since he didn't bring any cash. My husband stated a little more firmly that surely the restaurant accepted credit cards, and finally, the bride's father agreed to split the bill.
My husband and I both feel taken advantage of by our friends. We gave a generous gift and had no idea they expected the reception to be on us. We did not even receive a thank you from any of them. How should we have handled this? Feeling Slighted in Cleveland
Dear Cleveland: Well, how sweet. We assume the "hosts" of this event were supposedly the parents of the bride. One of them should have grabbed that check before you even saw it. You were an invited guest, for heaven's sake, and it was beyond rude for them to ambush you like that. In the future, you might want to politely decline their dinner invitations, or at least leave your wallet at home.
Dear Annie: Please tell "Heartbroken," whose mother-in-law called her an "outlaw," to ease up. I have five sons-in-law and two daughters-in-law, and we all love it when the whole family is together for a special occasion. Recently, at a milestone birthday celebration, we had a photographer taking formal photos, and the "Outlaws" insisted on having a picture taken of all of them together. It was done with lots of love. In my husband's family, we in-laws called ourselves "The Other Side of the Family," and we've always gotten along very well indeed. She should try it. Loving It in Riverside, Calif.
Dear Riverside: We're amazed at how many "outlaws" revel in their self-created terms. Good for you.
XE-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie's Mailbox™, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.