Dear Abby: Controlling ex is trying to destroy my new relationship

DEAR ABBY: I was married to a jealous, controlling man for almost 20 years. “Pete” was emotionally abusive, which I didn’t really notice because I’m not confrontational. I would just try to make him happy and ignore his controlling behavior. Towards the end of our marriage I realized how isolated I had become. I had pushed most of my friends and family away. They didn’t want to visit because of Pete’s negative attitude.

Our daughter contracted a disease in her teens that required 24-hour care. Her illness didn’t necessarily upset him; what upset him is the attention she would need in the future. He’d say things like, “She’s ruining our pension. I was looking forward to having you to myself and not having to deal with anyone.” This was when I realized how controlling he was. It felt like I was wearing a blindfold and then I could finally see. filed for divorce.

A year later, I started meeting an old friend whom I will call “Darren,” someone my husband had often accused me of cheating on. (He did that with every man I knew.) I really like Darren and see a future with him. He treats my daughter wonderfully and doesn’t mind that she has to come along when we go out.

Pete now says that if I go out with Darren, that’s proof that I cheated on him. I don’t want my ex to think for one minute that our marriage ended because I cheated, because it’s not true. So I broke up with Darren because I refuse to accept being labeled the person who destroyed my marriage. What would you do? — KEEPING THE STORY STRAIGHT

BEST HOLDER: What would I do? I would, once and for all, stop allowing my ex to control me! I would call Darren and talk to him about why I ended the relationship and ask him if he would consider picking up where the two of us left off. If he’s willing, I’d keep going. But if he isn’t, I would look for a licensed psychotherapist who could give me the tools to avoid my ex’s manipulations in the future.

DEAR ABBY: My partner and I have a great relationship, but there is a point of contention that we cannot resolve. I like a firm mattress. She likes a soft mattress. We bought an adjustable bed so we could all adjust the settings to our desired comfort level.

It’s been a month now and I hate the new mattress. I just can’t feel comfortable. It’s so bad that I sleep in another room to get a good night’s sleep. As you can imagine sleeping separately created anxiety between us, and it was confusing and stressful for our animals. How do you propose that we resolve this in a way that restores peace in our relationship? — YAWNING IN ARIZONA

BEST YAWN: Visit the store where you bought that adjustable bed and see if you need a few lessons on how to operate the mattress correctly. (You won’t be the first, trust me on that.) If your discomfort persists, sell the bed and replace it with two twin or queen mattresses so that you and your partner can at least share the same room.

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.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order How to Be Popular. Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, PO Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling charges are included in the price.)

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