Ask Amy

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 11:45pm

DEAR AMY: Your response to the thoughtful letter about adultery in our society included your surprisingly judgmental comments on divorce, and how people are "only kidding themselves" if they think such actions won't affect the children. I agree.

But you failed to point out that deciding against divorce can also adversely affect children.

In most cases, children of unhappily married couples know the marriage is shot and are subject to terrific damage if the parents "stay together for the sake of the children." I know, because at age 9, I was relieved when my warring, miserable, viciously angry parents divorced.

In fact, they became far better parents afterward.

The fact that you are a divorced parent left you looking rather hypocritical. Not all divorces are products of infidelity, and many are necessary for the sake of everyone involved, including the children.

You need to set the record straight.

—Perplexed

DEAR PERPLEXED: I'm a divorced mother and the daughter of a divorce. Because there was no warring involved in either relationship, I was spared what you went through as a child.

If I had been asked, I would have said I didn't want either divorce to happen, but no one asked me.

Sometimes children may benefit from divorce—as you point out—because two separate and stable relationships are better than a messy, angry and chaotic home life. But kids are always affected by their parents' actions.

Parents should try harder to stay together and work to improve their relationship for the sake of the children.

Parents tend to believe that their kids have a great stake in the parents' personal happiness, but I don't think that's necessarily true. Kids want their own lives to be stable, first and foremost.


DEAR AMY:
I have been divorced for several months, and have found a new love who is a fantastic person. The only issue I have with her is that she loves dogs more than she loves people.

I am the only man in her life who has accepted this, she says, but it does bother me that she would put her own life, or the lives of others, in jeopardy to save a dog.

I like animals, but she seems to have gone off the deep end. I don't want to interfere with her passions, but there does need to be some reality check for the two of us regarding how much time she spends saving dogs.

I'm sure I have quirks, too, but I am trying to be selfless in all of this.

Please advise.

—J

DEAR J: The time to be selfless is when you're lifting a 90-pound homeless canine into your car to rescue it.

When choosing a life partner, being selfless is pretty much beside the point. In fact, this is the time to be self-centered.

You owe it to yourself and to your girlfriend to be honest and candid about what you are like as a person, what you prefer in a partner and what you can tolerate when it comes to someone's obsessions.

Your girlfriend's passion for animals will not change—it may even intensify. If this is a passion you can imagine tolerating—or better yet, sharing—then you are a match made in doggy heaven. Otherwise, be honest with yourself and find someone better suited to you, so that she can do the same.


DEAR AMY: Thank you for your response to "Bothered Friend," who was wondering how to help her friend stop obsessing over her divorce.

I have for several years been a member of a professional support group, in which a part of our function is helping one another turn loose after losses.

I don't know whether you're old enough to be an Eagles fan, but if so, you may know one of their songs that became our anthem — and I hope you will give it another listen.

"Get Over It"

—Dr. Ralph W. Milligan

DEAR DR. MILLGAN: I'm old enough to remember the Eagles, a group I first listened to on records, which also provide a handy metaphor for anyone stuck in a groove.

"All this whinin' and cryin' and pitchin' a fit.

Get over it, get over it."

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