DEAR AMY: My wife and I have been together since 2010. Our marriage has never been perfect, but we have managed to stay together. We’ve both been married before and have kids from our first marriages. Last weekend, my wife’s ex-husband (father of her 14-year-old son) died — either from an overdose or by suicide. Instead of her son being distraught, he is taking the news well. His dad had been in prison multiple times and so had not been too big a part of his son’s life. My wife, however, is torn up over his death. She has said things such as, “I can’t believe he is gone; why would he do this to us?” She has been crying practically nonstop. This is taking a toll on our already challenging relationship. I feel as though she is still in love with him and is going to miss him. I feel the opposite way about my ex-wife (mother of my kids). If she died, I would be throwing a huge party. I’d celebrate, not cry. I can’t imagine anyone being this upset over someone they haven’t had a relationship with in 10 years. He has never paid child support, so there is no financial attachment. I can’t help feeling that because she is so upset about this death, that maybe there was more going on between them over the years, during the time we’ve been together. Am I wrong for thinking there is something wrong here?
Why the tears?
DEAR WHY: Yes, there is something wrong here. With you.
Perhaps your wife is crying and carrying on because she is basically begging you to notice and to talk to her about her feelings. Not for you to tell her how to feel, or expound on how you would celebrate your ex’s death (that’s nice, by the way), but to comfort her, and ask her to describe her own emotions, even if you don’t understand or share them.
Maybe she would emote a little less if you emoted a little more — or at all. Yes, she should probably dial down her emotions, while you should dial up your own.
The person you should both be paying close attention to is this 14-year-old boy. Kids this age never express sadness or loss the way adults do. They suppress their emotions and feel anger, confusion, depression, guilt — and sometimes relief (and then guilt about their relief) when an absent and/or troubled parent is out of their life forever.
Your stepson also has to deal with a mother who is grieving, weeping and feeling victimized and abandoned — and a stepfather who has decided to be judgmental and jealous.
I suggest you keep your eye on the ball and pay very close attention to this teenager. He needs to feel supported by the two adults in his life. Right now, he seems to have no one.
DEAR AMY: I’m a young woman. “Adam” was recently hired where I work, and my general manager told me to train him. Immediately there was a noticeable tension between us. Adam became extremely hostile after I corrected an action of his. He began to make derogatory statements to me and about me. I walked away and pulled my manager to the side. He told Adam that his behavior was extremely inappropriate. Adam was still rude. The next time I worked with him, he made statements regarding some of my coworkers and me. The environment at work has quickly deteriorated. I am moving and leaving this job in a few weeks, but should I still sit down with my manager and tell him what is going on and how I feel about it?
DEAR EMPLOYEE: Yes, have this talk. Do not drop the ball, just because you are leaving. Document these incidents involving “Adam” and inform your manager. One person with bad chemistry or bad behavior can quickly poison the entire work environment. Warning the manager about this employee would be your parting gift.
DEAR AMY: As an occasional reader of your advice column it’s obvious to me that most of the problems you handle, even the complex ones, are easily solved with better communication. If your troubled fans spent as much time talking to each other as writing to you, their problems would undoubtedly disappear almost as quickly as the stroke of their pen.
DEAR DEEP: I agree with you, but I’m conflicted, because people communicating with me instead of each other is basically the cornerstone of my business model.