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Dear Robin: Should I tattle on my ex-wife?

Friday, October 03, 2014


Photo credit: iStock

 What's your problem? Write to Robin at [email protected]

Dear Robin, 

My ex-wife and I have been divorced for three years and we have a fairly decent relationship in which we co-parent our two children and try to be respectful of each other while basically staying out of each other's lives, which can be tough in a city the size of Portland.

The marriage ended due to infidelity (hers) and lack of interest in repairing the damage (both of ours).  I was pretty sure I was "over" it all until I heard some rumors she is sleeping with a very close friend and former fraternity brother of mine. That really angered me so I asked around and apparently it's true. Did I mention he's married with a child?

I want to confront him directly and tell his wife. My girlfriend of nine months suggests I do nothing. I assure you I have no love for my ex, but this is just plain wrong and she is setting a bad example for our kids.



Dear Jeremy,

Pretend you are stuck in a room that is on fire.  Now stop, drop and roll.
In other words:
STOP worrying about who your ex-wife is sleeping with;
DROP your friend because he's an a-hole, along with any plans to expose the affair;

and ROLL on down the road with your new lady. Maybe.

A quick aside is in order: You don't know if this rumor is true. You live in Portland, a city that lives and breathes upon the vapid fumes of gossip, innuendo and speculative conclusion-jumping. Unless you have come across these two actually engaged in the Parallel Parking of Love Act, you can't say for certain they are having an affair.

After all, gossip is hearing something we like about someone we don't and thus commands our full attention and faith in its veracity.
Let's assume you are correct and your former frat brother is dumpster diving in your old garbage can for your divorce leftovers. While I understand your compulsion towards sharing this information with his wife and confronting him about it, I always suggest to people in a similar position to analyze not just what they are about to do, but why, plus the possible outcome.

The "what" is obvious: you want to tattle. Let's not mistakenly claim the moral high ground and call it anything but that, OK? It's the "why" I am more curious about.
You claim to be "over" the divorce and to have no love for your ex-wife, and yet you are reacting to this news in a rather proprietary way. I'm not sure if that's because she showed such indifference towards your feelings by choosing to do the deed with your good friend or if you are simply distressed that she is doing the deed with anyone at all.

The potential outcome of your tattling is you could help bring your friend's family into the divorce industrial complex, not to mention anger the mother of your children to a fairly extensive degree. If you can't think about the other family, think of your own, and what suddenly being at war with your kids' mother will do to them.

I'd keep your lips zipped and do some deeper thinking on whether you are really over your ex-wife. You may have moved on with a new girlfriend, but your obsession over who is parking in your wife's garage, as it were, indicates otherwise.

Dear Robin,

I am getting married next year and I just noticed a really annoying habit that my fiancé has. Whenever we get ready to go somewhere and I am all dressed up, he never compliments me. He is loving, loyal, kind and smart, but very stingy with compliments about my looks.

I always tell him how great he looks and I take a lot of interest in his clothes and appearance, but I swear he wouldn't notice the difference if I appeared in front of him in a burlap sack with my hair unbrushed or a designer gown with my hair and face done up.

I don't want to fish for compliments, but this is starting to really annoy me. How do I get him to praise my appearance without asking him to?


Dear Insecure,

You don't sound insecure to me at all, because you never gave even a fleeting thought to the chance that your future ex-husband might not care that much for your appearance. Since I truly am insecure, that would be the first arrow out of my quiver.
In addition, this isn't "an annoying habit," as you put it.  It's a lack of communication issue, whether he is negligent in honestly complimenting your looks or telling you that unfortunately, that dress DOES make your ass look fat.

Of course, it could be a bit of both. We all have our good days and our bad days.

My advice is that you simply tell him how this makes you feel and ask him if you are going in the wrong direction with your aesthetic. It's up to you to decide what to do if he doesn't care for your "look," but I think it's nice that it doesn't seem to matter to him.

Remember, you described him as "loving, loyal, kind and smart."

It sounds to me like you are complaining about winning the lottery because the winning ticket is accompanied by taxes. Appreciate the wonderful qualities in this guy, tell him you'd like a little "heyyyyyy" every once in a while, but most important, give yourself your own compliments.
As for the compliments received when we fish for them, I believe you will find them quite unpalatable. Much like an asked-for apology, compliments from a fishhook are as meaningless as our City Council's promises to repair the potholes without additional taxes.

Photo Credit to Andrea Doolittle

Former Portland lawyer and current Portland big mouth Robin DesCamp is the Velvet Sledgehammer of Truth, smashing through socially acceptable niceties to tell you how to live your life, and why. She blogs at www.askdescamp.com. Write to her at [email protected].

Banner Photo Credit: iStock


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