Life Advice



Ask Amy: A fresh divorce brings on new questions

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My husband’s brother and his wife announced about a year ago that they had irreconcilable differences; they divorced after a long and loveless marriage.

To be honest we have no idea why they stayed together as long as they did.

About a month later, my brother-in-law introduced us to his new girlfriend.

I was initially very happy that he had found someone new who really seemed to fit into the family dynamic better than his ex.

But then his new girlfriend reached out on Facebook. I accepted her friend request and was trying to get to know her by looking at her past posts.

That’s when I realized that she and my brother-in-law had been in a relationship for at least five years.

I haven't mentioned this to anyone else in the family except for my husband.

I was raised with a strong belief in the sanctity of marriage, and I unfortunately find their infidelity and lack of shame about it to be disturbing.

I try not to let this knowledge get in my way of being friendly with them, but it's always sitting in the back of my mind, and I've found myself avoiding them so I don't have to think about it.

Do you have any suggestions on what I can do to keep this relationship friendly? I don't want to damage my husband's family dynamic.

– Don’t Want to be Judgmental

Dear Judgmental: No one knows what goes on in another couple’s marriage, but my observation is that even long and loveless marriages can hang on until another potential partner enters the scene, which often serves as the impetus for the couple to finally separate.

Generally, when a separated or very recently divorced person introduces another partner to the family very quickly after parting with the spouse, it’s a sign that the new person has been on the scene for a while.

Your brother-in-law and his former wife might have had an understanding or were negotiating about how to handle their marriage and outside relationships prior to their divorce.

The girlfriend’s public posts indicate that there is an overall lack of shame regarding the relationship, and whether this is because they are actually shameless or perhaps reacting to a much more complicated personal situation remains to be seen. It is really none of your business, but if you’re curious, you could ask – but I suggest you work hard to keep your harsher judgment in check.

Dear Amy: I have two friends, both of whom live across the country, who like to call me for extended conversations.

Both of these people talk nonstop and miraculously seem to have evolved out of the need for air, because I spend these calls waiting for a tiny pause that would allow me to blurt out that I have to go.

When I imagine telling them that I really don't like talking on the phone, I feel sure they will feel insulted.


As it is, I only answer every third or so call, but it's still too much.

Any ideas for how I can end these calls without sparking animosity?

– Desperate Phone Hostage

Dear Hostage: “I have to be honest – I don’t take all of your calls because I don’t really like talking on the phone” is describing a personal preference, not delivering an insult.

And – the way you describe these encounters as a hostage situation makes these people seem less like actual friends and more like bored and boring cold-calling phone bots.

In short, if you want a monologue, you can watch Jimmy Kimmel. And even he comes up for air.

If you dodge a call, you could use texting (or email) to contact them: “I see you called. What’s up?”

This might unleash a new wave of annoyance, but that would be another challenge for another day.

Dear Amy: I thought your response to “Basically a Single Parent,” was, basically, awful. This father of two young children is addicted to his phone screen, and instead of telling him to pay attention to his kids, you suggest that he listen to music?!

– Disappointed

Dear Disappointed: Other readers agree with you, and yes I also agree that the core issue is that this father was so disengaged with his very young children.

However, I raised children with the help of Broadway cast albums and NPR.

As long as your hands are free and you’re not too distracted, I think it’s fine to have some audio going in the background.


(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

©2023 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



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