Life Advice



Tales from the Front: What to Save, What to Keep

Cheryl Lavin on

Nobody bothers to fix things anymore. When they break, we toss them. Your computer is acting funky? Get a new one. Your washing machine is doing the cha-cha? Get a new one. Your TV is on the fritz? Get a new one before the Super Bowl or "Curb Your Enthusiasm" returns.

But what about your family? If it's broke, do you repair it or replace it?

ELIZABETH: Megan, one of my best friends, was having serious problems in her marriage. I urged her to go to counseling with her husband or just leave him. Instead, she took the route of a secret affair. I wasn't supposed to tell anybody. To the rest of the world, she was still playing happy wife. Eventually she asked her husband for a divorce, which went through in record time. She divorced in mid-November. The next thing I knew, I was getting a Christmas card with a picture of her, her daughter and her new husband, with the words, "Merry Christmas from the O'Briens."

"Who are the O'Briens?" her friends demanded. I, at least, knew she'd gotten divorced, although she hadn't told me about her lightening-speed remarriage. None of her other friends had had any idea she had even been unhappy in her first marriage, and they didn't appreciate the surprise Christmas card.

To make matters worse, Megan had converted to Judaism for her first husband. Now it seemed she had not only changed one husband for another, seemingly overnight, but also had changed religions just as fast.

I tried to call Megan to find out what was up with her, but she wouldn't take my calls and moved out of the area shortly afterward.

ANNA: I'm 65 and have diabetes. My legs are numb from my knees down, and I walk with a cane or use a scooter. I have almost no feeling in my fingers and hands. I went from being a very good administrative assistant who could type 120 words per minute to someone who's lucky if she can get 50 words out and be able to read them.


On April Fools' Day, of all days, my husband sat me down and said he had something "important" to tell me. He said, "I can't be married anymore." I literally almost had a heart attack. The previous March, I had to have an angiogram because of heart palpitations, so I was lucky nothing serious happened.

When he left, we'd been married 15 years and were living in a house that was built in 1969 and had become a money pit. There were a great many things that needed to be redone, replaced and brought up to date before we could sell it. It's taken me 16 months, but the house is finally up for sale. We'll take a loss because of the money we spent getting it ready.

Now, who got stuck with all this? Me! He wasn't here to contend with a contractor who showed up only when he felt like it. He didn't spend half his time at Home Depot. He's not dealing with the realtor. The only thing he's concerned about is the sale.

In the divorce papers he wrote, "Even though the respondent is handicapped, she still has an income." That's right. My income is my $1,300 a month Social Security benefits.


Got a problem? Send it, along with your questions and rants, to And check out my new e-book, "Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front."



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