Dear Carolyn: While separated from our spouses, a very good friend supported me and I supported him. We fell in love.
Four years later, I am mostly content and divorced; he is, well, not. I am struggling with what to do.
I get your advice about ultimatums. I have no plans to give him one, but I think warning him that I don’t plan on continuing to be with someone who is married comes very close.
I gave him time because children are involved, and he gave me a timeline that has come and gone.
I accept that he loves me and doesn’t want to lose me; at that same time, he seemingly isn’t ready for a divorce.
Any ideas? I’m afraid that leaving will force his hand; plus, it would be very difficult to do. — Waiting
Ultimatums are a lousy strategy because they shift responsibility for your choices onto someone else.
You want, always, to be the one who acts. Even if it’s in response to someone else — and what else is there, arguably, given that no one lives in a vacuum — frame it as a choice made for yourself based on the facts on hand.
In this case, you have these facts: He loves you; he is still married; he has blown off his own promised timeline.
Those facts present you with two active choices: Keep waiting, or stop waiting.
Which are you ready for? Think about it as much as you need — then choose and take the appropriate action. You don’t “force” anyone’s anything by doing what you need to do.
Dear Carolyn: My husband’s college roommate is one of our favorite people, but his wife is not. She’s super-competitive.
After being at our home, she bought the same dog and car that we have and a ring just like one I have.
We moved away years ago; when we visit, our time together is consumed by stories about her. We have tried asking her husband about his work, his vacation and other things, but she jumps in.
We hope to move back someday, and she is part of a circle of friends we see regularly. Is there any way we can keep him as a friend and lose her? — Lose Her
If you want him, then you get her. You’re not powerless, though.
You can’t trademark your dog, but you can say, kindly, when she speaks for her husband, “Thanks, Rebecca, but I was hoping to hear it from Max.”
This “competitiveness,” by the way, seems but a symptom, of a weak sense of self and worth. So use your agency wisely. Ignore the appropriations (minor nuisance), wean yourselves off subtlety in a bid to curb her oversharing and try taking specific interest in her. She seems more awkward and sad than evil.
Write to Carolyn Hax — whose column appears on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays — at email@example.com.