Ask Amy

Monday, March 11, 2013 at 10:05pm

DEAR AMY: After almost 20 years of marriage (half of it miserable), I am just days away from a final decree. We kept the process civil, but we are not able to have a conversation. He suffers from a mood disorder, which destroyed our relationship and continues to make me very uncomfortable.

We have two children, ages 16 and 18, who live with me in the home we all shared for 16 years. The house belongs to me as part of the property division.

My ex picks up one or both kids for dinner every week. Usually I am home, but not always. Recently one of my kids vented his annoyance that "Dad snoops around the house" when I am not home.

It bothers me. If he would not wander around the house when I am here, he must know it's not appropriate. It feels like an invasion of privacy. He has a new home, and I would never walk farther than the foyer unless invited.

How should I handle this?

— Ex-Wife

DEAR EX: This is definitely a violation of your privacy, but (the way I read your query) it is also trespassing.

Your ex might create some wiggle room by telling himself that the kids have invited him inside, but your son has reported that this bothers him. Your son told you this because he thinks (correctly) that you need to know and because he can't police his father's access.

You shouldn't involve the kids, or expect them to control their father. Speak to your lawyer. Ask if she could send a letter to your ex and his attorney along the lines of: "Now that this divorce is nearly final, I'd like to remind you that neither party should enter the home of the other unless directly invited by the homeowner."

Do your utmost to be home when he comes over to avoid confusion about where the boundary is.

And change the locks, if you haven't already.

DEAR AMY: I am 76 years old and in the process of writing my life story (autobiography) to leave to my children and grandchildren.

When I was young, I was the victim of two incidents of sexual molestation: by a well-known church minister when I was 9 years old and by a high school principal when I was 13.

I have never disclosed this information to anyone and wonder if I should include this information now or keep it hidden. What would you do?

— Wondering

DEAR WONDERING: I think you are very brave — first to write to me, and second to contemplate telling your family. I can't imagine how difficult it must have been to hold this secret close for so many years.

Sexual abuse is a crime against a person's humanity, which hides (and thrives) in the shadows. The truth is the truth. I think the increasing awareness of (and willingness to discuss) this crime in our culture is a good thing, because every time someone comes forward, somebody else gains a teardrop of courage to disclose the truth as well.

If you'd like to talk to someone outside your family to help you make this decision, there are a number of options available. For instance, you can speak with a counselor, friend or someone from the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800-656-4673 and online.rainn.org) for confidential help 24/7.

DEAR AMY: Sometimes — often, really — I think you are an idiot. The letter from a 16-year-old who calls herself "Super Sad" is a case in point. This 16-year-old went to a guy's house, and you tell her she was raped because she had sex with him. She didn't say "no," and she didn't fight him off. What does she expect?

— Disgusted

DEAR DISGUSTED: In many states, a 16-year-old is not even legally considered old enough to consent to sex. And this girl did not consent. In fact, she stated out loud that she didn't want to. She reported that she was scared. Your response echoes many I have received, but this is really not debatable.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com. Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.

Filed under: Lifestyles
Tagged: ask amy

4 Comments on this post:

By: PKVol on 3/12/13 at 7:39

In response to Wondering, my advice would be to dislose the information, but don't wait until you are gone to make it known. I read R.A. Dickey's book where he disclosed a sexual abuser in his past. It seems real redemption happens after the disclosure.

By: NewYorker1 on 3/12/13 at 8:38

DEAR EX: See, this is why I don't believe in marriage. Purchase your own home with your own money. Keep you four spare tires (men) and keep them rotated and balanced girl. Life is so much better in this scenario.

DEAR WONDERING: Girl, nobody really cares honey.

DEAR DISGUSTED: My theory is, if the sex is GOOD, then it's not rape. If the sex is really really good, then I'm like when can you come back Boo?

By: tigre1 on 3/12/13 at 12:23

NewYorker1 needs to be educated.

By: NewYorker1 on 3/12/13 at 1:12

and tigre1 can kiss the darkest part of my behind.