Ask Amy

Sunday, June 13, 2010 at 11:45pm

DEAR AMY: I was dating a 55-year-old man. He was married for 20 years, has been legally separated for four years and divorced for six months.

He seems to think it is normal for him and his ex-wife to sleep together naked when they visit each other, which they do almost every month.

He told me that my objections reflected my narrow American view, and he said their relationship was not sexual.

He is Canadian.

Call me crazy, but that just did not seem to be normal behavior, regardless of cultural differences.

Your thoughts?

— Not Crazy?

DEAR CRAZY: I think it's safe to assume that most North Americans share somewhat similar cultural baselines.

I don't know if you've ever spent time in Canada, but our friends to the north aren't exactly known as swingers, if you know what I mean.

Your guy was accusing you of harboring "narrow American values" because you object to his sleeping with his ex-wife. So let's say he's telling the truth. Perhaps he really is merely resting his eyes while naked. Whatever they are up to, I would say it's highly irregular.

I'm going to go out on a limb and assert that this behavior in these circumstances would be objectionable to a majority of romantic partners in a majority of countries.

DEAR AMY: My 17-year-old daughter has a very nice boyfriend. He just told her that he has discovered his father is having an affair.

His dad had given him his old cell phone and forgot to delete his text messages. There were messages there to another woman.

The boyfriend has asked her opinion on what he should do. Should he confront his dad or tell his mom?

— Upset Mom

DEAR UPSET: When family members encounter issues or behavior that troubles them, they have the right to mention these behaviors and ask for an explanation.

This boy should speak with his father. As challenging as this conversation would be to initiate, he should do his best not to make any particular assumptions and should simply tell his father what he found and ask, "Dad — what gives?" If his father found similar text messages on the son's phone, he would no doubt ask for and expect a truthful explanation.

After that, he should let his father handle this issue.

DEAR AMY: I'm writing in response to "Jessica," who wants her father's wife (Jessica's stepmother) to fade into the background and not interact with or give gifts to her children.

My mother remarried a man whose children communicated their disdain of her and her lack of worth to them in myriad ways — never spoken, always implied.

They always had their children use her first name instead of a "grandparent" name, which reinforced her status as a not-quite member of the family.

My stepfather died in 2002, and my mother's second-class status among her stepchildren and step-grandchildren remains a deep source of pain for her.

I would ask Jessica to reconsider the love available to her own children, and even to herself, if she opens her heart to her father's wife.

— Caring in Colorado

DEAR CARING: I've received many responses to the letter from "Jessica," who didn't want her kids to use a "grandparent-type" name or interact much with her stepmother (who sounded like a very nice person).

Most readers agree that this choice is not only a source of pain for the adult, but also a loss for the children.

Send questions via e-mail to

Filed under: Lifestyles