Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bite your tongue, or you'll drive your kids to wicked stepmom

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DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I have a rental cottage on the same lake with my ex-husband, who got our old cottage in the divorce settlement. He has brought his new woman down to the lake and they are always buzzing around in the boat. She is older than him and it's obscene how she tries to act like a young woman. My young kids say she's "really nice" and it's all I can do not to vomit. When he picks the children up at my dock for a few days with him and her, I just want to give her a push right off our dock. She is so phoney nice to me she makes me sick and she's always giving gifts to the kids. They think she's great and I wish they hated her. What if they end up loving her more than me? -- Panicked Mom, Lake of the Woods

Dear Panicked: For well-adjusted children and many adults, their love for family members can simply expand with the people added to it. Your kids will love you more and more as they grow, and it won't make any difference to that amount even if they love their stepmother at the same time. She gets other love from them, not the blood-bonded love they feel for you. What will make your kids think less of you is showing a nasty side, towards this stepmom, who is good to them. So, keep it brief and pleasant with her when they dock to pick up the children.

This is your time off, so look forward to it and get it underway as soon as they are gone. Have the kids bags already and everything ready to go and make sure they fasten their life jackets, if it looks like they're not planning to. Then, you can stop worrying and your work with them is over. Say good-bye and go back to the cabin as they're backing the boat out. It's not necessary to stand on the dock and wave bye-bye to the new couple and your kids. There are limits; you don't have to be sweet and, by the way, you should have other things to do, like greeting new guests in an hour, so you won't be lonely and feeling sorry for yourself.

Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I'm a jealous man, I admit it. I promised myself I would never fall in love again, because then it's just torture for me. But, now I have fallen in love with a woman who works at my mostly male office, and I see her every day. It kills me when she's flirting with all the other men. I see the way she looks at them when she talks to them. And she dresses like a movie star, like she's trying to get a date every single day.

I always think I should meet her in the coffee room and ask her out, but when I try to do it, she's always in there drinking coffee and talking with someone else, blinking her eyes at them, wearing a trampy short skirt. And it kills me! I worry because she is just another flirt and she will break my heart. So I find ways to pick little fights with her because I don't want her to get close.

Today she got so angry at me, she asked that her desk be moved to the other side of the room -- away from me -- and the office manager let her do it. Then the manager had "a word" with me and told me I had better behave myself and this had better not happen again. She talked to me like I was a stupid boy in high school. What should I do? -- Tortured Already, Downtown

Dear Tortured: When you find yourself stuck in a bad pattern of behaviour, like succumbing to jealousy before you even ask a woman for a date, you need help. You're putting down this woman in a way that is worrisome, because you don't have the nerve to speak with her and ask her out. Unreasonable unprovoked jealousy like this springs from deep insecurity -- a feeling you're not good enough to compete with others, to catch and hold an attractive person's interest. None of that is her fault. She is not a bad person for being friendly to others in the workplace. You find it convenient to interpret her friendliness in speaking to other men as inappropriate flirting when that's exactly what you'd like to do with her.

It's time to get some professional help from a psychologist to help you work out those unworthy and bitter feelings. Once you spend some months changing that -- and it can be done -- you will stop suffering, and be able to behave towards women in a normal way.

Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: This is in response to the woman with the bear problem. I did a 10,000-km car trip to the Yukon and back. We camped there and back with a three-year-old. In the Yukon, there is a black bear every 50 feet when you are driving. Most nights, we were well sniffed in the tent. Never a problem with all the food in the truck. They could care less about you. If they can't find your food, they move on. -- Not a Problem, Winnipeg

Dear Not a Problem: "Well sniffed in the tent?" Yikes! That would be a problem for most people, even if the food were sealed and 50 metres away from where you lay sleeping, in a locked vehicle.

Please send your questions or comments c/o lovecoach@hotmail.com or mail letters to Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 13, 2014 A15

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