What To Do About “Old” Kids
Dear Margo: My girlfriend was in one other serious relationship aside from ours. It lasted three years and ended three years before ours began. She keeps in touch with the ex because they work together a few days a week, and also my girlfriend was close to the ex’s three young children. (They all lived together for most of the three years.) While they don’t spend time together outside of work, once every few months she attends some of the kids’ events (school plays, graduations, soccer games, etc.). I’m not threatened by this, because I have no doubts about the innocent nature of these interactions. Also, the ex is established in a new, seemingly serious relationship.
The other day, my girlfriend wanted to go to a school awards ceremony for one of the kids and wanted me to go with her and then to dinner with everyone afterward. I felt uncomfortable with this (and also had no interest), so I declined, which upset her. She thinks it’s unfair that I would make her “compartmentalize” her life by not integrating myself into this other group.
I want to be supportive, but I don’t want to hang out like a big happy family. We’re hoping to start our own family after getting married, and I honestly would prefer that the kids from the past relationship were out of the picture (if it were up to me). These are not her kids, she has no financial or legal ties to them, and honestly, I wouldn’t expect that a few years in a surrogate parent role would entail an ongoing lifelong relationship. What do you think? — Wanting a Clean Slate
Dear Want: My opinion is that your girlfriend is a lovely human being to continue the friendship with the kids, especially because children feel loss and abandonment in a different way than adults do, and she clearly cares for them. I also think she should accede to your wishes about not wanting to be one big happy blended family. If you felt differently, that would be fine, but you don’t, so I think a workable compromise is that she continues as she has with “the old kids,” but that she do it on her own. — Margo, compassionately
The Hostess and the Shoes
Dear Margo: What is the best way to respond to hostesses who insist I remove my shoes upon entering their homes? My husband is significantly taller than I am, so I wear high heels most of the time, and certainly always for an evening out. Therefore, my pants are hemmed at an appropriate length for heels. When I am asked to remove those heels, I am then stepping on my pants. When I wear skirts, I am standing in my pantyhose with cold feet, anticipating a snag. I take great care to coordinate a full outfit, including accessories and shoes. How can I tell a hostess that I prefer to keep on my shoes? — Not a Barefoot Kind of Girl
Dear Not: You raise an interesting question. Usually, the remove-your-shoes girls have white carpets or are trying to live like the Japanese. My guess is that if you, like Bartleby the Scrivener, said, “I’d prefer not to,” you would get pushback … something on the order of, “But it’s a rule of the house.” I wonder whether anyone has ever done that and been told to leave. When you mention “hostesses,” are you telling me you have more than one friend who tries to relieve you of your shoes at a party? If you really can’t stand it, do not accept those invitations. Or … always wear a skirt, and put a pair of socks in your purse. — Margo, practically
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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dear-margo.html. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.
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