Mom questions renting a room to her ex-husband

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DEAR ABBY: My husband and I divorced because of another woman. I took it hard, but after a year or so, I was OK.

Fast forward to 2013: He shows up on my doorstep, needing food and shelter, so I took him in (he’s still the father of my children). Now I can’t get rid of him!

He’s trying to show me he’s changed. If I didn’t know him, I’d think he wasn’t the same man at all. I need to know if this is an OK situation for me to be in, because well-meaning friends and family tell me he won’t change; he’ll leave again. (I say, “As long as he abides by the terms of the divorce, so what!”)

I don’t care if he sees other people; he’s my EX. As far as I’m concerned, he’s just renting a room in my house. But I need to know — am I hurting the kids by letting him stay? He seems to get along better with them now than he ever did, and I’d be renting that room to someone else if it wasn’t him. As far as I’m concerned, better the devil you know than the one you don’t.

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Am I doing the right thing? And if so, how do I get well-meaning people to stop lecturing me? — LANDLADY IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR LANDLADY: I can’t see how your ex living in the house would hurt the children — unless he suddenly disappears from their lives again. His presence there, even as “only a renter,” may lessen your chances of finding a serious romance again, because few if any men welcome courting a woman under these circumstances.

However, if you are happy with things just as they are, then when the unwelcome lectures start, all you have to do is tell the well-meaning lecturers that you know what you’re doing and to please pipe down. The arrangement you have with your ex may work better for both of you than the marriage did because it appears he is always on his best behavior.

DEAR ABBY: I’m pregnant with my first baby. I use Facebook to update my family in another country about my pregnancy and the little milestones that have happened. But when I do, my cousin “Rita” takes it upon herself to turn every status I post into something about her and her daughter. I feel like she’s trying to one-up me or divert attention away from my child. We come from a big, tight-knit family and until now, her daughter was the baby of the family.

Rita has been doing this for months now, and I’m starting to get annoyed. How can I tell her politely to please stop stealing my thunder and turning everything into something about her? — ANNOYED IN THE WEST

DEAR ANNOYED: Whether she’s doing it consciously or not, it does appear that Cousin Rita is competitive with you. It would be interesting to know if she has always been this way.

You can’t stop her from competing, but you can develop a sense of humor where she’s concerned. Her bids for attention are really rather sad, and once your baby arrives, he or she will be the baby of the family — until Rita becomes pregnant again, that is. (I’m tempted to start the countdown now.)

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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