Woman’s first marriage is over, but thoughts of her ex linger

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DEAR ABBY: I have a serious problem that’s consuming my life. I know people say you never really get over your first love, but I don’t know why after six years I still think about my ex on a daily basis.

Abby, I am happily married. My husband is the perfect man for me — understanding, sweet and patient. My ex, “Chad,” cheated on me with other women and recently married the one who effectively ended our relationship.

I thought I had moved on, but I can’t seem to stop thinking about him. My ex and I had a strong chemistry — not just a physical one — that my husband and I don’t. Somehow I wonder if, while my husband is the man of my dreams, Chad was my true soul mate.

I don’t want to jeopardize my marriage because of a lurking shadow from my past. How do I get over this and move on? — DESPERATE FOR ADVICE IN CALIFORNIA

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DEAR DESPERATE: Old habits are hard to break, and sometimes memories do linger to the point of being intrusive. While it can be frustrating, this is not an indication that someone who cheated on you multiple times was your “soul mate.” If you had been meant to be together forever, you would still be together. Consider yourself lucky that another woman freed you from that unhealthy relationship so you could find the man you married.

What you may miss is tension, drama, uncertainty and pain, and that’s not love. The sooner you quit idealizing your ex, the more clearly you will recognize this. And if the unwanted thoughts persist, consult a therapist because your problem is not unique.

DEAR ABBY: While I was growing up, my parents taught me and my siblings to always keep a year’s salary (pre-taxes) in a savings account that one never touches.

The problem is my bride and I feel that we’re ready to buy a home, although we don’t have enough in our joint savings to make a down payment. She feels I should use my savings to make the down payment.

I don’t feel right about it because this savings technique has saved me twice in my life. Once when I was a child and my parents lost their jobs, and again when I lost my job in the recession. Am I selfish for wanting to keep my savings off limits? — MR. SAVINGS

DEAR MR. SAVINGS: No. I happen to agree with your fiscally conservative philosophy. You learned from experience how important an emergency fund can be. Because buying a home is not an emergency, wait until you and your wife have saved enough for the down payment. Also, because the money in that savings account was yours before marriage, it may not be a joint asset, and it could save you a third time if you don’t spend it.

DEAR ABBY: My stepdaughter, age 18, has recently begun to send her father text messages while we are in the same room, rather than speak to him. It’s as if she doesn’t want me in on the conversation. I find her behavior rude.

If they need to speak privately, so be it — she can wait until I’m out of the room or request to speak to him elsewhere. But I find it impolite of her to send him texts. They are nothing confidential in nature, just general conversation.

What are your thoughts on this? — BYSTANDER IN NEW YORK

DEAR BYSTANDER: What your stepdaughter is doing is as rude as when two people whisper to each other in front of a third person. My thought is that your husband, out of consideration for your feelings, should either tell her — or text her — to cut it out.

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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