Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Not into being “sister wives”? Slept with your “straight” friend only to have him go back to his ex-girlfriend?

DEAR NATALIE: Several years ago my husband and I moved our family to this area. We are both on our second marriage and have children from those previous marriages as well as two children together. We chose to move here in part because my children’s father lives here and it made joint custody easier. In order to keep my husband’s teenage son in his life, his ex-wife agreed to move to the area as well and has been living in a small carriage house in our backyard since then. Our agreement was that she would move out when the son turned 18 but that did not happen. He refuses to ask her to leave. Our two young children visit her often and he thinks it’s wonderful that she has become “like a grandmother” to them. He says it takes a village to raise children and I’m being petty and jealous. Is he crazy or am I? -- NOT A SISTER WIFE

DEAR NOT A SISTER WIFE: He's gaslighting you. You are not crazy. While I can understand why your husband would think this is a good arrangement for the children, they could still visit her regardless of where she resides and she doesn't need to live in your backyard for them to have a relationship with her. It sounds as though it is more about where she’s living than the fact that the kids are with her that is bothering you. I would be bothered, too. Here’s the thing: This is your home, right? Your name is on the deed? Assuming that it is (and that her name is not on any legal paperwork) you don’t owe her anything. It is great that you were able to compromise to this point, but now it is his turn to do the compromising. You are not petty or jealous, you are a person with boundaries that are being disrespected and overlooked by a husband who seems to think that only his point of view is important. Give him an ultimatum. Either she moves out in three months (which is a reasonable amount of time for her to find a place) or you do. (This is assuming that you have the financial means to do so). Call his bluff but be prepared to move if necessary. At the end of the day, you are his wife, not this woman. If he chooses her over you, it would be time to divorce him and find someone who values you enough to put you above his ex. Either she goes, or you do. Period.

DEAR NATALIE: My friend and I hooked up/had a fling this year only to have him go back to his ex and get her pregnant. We kind of had closure but not really. I am still friends with his family and friends (as we were introduced through my bestie). However we have since blocked each other. My question is: Do you think we will ever be able to reconcile? — TELENOVELA LIFE

DEAR TELENOVELA LIFE:I guess the question is: Are you over the situation? It’s a lot to take in. You had a fling only to have him go back to his ex and start a new chapter with her. Has he been honest with her about his relationship with you? Does he need to be for you to make amends? Most likely he hasn’t told her what happened. If she knew, would that be a deal-breaker for her? So many questions, never enough tea. The best thing you can do is to move on from him and the friendship. I find this whole thing kind of sad because clearly he has some things to figure out, but that takes time, and only he knows what he really feels deep down. You can still be friends with his friends and family, but for right now, it’s best to go your separate ways and give yourself space. Leave the drama to the soap operas.

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Nervous about networking? Whatever you do, don’t bury your nose in your phone when you get to the event or stand in the corner checking emails. Keep your head up, smile and keep an open mind. You may make a great connection!

Please send your questions to Natalie Bencivenga to her email, nbencivenga@post-gazette.com; or through postal mail to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Dr., Pittsburgh, PA 15212. Follow her on Twitter at @NBSeen and on Instagram @NatalieBenci

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)