DEAR ABBY: "Steve" and I have been dating for about seven months. I'm head over heels in love with him. I knew the moment we met that he was for me -- and I think he feels the same way. I'm 28, he is 38, and we're happy with each other.
My question: How do I let go of my anger at his ex-wife? Steve and "Jolene" were married for one year and had a child together. I know Jolene will be around for a lifetime; my problem is learning to deal with her. She's hateful, self-centered and a user. She actually told Steve she married him for his money, and only had his child to get more money out of him.
Steve has their 2-year-old daughter, "Lynette," every weekend. Since Mother's Day is on a Sunday, she was with us. Jolene didn't ask to pick up Lynette and spend Mother's Day with her, but she did call to ask what Lynette was getting her for Mother's Day. On Valentine's Day, she asked Steve to send her roses from her daughter. She pulls this kind of stuff all the time, and it drives me crazy. Jolene has a full-time nanny to care for Lynette during the week, and Steve takes care of his daughter every weekend. Jolene has it made.
It breaks my heart that Jolene treats Steve this way. He's a kind, intelligent, gentle, wealthy man, but she manipulates him, and he doesn't know how to say no to this woman. She berates him and tells him he's a terrible father if he wants to spend time with me.
Abby, I know I have Steve, and that should be all that matters. However, it angers me that there are people out there as coldhearted as Jolene. She has a beautiful child, but she sees her daughter only as a way to pry more money out of Steve.
How should I deal with such a selfish, vindictive woman? -- SICK OF HIS EX-WIFE
DEAR SICK: Be gracious and above reproach in your dealings with her, and refrain from harping on your ill feelings about her to Steve. To do otherwise will only cause discord. Realize that Jolene will never be a friend, encourage Steve to take his daughter whenever possible, and do your best to create a happy, tension-free environment. You cannot change Jolene, but you can change the way you react to her.
You are not alone. Volumes have been written about dealing with "exes." You'll find them in bookstores and libraries under the classification "Blended or Step-Families." Check some out. You'll be glad you did.