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Ask Empty Nest

Published: Monday, Jan. 21, 2013 11:41 a.m. CST

I get a variety of correspondence from Empty Nest readers through mail and email. Invariably, I’m asked for advice — not that I’m any sage, but people seem to be under the misguided assumption that since my column appears in the newspaper, I must be an expert. Poor people.

I always respond, because I love hearing from my readers. And I save the Empty Nest correspondence in a folder. In reviewing the folder, I see that over the years, I have been asked a passel of advice, and given back aplenty.

What the heck, if Abby and Ann (they’re sisters, you know, now of the great beyond) can do it, so can I. Here goes — a first for this column: Empty Nest Advice.

Dear Empty Nest:

I have a deadbeat ex-husband who refuses to pay alimony. When I send letters to the company he works for, they send back frowny faces (very unprofessional, right?).

Lawyers just want money. Do I throw him in the slammer or keep retaining lawyers that get me nowhere? Any input would be welcome.

Jilted

Dear Jilted:

If you can manage it financially, let the delinquent alimony go for a while, until it reaches a sizable amount. Then retain the lawyer. Chances are your ex will not only wind up owing you back alimony, plus interest, but also your lawyer fees and court costs.

If you wait long enough, you might even get his Social Security. Let the legal system deal with the employer, not you, and save those frowny faces for the judge. I hope this helps.

Dear Empty Nest:

I’m stuck in a suffocating marriage that is miserable for me, my wife and the dog. We’ve been married 35 years. I don’t love her anymore, and not sure I ever did. I think, if asked, my wife would say the same thing.

Our kids are raised, and away from home. This should be the golden years of our lives, but it feels like a prison. Sex is non-existent. We’ve tried counseling, and it was a miserable failure. I hate to say it, but it’s all the property we own that is keeping me from walking out. What do I do?

Stuck

Dear Stuck:

Having been divorced twice, I’m obviously no expert on relationships. However, I can tell you, unequivocally, there is life after divorce, a good life. It may not seem possible from your perspective now, but all that property stuff gets worked out.

The last thing you want is to wake up some morning, realize you’re 80 years old, and hate the person you’ve wasted your life with. I doubt that your feelings for your spouse will improve, and will probably worsen.

Do yourself a favor, cut the losses, and talk to a divorce lawyer.

P.S. — Ask for the dog.

Dear Empty Nest:

You’ve talked about alcoholism in your column. I know I’m an alcoholic and don’t really care. I get plastered most every night.

My wife puts up with it. She’s walked out several times, but always comes back. I can’t see that I’m hurting anyone or anything.

Inebriated

Dear Inebriated:

Been there, done that. The thing is, you have a disease, and like most diseases, it’s progressive. It always gets worse, never better. Something bad will happen. Guarantee it.

You’ll kill someone driving drunk, or burn the house down, and maybe your wife with it. It doesn’t have to happen. You’ve taken the first step in admitting you’re an alcoholic. Take the next step. Get help.

See you next month for “Ask Empty Nest.”

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