Q — I'm 35, she's 25 and works. I'm home on disability, taking care of our three-year-old daughter.
We've been fighting over her constant texting and Facebook posts.
I've discovered that she was sexting a male co-worker and lied to me that she went out from work for dinner with a girlfriend.
Instead, she went with the guy she was texting and kissed him.
I'm hurting badly and don't know what to do.
She said it was a mistake but lied for so long about it. I love her but feel that she's not in love with me, just loves me as our daughter's dad.
A — It's the lie that hurts more than her sexting and kiss. That's because you still love her, but that feeling won't survive if you suspect she's lying again.
You need to be clear about that, because you're not just a convenient babysitter in this relationship. You're her partner and equal parent of the child. You deserve the truth, even if it's bad news.
Tell her so. She needs to decide if she's with you for the long-term, or is still looking around, finding it easy fun to flirt with another guy and not worry that she's cheating on you.
This isn't an easy time. You need to be firm in your own self-respect and, while wanting to stay together, not accept second-class treatment.
Insist that she tell you what she's feeling about your relationship, and try to have an honest mutual discussion about what can be improved.
Q — My husband of 39 years is "divorcing" my large family with whom he previously got along.
For a year he's become more critical of them, thinking they're all out to get him, ignoring and disrespecting him.
He's twisting every word they say.
He argued with my brother and his wife, and attacked my brother through very nasty texts and accusations.
He then gave me the silent treatment for over a week.
His favourite thing was always spending Christmas Eve at my Mom's house, helping make it a memorable night.
Now, he's decided not to go.
So, he'll be spending Christmas Eve alone while I'm celebrating with my relatives, my kids and grandkids.
I think he's depressed. He says that at almost 65, he wants no more stress. There's no considerations of anyone but himself.
Talking to him only leads to harsh and ugly words said against me and my family.
Any way I can fix this?
In the Middle
A — Despite feeling "in the middle" you're actually still in your marriage and must try to see what's really going on.
It seems pretty evident that he should be seen for a physical and mental health check-up.
You already think he's depressed, and at 64, his bleak outlook on aging, fear of stress, bouts of severe anger at people he once enjoyed, all point to more than a "divorce" of your family.
For now, he needs you to understand that he needs some help beyond retreating from people or celebrations.
Whatever it takes to get him to a doctor and mental health practitioner, do it.
Meanwhile, explain to your family that you're worried about him, and quietly stay in touch with them.
There's still time to find some solution for Christmas Eve that's not a choice of Them vs. Him.
Use your shared kids and grandkids as the reason for attending together for a short while, if possible.
Or, go yourself, but return to him with some goodies and goodwill.
Regarding the father's increased religious rigidity towards his wife and daughters (November 12):
Reader — I suspect the father is worried about his own reputation. This is so typical of the male ego.
"The daughters are adults but the father's not behaving as an adult should.
"Why might he have 'better' prospects for his daughters? Do fathers marry the husbands they choose for them?
"Females aren't family chattel."
Reader #2 — "Your reply, though sensitive to the writer's religion, doesn't address dangers that the wife and her daughters might face.
"Cases of fathers imposing their religious rules on daughters are all too common, and didn't end well for the women involved.
"Talking to local religious leaders as you suggest is a fine idea but, I suggest mentioning that non — religious and legal systems are available to the wife and daughters.
"These systems are likely to view the problems and address the issues fairly, regardless of religion."
Ellie's tip of the day
Don't let love make you accept a second — class role in your relationship. Lying/cheating can't be dismissed.