Annie's Mailbox: Is it OK to keep my boyfriend at home because of jealousy?

Dear Annie: I am a 21-year-old professional woman with two children. My boyfriend, “Rickie,” and I have been together for two years, and I am consumed with jealousy.

I don’t want him to work because I’m afraid he’ll flirt with a co-worker or have an affair. He used to have a job, but I forced him to quit. I want him to stay home and watch the kids while I go to my job.

Rickie claims I am the only woman he loves, but it doesn’t change my response. I hate it when he even glances at another woman, even though I know his staring doesn’t mean anything.

I love him to death, and he says someday we will get married to prove I’m the one he wants to spend the rest of his life with.

My previous boyfriend cheated on me, and it really hurt. I don’t want to lose Rickie the same way. What’s wrong with me? Is it natural to feel like this?

— Gone Crazy in Guam

Dear Guam: No. Your behavior (making him quit his job) is irrational and way over the top. You need to get it under control before you drive Rickie away.

We understand that your previous experience has made you distrustful, and it’s also possible that Rickie is giving you a reason to worry.

But trust is the bedrock of a good marriage, and if it’s not there, for whatever reason, you will have ongoing problems. Ask your doctor to refer you for counseling, together with Rickie if possible, but alone if you must. You need help.

Dear Annie: My first marriage was abusive and is one of the biggest regrets of my life.

Fortunately, I found the strength and sense to leave. I have not heard from my ex in years.

I’ve been married to a wonderful man for 10 years, and we have a beautiful 4-year-old son.

My first marriage is common knowledge to both of our families and friends. No one talks about my ex, but I worry that at some point someone may bring up the subject when my son is within earshot.

Should I tell him about my ex when he’s older? If so, how?

— Wondering in South Dakota

Dear S.D.: Since you are not in contact with your ex-husband and don’t have any children together, there is no reason to mention him to your son.

However, if the subject should come up, it’s OK to say, “I was married before I met your daddy.” If he asks questions, be honest and brief without giving too much detail. (He doesn’t need to know you were abused.)

Once he reaches his teens, you can tell him whatever he still wants to know.

Dear Annie: I laughed about the woman who assumed her sons would not want their future brides to wear her wedding dress since her marriage to their father ended in divorce.

I married 54 years ago. In those days, no one had their wedding dress professionally preserved. Most girls stored the dress in a box in the closet.

I once attended a wedding where the bride wore her mother’s dress. It was as yellow as the stripe in my kitchen wallpaper and did not fit her well.

Since I knew I would never allow my dress to be worn again and we had beautiful pictures of our wedding, I took it to a neighborhood enclosure and set it on fire with a kitchen match. I never told anyone, and no one ever asked what happened to my dress. I never had any regrets.

The idea of my wedding gown being turned into pillows or bassinet covers would not have appealed to me. That was my special dress, never to be used again. I believe every girl should have the privilege of choosing her own wedding gown.

— Celebrating 54 in Jacksonville, Fla.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.

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