Annie's Mailbox for Feb. 18, 2011: Ex-wife punishing father for molestation

Dear Annie: About seven years ago, my ex-wife, trembling and crying, woke me up early one morning to talk about her childhood. She told me she had been molested by her father. I didn't know how to take the delicate information I was told, so I said when she was ready to talk more, I had an open heart.

Through 15 years of her childhood, she had not seen or spoken to her father. They reconnected near the beginning of our relationship. I always felt they had a weird dynamic. It seemed that he gave her whatever she asked for.

We spent several years in the military, and when my wife and I came home, her father picked us up from the airport. She was insistent that I not say anything or treat him any differently. She didn't want him to know what she had told me.

It recently occurred to me that the reason my ex never brought her father up on charges is because she is punishing him. She is making sure he never forgets what he did and holds him responsible by sticking it to him for money, cars and whatever else she needs at the time. Is that possible, or am I delusional?

— Need Another Opinion

Dear Need: Anything is possible. It's also likely that when she was a child, Dad gave her whatever she wanted in order to buy her silence and cooperation, and this is how the relationship has evolved. Anyone who has been molested can benefit from therapy, and you can suggest to your ex-wife that she contact RAINN (rainn.org) at 1-800-656-HOPE (1-800-656-4673).

Dear Annie: My son has been married to "Natalie" for 20 years. Yet whenever she is with her Russian-born parents, she refuses to speak English in front of me. The problem is, now my 16-year-old granddaughter does the same thing. And by the way, my son neither speaks nor understands Russian.

When I go to their home for family gatherings, I feel like a stranger. Natalie insists these conversations are not about me or other members of my family. She says she wants my granddaughter to learn the language more fluently. But, Annie, my granddaughter attends a Russian school every Saturday. She speaks Russian better than they do.

Because of this, I refuse to be in their company. Enough is enough. My son thinks I should ignore it. My other children say I'm right to stay away. I was taught that it is rude to speak a foreign language in front of someone who doesn't understand it. What do you say?

— Tired of Walking on Eggshells

Dear Tired: It is indeed rude to carry on a conversation in a foreign tongue when others cannot understand, but it doesn't seem worth an estrangement. Do the Russian-born parents speak any English? If they do not, it is a courtesy for them to be included in the conversation, as well. Ask your granddaughter to translate for you. And you can, of course, talk to your son when Natalie's parents are present. Better yet, learn a few words of Russian. Maybe they'll be motivated to practice their English with you.

Dear Annie: "Alone in Casper, Wy." brought back memories of my own return to the dating scene when I was 51.

It seems the minimum acceptable qualities for a man were to be heterosexual, have a car and be alive. Some women may have accepted less. I was employed and intelligent, but wasn't much of a hunk. Yet my dates included a state government official, a gymnast and a former beauty queen. It was a wonderful 11 years. I eventually married an engineer.

Like "Alone," I also cook and can clean a bathroom. I have been divorced twice. He says he'll have to lower his standards to find a mate, but I suspect what is needed is for the women in Casper to lower their standards to accept him.

— Big Hug in Baton Rouge, La.

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