Long hours, high debt doomed marriage man can’t let go of

I was divorced seven years ago.

Dear Abby: I was divorced seven years ago. My ex-wife, “Annie,” and I were married almost seven years and had what I thought was a great relationship. Then we bit off more than we could chew financially. I began working long hours to get us out of the pit, which created distance between us until divorce became inevitable. We tried working things out five years ago. It failed.

Since then, I have been in a handful of relationships that ultimately went down in flames. Three months ago, I rekindled one of those relationships, but it ended quickly because, in a moment of passion, I called her by Annie’s name. I contacted Annie and shared it with her hoping for something.

A month later, I lost my mother to lymphoma and contacted Annie as a shoulder to lean on because I had no one else. She has a new fiance now, and when she told me, I was devastated.

I have started talking to someone new, and it’s going well so far, but I find myself dreaming about Annie and longing for her and the good times. How do I get over her? I find myself looking at mutual friends’ Facebook pictures just to get a glimpse of her.

Torn Apart

In Texas

Dear Torn: Stalking your ex-wife on Facebook isn’t going to get you what you want. It won’t win her back or help you to get on with your life. What WILL help will be to start talking with a licensed mental health professional who can help you begin to reorient your thinking and start living in the present rather than the past. Please consider it, because your emotional dependence on your ex is neither helpful for you nor productive.

Dear Abby: I have a pet peeve with my husband’s family and am wondering if I am wrong. My in-laws often pick up a toothpick and use it while we are still seated at the dinner table. This happens even in restaurants. When they dine in my home, they leave their used toothpicks lying around. It’s disgusting.

My mother-in-law is now starting to floss her teeth in public. I believe these activities should be done in private. Is there any written protocol about the use of toothpicks? I know my mother-in-law reads your column, and I’m hoping she won’t miss this.

“Picked” Off

Dear “Picked”: I agree that good manners dictate oral hygiene should be attended to away from the dinner table, and so does Emily Post. In Emily Post’s “Etiquette” (18th edition), she writes, “Toothpicks should be used in private, not as you walk out of the restaurant or, worse still, at the table.” The same is true of flossing, in order to avoid having one’s dental detritus land on the table or, worse, on a dinner companion.

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Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.