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Parallax - Advice

June 24, 2002

Slip of the tongue

Dear Conversely,

Ask us a Question!I'm fifty-two and have been separated for six years after being married for twenty-five years; he's fifty-three and has been divorced for six years after being married for sixteen years. Since we began going out four months ago, he's called me by his ex's name four times. I try not to let this bother me, but this last time really got to me. Should I be bothered? How do I handle this? Email to a Friend

Her view:

Dear Bothered,

It's an innocent mistake; these things happen. Cut him some slack. I'm sure you have some non-endearing habits. If you think this is not quite the punishment he deserves, public flogging is always an available option.

On the more serious side, old habits are hard to break. You've both had long first marriages that have no doubt helped define your 'relationship behavior.'

Names are just a part of that. Tell him it really bothers you and I'm sure after some time, his bad habit will go by the wayside.

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His view:

Dear Bothered,

Obviously, it does bother you, so let's not worry about whether it should or shouldn't. I do think you should have more important things to worry about, but since you asked, let's consider three options.

Option 1 (my favorite): Realize he's a creature of habit, and he's been saying the same name for sixteen years, and an occasional slip-up (come on, once a month is not that much) is inevitable. Then, start calling him by your ex's name (after all, you've been saying the same name for twenty-five years) and see how he likes that. Make sure it comes across as accidental, and don't go doing it right after he calls you by his ex's name.

Option 2: Change your name. Just make sure you're pretty serious about him first.

Option 3 (possible but not likely): Realize he's still not over his ex, is subconsciously wishing you were her, and is probably only using you as life support while he waits for his ex to take him back. Then, dump him—unless you're only using him too.

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