|DEAR ABBY: My ex-husband likes to call to ask me for advice. Our most recent conversation was in regard to his girlfriend and her sexual past, which he knew about before they started dating. He now disapproves of her history and he began calling her unpleasant names. He tells me he deserves better but intends to stay with her until he gets bored.
Hearing this sort of talk gives me a stomachache and heartburn. I feel terrible for the woman. I want to be a friend to my ex, but I'm not sure I can handle the stress it causes. He has had a hard life, and I didn't make it any easier by divorcing him.
Is the only solution not to take his calls, like my friends tell me? I'm not sure I can do that without major guilt. -- WISCONSIN READER
DEAR READER: I'll offer another option: The next time your ex starts asking you for relationship advice, tell him you don't like hearing the way he talks about his girlfriend. Explain that it makes you so uncomfortable that you prefer to avoid the topic of his love life. If he respects your wishes, continue taking his calls. If not, because you find them upsetting, refuse them.
And please, stop feeling guilty about the divorce. From your description of your former husband, he is a user, and you're lucky to be rid of him.
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DEAR ABBY: My close friend "Kate" has just told me she's getting a divorce. She confided that she cheated on her husband, "Phil," and says she doesn't want to try to work on her marriage, even though they have a baby together. Kate says that Phil is a great father and he's not abusive -- she just doesn't love him anymore.
This came as a shock to me, and I'm not sure how to be supportive. When I divorced, my husband was the one who cheated and left me, so I know how Kate's husband feels. I know I should be sympathetic to her, but I don't know what to say. Can you help? -- TRYING NOT TO JUDGE
DEAR TRYING: Continue trying not to judge. It is understandable that you'd identify with Kate's husband since his position is so similar to what you experienced. If you know and like him, befriend him. I'm sure he could use a friend right now. However, before you do, ask Kate if she would mind.
As to your question about what to say to her, all you really need to do is acknowledge her announcement by saying, "I'm sorry to hear it. I hope you have given it careful consideration." Period.