Q: My wife's ex is a stalker. They broke up more than two years ago, and we have been married for three months. I thought I saw him outside our home last week, and he recently sent her a present of a ticket to a concert. The card contained a handwritten message that was quite intimate and made us both very uncomfortable. My wife is afraid to confront him. She thinks he has a mental problem. What do we do?
A: Most people would back off if their ex remarried, but he hasn't. We're speculating here, but we suspect he's purchased a ticket right next to the one he sent her. She shows up, there he is, and the rest is a Lifetime made for TV movie. He's got quite a fantasy formulating in that head of his, so one or two things could be happening. Either he is just very lonely and still in love with your wife, or he's truly deranged. Neither possibility is healthy. And since your wife is afraid of him, she probably hasn't been clear about her feelings, so he's still hoping a ploy like this will hit her heartstrings, she'll dump you and come back to him.
If you truly believe he has a mental problem, be very careful. Stalking is against the law and before your wife does anything, she may want to check with authorities about the possibility of getting a restraining order to help protect her.
If this was just a case of an ex being too friendly, good ex-etiquette states that the object of the ex's affection is the one to establish the boundaries. Therefore, it would be your wife's responsibility to stop the advances by being very clear about what she expects from her ex.
We suggest she start by returning the ticket with a note that calmly and kindly explains the behavior she desires. Something to the effect of, "You and I are no longer together. I am now married to someone else. I am returning this ticket because it would be improper for us to go to a concert together."
If there are no kids involved and further interaction between exes is not needed, we would close with, "Please don't contact me again."
Jann Blackstone-Ford, Ph.D., and her husband's ex-wife, Sharyl Jupe, authors of "Ex-Etiquette for Parents," are the founders of Bonus Families (www.bonusfamilies.com).