DEAR AMY: After many decades of marriage to a wonderful woman, I find myself in my third year as a widower. Despite having many friends, an active church life, and a very loving family, I am lonely. To alleviate my loneliness, I have asked several women to accompany me to various activities, like concerts, plays, etc. I shared my feelings with my adult children and told them that I have started to date. We are a close family of kids, spouses and grandchildren. However, I was in for a shock, when one of my children asked me to promise that I would never get married again. Marrying again had not crossed my mind until this demand. I briefly reviewed in my head the criteria a potential new spouse would have to meet in regard to feelings, compatibility, religion, etc. Then I answered that I cannot make that promise. Needless to say, interactions with this child have been a bit frosty ever since. I am not a person who takes a promise lightly, so I didn't want to rule out a future marriage if the right person came along. Can you offer your advice?
DEAR WONDERING: You are wise to state outright that you will continue to live your life on your own terms, and that includes having relationships and possibly marriage down the road. Your child should never have asked you to make such a promise. To do so is to deny your right to make the sort of choices any adult has every right to make.
You sound like a good and kind person, and so the kindest assumption about this unkind demand is to assume that your child is still grieving the loss of their mother. Sometimes loss leads people to make twisted assumptions, for instance that a new marriage would somehow erase the long and loving one you shared with your late wife. Reassure this child of yours and then continue to assert yourself as a worthy potential partner.
And then, frosty or not, you should move forward, trusting that your child will also find a way to deal with your reality.
Dear Amy: Less than two weeks ago, my mother passed away after a battle with cancer. She was a wonderful mother to my sisters and me, and though my grieving began with her diagnosis, I'm devastated that she's gone. Our father passed away four years ago, and, like my mother, he was a wonderful parent. For the past year I've been living with my boyfriend and his 93-year-old mother. We've broken up a few times over the past 20 years, and — suffice it to say, he's been verbally and physically abusive. He is also charming, humorous, adventurous, (sometimes) kind, and is very handsome. He has always lived with his mother, and she is often insulting, judgmental, and meddlesome. Three years ago, my boyfriend was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer. He's been enormously strong mentally and physically; however, with each passing month, the cancer is taking its toll. I'm so conflicted; I want to leave this relationship, as I question why I have fallen back into its tentacles over and over again. How do I leave this man when he's suffering from terminal cancer?
DEAR CONFLICTED: So far, you seem to have made many important choices in a reactive way — you've bounced in and out of this relationship with a man who has been physically and verbally abusive. His situation seems to be deteriorating, and you are thinking of bouncing.
How can you leave this man who has terminal cancer? How can a man physically abuse a woman he is supposed to love? Human beings are sometimes inhumane.
Yes, you should have left a long time ago. Now you have to behave in a way that is both humane toward him, and protective toward yourself.
Your own mother's death may have unlocked something inside you. Call it a self-protective spirit. Perhaps she worried about you as you have cycled through this abusive cycle.
You should move out. But you should also consider remaining in a friendship with this man, in order to be supportive and emotionally — if not physically — present.
DEAR AMY: Responding to "Stressed Server," who was so upset over negative online reviews of her cafe, whatever happened to: "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything?" The way you tip speaks volumes, anyway.
DEAR CUSTOMER: I think the internet pretty much destroyed that useful maxim.