DEAR AMY: I am a 51-year-old woman. My husband died two years ago. I started talking to a man through one of the online games I play. It started out as mild flirtation. I asked him if he was married. He told me his marriage was basically over. He hadn’t felt anything for his wife in quite a while. I thought that was a safe answer, and we decided to meet in person. I felt like we had known each other forever. We’ve “been together” for seven months, and he is still with his wife. We don’t get to see each other very often, but he calls me every day. We love each other. He tells me he needs time to think about how to get out of his marriage without losing everything he’s worked so hard for. He also has a job where he is required to live in his city, so moving in with me is not an option right now. I have a 13-year-old daughter living at home. My adult sons are happy that I found someone, but are not happy that he is married, obviously. He has brought me so much happiness when I was going through so much darkness. I don’t think I’m rebounding. Everyone tells me that he won’t leave his wife, but he doesn’t even sleep with her. There is no love in their marriage. How long is too long to wait for someone to make up his mind?
DEAR WONDERING: People who are rebounding usually don’t realize that they are rebounding. That is the self-deluding magic of a romantic rebound.
When someone says that his marriage is “basically over,” one response is: “Well, when it is actually over, I hope you’ll let me know.”
As it is now, he is “basically” committing adultery. This is not what good, steady, reliable, honest and loving people do.
If your daughter liked a guy in middle school who already had a girlfriend, would you tell her to charge ahead, regardless? Are you modeling positive relationship behavior? Because — make no mistake — she is watching.
Because you are willing to be in this relationship, he has little incentive to change his life.
For you, this relationship dangles unfulfilled promises, and over time, your own self-esteem will take a hit. I predict that whatever timeline you impose on his adultery, he will find ways and reasons to extend it.
This relationship seems to have pulled you back to life after your husband’s death. I hope you will take this experience and use it to meet other people who are more available to be in a fully committed relationship with you.
DEAR AMY: My wife left the house and our kids (and me) four months ago. She left us to be with a new man, and seems to be getting very serious in her new relationship and now is trying to have the children be OK with her new choice. I have tried to let her know that it is too soon for them to be introduced to her new love interest. I have even sent her articles on how detrimental this is for our children. What do I say to my children to try to prevent any future issues and have them grow up as “normally” as possible?
DEAR DAD: You don’t mention the age of your kids, but, aside from what is going on with them, you should make sure that you and your wife have a legal separation agreement, with custody arrangements.
I agree that it is probably too soon for your children to absorb that their mother has bounced away from them (and you), and into another serious relationship. If she has visitation, you likely cannot prevent her from making this introduction, and so you should do everything you can to mitigate any fallout.
Don’t pump the kids for information. Make sure the kids know that whatever they encounter with their mother’s mixed-up life, you are their calm, steady, stalwart and supportive dad.
DEAR AMY: I’m responding to the question from “Frustrated,” who was trying to cope with the heartbreak of living with (and caring for) her heroin-addicted daughter, who is currently sober. Thank you for suggesting that these parents should seek peer support through Nar-Anon. Meetings really helped me during times when my family was hanging by a thread.
DEAR SURVIVOR: “Friends and family” support groups have helped countless people struggling with a loved-one’s addiction. Sometimes, “the chairs” are really a lifeboat.