Dear Annie: I was widowed five years ago, after 36 years of marriage. Recently, I reunited with my boyfriend from junior high school. “Harry” is in the final weeks of a divorce.
It turns out that Harry and I are very much in love. Unfortunately, my oldest daughter is extremely angry that I am dating a man whose divorce is not final. She refuses to meet Harry and wants me to stop seeing him. She will not visit me or permit me to spend time with my two grandchildren as long as I am with Harry.
I have always been close to my three adult children. I am terribly hurt by my daughter’s refusal to allow contact. We have gone to counseling separately, and I am hoping, in time, that we can get some joint counseling. But right now, my daughter won’t even talk to me. We are at an impasse. Any advice?
Dear Widow: If your daughter truly objects to your seeing a man who is not yet legally divorced, then there will be no change until his status is resolved. And you might consider waiting. While you knew Harry as a young girl, your current relationship is new. Please take your time.
Your daughter also may feel that you are trying to replace her father, and she could reject any man you date. Many grown children have a difficult time accepting that their widowed parent is in love with someone else. They feel that as long as you remain a grieving widow, your late husband is the love of your life. Anything else is a betrayal. It is, of course, terribly selfish of any child to deny parents such future happiness and expect them to live in the past. We hope counseling helps you both.
Dear Annie: My 83-year-old husband has always been a quiet man. He now lives at a nursing home for medical reasons and comes home every day to visit me.
After a few words of greeting, he sits down and remains silent, expecting me to entertain him with conversation. He’s turning into his father, who never said more than five sentences to me. I’m not in the best of health and don’t do much socializing, but I can speak pleasantly about current world affairs and events in our children’s lives. Some days I don’t feel like talking at all and would like to just sit and watch television.
My husband’s attitude is making me angry and exhausted. I’ve spoken to him about it, but he is too lazy to contribute anything. He has two friends and no social activities. He makes me feel like screaming. Any suggestions?
Dear Iceberg: You are taking on a bigger burden than necessary. The fact that your husband visits doesn’t mean he is a guest whom you have to entertain. You are not obligated to make conversation with someone who neither contributes nor cares. While he undoubtedly appreciates news of the children, there is nothing wrong with having a visit where the two of you watch TV together. Accept him as he is, and talk only as much as you want. We hope this alleviates some of your frustration.
Dear Annie: I have another perspective on “Concerned Cousin,” who worried about grandchildren occasionally sharing a bed with the grandparents.
My husband and I have 12 grandchildren. When they sleep over, we put them in the same little tent our daughter once slept in when we camped out, along with a second small tent we purchased later. The kids love it, and we can keep an eye on them throughout the night.
In this day and age, it is important to take precautions. We are loving, caring grandparents, but the reality is, if a parent decides to punish you, you can be accused of terrible things you never did.
— Protect the Grandparents
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