I’m 24, and recently caught up with my first serious girlfriend (high-school sweethearts for three years).
I only had one other relationship after that.
I left, travelled for five years, and just returned back home.
I’d only heard that she had a kid with a local loser. I texted her yesterday, and we agreed to meet for dinner.
She brought her son and I could tell right away that she’s a great single mom. I’d like to see them both again.
She works a lot and struggles to provide.
I thought about buying some toys for her to give to him, as if from her. I don't want it to seem from pity because all of her own gifts are homemade.
I’d also like to offer to pick up anything from the store they need if she's busy, just to make her job a little easier.
How do I offer help without having her think I’m trying to get back together?
I'm only in town for another five months so I don’t want to create a bond that’ll hurt her again once I leave.
A Helping Hand
Take it slowly. Be clear to both of them about your leaving date.
You can create some fun get-togethers – like a day’s outing to a park. But you mustn’t create any expectations or dependencies.
At age two, he’s happy with his mom’s homemade toys, and she can be proud of them. So just one gift to remind him that you care about him, just before you leave, is the better choice.
Only offer to pick-up needed items when you’re already planning to see them.
If you start to have stronger feelings about her and the child, think them through along with what it is you’re travelling to… or from.
I’ve been married to my second husband for five years.
We have five daughters between us, and everyone gets along. But with each grandchild (two on his side, three on mine) he’s become increasingly jealous.
Whenever I want to see one on my side, he takes a little fit.
I try to see them at least once weekly (a 90-minute visit) and sometimes once on the weekend. I also face-time them a couple of times a week.
We see the out-of-town grandkids on his side once a month, with no other contact between visits.
This is the only thing we argue about continually. I’ve suggested marriage counseling, but he apologizes.
I want to say that if this continues, I'm done with this marriage, but I know that would start something much bigger.
I was a single mom for 19 years before I met him, and was quite self-sufficient.
Am I being unreasonable?
You two have hit a reality check about differences you hadn’t recognized before grandchildren became a new factor in your lives.
As a single mom, you were very involved with your daughters. They live close enough for you to extend this emotional connection to their children. It’s natural, and an important part of who you are.
He not only has a different situation – with grandkids further away – but his emotional comfort zone apparently relies totally on you.
He’s not only jealous, he’s insecure and maybe even scared that he’s not as important to you.
Your “self-sufficiency” may be worrying him.
Make him part of your visits, at last sometimes. Teach him to face-time his grandchildren.
Try to create some occasions with the whole family together, without separate categories.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman who posted an ad looking for another man after losses including a married man (Feb. 6):
Reader – “Why do women not give themselves time to adjust to being ALONE?
“It’s not a death sentence.
“I was widowed after 40 years of marriage – not a great one sometimes.
“I moved into a senior’s apartment, joined a seniors’ club, and met a lot of wonderful women on their own.
“I started an older-adults’ widows and widowers club (not a dating club). We went out for dinner, theatre, golf. I now arrange Casino trips for seniors.
“The No. 1 Rule for living alone is loving yourself. Then, surround yourself with family, friends, and a positive outlook.
“Consider that you are blessed with doing what you want on your own or with others.
“I’m now happily celebrating almost 80-years’ young.”
Ellie – Thanks for sharing your very positive and pro-active message of finding happy self-satisfaction on your own.
Tip of the day:
Be careful you don’t send the wrong messages to an ex, especially if a child’s involved.