I’m wondering how much contact with an old flame is appropriate when you’re in a married relationship.
My wife is keeping in touch with her first love and I worry that she still has feelings for him.
She has shared personal information with him about our relationship, letting him know when we’ve been having problems with our marriage or children.
Although I realize I can’t control who my wife sees and talks to, I feel like this is disrespectful to me.
Especially when she has said she’s not interested in marriage counselling.
Her First Love
What’s “appropriate” in serious relationships, is best decided by mutual agreement. But that’s not happening here.
You’re right that partners should not try to “control” each other’s contacts. But you’re also right that she’s being disrespectful to you by sharing private and sensitive information about your marital and family problems.
Of course, we know that best friends sometimes do confide that stuff. However, one’s “first love” is not the most neutral bestie.
And her divulgences can subtly (or not so subtly) be encouraging both of them to fondly “remember when…”
In other words, it can be taken by him as a sign of interest on her part, even if she’s convinced herself that she’s safe to confide in her past lover.
Now, the question is, what to do about this?
Just accusing her of being “disrespectful” only deals with blame and takes you further apart.
Ask her, instead, to talk to you about what she thinks can help your relationship. Listen. Don’t argue, try to prove her wrong, or rush to defend yourself.
Respond by telling her what you’d like to see happen, what changes you can make, and what ones you’d hope she’d consider making.
If you can have that conversation, you two have a chance and she won’t need to tell all to the other guy.
If you can’t have that conversation, go to counselling yourself since she won’t go.
What you learn on your own may still be very helpful, at least to you, and hopefully, to the relationship.
My daughter is with a mentally abusive man whom she defends. They both drink daily but they’ve managed to keep good careers.
They have a sweet toddler whom I love.
I can barely tolerate this man and he hates me.
My daughter’s smart and capable, but puts up with his demeaning arrogant ways. Please advise.
A Very Sad Mom
Stay close and involved with your young grandchild.
To have that access, you also need to try harder to “tolerate” your daughter’s partner when in his presence.
It does not mean rewarding his abusive nature. If he’s behaving badly in your presence, walk away.
If you see your daughter crying, very troubled, or frightened, urge her to think about what she can do to protect herself and her child.
That’s when you can open the door to her acknowledging to herself the difficulties in her relationship.
Don’t expect her to thank you for raising this. Don’t focus on her drinking, not now.
Don’t list your own complaints about this man. Keep it about her.
She’s likely feeling stuck in a situation that she knows is far from perfect. She also has to keep up her career – an easy rationale for not rocking the boat.
Be clear that you’re there for her if she needs you. I believe she will, in time.
HOWEVER: If abuse escalates, cry “danger” loudly, and, especially if it’s directed at the child, alert police.
When two people live together as a couple, after roughly what period of time would you start to include the one partner’s name in such things as the obituary for a family member of the other partner?
A couple of weeks, a month, six months, a year?
Once you’re partners, you’re partners.
If one holds back, preferring to not be included in public/social announcements, then the live-in relationship isn’t seen as a full commitment.
Most obituaries that list remaining family such as adult sons or daughters, include both partners’ names - e.g. describing the “beloved father of his son A and daughter-in-law B.”
Or, if unmarried, with the partner’s name in brackets, describing the “beloved mother of her daughter C (D) and son E (F).”
Either way, it’s a show of respect from both. It signifies that the non-relative is supporting his/her partner who’s mourning a loss.
There’s no time requirement for that caring gesture.
Tip of the day:
Confiding marital problems to a former lover disrespects your partner, period.