I’ve been in a four-year online relationship with a man, 19 years younger than me. We fight a lot but love each other.
We broke up and reunited many times. Recently he started mentioning my age indirectly. Initially, I didn't know that he was that much younger, he didn't look it.
Should I leave him? I feel pity for him. But he criticizes me and tries to put down me and my skills. He’s brilliant, speaks three different languages.
He always says he can't live without me.
My feelings for him are mixed as both mother and lover. I often wonder why I'm with him even though I don’t just see him online.
Please advise. With the pandemic and constantly staying home, he’s affected my life and mental health.
You both need to separate which issue matters most - the age difference or the relationship. If he sees you as a mother figure, and that’s what you want, you both need to acknowledge it because being lovers, too, will eventually drive you apart in a hurtful way.
For a love relationship to last, you’d need to feel equal, neither one wiser or more in control.
I’m reading some of the latter in your account, and thinking that this relationship has run its course. You both need space to reflect.
Perhaps you’ll return to being good friends. Or not. Meanwhile, you both have to protect your mental health.
We're close to retirement, walk several times a week and do an online fitness class together.
Married some 30 years, life’s circumstances caused us to have different perspectives, thoughts and decision-making.
I look at the big picture and eliminate small stuff. She has no priority or time concept when getting things done. Instead, she’ll jump to random thoughts, something on Facebook or news, and react. I focus on my tasks at hand. Working from home sometimes is difficult because of these interruptions.
Recently, she seems obsessed with poverty when we retire, though we’ve been working for three decades, have some nest eggs, and "assured" pension.
I assured her that poverty isn’t our future. But she believes that I misunderstand her almost purposely.
We haven’t discussed our differences any further. We’re just riding it out as before.
Can you advise me how to better and effectively communicate with her?
It’s a common fact of many long marriages that while some areas of togetherness last, other aspects fade or end. Years of different workplace roles, home responsibilities, and attitudes (some ingrained since even before marrying) start to matter more when there are less distractions.
You may be the nicest person, but your need to always “eliminate small stuff” may be the opposite of what she prefers to discuss. And she’s entitled after all these years to think differently from you.
Poverty fears? They’re pretty common to older people, again possibly ingrained from financial warnings heard when younger, from her own parents who may’ve lived through Depression years.
The good news is that her fears are unlikely to come true. If she saves on some costs that don’t necessarily affect you, so be it. If you need something higher-priced, buy it for yourself from your own pension.... unless you know that’s going to upset her terribly.
My advice? Keep walking and doing fitness classes together. Let her be whom she is, just as you feel so strongly about being whom you are. The senior years of health and choices are precious.
FEEDBACK Regarding the man whose partner bought a pre-construction condo before they met and he’s considering buying into it (May 7):
Reader – “They should discuss a "Cohabitation Agreement" with their lawyer before they actually live together. My partner and I met later in life and I moved in after selling my house.
“We got a copy of an online sample cohabitation agreement which we filled out, signed, and had witnessed. There was no need to pay a lawyer to do it.
“Our main concern was that our children from previous marriages were reassured that in the case of separation, I’d have the money from the sale of my house to find new accommodation. And in case of death, they’d inherit all my estate, and my partner's children would inherit all of his. It may feel awkward to complete all this, but it's worth the peace of mind for everyone.”
Tip of the day:
Acting as both mother and lover to someone will ultimately hurt you both.