I’m a woman who’s been involved with a man I loved. We both have children - his 15-year-old daughter (adjusting slowly), his older boy who is very nice to me and my sons, 12 and 14. We “blended” at his house, but I kept my condo, awaiting future decisions. I’ve been divorced for six years.
My dream only lasted 18 months. I thought he loved me despite that his wife died five years ago. He’s 55, I’m 43.
I read the letter about a woman who shares mutual love with a widower (March 15). I can’t understand why my situation failed, so long after his wife passed.
I’m confused and needing advice. I was very thoughtful and didn’t get annoyed when I overheard him saying he “met someone,” but never said my name. When we were out, he never introduced me to people as his “girlfriend.” I let it pass.
The one thing that did bother me, as it did the other woman who wrote you, were photos of his wife all over the house.
When I finally commented that perhaps he’d feel more at peace about her if he had grief counselling, he dismissed that immediately. He said, “I’m not weak. I don’t need someone telling me that I should cry.”
Since that short conversation, he started working longer hours at his office, coming back after dinner saying he had something sent in and isn’t hungry.
He ended our relationship a few weeks later. That was only a couple of months ago and I’m devastated. Where did I go wrong?
You didn’t “go wrong.” You believed you were building a lasting relationship together. He gave that signal when he moved you/your children into his home.
But in 18 months you didn’t fully know this man who thinks crying over a wife’s death is “weak.”
He also doesn’t easily share emotions. When he wouldn’t say your name, he was waiting to see if the relationship worked out.
This is his nature: He buries himself in work rather than deal with feelings and personal issues, especially not after experiencing his wife’s death.
He may have loved you in his own way, which seems very limited at this time. Console yourself that you and your kids didn’t have to accept his distancing.
I’ve been in a state of anxiety ever since I first heard the word “coronavirus,” and it’s persisted even now after things have started opening up.
What kind of help should I be getting when an appointment with a therapist means waiting weeks/months, just to talk online?
I’m wound up all the time, expecting things to be worse. Can you suggest any helpful ways to live with anxiety during anxious times?
Anxiety specialist Chicago-based psychologist Dr. Bethany Cook, says, “Understanding what triggers your anxiety and developing long-term coping strategies, is key to balancing your mind and body.”
Try “grounding” yourself through the “54321” technique: Name 5 things you see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, 1 thing you can taste.
Repeating that formula moves the racing thoughts in your brain to the here and now.
Also, recognize your own “cognitive distortions” - e.g. “I already know it’s going to be a terrible day” - by challenging those thoughts with rational thinking, forcing your mind to stop spinning. She recommends workbooks, online or at home - e.g. “All-or-Nothing Thinking, Overgeneralization, Mental Filters, Discounting the Positive, Jumping to Conclusions,” and more.
FEEDBACK Regarding the recently divorced man who took his date to meet his ex-wife, without alerting either ahead (March 3):
Reader – “Maybe he didn’t know whether his ex would also be present... But his response indicated that he knew, possibly planned it.
“I suggest she immediately take a break. Tell him to slow down. Be honest about her feelings (“uncertain”). Open a conversation about expectations on both sides.
“By “disagreeing,” he showed he just doesn’t “get it” and needs to be informed more explicitly.
“It seems his ex-wife wasn’t informed ahead, either. So, this seemed a set-up to get back at someone.
“She shouldn’t risk being involved in that “game.” A break is definitely needed.
“His next step will expose his “true” intentions regarding a relationship with her and her sons. If there’s continued disagreement, pushback and guilting, as he’s already started to do, she should end the relationship completely.”
Tip of the day:
Someone who hasn’t fully grieved their former spouse’s death, may feel conflicted about their new relationship.