I’m a woman, 41, whose parents divorced when I was 18. I handled it badly.
After he moved out, my father travelled more for work, and I pulled various stunts to get his attention back on me, and hoped he’d return to my mom.
But a year after their divorce, he said he’d met someone from another city and was moving to live with her. He brought her to our city first, to meet me and my older brother.
She was independent, very successful, and cultured. She was also nice. I admit that I actually admired her.
My brother stayed aloof but I decided to get closer.
It worked for a few years, but they became preoccupied with the business they were working on together. Outside of their annual visit here to see us, I had to find times when I could go to see and stay with them, which I did through my 20s.
But then my own personal life got too busy, and there were lapses in seeing my father.
Recently, his wife called to inform me that my father, now 74, is showing signs of dementia which will only get worse.
I’m suddenly thinking ahead. My father and his wife had earned extremely well for a while.
Yet my brother and I never received more than birthday, wedding and baby/grandchildren gifts.
I’m now wondering about his will and his wife’s influence over him. Where do you advise I start to investigate this?
On its surface, this is a legal matter about which you’d need to ask a lawyer who regularly deals in wills, estates, etc.
But there’s a deeper issue here, related to your past youth and then-relationship with your father vs. the one that it became after he divorced and married his current wife.
Simply put, he moved on. It hurt you deeply, you tried to stay close, he took your good father-daughter connection for granted and focused on his new phase of life.
Meanwhile, he and his wife worked, lived, and had expenses together.
Now, he’s in a declining state, eventually needing more than her emotional support, but likely requiring paid caregiving too.
Also, perhaps, he may need an eventual move to a care home with monthly fees for the rest of his life.
That’s their reality to consider before you decide to focus on uncertain suspicions.
If ever there was a time to try to re-capture a bond with your father, visit him soon.
Spend some time doing whatever he finds soothing, and try reminding him of some past good times together.
Be the daughter you wanted to be, while you can.
FEEDBACK Regarding the then-separated woman who had an unpleasant sexual encounter with a man who’s now her second husband’s golf partner (October 5):
Reader #1 – “You advised her to lie/live a lie, if he mentions meeting her previously.
“However, it's an opportunity to heal the soul or her feelings of shame won’t end.
“She can face her past with honesty and build further trust/intimacy in her marriage. She should tell her present husband the truth. Then, he can find a new golf pal. They leave it in the past once they deal with it together.”
Ellie - This was a brief, one-off encounter she regretted immediately, though she was separated (single). Her shame is only because her husband might learn this.
Then, yes, she’ll have to confess.
Some partners don’t handle such news when it comes close. Your suggestion’s risky.
Reader #2 – “Although, the letter-writer was regretful of this one-off sexual encounter, I don’t believe she “let herself down.”
She just had occasional sex, and women and men are allowed to have occasional sex. Is that letting oneself down?
“Putting a moral on her sexual encounter is adding passiveness on women’s rights to have occasional sex.
“Girls, too can have guiltless sex and fun.
“How about if it would’ve been the other way around. Would she have judged her husband?”
Ellie - The answer’s unknown, but from years of this column I can assure you there are women and men alike, who may understand that their partners had previous sexual encounters, but do not like knowing details of those outside some level of a relationship.
The woman did not like this man at all. She regretted the sex immediately, and was embarrassed/angry at herself. That was her sense of self-judgement.
Tip of the day:
Remarried parents and their adult children must work at maintaining a connection.