Dear Annie: My girlfriend starts arguments by bringing up my children’s deceased mother who passed away 13 years ago. She thinks I’m still in love with her and always plays the comparison game between the two. She also gets upset when I refer to my deceased partner’s daughter, who she had from a previous relationship, as my stepdaughter.
This really frustrates me when she makes these comments. It’s a very sensitive subject to me because my kids’ mother basically died in my arms while we were together, and it doesn’t help for this woman, who I have feelings for, to be digging up old memories after I’ve spent all of these years trying to heal. For someone who says she supposedly cares about me to also say some of the most hurtful things at the same time and not realize it really stings. — Playing Romantic Referee
Dear Referee: I’m so sorry for the loss of your wife. The death of a spouse is a lifelong ache, and though you have healed in ways since her passing, it’s something that will always hold a tender place in your heart. It’s very insensitive, and frankly immature, for your current girlfriend to make these sorts of comments about her.
In order to have a future together, you have to explain to your girlfriend how her constantly bringing up the past is impacting your present. Of course you still love your wife — a fact you cannot change, nor can you change that she’s the mother of your children. You can simultaneously love and grieve what you once had with your wife while wanting to pursue a new life with your girlfriend. But it doesn’t make it easy to do so if she continues trudging up painful memories and insulting the memory of the woman before her. I would suggest couples counseling before you make any long-term commitment to this woman.
Dear Annie: With respect to your advice to “Loner in the South,” who was concerned about whether to attend his elderly mother’s funeral after family members have been giving him the cold shoulder for many years, please reconsider the suggestion that he “might regret his decision” by not attending. Honestly, he sounds like a very sensitive person who should find other people who will appreciate his cards, phone calls and remembrances. Use that time and money to take a nice trip to a place on his own bucket list instead!
If his family members don’t want him in their lives, please encourage him to turn his attention closer to home and share his affection with people in his neighborhood, local organizations, church, etc., who would be very pleased to have this kind of attention in their lives.
My own mother passed away several years ago and the family simply broke apart, leaving me in the same sort of situation. Between unresolved issues during my mother’s illness, shock at the behavior of my siblings at the funeral and then isolation during our separate grieving years, I learned and cultivated strengths and life skills that I would have never acquired had I never made the decision to see that you CAN walk away from people who show you CLEARLY that they are more interested in themselves than they ever will be in you. Accept that fact and it gives you a lot more time to develop a much more interesting and fulfilling life on your own. Good luck! — Happy on My Own
Dear Happy on My Own: Thank you for this optimistic perspective. You are absolutely right; there are plenty of people who would be willing and eager to benefit from “Loner in the South’s” positive energy. Still, I hope he attended his mother’s funeral for his sake, if not his family’s.
“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology — featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit Creators Publishing for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected].
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