LIFE

I Told My Mom I Met A New Man After Losing My Husband. Then She Called Me ‘Stupid’

by Rebecca Endicott
Becca is a writer and aspirational dog owner living in NYC.

We all run into unexpected obstacles in life. Just when things are going smoothly, some surprise dilemma comes out of left field.

A few bumps along the road are only to be unexpected, but that doesn’t mean you have to deal with them on your own.

Our weekly Ask Becca column is here to help. If you have a question or problem you’re struggling with, you can send it my way by emailing AskBecca@LittleThings.com!

Each week, I go through all of the reader submissions and select four questions that are relevant to a lot of different folks and a lot of different life experiences.

I also love when readers weight in with their own advice in the comments section — the more the merrier!

Last week, we took on a slacker significant other, a couple on the rocks, an ex-bestie, and a dad who won’t stick to his diet.

This week, we’ll be talking about life after love, an estranged sister, tension with the grandkids, and a husband with a history of cheating.

Scroll through for my very best advice!

Photo Credit: Maxpixel

Starcrossed Love?

Daughter and mother do not approve of woman's new man
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

I feel a little embarrassed about having to ask for advice at my age (65).

My husband of 39 years died suddenly of a massive heart attack at the age of 58. I made my peace with the grief and tried to persevere. I have two daughters.

My elderly mother started consuming my life after my husband’s death. I tended to her three to four days a week. Needless to say, I was mostly going through the motions of living.

After five years, the loneliness and pain was getting the best of me. I went online to a dating site for people over 50.

I corresponded with a man I met for over a year. He lived five states away. He was a recently divorced man. His wife left him after 44 years of marriage and cleaned his plow.

I myself am in a pretty good spot financially. I have rental property and offered to rent him a place to see if we had a future. It has been almost three years now. He is a wonderful renter and a very good friend.

We go hiking and out to eat; we converse a lot, go to movies and laugh a lot. We go to his church two times a week, and mine once. Because of our faith, we remain chaste and true to our beliefs. We have both agreed to a prenuptial if we ever marry.

My friend went to one of my daughters and my mother to ask for their blessing if we ever got married.

This is when the situation took a very bad turn. I get a call from my daughter and she goes off, as does my mom.

Mom is crying and carrying on. She will turn 90 next month. She starts saying things like I am so stupid, that my friend is probably out to clean my plow.

Meanwhile, my two daughters have given me the cold shoulder before and after I met this man. My one daughter lives about a quarter mile away and the other about eight miles away. I never see my grandkids unless it’s an event at school. After their father died, my relationship with my daughters went down the toilet.

They never come over except for a brief ‘Hey, how are you?’ in the driveway, maybe once in a while. One daughter calls about every two weeks and the other maybe once​ a month.

I could lie dead and not be found by them for a long time. I am good to my grandchildren, but they are getting distant as well.

It really hurts that both our families have thrown us to the curb. We are getting old and running out of earthly time.

Do we alienate everybody or just wait for things to work out? We don’t deserve to be treated this way. He and I both were faithful to our vows and children. Isn’t it our business to live our own lives?

Anonymous

Becca's Best Advice

Dear Anon,

I’m going to direct you right back to your own words, “Isn’t it our business to live our own lives?”

Yes, of course it is! If your friend makes you happy, you should absolutely go for it.

He’s willing to sign a prenup, so I wouldn’t worry about him trying to “clean your plow,” as you put it. Still, I would go ahead and sign the paperwork.

When there are children from previous relationships, it’s always better to cross the T’s on all paperwork. Should one of you become ill or pass away suddenly, a prenup and updated wills can make things easier for all involved.

As for your mother and your children disapproving, I would do your best to ignore the negativity.

Your mother is very elderly, and it’s likely that she is more uncomfortable with the change than anything else. It’s not that she doesn’t want you to be happy — she’s just old, frail, and probably a bit confused. She’s likely just anxious about the shift to her routine.

As for your daughters, it doesn’t sound like you owe them much say over your love life. They’re both adults, and it doesn’t sound like you have a very good relationship with either of them.

“I could lie dead and not be found by them for a long time” paints a pretty clear picture. You deserve a loving relationship where someone is looking out for you.

Go ahead and do what’s best for you. If you and your friend love each other and want to marry, just remember, you’re a smart, savvy, financially stable woman. No one can tell you who to marry or how to live your life!

Congratulations in advance — here’s to a long and happy life together!

Becca

Estranged Sister

Martha looks at photo of her and her sister
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Hi Becca,

My sister and I live in different states a few hours apart. I don’t see her very often because of a couple of issues.

She was married to an abusive husband for 24 years and this made it difficult for us to have a relationship. She has substantial problems with alcohol addiction and has since divorced her husband.

Unfortunately, the ex-husband is still involved with her. He arranged for a mediation to dissolve the marriage but my sister never hired a lawyer and she got the short end of the stick in this divorce.

It is a huge mess: basically, he is still in control of all her financial dealings. We just received a phone call where he informed my older sister that my sister was not doing well and was in bad health due to her drinking.

I don’t know if I can trust him so I want to go see my sister (surprise visit) to check up on her for myself.

My mom talks to my sister daily and feels that though she occasionally drinks, she is doing OK. I don’t believe this is true.

What advice can you offer me regarding my sister? I don’t want my sister to die — I want to help her.

Please advise,

*Martha

Becca's Best Advice

Dear Martha,

To me, it sounds like you are going from zero (I don’t see my sister much) to 60 (I don’t want her dead) awfully quickly. I would tread very, very lightly.

First, consider your sources. You think that your sister is in danger of dying of alcoholism, but your source is her manipulative ex-husband, a man whom you describe as abusive.

He’s calling you up and telling you stories about your sister, but that doesn’t mean that they’re true.

This is chapter one in the abuser’s handbook: manipulating the family and friends of the victim to give her a reputation she doesn’t necessarily deserve. I wouldn’t even take his calls, much less trust his word.

Your mom says that she doesn’t think that your sister drinks too much. To me, she seems like a much more reliable source of information.

Of course, you can’t ever really rely on second-hand information. You need to talk to your sister directly.

You should definitely plan a visit. However, I’m not keen on the idea of surprising her.

To me, that smacks of a desire to catch her doing something “bad.” Do you really want to help your sister, or do you just want to catch her with a hand in the cookie jar (so to speak)?

Arrange a planned visit, and try to mend fences as much as possible. When you have a good rapport, gently say:

“[Ex] told me that you’re not doing very well and that it might be linked to alcohol. I just wanted to check in with you and see how you’re doing. I love you, and I want to help you be healthy.”

Her feelings might still be hurt, but all you can do is show her that you’re loving and supportive. You won’t enable her bad choices, but you’re there for her, and you’re willing to help her get healthy.

She might not take you up on your offer, but both of you will always know that you offered and tried your best.

Love and warm wishes to you and your sister,

Becca

Loving Grandma

Grandma continues to write cards and send gifts to distant grandkids
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Hi Becca,

Several years ago my oldest daughter went out of state to visit family, since her brother lives there.

She proceeded to say that I treat my grandchildren differently. She doesn’t know that I found this out.

Now, my son refuses to let me see his children, and he quit calling or having anything to do with us.

I continued to call, and send birthday presents and Christmas gifts. Last year my husband (who is his stepfather) said “no more.”

He says, “They don’t respect you and never call or say thank you for what you do.”

I am torn because I feel the children can’t be blamed. They are now old enough to communicate on their own, but don’t. What should I do?

It has torn apart my son and me, and now he and my daughter have regular communication. They message so I can’t see what is being said.

I want to tell my daughter I know what she did, but at the same time I don’t want any more drama.

Thanks,

Anonymous

Becca's Best Advice

Dear Anon,

I have to admit, I feel like I’m missing pieces of the story. It seems strange that your daughter would go to visit her brother and tell him, without provocation, that you treat the grandkids differently.

Was there a specific event that triggered the conversation? Maybe you bought something special for one grandkid and planned to make it up to the others later? Or some of your grandkids live closer and simply see you more often?

Regardless, it was wrong of her to deliberately stir up the water between you and your son.

It sounds like you always sent gifts and called, so you never gave him a reason for conflict. It’s strange that he was so quick to believe the accusation.

You say your husband wants to cut off the stream of gifts, but you don’t want to punish the kids. I think what you do depends on your grandkids’ ages.

You say that they’re “old enough” to communicate with you on their own and say thank you. How old is “old enough”?

If they’re older teenagers or young adults, I would agree with your husband. If they can’t call up their grandma to thank her for the nice birthday present, she can probably stop sending gifts.

However, if they’re younger kids (say, 15 and under) I wouldn’t abruptly cut off the gifts and affection. They won’t understand, and they’ll think they did something wrong.

Instead, try developing an independent relationship with your grandkids, no matter their age. Maybe invite them out to visit you for a week or two, just so that you can establish a connection without their dad getting in the middle.

And when they’re back home, call them up once a week and encourage them to call you back, too.

Kids aren’t so great on the phone these days, but that’s just because they aren’t used to it.

Maybe meet them halfway and let them teach you how to FaceTime or Skype (even if you already know how).

After all, you deserve to have an independent relationship with each and every one of your grandkids.

The same goes for your son and daughter communicating, though you might not want to hear it. A brother and sister should communicate on their own; you don’t need to see what they’re saying.

Besides, if you have an awesome rapport going with your grandkids, those sneaky text messages between your son and daughter will probably peter out on their own.

Good luck, Grandma!

Becca

Tension In Bed

<u>Tension In Bed</u>
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Hi Becca,

I have been married almost nine years now. My husband isn’t the typical husband. He doesn’t believe in gifts or celebrating events; his motto is that every day should be a celebration and everything a gift.

We are both so in love and have been since we met each other 15 years ago. Well, so I thought.

I’ve had issues with sex for the past few years. It was a chore to me; I didn’t enjoy it very much. I was still so very attracted to him but I just couldn’t have sex. I was too tired, too sleepy, too busy. We fought about it every night.

Eventually, I have found out that he masturbates. A lot. It hurt me. He has looked for a girl to have sex with online. He claims it was just for sex. That also hurt me.

Most recently, I found out he was having an affair with someone he worked with. They met late at night at parks around his job and made out. They never slept together. Then he came home to me.

After a week of this affair, he told me he wanted to end our marriage. Of course, he didn’t tell me about the affair. I found out the way any wife does when she is about to be left. I tore apart my home, cars, and phone bill trying to find out why all of a sudden this was happening.

When I told him I knew, he swore it wasn’t because of her. He said we lost our love for each other a long time ago. He was, in fact, in love with her, but he knew there wasn’t a future for them.

I went through a depression and he ended up deciding to be with me and his family. He seemed mad at me for making him stay, but I didn’t make him stay.

I told him he needed to make sure this was what he wanted because I cannot accept him back again if he leaves. He finally decided on his own that he still loves me and that he was confused because she was giving him attention I wasn’t.

Ever since then I’ve gone through medical issues that have added a huge dose of estrogen to my body. Now, I always want sex. I can’t be in a room with him without begging for it. He says it’s a chore now and that I demand it so much.

Of course, this whole situation makes me feel like he’s being unfaithful again and it makes me go crazy. I’ve told him how his rejection makes me feel, but he continues to tell me to let him woo me. I feel like if I let him do it on his own time, it won’t happen.

Is it wrong for me to demand sex because I need it and deserve it, considering all I put up with and that I have forgiven him for all his indiscretions?

Anonymous

Becca's Best Advice

Dear Anonymous,

Let’s start with your final question: “Is it wrong for me to demand sex because I need it and deserve it?”

It is always, always wrong to demand sex. It’s wrong to coerce people into having sex with you; it is wrong to guilt-trip people into having sex with you.

My biggest issue is the word “deserve.” No one ever deserves sex. True sexual intimacy is a gift, freely given.

Your husband has put you through a lot, to be sure, but you no more “deserve” sex than a teenage boy who paid for a limo to prom and now expects his date to put out.

Sex is not a gold star.  

That said, I think that the problems in your marriage run much deeper than a sexual intimacy problem.

You don’t trust your husband, and he doesn’t deserve your trust. Still, you won’t get anywhere by making him perform sexual favors to “prove” that he’s faithful.

To me, it sounds like what the two of you really need is marriage therapy, where you talk through his infidelity with a specialist and try to figure out how to establish trust in your marriage again.

Your sex life might ebb and flow throughout this process. Greater emotional intimacy often fosters a desire for more physical intimacy, so the two of you might strike a better balance in bed when you talk through your challenges and open up to one another.

In the meantime, you cannot force the issue. Think back to when he was putting the same kind of pressure on you. It made you feel lousy, and it probably didn’t improve your shared sex life.

Now that you’re the one interested in getting busy, consider this: do you really want sex with a partner you bullied into bed?

It’s easy to feel resentful, because he did do the exact same thing to you. I totally get where you’re coming from. But an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

Coercing a sexual partner is cruel, and it will do just as much harm to you and your moral center as it will to him.

Tread lightly instead, and try to see if the pieces of your relationship can be gently put together again with therapy and time. If you can’t find a rhythm again, you may have to accept that your marriage has reached its natural end.

Take care, and listen to your conscience in all things.

Becca

LittleThings writer Becca
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

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