Dear Ellie: I’m a married daughter, 35, of a widowed mother who’s moving in with a man, and I’m feeling worried, scared and upset.
Help! I need guidelines on how to handle my mother’s love life!
She met my father while in high school, and he in university. They were married for more than 50 years, raised me and my sister in a very happy home, often filled with friends and relatives.
We lacked for nothing but had to do chores, be devoted to our studies, aim for productive lives, decent jobs.
Mom was a community volunteer but took it as seriously as any job. Dad died of cancer four years ago and she was devastated, but kept up her commitments.
Her friends tried to connect her with widowers but she brushed them off. Then one man called himself, and said maybe they should just have dinner together to share their thoughts and confusion about living alone after years of long, happy marriages.
Now, three years later, they’re talking about sharing her home (he’ll sell his, and pay for half of hers).
What if it doesn’t work out and he refuses to give up his half? Or sells it? Or leaves it to his adult children?
When I visit mom, will we still have our private time, or will I always have to relate to him too? Do his children become part of our extended family for special occasions?
Need Rules of Engagement
There are no “rules,” only open discussion with decent intentions.
Your mother is entitled to a life of companionship and caring, no matter her age.
In many ways, it’s a tribute to the love she shared with your father and their happy home life, for her to welcome a trusted partner again.
Of course, at her age and with property and different sets of adult children involved, trust must be grounded in legal agreements.
Make sure that she and her partner have separate lawyers and complete mutually signed documents before they start fully co-habiting.
Stay close to your mother during this change period to assure that there’s been no undue pressure on her.
Once that’s not a concern, be welcoming to him and his family too, as you get to know them better.
For those seniors fortunate to be living longer and healthier (but for COVID-19) than past generations, there are still choices.
For many, there’s no joy in being lonely.
Dear Ellie: For my daughter’s 12th birthday, she invited a friend over — her first play date since the March lockdown, because my mother-in-law who lives with us has a weak immune system.
Our kids know it’s why our home quarantine has been strictly maintained.
My daughter chose one friend among her “posse” of four, all of whom knew about my mother-in-law, and I called the girl’s mother.
Once here, I noticed the girl had little sense of social distancing, so I stayed nearby.
I overheard her say that she’d been feeling very sick and was tested for COVID-19, as was her whole family. When?
“Last week. Everyone was negative,” the girl said.
There was nothing I could do, other than hand-washing and sanitizing surfaces.
What should I say to her mother about this?
Annoyed and Uncomfortable
That girl’s family was likely very upset by her illness.
The mother may have forgotten about your mother-in-law’s condition.
Just say you’re sorry for her scare.
The good news is that the girl is negative, but since she doesn’t distance, don’t invite her till you’re more comfortable.
Feedback regarding your statement that no man or woman actually “steals” another’s partner (June 25):
Reader: “I strongly agree with the above statement and most of your related comments.
“One related point that I think should be emphasized even more is accountability.
“Why should a stranger (e.g. the outsider) have more loyalty toward the partner (wife) than the cheater (husband)? Who made the vow of faithfulness? Not the outsider!
“In the case of unfaithful husbands, I find the old-fashioned “blame the other woman” perspective to be rooted in misogyny, including a view that women should be held to a higher moral standard.
“It implies that men are helpless victims to the feminine wiles of these evil loose women! Of course, that’s total nonsense.
“Put the blame where it belongs — with the cheating spouse! And get to a therapist, or if it’s a serial case of infidelities, get a good lawyer.”
Ellie’s tip of the day
When parents “move on” after a loss to another mutually desired relationship, be supportive.
Send relationship questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.