Elderly dad & his new relationship, feeling conflicted(5 Posts)
I’m not sure how / whether / where to post this, but I think writing it down will help. Sorry if this isn’t really the place, but as helenluvsrob has already said – it’s the best board on MN. So there
As some of you on here know, Mum died just over a year ago & dad has been terribly lonely and distressed ever since. He spent 2 months in Australia over Christmas to visit his sisters, and while he was there he got back in touch with a woman he knew in the 1960s. She is a widow, 10 years younger than dad. She apparently fell in love with him when they first met, but he was already married to mum. Their relationship has developed very rapidly since he got back from his travels in February, and they now spend pretty much every weekend together.
I’ve met her once, and she seems… nice, intelligent, funny, & loves dad. But… I’m so conflicted about it. I’m happy that Dad is happy, but… he’s all eager and lovey-dovey with her, talking about her all the time, telling me every time I see him that he misses her, calling her ‘my lover’ and tbh just sharing too many details about their relationship. He’s always been a bit clumsy with his emotions & can be slightly inappropriate / lacking in forethought when talking to people about emotional stuff. It’s something that mum guided him on and I know she struggled with this too sometimes.
I’m feeling so conflicted about his relationship, that I don’t really want him to talk to me about it. I can’t really respond as I think he would like me to – i.e. with unreserved encouragement and enthusiasm. He’s currently in his house in France, with the intention of getting it ready to sell (which I know he will find distressing) and she’s staying with him there for a week. Once she’s left he will be terribly lonely again, as he was last summer when he was out there.
Whenever he talks about her, I think of mum. That makes me feel so sad & makes me wish she was still here with him / us. How can I deal with this? He's taken a step forward but I seem to be taking steps back.
Oh ping ping! Sending you a big and no wonder you feel conflicted. It is so early days and you must feel that he has almost written your mum out. Not a lot of wisdom from me- I have no idea how I'd cope- except as you say writing it down and trying to contain your feelings. Sounds like he wasn't coping on his own- some people can,t- and needed someone. Aww. Be kind to yourself.
Thank you sandwich. Plenty of consumed here recently. I wondered whether a year would be considered early days or not, they were married for nearly 60 years so it does kind of feel like it to me. The last few years were hard for Dad, particularly the last 12 - 18 months when she was in so much pain and in hospital. He loved her with all his heart (and still does) .
PingPong, this is a difficult one. I have not had direct experience but know people who have.
The first thing is to consider whether you trust this lady with
a) his money
b) his emotions
The first can be tricky. One friend went as far as hiring a private detective and then presenting the dad with the findings. (Which were shocking enough for him to pull his head out of the sand.)
Emotions are also tricky. From observation late life romances may only last as long as both are healthy. However one thing I have learnt on this thread is that if you don't have too many good years left, you might as well make the most of them.
Your dad is probably lonely and struggling to cope emotionally on his own. He probably feels that you are not in a position to fill the huge gap left by your mother. If at the end of the day you decide this lady is giving him the support he needs, you probably need to park your own emotions and accept it. Though you are perfectly entitled to explain to him that you find his gauche enthusiasm difficult. The posture adopted by a friend in similar circumstances was one of bemused distance. She was happy her dad was happy, but did not want to be involved. And was ready to be there when her dad needed more help and found himself again on his own. The five years of support and active life her dad gained were probably worth it.
Hi nms, thanks for posting.
Money - yes, that is a concern, but dad has told us he has 'no intention' of getting married, living together or changing his finances or his will in any way. I still have some concerns as dad has quite extensive assets, so I will keep a look out for anything suspicious.
Emotions - yes he's very vulnerable & struggling, and there's no way I could (or would want to) replace the gap left by mum. I talked to him about this, and told him I was worried that he was going headlong very fast into an intense relationship, and he seemed to take it in at least.
Bemused distance - yes, that sounds like where I need to be.
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