Dear Ellie: I’m a father of two sons and two daughters. In total, I have seven grandkids, from ages six to 14. My first wife died suddenly five years ago, and I eventually met a divorced woman through a seniors’ dating site. We’ve been living together these past few years.
She’s very outgoing, which is good for me as I tend to stick to my hobbies and not socialize much. But my girlfriend has encouraged me to be more social, and so we’ve entertained friends here.
My oldest daughter resents this. She says the house was originally decorated by her mother to be a gathering place for family, not for people who were strangers to her. This daughter has turned her own children against my partner. I don’t know how to handle the situation, especially as the children are rude to her. What do you suggest?
Talk to your daughter privately. Tell her that you love her and her children and also that you understand the loss of her mother still grieves her.
You might even suggest that she attend a grief counselling session to help her keep her memories close and her love for her mother an ongoing and comforting emotion.
But be clear that you can’t accept rudeness from the children, nor her, against the woman with whom you’ve partnered. She’s done nothing wrong and is an important part of your life now.
Would she rather you be alone? Doesn’t she understand that aging still requires companionship and trust in someone helpful, kind and caring? Help her see that your friend is adding to your life, not taking or negating anything from it.
Dear Ellie: I’m a divorced woman raising two young children in joint custody with my ex. He’s a good father so there’s been no tensions there.
We simply couldn’t communicate about anything other than daily details. We both work, have responsible jobs. But I found over our seven years together that he had nothing much else to say. Or, as a friend described it, “there was nothing there!”
When we went to counselling together, it was obvious that we were like two ships on separate voyages.
From the time of separation, I’ve tried to give the kids great weekends during my weekends with them. But my close friend urged me to use their father’s weekends to go on adventures with her and other singles.
One of the women brought her brother along to join a group hike. He was staying with his sister for a visit, and there was no reason to exclude him.
A week later, he reached out to me on social media. I was flummoxed and had no idea how to respond. He apologized for “intruding” but said that he saw during the hike that I had a great sense of humour, and he really enjoyed my company!
So, now what? Is this different from meeting someone online? I haven’t gone that route so don’t know if this is the same. A chance meeting with someone who seems genuinely nice and gets my humour? Or just some guy who’s on his own and looking for a place to land?
Use social media carefully. You already know what he looks like and that he has a close relationship with his sister. Ask only general questions for now, such as where does he live, does he have children (i.e., what’s his relationship status).
Take your time with these conversations but don’t pin high hopes on him until you know more. Remember, in your previous union, you were passing ships. So if this man is just testing the waters about trying to date you or start something more, you need to know a lot more about him.
However, if dating him is on the horizon and you trust what you’ve learned, enjoy!
FEEDBACK Regarding the man whose fiancée just broke up with him (Oct. 29):
Reader – “A compromise that might suit both parties would be a time frame of 18 months until they start a family. She can find a professional program she can attend in the evenings one/two nights a week after the children arrive.
“While the children are small, they will share parenting chores those evenings and when the children are school age, their mother will return to work at a level more senior and better paid than when she left.
“In the meantime, she will stay current within her profession and enjoy professional adult interactions while being a full-time mother. If money is an issue, she could work part time to earn her tuition expenses. Everybody wins.”
Ellie’s Tip of the Day
Seniors who start over once widowed, often live longer, happier lives.
Send relationship questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.