I was married for more than 30 years and have two grown children. The marriage wasn’t perfect, and I admit there were times when I badly wanted to walk out the door. My husband was charismatic and talented, but he was also an addict. I covered up most of his bad behaviors so our children would be protected from being hurt. He passed away suddenly. My children adored him but never really knew how hard it was for me to keep our family together.
Fast-forward to today: I am dating an old family friend I’ll call “Jeff,” who knew my husband well. He saw my spouse at his best and his worst, so I don’t have to sugarcoat my feelings with him. My issue is, I was so hurt during my marriage that I have a hard time trusting anyone. My anxiety is sometimes overwhelming.
Jeff is supportive and understanding and loves me despite my emotional behavior at times. My adult children are upset that I am dating and try to make me feel bad about it, which creates more stress. I don’t want them to know all the hell I went through, but at the same time, I don’t think their belittling me is appropriate. Is there a tactful way to explain to them that I just want to be happy and have the freedom to move forward?
From Helena, Montana
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You have every right to be happy in your current relationship. So, I think you should tell your two grown children about their real dad, and since he’s no longer, exaggerate some things to insure that their jaws drop. Here are some ideas. Tell them that when he said couldn’t come to a school play or a sporting event that the kids were in, he wasn’t working late, he was sitting on a filthy floor, staring off into space at a crack house. Or, tell them that one Christmas Eve when they were really young, their dad told them that all of their toys were “stolen”, but in reality, they were actually at the local pawn shop, thanks to their father needing a fix when he was broke. Or this one. Tell them that the dazzling smile he had that would light up a room, was due to the dentures he was wearing, after crystal meth caused all of his teeth to fall out. Conclude by saying something positive. Tell them that he was a good provider for his family, because the nice house in the nice neighborhood they lived in, was paid for by top grade marijuana he sold daily to grammar school and high school students that were repeat customers… until their parents got him arrested. And that’s when he went on a two year “business trip”. I hope this helps.