Children can sabotage a senior relationship. Widower dating when children are involved.
By Tom P Blake of Finding Love After 50
Last week, we featured Sue's story about dating a widower whose 19-year-old daughter was sabotaging Sue's relationship with him. Readers responded. Children can sabotage a senior relationship.
Carlene dated a widower who had a similar situation with his only daughter (age 35): "There was no way the daughter was ever going to allow her father to have a committed relationship with another woman, let alone live a life separate from her.
"He provided a house for her and her husband/children, where he got a room upstairs in exchange for paying the mortgage.
"There were times we had plans and she would call with some 'emergency' (I am late, pickup the kids), just to spoil a night out for us. It was no wonder she put up 'walls' of resentment and laid on the guilt trips. She got what she wanted and didn't care about anyone else.
"It was clear this was never going to change and was one of the reasons I called off the dating. He had lost 'the woman of his dreams' and was unwilling to do anything that would cause his only daughter to also leave him."
Lisa, a therapist, said, "I think Sue and the widower should talk it through, maybe with the help of a therapist, and come to an agreement about the terms of their relationship. If they are both ok with keeping it the way it is, why not? If they can't come to an agreement, call it quits and move on."
An anonymous woman said, "Terminate the relationship. I dated a widower with a 42-year-old son named and it was the dad who could not let go.
"The widower cooked for him, babied him, poured his coffee, fixed his lunch and took the son's car in for repairs. I couldn't figure out why the son never moved out and said 'ENOUGH, dad.' The son had a good job and no financial pressures, but of course lived with no rental payments.
"When I suggested a trip for the widower and myself, he replied, 'What about Harold?' I bailed out; it was the best move I ever made."
When Dave started dating a woman 18 months after his wife died, he experienced a similar situation with his 33-year-old step daughter.
However, Dave and the step daughter attended grief sessions together. "She heard me talk about her mother being a part of who and what I was and will ever be," Dave said.
"Eventually she began gaining an understanding that she needed to deal with her obsession with my not dating. Through dual grief sessions and sessions alone, this life-living barrier was resolved.
"I recommend the widower initiate grief counseling for himself, and then invite his daughter to go with him. Speaking to and through a 3rd party elevates issues especially when the grief counselor can insert relevant and soothing thoughts, comments."
MJ said, "I also had the same problem because of completely different approaches to children; I had to walk away from my 2nd marriage. I don't believe Sue's significant other will ever change and it will be a contention in their relationship always."
Joan, a psychologist, wrote, "The problem this 19-year-old has may not be about losing her mother; it might be about learning disabilities or chemical imbalances that haven't been detected. People never think of these things; they blame circumstances or 'parent indulgence' or blame the child for acting like a spoiled brat. The truth is that often these kids need psychiatric help."
Jennifer suggested the boyfriend send his daughter off to a residential college.
Irene advised Sue: "Stay out of the situation with his daughter: You haven't been in his life that long to suddenly come in and make suggestions on how she can move out so you can move in. She is only 19 and too young to leave and live on her own especially in this awful economy."
Joyce said, "I went through the same thing two years ago. I was 70 and he was 73. The 'children' in my scenario were 42 and 46 (both non-working alcoholics) who returned home after their mother died 'to help him adjust to being without her,' and who were living with him in his house and financially dependent on him.
"Consequently, despite a comfortable retirement income, he could not afford to hold up his financial responsibility to me. I ended up spending more and more on our entertainment which consisted mostly of movies and eating out in addition to cooking our meals. His 'children' encouraged him to spend as much time with me as possible, so he lived with me 4-5 days a week.
"They had the freedom to drink as much as they wanted while he was away. This infuriated him and for a year he promised he would stop enabling them and tell them to move out. He never did. I started seeing him as a weak and indecisive man. I lost interest and broke it off. Two years later, he still hasn't moved them out."
Don said, "Sue and her man should seek a professional together who works with widows/widowers on a regular basis."
Shirley had an opinion, "With so much resistance and different views on child rearing, this romance is doomed. Repeating over and over again her disapproval of a daughter is not the way to go. It's time for Sue to move on, for she will not get her way and she is harming this man who has to cope with parenthood, loneliness, and how to proceed in reinventing his life.
"I do not recommend anyone get involved with someone whose children resist or cause serious turmoil. It's a waste of time to pursue this connection."
Mary added, "The man is crippling his daughter's ability to grow into a self-sufficient person and mature, functioning adult. I foresee her as being a life-long problem to the relationship and a huge obstacle to a happy marriage."
It's unanimous: Action is needed for the relationship to survive. Sue should begin by sharing today's newsletter with him. We would welcome him as a subscriber.