Is Dating when a spouse has Alzheimer's acceptable? Particularly when the spouse has been institutionalized for years, and no longer recognizes the spouse. Is it ok for that person’s spouse to seek comfort in a relationship?
By Tom P Blake Finding Love After 50
When a spouse has Alzheimer's disease, and is committed to an institution, and no longer recognizes her or his spouse, and it's been going on for years, is it ok for that person's spouse to seek comfort in a relationship?
Ed said, "My wife has early onset Alzheimer's disease, a beautiful woman age 59, whom I love very much. She is mentally gone now, doesn't know me or anyone else and sleeps much of the day.
"We traveled to Israel and Hawaii in 2007, and it was clear to me at that time that our traveling days were over. The rapid onset since has been very discouraging; she has been in assisted living for two years.
"My family and friends are ok with my 'moving on,' so long as my wife receives the care she has now. I have no problem with that, I see her 3-4 times a week, but cannot bring her home anymore.
"I met a new lady two months ago, who is also widowed; we have seen each other several times a week since. We have tentative plans to do some traveling. Our relationship is beyond platonic. The lady I am seeing is very traditional, and says, 'Who gives me a pass to date a married man?'
"Society, her friends, and the church we attend have sanctions, which she is concerned about." I don't know how to answer her. What should I say?"
A year and a half ago, when I wrote on this topic, several of our Champs responded with such sage comments, I repeat them today.
Diane, who was in a similar situation, but with the roles reversed, said, "It's a long and dark tunnel when going through Alzheimer's with a loved one, but it helps to have a light at the end of that tunnel and someone waiting there for you who loves you."
Gregory added, "Justice O'Connor dealt with the reverse situation. Her husband found a 'friend' while at the nursing home. She delighted in the fact he had someone to be with."
Jon said, "Considering that there really is no marriage anymore and his spouse is apparently unable to comprehend what is going on, a relationship is within reason."
Cydne, emailed, " If she is concerned about what other people think, her answer is no. I don't worry about what society or others think about my life decisions. That's why I am so happy."
Mary said, "There will always be some holier than thou, judgmental busybody who will make her life miserable with criticism and condemnation. So what, go for it!"
George, "Alzheimer's is a vicious disease. The dementia associated with it is irreversible. A victim can linger for years. Spouses are as 'imprisoned' as patients. If there is another person to whom a spouse can reach out-it's not cheating or being unfaithful."
My answer to Ed: You and your new friend sound well matched. I feel you should cherish each other. You have a right to be happy as you have been loyal and wonderful and will continue to ensure your wife is well taken care of. And your friend has the right to be happy as well, as she learned from being a widow.
As far as the "sanctions" you mentioned, only your new friend can decide whether they are more important than happiness with you. Doesn't God want us all to be happy? If the sanction sources are too judgmental, perhaps she should find other sources that are more enlightened or accepting.
What would you say to Ed's girlfriend?