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TherapistMarryAnn
TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5807
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I am 65 years old and was married for 36 years. My wonderful

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I am 65 years old and was married for 36 years. My wonderful husband died very suddenly 18 months ago and I have been in deep mourning ever since. I have thought many things through, but the grief over his death is always extremely painful.

To my surprise, in the last weeks of 2012 I began to form a new relationship. This new fellow is 73 and we have actually known each other for 37 years, because he is my late husband's second cousin. In fact, this fellow babysat for my husband back in the old days when they both lived in the same neighborhood, with my husband being 7 years younger. My husband and he were close buddies most of their lives.

We were together this year at Christmas as part of large family gathering. Sparks flew. I had always liked him over the years, and we had spent alot of time at the same family events, including many events at my husband's and my house, on vacation, and even overseas when my husband I lived overseas. Nothing at all inappropriate ever occured, as I was always totally committed to my husband and sons. Our kids all know each other and are close. We are very compatible and obviously have a great deal in common.

But my younger son (28) is uncomfortable that I have a extended family member as a boyfriend. I desperately want my son to be happy, as he heals from losing his father. I also think this man and I could have fun together and enjoy the ties that already exist between us and between our families. I want that very much. I thought my life was over. Who knows how things may work out?

Please advise: What should I do to help my son deal with this big change? My son is a very smart, active, loving, successful guy - but he seems angry and embarassed over what is to him unseemly behavior.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 4 years ago.
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

I am sorry about the loss of your husband. It sounds like you had a wonderful relationship and a very happy marriage. A loss of a beloved spouse can be difficult to cope with but it sounds like you are on the path to healing.

It sounds like it was quite a surprise to you to find this new relationship but that is a good thing. It means that you can move on from your loss and be happy with someone else, while not losing what you felt for your late husband. But the feelings your son is expressing is complicating things for you and it is understandable that you are concerned.

Your son is probably very used to thinking of your new partner in one role, that of a friend to your family. And when this role changed, he may have felt bothered by the expectation that he adjust to thinking of this person in a new light. Coupled with the loss of his father, he may also feel he has been through two losses. He lost his father and now a family friend who in his eyes, may be trying to replace his father.

Your son may also be experiencing protective feelings towards you. He may know your new partner as a family friend, but before this, he was on the outside of your immediate family unit. Now he is on the inside and your son may be struggling with the idea that he now has to trust your partner in new ways he never has had to before. This adjustment might feel overwhelming to him right now.

Your son sounds like a wonderful man. And in time, he will adjust to your new relationship especially when he sees how happy it makes you. But in the meanwhile, when you talk with your son, tell him that you appreciate his support and that while you still have a special place in your heart for your late husband, you need to move on as well. You can also spend some time just with your son visiting your late husband's grave or doing something that just the two of you can share to honor your late husband. That way, he still has a chance to acknowledge the loss you both suffered together and feel close to you.

Also, offer to talk with him anytime he wants to discuss his feelings over your new relationship, but let him know that he does need to respect your choice. And request that he at least be cordial around your new partner, even if he is not happy about the relationship. Also, give your son time to grieve. People all grieve at different rates and he may need longer to let go of his pain and move on. Once he does, he may adjust to your new relationship and be able to be happy for you.

I hope this has helped you,
Kate
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