Q • I’ve been seeing a man whose wife passed away around four years ago. I have kids, and so does he. I really like him and the kids enjoy each other as well. Things get a little weird when he starts comparing me to his former wife. How can I get him to stop the comparisons without seriously damaging our relationship and sounding downright uncaring and rude?
From a reader • You have to realize that there’s no way you’re going to stop him from comparing you to his former wife. He obviously loved her very much, and it’s super hard to diminish her memory. You’re either going to have to accept it for now or leave. — Chris M. in Baton Rouge, La.
From Jodie Lynn • There’s a certain type of guilt that many people have that prevents them from doing what they may see as “substituting” someone else in the place of their former spouse.
This gets way more difficult when there are children left behind.
Think about how he may feel. He’s probably striving to keep her memory alive for his kids so that they don’t forget her and all the things that they built as a family.
In order to do so, he’s going to need to frequently talk about her and those memories, especially with the kids.
Naturally, some of that is going to overflow in normal conversation with you, so while it seems like he’s constantly comparing you to her, it could be that he’s continuing to verbalize thoughts that he may have recently shared with his kids.
Since it has been four years, it may be time for him to reflect on a more positive emotional support system.
He may not even be aware of his comments and how much they bother you.
In order for him to consider how his actions make you feel, you’ll need to be honest with him.
Keeping in mind about him trying to keep his former partner’s memories alive, start building some of your own with him and the kids.
Tell him upfront that you’re not trying to take her place but that you’d like to try some things without being compared to her and that you would also like to be respected for them.
He will either learn how to curve and/or change his thoughts before speaking out loud, or he’ll simply say he’s not ready to do so.
If he says he’s not ready, it just may be too much for him as well as for the kids. You will have to make a decision about whether to stay or to go.
If he’s willing to work on things, you will need to be strong, not take anything personally should it backfire and have plenty of patience because it’s not going to happen overnight. This will hopefully strengthen your relationship with him and the kids.
CAN YOU HELP?Does everything we do have to be centered around our two kids? My wife and I argue about this all the time. She’s totally into doing what they want, and I’m really tired of it. What should I say or do to get her to realize that we need to do some things that we like and not have to constantly make plans to include our kids? Why can’t we just take them to something we like but that they might not?