Advice from Ms. Price
Dear Ms. Price,
I married my first wife in 1985, and we divorced seven years later. She eventually remarried, and I entered into a long-term relationship that lasted 17 years but has recently ended. Her second marriage just ended, and while she isn’t divorced yet, they separated three years ago.
We get together for weekly dinners with our children. These dinners have become the highlight of my week. The two of us started to do things apart from the kids, and after a few months, we both admitted that we had some feelings. We decided to start seeing each other “casually.”
A few weeks ago, I noticed a change in her, and she’s been pulling back. I haven’t said anything about it because I don’t want to pressure her. She’s been through many changes, and I don’t want to be one more burden.
Being patient has been hard for me, and now that we’re down to just the occasional text, I feel like I’m losing her all over again. I want to do what’s best for all of us. Any advice?
–Back to the Future in Dunedin
“With age comes wisdom,” as the saying goes, but most people don’t know that the second part of this quote is, “but sometimes age comes alone.”
You both agreed that you have feelings, but you are most likely in different stages of healing and letting go of the last relationship. So many people make the mistake of “building a new relationship on the bones of the last.” Relationships must have a strong foundation, and you’re wise to be cautious and move slowly. You’re doing a good job by giving your ex-wife a long leash on this and by extending patience.
Make arrangements to have coffee, something casual, and have the conversation about where you both stand in this journey. Be honest about your feelings, but be prepared to give more space if your ex-wife needs more time.
Best wishes to you both.
Dear Ms. Price,
I work part-time in an assisted living facility and have a side gig as a private caregiver for a 78-year-old woman on the weekends. I’ll withhold her name, but let’s call her “Mabel.”
When I first started the job, my son had some serious medical problems. I was in horrible shape financially and didn’t know what to do. “Mabel” very generously offered to co-sign a loan which saved my son and me. I have been making the payments religiously and am two years from it being paid in full. I have always been eternally grateful.
My problem is “Mabel” has a severe drug addiction and, together with that, has been in critical cognitive decline. She has become highly abusive to me verbally, and when I stand up for myself or try to address the problem calmly, she brings up the loan. This has been happening for at least a year.
I wouldn’t usually leave “Mabel,” but the weekends kill me emotionally. I feel bad about leaving her, especially since she was so kind as to co-sign the loan. I have another job offer with better pay. What do you think?
–Loyal to a Fault
First, if there has been a severe cognitive change, I assume you have notified the doctor and her family. You didn’t mention this, so just confirming that you have made those calls.
You must put your sanity and self-care as your number one priority. If the experts all agree that nothing is to be done for “Mabel” and this will be your reality moving forward, you have no choice but to make the best move for yourself.
It was a kind and generous act for “Mabel” to co-sign a loan, but you are paying it back responsibly. You do not need to work for her to fulfill your legal obligation.
Cognitive decline is tragic, and it’s challenging for even family members to remind themselves that the person they knew is not entirely there and that you have to show understanding and grace. As you leave this positive, I would advise that you do it with as much kindness and professionalism as possible and make sure “Mabel” is well cared for in the future.