Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: I am a 42-year-old single mom who recently began a relationship with a wonderful man. I have two kids from my marriage to an ex who wasn’t very kind. We did our best for 16 years (we were young when we met) and finally had to go our separate ways. The man I’m dating is sensitive and kind. He’s great to my kids. He’s the first person I’ve dated that I have allowed to meet them.

His first wife passed away three months after their wedding 14 years ago. She had been expecting their first child, and it was a tragedy for all involved. When he speaks about her, I just listen. He did move on after she passed. He remarried and had another child, but it didn’t work out. He claims he never loved his second wife. He got her pregnant early on, and married her because it was “the right thing to do.”
He still carries a torch for his first wife, whom he calls the love of his life. He keeps a picture of her hanging from his rearview mirror and plans to be buried next to her when he passes. While I understand that love doesn’t die when people pass, I can’t help feeling crushed when he says, “If she were still alive, we wouldn’t even be talking right now.” He puts her memory on a pedestal. How do I handle this? I’m not sure I can stay in a relationship like this. — HATES HIS HISTORY IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR HATES: His first wife may indeed be “the love of his life,” but she is GONE! If you want a future with someone who may never be done grieving, you will have to do it fully aware that you can’t compete with an “angel.” (No one can.) When this paragon of insensitivity tells you that if she were alive he wouldn’t even be talking to you, you would be within your rights to respond by saying, “But SHE isn’t, and here WE are!” Your question about whether to continue the relationship is a good one. Unless you have a backbone of steel and can develop a thicker skin, don’t do it.
P.S. In some states, items hanging from one’s rearview mirror are illegal because they obstruct the driver’s vision. I believe your state is one of them.
DEAR ABBY: After 15 years of marriage — some happy and some horrible — I am divorcing my husband. We have two beautiful, amazing children together. I would love to have the same last name they do, but I cannot imagine keeping my husband’s last name. His family was awful to me during our entire marriage. What should I do? Should I keep his last name so I have the same one as my children, or should I change it back to my maiden name? — MOVING ON IN TEXAS
DEAR MOVING ON: This isn’t the ’50s. There is no shame in having a different name than your children. Many women with children change their names after a divorce. Because your married name carries painful connotations, feel free to resume using your maiden name, or adopt another one of your own choosing. (Some women choose the name of a favorite city to adopt.)
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)
(EDITORS: If you have editorial questions, please contact Clint Hooker, [email protected])
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