Dear Carolyn: After 40 years of an abusive marriage, I finally got my divorce and recently reunited with my first love. We have been together almost a year now and were planning to get married.
I’m having second thoughts. He is obsessed with his adult children, who are married with children of their own. They both live over 1,000 miles away. If I get sick and need something, he ignores me, but if his son’s wife needs money, he can’t wait to send it.
I have tried talking to him about this and it just ends up in a fight. I tried telling him she wasn’t his responsibility, but he just doesn’t see it. What should I do?
Look at this through the lens of your strengths, vulnerabilities and experience. During those 40 years, did your inclination to stick around, set your needs aside, minimize your doubts and keep the peace serve you well?
You don’t mention any counseling after you left your abuser; given your long marriage to someone who mistreated you, and your impending marriage to someone who puts you third on his list — or merely takes advantage of the fact that you put yourself there — it appears you’re living by an old, unhappy pattern. If you question whether you can shred it and design a new one in its place, then I urge you to run these second thoughts about your relationship by a reputable therapist.
Something to keep in mind either way: When you ask your partner for something you value, and he refuses, your remaining options are these: stay on his terms or leave on yours. Don’t let other things clutter that point.