Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Fiancé’s Ex Just Died and He Won’t Stop Posting About How Much He Loved Her”

A few weeks ago you gave me advice (LW 2) when I was excluded from my fiancé’s niece’s graduation ceremony and now I have another question. Yesterday my fiancé’s son’s mother passed away unexpectedly. This has completely left my stepson heartbroken. My best interest is for the child so please don’t mistakenly think I’m making this about me — I just need some outside advice because I’ve never been in a situation like this. My fiancé, of course, is heartbroken as she was the mother of his child, but I don’t know how to react to his constant posting to social media reminding the world how he loved her so much. My question is: Should I feel some type of way about this? I mean, I think it is completely ok to acknowledge her and pay respect, but it’s as if I don’t exist and honestly I had no clue he was still so in love with her until her unfortunate passing. Am I over-reacting by thinking something is wrong with the posts? — Over-reacting?

Come on, you don’t have “the child’s” best interest in mind. His mother died a day ago – a DAY AGO — and you’re upset that your boyfriend is expressing some feelings about it? How much could his “constant posting to social media” about it actually be if it’s only been less than 24 hours?! Get a fucking grip. A young child just lost his mother!! Your fiancé has lost a co-parent and now must help his son grieve for one of the most important persons—if not THE most important person—-in his whole life and face growing up without his mother. It is an excruciating prospect – for both of them. And you’re upset about some stupid Facebook posts?! You’re jealous of a woman who just died?! You want to know if you’re over-reacting? I could fill this whole screen with caplock yes’s and it still would not convey the level of confirmation to that question.

There’s a phrase I sometimes tell my daughter when she starts whining about not getting her way or having to do something that isn’t exactly what she wants to do that second: “Not everything is about you.” She just turned four yesterday; it’s typical of someone her age to think the world revolves around her, and as her mom, it’s my job to teach her that it doesn’t. Maybe you didn’t learn that message when you were young. Maybe you didn’t learn that not everything is about you – sometimes things are actually nothing about you. Maybe you didn’t learn that when someone you love is hurting, you have an opportunity and an obligation to put aside your own needs for two seconds and be supportive.

Your fiancé is hurting – not because the love of his life died, but because his son just lost his mother and your fiancé lost someone he cared about. The care and even the love he might have had for her doesn’t take away from the love he has for you; there are different kinds of love. And you can love the other parent of your child in a way that isn’t romantic at all even if it’s deep and respectful and maybe even platonic. We are not limited in our capacity for love or the different kinds of love we can have for people. Maybe you never learned that either.

It’s not too late to grow up and cultivate these basic adult qualities. You can start by asking your fiancé how you can best support him through this very challenging time and by prioritizing his needs over your own, at least for a few days while the dust of this shock settles. (I’d also recommend reading this book, which has helped millions become better people, and to learnt the difference between love and dependency).

I have messaged you before — when my boyfriend’s sister got married and didn’t want me at the wedding because she said I’d ruin it — and here I go again. I have a baby girl with my boyfriend and she’s turning two a week from Thursday. Last year on her first birthday my parents and I threw her a huge party and I invited my boyfriend’s family over but none of them came. Only my family and a friend attended. This year on our daughter’s birthday my boyfriend wants to take her to his parents’ house. I feel like why should we take our baby to his parents’ house if last year they didn’t show up to her birthday party — her first birthday party that was so special because she was turning one? And he most likely wants to be there at his parents’ house the whole day, which I don’t want, but if I say something about that, I know he will get mad. I know I should let the past go, but there’s no way of my telling him this because he won’t understand. Do you have any advice or something that will make me think differently about this? Thank you for your time. — Mom of an Almost Two-Year-Old

 
First of all, thinking that your boyfriend will get mad about something you want to express isn’t reason to withhold expressing it. It’s called communication and it sounds like you and he could use some professional help addressing your problem with it. The way it works in a healthy, functional, grown-up relationship is that when you have an issue or concern, you bring it up with your partner. Maybe your partner doesn’t understand or gets upset — the things you think will happen in your case — and then you explain your side and he explains his side, and maybe you still don’t understand each other’s perspective or you’re still upset and so you talk some more or you decide to agree to disagree, but maybe you compromise a little or a lot. Or you say, “You know, this isn’t what I want, but I can see it’s really important to you so let’s do it the way you want this time and next time when something is really important to me, I hope you will let me have it my way then.” This is how a healthy, functional, grown-up relationship works. If your relationship is not working that way – and it sounds like it is not, look into getting a few sessions with a couples counselor to learn how to communicate in a productive way.

As for your daughter’s birthday: She’s a baby who isn’t going to remember jack shit about the day, so don’t stress about it. Your boyfriend’s family clearly doesn’t like you and they don’t want to be around you, but that doesn’t mean they don’t love their granddaughter and deserve some time with her. I can’t believe you would deny them seeing their granddaughter because they didn’t come to a party at your house a year ago. Grow up. Tell your boyfriend it’s fine if he wants to take your daughter to their house. Since you don’t want to go, don’t! Go have some me time. As a mother of an almost 2-year-old, you could probably use some of that, I’m sure. See a movie, get your hair done, take a yoga class, take a nap! Then celebrate your daughter’s birthday at home that evening, or the next day, or on Saturday, or whenever. She’s two – she won’t know the difference!

Bottom line: You have a history of not getting along with your boyfriend’s family and that isn’t likely to get better if you continue holding a grudge and withholding your daughter from them. Eventually, your daughter is going to resent this, too. If you can’t stand being around them (and vice versa), you don’t have to be. But don’t make your daughter – or anyone else — pay for what sounds like major communication issues between and among the adults in this scenario.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.

18 comments… add one
  • avatar

    anonymousse July 8, 2019, 9:35 am

    JFC, she died a single day ago! Of course he has feelings about it. He’s lost the mother of his child, someone he and his son clearly loved. Him loving her and grieving her have absolutely nothing to do with you. Does your pettiness know no bounds?

    You need to go see a therapist ASAP. You are literally walking around in your daily life looking for things that you can justify being hurt by. Why? Call and make an appointment. Talk this heroin with a professional and get to the bottom of it.

    If you can’t swallow this petty bs and be loving and supportive to your fiancé and his son- I can guarantee you will not be getting married. Your fiancé doesn’t need your drama. This is a chance for you to step up and be a good partner and maybe even a mother figure. Do not even hint at diminishing her memory or question how deep his love for her was or bring up that you feel jealous that he’s expressing love for a deceased woman. Grow up and be a better person. It’s literally insane to be jealous of a dead woman. Do you see how you are making this ALL ABOUT YOU? It’s been a day. A single day and you’re already trying to justify feeling jealous.

    A boy has just lost his mother. That’s what you should be thinking about. Your fiancé has his hands full. Don’t add to it.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark July 8, 2019, 9:45 am

    LW1) The most maddening thing for me to realize about the universe is simply that… somehow, the wrong people always die. Meanwhile, here you are penning this over the top stupid fucked up letter.
    .
    LW2) The most maddening thing for me to realize…

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 July 8, 2019, 9:58 am

    LW2: seems life they are more like teenage co-parents than boyfriend and girlfriend with a child. Seems like they both make decisions based on their own needs and not what’s best for both?

    Does your boyfriend plan to include your family if he has your daughter at his parents house, or is he excluding them? If he’s excluding them, then he and his family are pretty shitty people, and need to put aside their differences and show up for the kids birthday party where ever it is and with whoever is invited.

    If neither side of the family wants to go to each other’s house have it at a neutral place, or your own house. If you two truly are boyfriend and girlfriend you shouldn’t have to have separate birthday parties for your child.

    Also

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  • avatar

    LisforLeslie July 8, 2019, 10:41 am

    LW #1 – Go to Target. Go to the home improvement section. Get yourself a stepladder. Get on that stepladder and get over yourself. Your fiance may have had days where he hated her, but he never wished her dead. He never wanted his son to grow up without his mother. Seriously, how fragile do you have to be to obsess over his freaking social media one day after this woman died.

    Also – people process grief in different ways and on different timelines so over the next 18 months don’t you dare complain that either your fiance or his son “haven’t gotten over it” . After 18 months if either is still struggling then you can recommend a grief support group or therapy if they aren’t already involved.

    LW #2 – sounds like they don’t like you and you don’t like them. A two year old isn’t going to remember anything – so spend the day before or the day after with your parents. If you want to throw a cook out for your extended family and serve a birthday cake – fine but it doesn’t have to be on the exact birthday.

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  • avatar

    Ele4phant July 8, 2019, 10:45 am

    LADY – she just died. Your fiancé likely has long since lost his romantic feeling for her, but they spent a lot of time together in the past and had a child together, he’s definitely going to still have more feelings toward her then if she were an intimate object. It’s normal that he’s going to be cut up here for a bit over her passing.

    For the foreseeable future you should be loving, understanding, and supportive to both him and your stepson (of whom you will now be the sole mother figure – did that occur to you yet?)

    Honestly between this and your previous letter where you got your panties all in a wad at not getting to go to his niece’s graduation ceremony (like – who cares? Your reaction should’ve been sweet! Surprise afternoon of having the house to myself!), you strike me as someone that is INCREDIBLY insecure and/or self centered.

    You need to work on that, on your own, so you can help your partner and your step son (which again, you now have this grieving child full time now) through this emotionally hard time and not make it about you.

    Sheesh.

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    • avatar

      Ele4phant l July 8, 2019, 10:49 am

      *inanimate object.

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  • avatar

    Laura July 8, 2019, 10:56 am

    24 hours ago? Twenty-four-mother-effin’-hours ago?! If you slept on it and STILL came up with this, then I’m not sure there is a lot of hope for you.

    I want to ask, are you on any prescription drugs? I’m surprised nobody thinks to ask this. So many folks are, and so often it distorts our perception. You may want to think about readjusting accordingly if you are.

    Do you honestly think your fiancé isn’t picking up on the fact that you’re feeling what you felt so strongly about that you were compelled to write here? I’m sure he senses it. And I’m sure if you keep it up, he’ll be ex-fiancé.

    This is so unbelievably sad. This poor child, you are to be a parent of sorts to them and before the body is cold, your concern is how things will look on social-f’in-media.

    Also, you’re assuring us that it isn’t about you is an indication to me that you hear, “this isn’t about you, Bratney!” a lot. Yeah, I named you Bratney. So if you hear that as often as you do, and yet, you’re still trying to get some kind of consensus, then you’re not just self-centered, you’re a hopeless dum-dum. Unless you’re on prescription drugs, which, as I said, you may want to switch up your dosages, because shit ain’t workin. Don’t worry about how skinny you think you are as a result. Fat is better than brat.

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  • avatar

    kali July 8, 2019, 11:22 am

    LW1 – this answer goes for you and many other LWs out there: turn off the social media. Stop worrying about what everyone else thinks. Be present for your loved ones, especially in times of crisis or loss. Be kind. Hug them.

    How tough is it to show up and be supportive?

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    • bittergaymark

      Bittergaymark July 8, 2019, 12:00 pm

      For many, it’s apparently… impossible, I guess.

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  • avatar

    ron July 8, 2019, 12:24 pm

    LW #1 — your fiancé posted that he loved (past tense) the mother of his child so much. He did not say that he still loved her so much, or that he loved her now more than he loves you. Since he and this woman had a child together and apparently were together for a while, it’s all to the good to know that he actually loved her. You are being way too jealous and competitive about this. This, and your last post, are about not feeling secure in your relationship. It sounds like this is because you are a super jealous and insecure person who keeps looking for signs, where there are no signs, to affirm the strength of your relationship and how valued you are in that relationship. You are going about this wrong. Very demanding jealousy won’t help. It is a relationship killer. If their are real problems in your relationship that cause your insecurity, then fix them through couples counseling or cancel your engagement if that doesn’t work. If the problem is that you are insanely jealous and insecure, then solo therapy to fix yourself. Keep this up and your bf will run for the hills. Really, you come across as an almost Trump-scale narcissist and when bf realizes how aggravating this will be in the long haul, he’ll be gone.

    One thing you know for certain: your ex’s dead gf isn’t going to steal him away from you.

    I’m not sure why you felt entitled to be at your fiancé’s niece’s graduation (for which seats were surely limited), rather than yielding to a relative who actually played a role in this girls childhood and adolescence. None of my sibs attended any of my graduations, let alone their SOs. Parents attended. Some grandparents attended. Not always room for any grandparents. That’s the way graduations are. They aren’t family picnics to affirm the validity of a siblings relationship with SO.

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  • avatar

    Fyodor July 8, 2019, 2:07 pm

    This isn’t the worst thing that I have read on here, but it’s pretty close.

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  • avatar

    Sarah July 8, 2019, 4:34 pm

    LW1, I cannot… I just can’t.

    LW2, talk to your boyfriend. If he is going to stay at his family’s the whole day it’s reasonable to say that’s too much and ask to limit the visit to a few hours, an afternoon whatever. I feel like there is a huge backstory here we are missing. I get you don’t want to go/they were rude last year ( seems dramatic that his ENTIRE family didn’t come, knowing the backstory would be helpful) and I probably wouldn’t want to go either. I get the impression his family cannot stand you and why would you want to celebrate in an awkward situation like that?

    Compromise, his family half the day your family the other half? I think you’ve got bigger problems to worry about here.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros July 8, 2019, 7:20 pm

    LW2: It’s not in your daughter’s best interest to turn her time with family into a contest of who loves her the most. First birthdays are important to the parents, but not to the kid. She won’t remember it. Don’t let your pettiness get in the way of her relationship with her extended family.

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  • avatar

    Poppy July 8, 2019, 8:10 pm

    LW1- First of all, your Fiance son is not your stepson. I could see where you would be coming from if he said she was abusive and told you all sorts of really bad things about her and saw what a bad person she was and all of a sudden is now posting how he loved her etc. But I don’t think thats the case or else you would have mentioned it. She literally just passed away and your upset with how you think he should be handling it. He is his own person and can grieve however he likes. He should be able to grieve his ex wife who birthed his child. He should be able to express that he LOVED her, after all they were married, presumbling both were very in love and happy at one point together, and had a child together. You are a senstive creature. Marruahe counseling before the I dos!

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    • avatar

      Poppy July 8, 2019, 8:12 pm

      Marriage*

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  • avatar

    Poppy July 8, 2019, 8:26 pm

    LW2- Reality check here! Your boyfriend has the EXACT same rights as you do to YALLS child. You do not get to dictate if YALLS child can or cannot be around his family. He has every right to take YALLS child to his family for however long he likes. As long as your boyfriend is alive, you have no say in his family matters. The only person who can get a say into how you parent is the family court system. It was messed up that they didn’t come to YALLS child’s first birthday, assuming to be asses, but your boyfriend would need to be onboard with you.

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  • Just Max

    Just Max July 9, 2019, 9:50 am

    Yes to what everyone else had said about LW1.
    .
    Is the child a minor? Is he going to come live with the dad now that the mom died? If so, does this LW understand that her fiance’s responsibilities will drastically change? Is she up to becoming a full-time parent if she marries him? Will she be writing to DW every other week about how the child is getting all of the attention from her fiance?
    Maybe she should move on now. She doesn’t sound like a person that has the minimum amount of compassion to navigate the inevitable emotional challenges these family will face. Or perhaps the fiance will notice and dump her soon; she’d be the worse step-mom.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark July 9, 2019, 12:16 pm

    I hope to God the stepson is OVER eighteen and LONNNNNNNNG out of the house.

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