Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Son Lives with his Girlfriend and I Don’t Want to Stay in Their Home When I Visit”

I am just wondering how I should handle my visit with our 47-year-old son, who is divorced and living with his 43-year-old, twice-divorced girlfriend. We have grandchildren aged 18-22 who have been raised to not live with a boyfriend/girlfriend before marriage. Our daughter, divorced, who would like to visit her brother and his girlfriend, has also shared that she would not like to sleep overnight at their home, showing that she does not support their lifestyle and prefers being a better example for her children and niece and nephew. We are also feeling the pressure to do likewise.

My son’s son was pressured by his girlfriend to live with her, but he refused because of his religious beliefs. So, therefore, his visit may take the same route as mine. He would be making a statement by visiting and staying in a hotel. Actually, it would be more expensive for us to stay in a hotel during our visit, but we may have to pay the price.

I’m wondering how this will go over with my son and his girlfriend to not have us stay with them. My grandson and granddaughter’s mother would not want her children to stay at her ex’s house under these conditions. My son’s girlfriend’s mother and father, siblings, and other family members and friends find nothing wrong with staying with them at their house. I don’t think they will warm up to our reasons for staying at a hotel, and they may feel slighted.

Please give me some insight into this dilemma. — Religious Mom

Personally, I think it’s a little ridiculous to worry that a 47-year-old divorced father of adult kids is living with his 43-year-old girlfriend, but it clearly bothers you, and I would imagine your son probably knows this and wouldn’t be terribly shocked to hear that you aren’t comfortable sleeping under the same roof as two unmarried adults sharing a home together. If you’re wondering if your son and his girlfriend will feel slighted, they might. More than likely, they’ll probably just think you’re being silly. But, look, you’re a grown-up, and part of being an adult means dealing with the consequences of your actions. One of the consequences of your son and his girlfriend’s action of living together outside of marriage is that you won’t want to sleep at their house and, apparently, your grandson wants to “make a statement” about his lack of support for his dad’s lifestyle by staying in a hotel when he visits as well. The consequence of that action and your same action is that your son and his girlfriend may be slighted. If you can’t bear to slight them, stay at their house, I guess. But if appearing to support such sin is an even worse consequence to bear, then don’t.

If you’re looking for words you can say to soften the blow of your choice to stay in a hotel, try something like this: “We are so looking forward to our upcoming visit. Because of our strict religious beliefs, we feel more comfortable spending our nights in a hotel while we’re there, which I hope doesn’t come as too much of a shock. We realize that other visitors would feel differently and we respect that, but we hope our choice is respected too and doesn’t wrongly reflect a lack of excitement for our visit or diminished love and support for you. Please let us know if there’s a nearby hotel you recommend for our stay.”

And, by the way, if you do stay in a hotel, then, yes, you will be “paying the price,” as you say, for a hotel room. Why is that not a definitive for you? Are you expecting your son to offer to pay? Don’t.

My ex, “Tom,” and I broke up after three years together. We have an age gap – I’m older than he is by 8-1/2 years, and, as a result, I am more settled in my career and ready for a family and sharing a life with a life partner (although marriage isn’t a priority). He doesn’t want a family and wasn’t ready to settle down. I broke up with him because we weren’t on the same page and, because of the age gap, I couldn’t wait around for him to change his mind.

I broke things off in November 2019. After a few months we contacted each other again and I thought I could remain friends with him. Fast forward a couple of months and he has decided to quit his job and move to a different state to start over. Before he left, we slept together a couple of times.The day he left I told him I loved him and he said he loved me too. We have kept in touch after his move, and one day in December 2020, I asked him if he would let me know if he was seeing someone or if he started dating again. He said he would when the time came, but he wasn’t looking and it was hard for him to look when he still had feelings for me. But I noticed that in January 2021 his texts were getting fewer and further in between, and it took him longer to text me back. Then one day in February, I saw on his IG feed that he had posted a picture of a girl with the caption, “Happy birthday, babes.” I texted him asking for confirmation that he had moved on, and I got no response. He posted another picture a couple of days later of himself and the birthday girl on a date. I have since deleted all my social media accounts because they were toxic for me. Plus, I will be tempted to look and that will only hurt me seeing he has moved on.

I know I should have cut him off completely and not tried to be friends with him because I never cut the emotional and mental ties with him. Plus, sleeping with him just added more fuel to the fire. Now he’s moved on and I’m dealing with this heartbreak on my own. Why would he lie to me? Why would he tell me he still had feelings for me and and then meet someone a month later and not tell me about it? I’m so confused about his actions and words. This isn’t the same person I met 4-1/2 years ago. I don’t know if he’s intentionally hurting me by showing me he has moved on, or that he was too scared to tell me.

I’m hurt and angered by his action. At the same time, words are cheap and actions are loud. And to be ghosted too! This was my lover and best friend for 3-1/2 years and this is how he’s treating me towards the end of our relationship? Or maybe he was already emotionally and mentally moved away from me before he physically distanced himself? His new girlfriend is 20 years old. He’s 29 and I’m 37.

I just need some insight. At this point it’s been over a month and still radio silence from him. I probably will not get my answers and I can’t depend on him to give me closure. This is my first heartbreak and he was my first love. This has been, and is, still hard for me to handle. — Broken-Hearted

Someone you broke up with nearly a year and a half ago is under literally zero obligation to share details of his personal life with you, despite however he may have responded when you asked him to tell you if he started dating someone. He probably chose not to because he didn’t want to appear like he was deliberately hurting you, or he didn’t want to deal with any drama. His new relationship isn’t about you. Like, at all. He’s not treating you some certain way at the end of your relationship; the end of your relationship was in November of 2019 when you broke up with him because you weren’t on the same page and didn’t share similar life goals. He’s understandably moved on and it’s time for you to do the same. What you’re feeling now is delayed heartache like anyone might feel after ending a relationship that was special and meaningful. You’re grieving. It’s a normal emotional stage and you’ll get through it. Here are some tips for getting through a painful break-up. Good luck.

***************Follow along on Facebook,  and Instagram. If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.

17 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Bittergaymark March 12, 2021, 10:25 am

    LW1) Religion! Causing vapid family drama since it was first made up by those that really just want your money. Yay! Religion! Look… I seriously doubt your son and girlfriend care if you even visit — much less stay with him. But if you do go the hotel route for this visit. Be ready to spring for THREE motel rooms. As heaven forbid your grandson and his girlfriend share a room! Lightning might just strike the motel and innocent bystanders could once again be killed by the wrath of GOD.

    LW2). You are only hurt here as you are rather deliberately looking to be hurt. He’s moved on… BECAUSE you broke up with him. That was actually a very smart move as you both want different things — so I don’t get why you are beating yourself up about this now or mad at him for basically accepting your decision.

    🤷‍♂️

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    LisforLeslie March 12, 2021, 10:42 am

    LW#1 – I don’t get it. If you believe your child is doing something wrong – why are you even visiting? If someone is behaving against your stated morals, then isn’t spending any time with them, even talking on the phone, acceptance of their chosen sin? Making sure your younger children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren understand the price for going against the rules need to be clear and unequivocal. Otherwise, they’re going to see that even if they break the rules, you are still going to love them and allow them to be in your life and you can’t allow them that kind of grace.

    Now if it’s just that you’re uncomfortable that people might be having sex while you’re in the house… just take a damn sleeping pill, put in your earplugs and think of baby elephants or something.

    LW#2 – Wendy is 100% right; he owes you nothing. He WAS your best friend; when you broke up with him, that ended. Maybe he’ll show up if this relationship doesn’t work; you can decide then if you want him back in your life. And maybe he’ll get married and have kids with this woman and if that happens, it has nothing to do with you and your thoughts on the matter are yours and yours alone.

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    ArtsyGirl March 12, 2021, 11:32 am

    Anyone else want to tell the LW1 that likely many and perhaps the majority of the guests sharing the hotel with her will also be unmarried and even engaged in haughty, sinful behavior? I don’t normally mock people’s beliefs but this is bordering on ridiculous.

    LW1, your son is a middle aged man and has one marriage already behind him. His GF is also an adult with two marriages that ended. It makes sense that they live together before deciding to tie the knot to make sure they are compatible – or maybe they never want to get married and are happy with their current situation. I imagine your son did not live with his first wife before heading to the altar so it shows that doing so does not ensure a successful marriage (though longevity also should not be seen as the only marker of success). Also stop blaming your son’s GF for “pressuring” him to move in. Again he is an adult. If he did not want to move in with her, he didn’t have to. Furthermore, if he wanted to commit to her before moving in, he could have proposed or insisted they get married. He made his choice and is clearly fine with it even if it comes with massively stupid judgement from his family. Just pay for a hotel room and don’t make a big stink out of it.

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    • avatar

      ArtsyGirl March 12, 2021, 11:34 am

      *should be naughty not haughty (autocorrect strikes again). Also now I have the image of people wandering around a HoJo disdainfully talking down to each other.

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      • avatar

        Helen March 12, 2021, 1:23 pm

        That was my first thought. Does she not know what People like to do at hotels??

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    • avatar

      Kate B. March 15, 2021, 12:25 pm

      Yeah, why is it the woman’s fault? As if the grown son has no agency of his own and is being led around by his…nose. I’m curious who she blames for the daughter’s divorce.

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  • avatar

    ron March 12, 2021, 1:50 pm

    LW#2 — You chose to dump him. Then you chose to sleep with him after, although you broke up because you wanted very serious relationship, but he wanted casual? So you did FWB, about as casual as one can get. Then you demanded to be read into his dating/love life as if you retained ownership rights . He agreed, but he could only agree for himself. I’m guessing knew gf vetoed that, seeing you as some sort of super-possessive, voyeuristic ex whom she would not tolerate at the third wheel in her relationship.

    LW#1 — the grandson’s reaction is nothing more than the very typical case in which a child sides strongly with one parent after the divorce. Living with the mother, it’s easy to see how she could have influenced your grandson’s thinking. You seem to be working with (or at least applauding) ex in turning your grandson against his father — your own son. The only offense you mention is that your son is living with his gf, really pretty much the normal state of affairs these days. Your religion seems to have put hate rather than love into your heart. That truly is sad. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if your grandson turns against you not too many years from now when he has a fully adult’s view of your role in all of this.

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  • avatar

    Guy Friday March 12, 2021, 2:00 pm

    LW1: Let’s be real: you pick and choose religion when it suits you. I don’t have any problem with your position that unmarried couples should not live under the same roof (insofar as I respect your right to believe that). But every faith/sect I know of that holds that belief also holds the belief that divorce is a sin and that you should not divorce the person you marry. So why did you look the other way when your son got divorced? And how about condemning your daughter for divorcing as well? Where’s your moral outrage for that?

    My in laws are devout Catholics. They were incredibly uncomfortable with my now-wife and I living together before marriage (and were probably not 100% thrilled that I did not share their faith, though to their credit they have never once in all the years I’ve spent in a relationship with my wife brought that up to me). But they also kept their opinions to themselves, only asking that when we visited their house pre-marriage we slept in separate rooms, which we respected and did. I asked them a few years ago why they never said anything openly to us about it, and my mother in law said “We taught [wife’s name] her faith, but her faith is HER faith, not ours. At the end of the day, we had to hope that the core principles we instilled in her would remain. And if she’s imperfect in her practice, then she’s no different than anyone else in this world, and that’s something we have to accept.” I thought that was a particularly beautiful sentiment.

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    • avatar

      Karebear1813 March 12, 2021, 4:31 pm

      @GuyFriday – Tu Shay

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  • avatar

    FYI March 12, 2021, 3:55 pm

    Something is really off in L1. The DIVORCED daughter wants to be the power of example for the younger generation on the sanctity of marriage?! Hasn’t that ship sailed?

    Also, it struck me as odd that the LW talks about her “son’s son.” Why not call him your grandson? Or “my grandson and granddaughter’s mother.” You mean your ex-daughter-in-law? It’s like they’re all chess pieces or something.

    Anyway, through all of it, it’s like the LW is taking a poll — “this family thinks it’s wrong, but this family thinks it’s okay, and so-and-so wants to make a statement,” etc. If you’re so religious, then OWN your convictions. It’s not like they’ll be surprised.

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    • avatar

      Bittergaymark March 12, 2021, 5:22 pm

      The oddly complicated labeling of relatives was at times quite cumbersome and hard to follow. I’d go into this a bit more, but right now I have to go call my grandmother’s daughter’s daughter’s son…

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  • avatar

    d2 March 12, 2021, 11:02 pm

    Wonderfully sensitive suggestion for a response for LW1 to offer. Kindness and respect goes a long way when you have differences.

    Perfect picture at the head, by the way.

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  • avatar

    golfer.gal March 13, 2021, 8:08 am

    I wonder what sin god will punish more harshly: fornication or thinking you have authority above his own to judge the sins of others and dole out the consequences for them. And you think it’s your son who needs to be put in his place. Honestly the thought of a bunch of divorced people refusing to stay in a loved one’s home to make some sort of statement about the sanctity of marriage is sort of hilarious. The cherry picking and hypocrisy is strong. But having grown up in a very religious home i know that is not at all atypical.

    Also, thinking your grandson’s girlfriend put living together on the table but they’re totally chaste and definitely not regularly banging is…pretty hilarious. So it’s not the sex he’s concerned about but the judgement from his family.

    Everyone here needs to remove their noses firmly from other adults’ decisions. If you want to get a hotel room, get one. Be prepared for your son and his girlfriend, at best, to laugh at you behind your back. At worst to decide they don’t need your self righteous hubris and judgment in their lives and tell you not to bother to come.

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    ele4phant March 13, 2021, 5:55 pm

    LW1 – by no means do you have to stay with your soon if it makes you uncomfortable. For whatever reason. If it would make you uncomfortable to stay with them, by no means do you have to force yourself.

    But you know, he’s an adult. He’s going to make his own decisions and decide what behaviors he is okay with and what values he will hold onto. Your as his parents was to expose him to your values, but eventually step back and let him make his own way in the world. The time of you being the parent, the teacher, ended a long time ago. This is his life now. It’s not your place anymore to comment, and hasn’t been a for decades.

    I think Wendy’s script is great. Just let him know you’re going to get a hotel room (and you will pay for it) because that’s more comfortable for you, and then zip it and just enjoy spending time with your son.

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    brise March 13, 2021, 8:13 pm

    LW1: you take for granted that your son and his girlfriend would want and expect you to stay at their house, and would feel slighted if you don’t. But why? Maybe they would prefer you to stay at hotel and visit at their place for meals or other limited time frame. I definitely prefer family visits who have their own accommodation, especially older family member who can be more rigid and have more needs. It is more expensive, sure, but also much less work for the hosts (especially if they work) and more privacy for all. As it will be your first meeting with your son’s GF, if I understand well, I think that it is also much more reasonable. The more presence and work, the more chances for irritation and nervous feelings. The lighter the visit, the best chances of a successful and happy introduction. In my opinion, you don’t need to explain why you choose the hotel option. Just state that you will and reserve your rooms. If your son offers you to stay at his place, then decline gracefully saying that at your age, you prefer the privacy of a hotel room and don’t want to give them too much work. He knows anyway that you might have other reasons, but he won’t rock that boat and will see the bright side, I am sure. So you can focus on what matters: meeting your son’s new partner and start on a good note. As for your grand-son, please mind your own business.
    LW2: sorry about your heartbreak. A next time, don’t do post-breakup sex, that is a recipe for sorrow. It is also a spectacular reversal of situation. You broke up rightfully because you felt on two different tracks, you were then in charge of your own life and owning your choice. Then somehow he became the one who broke up with you eventually and he became in charge of your happiness in letting you know that he remains single vs moving on (a self-defeating request). That is a pity. I think you should recall why you broke up in the first place and let him go. You made the right decision and he made the right call in not informing you about his life. His departure was a clear signal that – even if obviously cared for you a lot – he was moving on and had lost interest in your ex-story. Now you can also wonder why you felt the need to reverse like this your decision. A lack of self-esteem? A sense of panic and desperation? Embrace your future and leave aside all these hurt feelings. You were right to end it.

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    • avatar

      allathian March 15, 2021, 1:41 am

      Yeah. I bet most people would far rather see overnight guests stay in a hotel room rather than at their house, I know I would. Even many people who agree to host older relatives only do so because they know or suspect that the relative would feel insulted if they were asked to stay in a hotel.

      My husband and I have lived in our current home for nearly 9 years and we haven’t had an overnight guest yet, except for my son’s friends for a sleepover before the pandemic. One reason for this is definitely that my parents and in-laws both live in the same city as we do and we don’t really socialize with other relatives all that much.

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