First, you need to figure out what it is that bothers you about the idea of your boyfriend of a year financially helping out his ex-wife/mother of his grown son. Do you think it symbolizes feelings between them that you’re uncomfortable with? Are you concerned about your boyfriend’s own financial situation? Do you think he can’t afford the help he’s provided his ex in the past? Are you thinking about building a future with this man and worried about how his spending habits may affect that future together?
Once you get clear about what it is that concerns you, you need to decide what is actually worth communicating to your boyfriend and how. For example, as his girlfriend of a year – I assume you don’t live together? — I don’t think it’s entirely your business how he spends his money. But if you feel unsettled about his relationship with his ex-wife, that is absolutely worth discussing. And it might help you to get a sense of why he has helped her financially in the past. Maybe he didn’t pay as much child support and alimony as he could have. Maybe he feels particularly indebted to her for, as you say, raising his son well. Maybe the money is his way of making amends for problems his drinking may have caused in their life together and his role as a co-parent when their son was young.
You mention nothing in this letter that should worry you — only that they have a pleasant relationship that is mostly maintained through phone calls – so you would have to be clear about what it is that concerns you. Is it just about the money he loans her? Again, it’s not your business how he spends his money, but if you think the money symbolizes something about their relationship that confuses or upsets you, you should express that.
If you are thinking about a future with this man and are worried about how his potentially extending financial help toward his ex may affect your plans, be very concrete about those concerns when you talk to him. Does he know you have these plans? Is he on the same page as you? Does all of this sound a little premature? Well, then, maybe worrying about how your boyfriend might react to his ex-wife’s maybe impending retirement is also premature? And maybe it is best to focus on the present and how and whether your boyfriend makes you happy, and whether your relationship feels super solid. If it doesn’t, think about what it is that is happening right now – not maybe, potentially months or a couple years from now, but right now in the present – that you can address with him and then do that. Worrying about something that *might* happen, and that might now even affect you if it does, is a waste of energy.
The second anniversary of my fiancé’s death is in a week and I don’t know what to do or how to feel. I’ve got nowhere that I’m welcome. I can’t even visit his memorial bench because I don’t know where it is, and I don’t know where his ashes are scattered. I don’t want to just sit at home and do nothing because I want to remember him and I want my son to remember his daddy. But what can we do together that’s appropriate for a 3-year-old? Any kind of help or advice would be greatly appreciated! — Remembering My Fiancé
I’m so sorry for your loss and for the extra pain being alienated from your fiancé’s family has caused you. I think it’s a wonderful idea to do something special on the anniversary of his death to honor his memory, especially to help your son develop a sense of his father. You don’t need a memorial bench or scattered ashes to do that. Is there a place that you know of that was special to your fiancé? Is there somewhere you two went together that had some special meaning for you? Was there a place you went on dates? A park where you had walks and talks? Where did you first find out you were pregnant? Where did you two get engaged? Where did you plan to get married? If there’s any place that sticks out as meaningful to you, it might be nice to go there with your son if possible. Have a picnic or order a lunch. Bring photos to show your son (or, better yet, make an album or scrapbook to give to him). Tell him about his daddy.
Since it’s spring and the anniversary of your fiancé’s death will always fall in early spring, it might be a nice tradition to start planting something in memory of him. For example, my local neighborhood park offers commemorative tree-planting opportunities every spring where people can donate a specific amount of money and then choose a tree species and location for the tree to be planted. Maybe there is something similar in your area. The anniversary could also be the day you do some gardening, either at your own home or at a designated place that has some special meaning.
Does anyone else have ideas for how this LW and her son can honor her fiancé’s memory on the anniversary of his death — ideally something that can be a tradition that they can continue year after year?
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.