Q: I met a widower online last year. We started seeing each other and fell in love. I have been divorced for many years and he became a widower last year after being married for over 40 years. This is the first time I've seen anyone since I divorced. I have met his brothers, sisters, and his youngest son, who were very kind and friendly to me and were very happy for him. Also, my children are all fine with my seeing him and becoming involved. The one I worry about is his daughter: she does not want to meet me, which upsets him. I told him it would take time. How do I help him in this situation and how do I handle the situation once I do meet his daughter, knowing she does not want anything to do with me? I know she still grieves for her mother, which I understand because they were very close and she passed away last year. Please give me some advice. This is a new situation for me and I love him very much. He is happy with me, and he says I make him laugh, which he hasn't in a long time.
Dr. Pepper Schwartz: Congratulations on finding love again. I think it's just wonderful. And, happily, so does most of his family and all of yours. Of course, it is hard on children to see their parent reshape their life into a life without their mother; it's understandable because it reminds a child that her mother is gone and the life she shared with her is over. Rationally, an adult child wants her parent to be happy, but emotions are something else. There may be jealousy - even over the fact that she won't be as central in her parent's life as she would have been had he remained alone.
Over time, however, these emotions become less powerful, and rationality and love regain traction. Unless the daughter is a disturbed person, she will ultimately be happy that her father has someone to share life with. My advice to you is to be nice, to be generous about sharing your new partner's time with his family, and to go slow. Reassure your partner that you will follow his lead and meet her when, and if, he feels comfortable with it. Ask him what he would like you do and, of course, follow his direction. When you do meet her, smile, and if she doesn't smile back, don't let it get to you. Be polite and kind but let her make the first moves about getting to know you better. Try to make sure there never is a scene. In the meantime, it sounds like his brothers and sisters will sing your praises and so will his son. Let them convince her that you are a good person and that her father is a lucky man. Over time, I think she will come to agree with them.
Dr. Schwartz answers questions every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Submit your question here. Read more of Pepper's columns here. And be sure to follow Pepper on Twitter @pepperschwartz.
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