Solve your life dilemmas with expert advice from Maura O’Neill
Dear Maura: I’ve discovered that my ex-husband has told his new partner of three months a completely different story of how we separated. We’ve two teenage daughters and the eldest told me that his girlfriend explained that she shouldn’t judge her dad as he was just unhappy in our marriage.
What is she doing talking to my daughter about issues that belong only to our family? It’s like she’s making it her life’s purpose to stand up for him. The truth is we’re all happy, the split was amicable because we’d gone over our time as a married couple. But now with all this stuff going on the girls are confused. Of course, he’s doing his ‘I’m not getting involved’ routine. That’s not going to cut it this time and the only way we can move past everything is by him telling her the truth about our break-up. Trying to get him to speak up like a man when he’s still a child is difficult. You’d think he’d find the guts to do it though, for his kids’ sake. We had all moved on and now this. I’m so mad.
Answer: I appreciate that the situation has been triggered by your ex’s partner but there are underlying feelings that have never been fully explored.
Having said that, going by the description of your husband as a child maybe that was never an option for you. The key point here is that you have moved on and without a doubt I sense that this was the best option for everyone. Unfortunately, someone you regard as an ‘outsider’ to the family has commented out of turn. Arrange for the three of you, the adults, (leave your girls out of this part), to talk openly and honestly about the truth. Try to meet without too much organising so he doesn’t clamp up. A frank discussion to clear the air is all that is needed. The partner talking to the girls about the break-up has confused them. Close that down and hopefully you can continue with your new life, putting all this behind you and your daughters.
My man is over the top with his mum
Dear Maura: My boyfriend is so unemotional and unaffectionate, except with his mother. He adores her. I’m his first partner since he told her he was gay, and I feel he thinks he has to be over-attentive in case he has disappointed her. It makes me feel nauseous at times. He’s totally over the top and I know it’s an act. I’d love to video him, to find out would he see what I witness between them.
I love him dearly, but he’s complicated; he didn’t have a great relationship with his dad and he’s an only child. I just want him to be himself. How do I help?
Answer: He’s overcompensating with his mother for being gay, it seems. However,
he has taken a huge step on his journey to being himself, as you describe it. This could be the transition phase, being overly dramatic because he’s still not at ease with who he is.
The only way you’ll lift him out of this behaviour is to talk. Encourage him to discuss his relationship with his mom. There could also be issues with his dad. Counselling would help if he agreed to it. Meanwhile, keep showing him affection and love — this is the best way to help a person to become comfortable in their own skin.
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