Getting Over Someone Who Can’t Get Over the Past
I’m with a man whose wife has been dead for three years, and he acts as if it was just yesterday. We moved in together a year ago and we have six closets, and her clothes take up four of them. He’s constantly talking about her, without any regard to my feelings. When we went shopping for Christmas ornaments last year he told the sales girl that he picked an expensive ornament for his tree because he and his wife always picked out good ornaments. For my tree, he picked out a cheap ornament. The tree he used to set up with his wife was in the living room, while my tree is in another room. I know these things may sound petty on my part, but after a year I would have thought maybe we could have made some memories of our own. Instead he still refers to her in every situtation.
He was born on July 4, 1951 and my birthday is June 24, 1957. Will this get better or should I move on? I really like this man but I’m not sure he has room in his life for her memories and for me. I don’t believe we can live in the past and have a future. Please help me in this matter. I was in an abusive marriage for so long, but held on to the belief that there are good men out there. Is he one, or should I look for someone else?
It sounds as if this man hasn’t fully finished his grieving process. You didn’t tell me how long they were married, but it sounds to me that he was with her for a long time, and, most importantly, that he is not ready or able to move on.
Let’s start with the closet situation. Quite honestly, I would not have been able to put up with this. If I’m supposed to be the new woman in the house, I could not be asked to share my house and life with a man’s deceased wife. I would have been respectful of her memory, but would have asked him to please pack up her clothes and either give them away, or move them into the attic, etc. The other things you are mentioning with the Christmas tree, etc. would have also been unacceptable to me.
However, it seems to me that you’ve put up with this stuff for quite a while. I suspect that you are hoping things may change and you’re hoping he is really one of the good ones. There are good men out there! But everyone defines “good” in a different way. You need to figure out what you deem a good man for you and what makes you happy. Don’t go for the lowest common denominator, i.e., a man who doesn’t cheat, doesn’t hit you, lie or abuse you. There’s a lot more to a good relationship, including honesty, integrity, respect, kindness and again, respect! This includes respect for your feelings and boundaries, which I suspect you are not good at setting.
I would sit him down and tell him how you feel. I would also let him know that you can’t go on like this and describe how much this is hurting you. I generally refrain from asking people to choose, i.e., setting ultimatums, but I would make it clear that this is not the life you have chosen for yourself. Once you start respecting yourself and believe in yourself, others will have an easy time doing the same. It all starts with you.
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