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Trying to focus on the present and future and not the past......
July 24, 2007
3:44 pm
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Lisa Ann
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Hi everyone,

I'm looking for some advice on something. Let me give you a little background. I have been dating this man for over a year now. He lost his wife to cancer about 2 1/2 years ago. I lost my ex-husband to a work related accident 7 years ago. That is kind of how we met. I saw him after his wife had passed away and told him that I could relate to what he was feeling. So, we became friends and talked occasionally, and he officially asked me out one year after his wife passed away. We get along great and have a lot in common. We are truly in love. I have never felt this way about a relationship before - he is everything I have ever dreamed of. BUT, I tend to compare myself to his late wife at times. I feel a jealousy at times. I just want to have that feeling that we will never forget our past, but that's just it, it's in the past and we are here and now we are focusing on the future - leave the past in the past and focus on us now. Do you know what I'm saying? Why does it seem like I have trouble letting that go and focus on his relationship with me. He loves me and he will never be with her again. I think I struggle with the fact that if she were alive, I would not be with him or as happy as I am today because he would have never left her to be with me. He's not that type of person (thank God), but due to her death, as well as my ex-husband's death, we are now a couple who is happier than we have been in a very long time - if ever.

Anyway, can anyone relate or help me to understand and work at letting this go?

July 24, 2007
4:05 pm
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atalose
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Lisa Ann,

It's funny you posted this thread because the other night my BF of 7 years and I were talking and he mentioned a story about a girl he was with years ago and it made me feel weird. He was never serious with her but hearing him mention being with another woman made me feel strainge. It wasn't jealousy, it wasn't feeling mad it was just a strainge feeling that I didn't like feeling.

I know when I am feeling insecure with myself, gained weight, my hair looks bad, clothes don't look right, you name it, you know how we get when we don't feel so good about ourselves. I tend to compare myself to others especialy those my BF used to be involved with or even knows.

I like to think there is a certain about of fate that brings us together. Fate brought the two of you together so it doesn't matter what brought about that fate it just did.

Does your bf talk often about his ex wife? Is there certain situations that make you feel more insecure then others in regards to comparing yourself to her?

Atalose

~~Hope has a place, but not above reality~~

July 24, 2007
4:20 pm
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courage to change
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Hi

I used to feel this about my ex partner, insecure etc (whatever you wish to call it) when he mentioned his ex wife. He was still friends with his ex wife, and had 20 years of memories with her. I think that he had not completely grieved her and their relationship, this was why I always compared myself to her. My partner was logically wanting to move forward by going out with me, but his heart had not let go of his old love. This stuff does take time.

Im not saying that this relates to your experience, but only that this is how it triggered off my insecuries, his grieving still.

I hope you find some answers.

xx

July 24, 2007
4:55 pm
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_anonymous
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My theory is one has to end a relationship (physically and emotionally) before they can begin a new one. You have all the right in the world to be concerned about where this man is coming from as far as his feelings for his late wife are concerned. No one wants to feel like their partner has one foot in the past and one foot in the present.

July 24, 2007
7:33 pm
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Lisa Ann
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Thanks for all of your comments. I guess that maybe I didn't explain myself as well as I would have liked. My boyfriend is not dwelling on his late wife or even talks about her too much, it's all me. I'm the one who finds myself comparing myself to her and who thinks about her a lot. The thing is, he just moved out of his house and has moved into an apartment because he took a different job in a different city - she did not even live with him in this past house, but I still see pictures of her and of course all of the furniture and stuff like that was from when they were married. But, now we are talking about getting a house together - it won't be for at least a year, but I think that will make a difference because we are going to get new furniture, bedroom sets, etc. It will all be ours, and not something from our past lives.

So, things are definitely getting easier for me, but it's still tough having that someone who was so important for 20 years still hanging out there. I wish I could just look at the situation and see it for what it is, he wants me and he wants to be with me forever. The past is the past and there is no going back now or ever. Focus on what we have and not what he had and life will be great! Easier said than done, that's for sure.

Thanks for your comments - I know it's not fun, but it's nice to hear of other people's stories that have been through what I have described.

Thank you!

July 24, 2007
7:42 pm
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It No Longer Matters
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Lisa Ann I don't know what your religious belief is, so please don't be offended. You lost your husband he lost his wife. You two met and fell in love. This was all part of God's plan for the two of you. I know it's hard not to compare. When I was involved with R he would talk about being in Paris with his ex-wife when the clock rolled around to 2000. I always felt jealous. I told myself that if he wanted to be with her he still would be. That was one of his special memories. From personal experience I know it is hard to compete with a ghost. My dad married a woman who was a widow. You would not believe how perfect her first husband was despite the fact that she herself told me he never could keep a job, he was lazy, and cheated on her.

Bitsy

July 24, 2007
8:23 pm
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Lisa Ann
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Thanks Bitsy,

I agree, it's funny how after a person passes away, they become perfect. That happened with my ex-husband too. He has been gone for 7 years now, so it's much easier to see the things that were wrong in our relationship. There were definitely good times, but there were also some very bad times. I can recognize them. His wife has only been gone for 2 1/2 years, so it's still relatively new. The one thing I find kind of interesting is that his family seemed to dislike her a bit. Not everyone, but it did not seem like they were very close. When we started dating, they really seemed to like me a lot. I think that she and I are two very different people.

Anyway, I don't want to find myself comparing myself to her anymore. She is gone and he is with me because - like you said, God has a plan for us and he helped us find each other. We were destined to be together - that's kind of how I see it. I need to focus on that and let the past go. I think that as he moves out of the town where they lived, and we start to build our own memories, things will get better - I am not a very patient person though, I want that to all happen now :o)

Thanks for your post!

July 24, 2007
8:41 pm
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Imagine2
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When his history with you fills in the gaps possibly his love for you will only strengthen his ability to cherish the here and now. To cherish the reality of you.

Darkness can not dwell where there is light so when you feel that jealousy I would suggest a prayer of thanksgiving for the wonder that you have.

July 24, 2007
8:52 pm
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_anonymous
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It is perfectly normal for you to notice that this mans late wifes belongings and pictures are not benefitting your new relationship. Hopefully when he moves he will not take that stuff with him and put it in storage where it belongs. I lost my first husband the father of my children on June 29,2007. I am currently married and remember how preoccupied I was and how I cried uncontrollabley while the man was hanging on between life and death. I got every picture of him that I could find and put it up on my fire place mantel I loved the one with him holding or first and only grand daughter. I have a shelf dedicated to him and his pictures. He has visited me beyond the grave and for a while I was posessed with his spirit. During that time my current husband had a complete meltdown. And four days later became so uncontrollably angry that he got into a fight with another man and is now serving some time for it. This was a man who prior to that showed no signs of jealousy. No one likes to share their partners passion with anyone no one. Not you, not my husband or even I.

July 24, 2007
9:11 pm
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fantas
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Lisa Ann,

Although I totally understand where you are coming from, I am of a different school of thought on this one. I think that it's not only okay, it's healthy to keep and cherish some things about those who touched our lives and left either through death or otherwise. We do it for relatives and even pets, why not previous spouses.

I think that people in relationships should allow and give each other space to own their histories just like they are. I don't mean lording it over their spouses and constantly comparing the spouses. I know in other cultures spouses will take the time to go to the cemetery to visit their dead spouses on the day they passed on. If not that, they may hold a small ceremony at home as well and their spouses actually assist them with this.

I don't want to be completely forgotten by those I leave behind. I don't want a shrine to be erected for me either. I think there is a happy medium somewhere.

July 24, 2007
10:49 pm
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Lisa Ann,

Though I was never in your same position, like many people I have dealt with times I felt jealousy was a problem in a relationship. I actually met some of my boyfriends' ex-girlfriends, thought they were nice, couldn't find a reason to dislike them and that made it worse! When people die, there is also that phenomenon where sometimes people forget all their faults. Maybe it's supposed to be that way, I don't know. But in your head, you can at leas be sure that your bf's late wife wasn't superior to you or a perfect saint.

It's especially hard if your partner isn't doing anything to provoke those jealous feelings, so sometimes you feel guilty for feeling them on top of it. It may be natural, it's how you cope with it that makes the difference. You are being quite rational actually by taking the step to seek advice and not let this overwhelm you.

When I first started reading your post, the first thing that came to mind was "Oh she had such difficult times in the past, now she has something that is good- that makes her happy- and maybe she doesn't feel like she is worthy?" Especially since you went through TWO losses- a divorce, and a death... could it be that you feel afraid of losing this man because he makes you happy? Sometimes that kind of fear magnifies anything that we might naturally perceive as a negative or a threat.

It's also natural to compare a little to past lovers if you've known anything about them, and if you don't - to wonder. But realize, he is with you now, and loves YOU now. I could be wrong, but I'm thinking, if he was unable to love anyone other than his late wife that he wouldn't have started dating. There are those of us here (myself included) who merely broke up with significant others and are still unable to move on. He may always remember her fondly, but that doesn't even mean that he compares you to her. You may be the only one doing that.

You are wise to write about it here instead of letting it get between you. No one can change their past, everyone has one- and it's a good thing. Maybe that long relationship helped him be the kind of man that knows how to treat you the way you deserve?

And you have experienced such sad things before that? People who survive family members (so I hear) sometimes have the reaction that they don't deserve all the good that life has to offer... (Kind of why them and not me?) Is that you at all? Because I've read some of your other posts, and I think you deserve to enjoy your life. Getting a new house, new stuff, creating new memories... all good stuff to look forward to... and he is planning to do it with you! I am happy for you. I understand how it is to feel insecure and jealous, but I hope you will feel better about this soon.

hugs,
ella

July 25, 2007
2:33 pm
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Lisa Ann
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Hi Ella,

Thank you so much for what you have written. You seem to know me very well. I think that I feel I don't deserve to be this happy, and I'm just scared that one day something is going to happen and I'll lose everything. Plus, I keep telling myself that his family and friends don't think I'm worthy of him. It's kind of tough because we come from different circles of friends - I didn't have many friends because my friends were almost all from the bar type scene or just family. Now that I have quit drinking, my friends are my family and now I'm making new friends in AA. But, he has friends that go way back. He likes to talk to his friends A LOT, which sometimes frustrates me. I don't want people to know everything about what is going on in my life. I feel that this stuff is personal and between us. Not many people understand alcoholism and co-dependency. So, I just feel that people look down on me because of the issues I have going on in my life. We have talked about this and I have asked that we keep our relationship between us, for the most part. He has agreed to do that, which makes me feel better, but the so-called damage has already been done. I can't shake the feeling that his friends all think I'm a problem just waiting to happen.

Anyway, it will be nice as time passes for me to start to feel more confident in myself and to start feeling as though I am worthy of someone like that and he is also worthy of me. I am a good person and I am someone who people want to be around and enjoy being with. It will be nice to feel that some day.

Thanks for the excellent post Ella!

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