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August 17, 1998   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Dear Breakup Girl,

Help -- my relationship of fifteen years is on the rocks because his ex-wife is dying of cancer. He is spending all his time with her at the hospital and won't talk to me about the situation. I feel totally useless and unloved. Question: should I just hang in there or think about pushing for a resolution from him? We are in our 50's and have not married due to trying to keep things separate for our kids and the tax benefit these days of being single vs. married.

-- Lynn

Dear Lynn,

Yuck. What an uncomfortable and unpleasant situation. Unfortunately, no, I don't think now's at all a good time to push for anything, except ways to entertain yourself in his physical/emotional absence. I'm not evaluating or defending the way he's handling things; I'm just saying that when someone's going through the [impending] death of a loved one, all behavioral bets are off. I don't know his personality; it's possible that he might detach himself just as much were the loved one a relative rather than a LOVED loved one -- it's just that the latter is obviously more unsettling for you. So it's a bummer, but right now all you can do, grim as it sounds, is wait to see how things shake down after her death. That is, if you really want to stay. I mean, you tell me about this "useless and unloved" feeling: is it bothering you mainly because it's so wildly uncharacteristic of your relationship, or because it's a long-standing malignancy that seems to have metastasized? So ultimately, it's not about waiting vs. pushing. It's about deciding for yourself what kind of cure you really want to find.

Breakup Girl



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