And former letter writers (hey, you, from all 12 years of this column!), give us an update. Where are you now? Did we help? Email your update to [email protected] with "update" in the subject line. Tell me which letter was yours and how it all worked out.
I lost my wife to cancer after being together for 36 years (married for 34). After six years, I was contacted by a former coworker who I hadn’t seen in over 30 years. I felt as if I was ready to move on with my life, and we started seeing each other.
Almost two years ago we decided to move in together, and almost from the start I realized that it was a mistake, but she had sold her home after retiring and moving to my state to be with me. I felt that I owed it to her and myself to really give it chance to work things out.
I know now that my late wife is the only woman that I could ever share a home with. The problem is that this woman is a decent person and I don’t want to hurt her, but I know that one way or another this situation will end. Do you have any advice on how I can lessen the pain for her when it ends?
– Living Together
This will be painful, but the longer you wait, the worse it could be.
No one wants to feel blindsided by a big breakup. That's why you can’t keep this a secret any longer. You should tell her this experience has been complicated and difficult for you. Explain why and what you tried to do to make it better.
Let her ask questions. If she wants to work on things, think about what you can offer. Be honest about what you won't do.
Ask her what she thinks should happen, given where you both are. She might help plan next steps that involve moving out, etc. It would just be nice if she could be part of the conversation, coming up wth the details, as opposed to being told to get out.
It's possible she's noticed your discomfort. You can ask about that too, how this experience has been for her. Again, you're trying to get to a place where you can make some decisions together.
This will hurt. You can't avoid that. The sooner she can start to make choices about what comes next, the better. If you know this is going to end, she should know too.
Readers? How can the letter writer make this an easier ending?