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My question is this:

I am in a loving relationship with a wonderful man. We're talking about marriage down the road. We're both divorced, and both from situations where we were each married to someone with an addiction. My ex has moved on and married, his has not. She suffers from mental illness and alcoholism, takes Lithium, Wellbutrin and Lexapro to control a variety of problems including, we believe, Bi-Polar disorder. She has never stopped drinking more than a few weeks at a time.

Even though "we" appear on a particular timetable, his ex (with the mental illness) still is not processing the divorce and still says things like "I don't believe in divorce" (yes, it's been over for a while, divorce is final) and "I just know we would have worked things out if only we had tried a little harder." Obviously, she's not any closer to getting over it than she was when all this started. I think we're both worried that if we state our intentions to marry she'll be devastated. We've been dating 2 years now, and she's not a day closer to handling things than she was when we started dating.

Odd thing is, she and I are now friends. She doesn't appear angry when she says these things as she does seem confused and still trying to put the pieces together. She has not embraced her new life yet. Should we hold off? Should we go forward? We're both confused and not wanting to make things harder on anyone.

Oh yeah, there are 9 children involved. I have 3 sons, he has 6 kids, all ranging in age from 7 to 20. The kids are fine and none of them would be surprised if we got married. She's the one who we are worried about.

Carol in Michigan

Hello, Carol--

In my opinion, if you think that marriage will be good for you and your various children you should go ahead with your lives without considering anyone else on earth at all, including your lover's ex.

I imagine that some of my readers will find this view harsh or uncompassionate, but, as I see it, neither you nor your new lover is well situated to provide emotional support for a person who is not in touch with reality, but who has ways of making emotional claims upon you. Under these circumstances, the kind of support she seems to need would best be provided by a professional who is neither emotionally involved with her, nor forced to meet her outside of a professional setting.

Be well

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page last modified March 7, 2006

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