Dear Amy: I recently reconnected with a man I was engaged to, many years ago.
We haven’t gotten together in person because we live several hours away from each other and are both in our 70s.
The problem is he blames me for our break-up 50 years ago! (By the way, his assumption is wrong.)
We love each other and spend hours texting together.
It’s a “virtual romance,” and we’re happy with it, but his constant reference to how I destroyed his life gives me a debilitating migraine, and I can’t function for 24 hours after that!
I’ve told him I’m not responsible for how he lived his life after we parted, but he just says he’s sad, and then we move on, only to have that outburst (all caps, like that he is screaming) will happen in the next day or two.
How can we solve his anger management issues without breaking up again?
frustrated old lady
Dear Disappointed: I’m not sure I can help you get over this guy with his anger issues. That’s his job.
Is he experiencing some cognitive decline? Does he have untreated anxiety? Is he drinking when he does this? If so, he should take responsibility for taking care of his health.
The reasons for her behaving this way are really unimportant.
Imagine that – instead of literally screaming – the two of you were actually in the same room when he did this. What would you do? How would you react?
I think you will leave the room when he is angry. And then, once you’ve left the room, you might reconsider being in a relationship, because it’s become a Groundhog Day re-enactment (and a partisan one at that).
Next imagine that a friend or family member of yours witnessed one of these rages. The person will say to you, “Myrtle, this is abuse. Look what it’s doing to you! It’s hurting your health.”
Abuse doesn’t just happen in the individual. This can be online, via text, over the phone, or via Zoom, FaceTime, or postal mail.
I suggest that when this happens again, you respond: “I want our relationship to be successful and to move forward in peace. I totally dispute your memory of it. But regardless, I’m just telling you that if you Sometimes Communicate with me like this again, I will really break up with you. do you understand?”
If he responds in any way other than acknowledging and apologizing, you should part ways.
If he accepts and apologizes, but then reverts to his previous behavior, it’s over.
Dear Amy: I have a relative “Steven”, whose father passed away on Steven’s birthday.
Five years have passed, but still it feels strange when a big “Happy Birthday!” Write or write your card with.
While I want her to enjoy her day, I know the feelings are mixed with the guilt of her missing and celebrating her birth on the anniversary of her father’s death.
What are some suitable messages I can use in lieu of the standard “Happy Birthday”?
Dear Surprise: This is difficult. I suggest you state: “I understand this may be a day of big and mixed feelings for you, but I hope you find good ways to celebrate. I always think of you, and of your father.” I have a lot of happy memories.”
Dear Amy: A recent statement in your column, which I read in Seattle, hit hard!
You wrote: “You grieve because you have experienced the privilege of being loved.”
As a widow of five years, and whose husband had had dementia for five years before her, it really hit home. I realized that I was so lucky to have him for the time that I did. Sometimes it feels like a dream.
I have given this phrase to my condolence group. The four of us have been together since 2017, and we continued to meet during the pandemic.
We all agreed that we had the privilege and good fortune to be loved.
Thank you for your writing.
Dear Grateful: Thanks. My own experience with intense sadness has often led me to explore difficult feelings, looking for ways to learn from them.
Grief groups like yours are a true lifeline – a safe place to grieve, to commune, and to forge friendships made of tough steel.
Go ahead, move on, and keep supporting each other.
You can email Amy Dickinson at email@example.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow him on Twitter @askingamy or on Facebook.