Dear Dr. Romance:
I'm a sixty something divorced man, I have not had a relationship for a long time. Last year, I met a wonderful lady from Colombia, who is a little bit younger, well educated and has a green card here. She has taken me out of my lonelines and made me feel alive again. Her late husband was killed by the guerrilla in Colombia. She has told me how wonderful he was and how much they love each other and that is fine. I'm happy that she have good memories, but she keeps bringing him back, I told her that I can not compete with a dead man, she tells me that is a different feeling and how happy and how much she loves me.
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The other day she was on the phone with a relative in Colombia telling her how happy she was for the first time in so many years and how wonderful I was, what a wonderful time she was having and how eager she was for them to meet me. Then, all of the sudden she answered "No I will never forget him" ( her late husband). Maybe they were trying to make her feel guilty or maybe I'm insecure and over reacting, she keeps talking about the future and in terms of a long relationship and how wonderful our lives are and will be, and she makes me so happy, but one thing for sure is I'm confused and afraid to be lonely again.
Could you please help me?
Do you understand that you're jealous of a ghost? It's natural for a surviving spouse to idealize someone she lost in such a horrific way. She has some survivor guilt, and also it sounds like some cultural/family pressure. None of this will make her leave you or fall out of love with you. If she had lost a child and talked about him, would that upset you?
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You have to let go of your fear and jealousy about her dead husband. It's healthy for her to talk about him and things they did together, when being with you reminds her of her previous marriage. If you don't get upset, and just let her talk, these memories will fade, and eventually talking about her late husband will stop. The more upset you get, the more you push her away. Please read my article "Handling the Green-Eyed Monster" Don't let your own insecurity ruin this relationship. A dead man is no competition for you.
How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free can help you and your lady friend overcome jealousy, and learn to communicate effectively.