Ask Amy: The man I love is my grandchild’s uncle, and things have gotten messy

Ask Amy: The man I love is my grandchild’s uncle, and things have gotten messy

Dear Amy: I am an older woman who fell in love with a man 17 years younger than me.

I love this man with everything I have. We met about five years ago at my home during Thanksgiving.

Unfortunately for us, his brother is married to my daughter.

I have practically raised their daughter from infancy; she’s going into second grade this year. When my boyfriend and I started seeing each other, my son-in-law decided he would punish me by keeping my granddaughter away from me. (She was 4 at the time.)

The pressure and pain I endured was overwhelming, and I broke up with the first man I’ve ever loved, who I was completely comfortable with, in order to spend time with my granddaughter.

Then, last year, my guy and I reunited. I love him more every day, but the same thing happened again – my granddaughter wasn’t allowed to come to my home anymore, and my son-in-law treats me like dirt. So we broke up again because the pain is almost unbearable for both of us.

I would like your thoughts on this, please, because I need help.

I don’t want to live a miserable life without the love of my life.


Dear Heartbroken: I’m going to take it as a given that your partner doesn’t present any risks to your granddaughter, and that your son-in-law’s treatment of you is a reflection of the rage he feels at his perception that you are encroaching upon his family.

Nowhere here do you mention your daughter, who is married to this controlling and abusive man.

He is managing to control the lives of four people: his wife, his brother, you, and your granddaughter. Perhaps it’s time that someone stood up to him.

You can’t stand up to him if your heart is aching and breaking, and so you will have to train yourself to withstand the consequent separation. It might help if you see your own choice as sending a strong message to both your daughter and granddaughter: “I won’t let him control me.”

Live your life. A counselor could help you and your partner to navigate the anxiety you feel. You should also consult with a lawyer.

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In my state, grandparents can file a legal petition for visitation, as long as it is “in the child’s best interests.”

You would seem to fit the basic criteria: “They [grandparents] had a substantial relationship with the grandchild.” “The parents have prevented them from having a relationship with the grandchild.”

Dear Amy: My long-ago ex-husband’s father recently died.

During our marriage, I was close to his siblings and parents, and post-marriage we have maintained cordial, if somewhat distant, relationships.

He and I share two children, who are now in college. We are both remarried (I believe happily).

My ex and his sibling (who is arranging the memorial service) have invited me to attend the service and reception afterward. The service is in another city, and I would travel there and would like to pay my respects, but I don’t want to encroach on anyone’s grief, and I don’t want my presence to make anyone uncomfortable.

Our children will be there and will stay with their dad and his wife for a few days.

What do your instincts tell you about this?


Dear Wondering: You’ve been invited, and I think it’s a good idea to attend, if you want to. Run this past your children, and let them know that you understand they will be with their father during this period.

I attended the memorial celebration for my ex’s parent, under very similar circumstances. I kept to the fringes of the service and reception, paid my respects personally, and then quietly slipped out (and then stopped at a nearby bar and enjoyed a stiff drink).

This felt like the turning of a page on an important chapter of my own life, and I’m glad I did it. I hope you will feel the same.

Dear Amy: Thank you for your reasoned response to “Second Place Mom,” whose daughter had invited Dad on an exclusive “father/daughter” trip.

I appreciated your suggestion that the daughter might have noticed that her dad had aged a lot in-between their rare meetings.

This happened with my father. He seemed to age a decade in a year, and I panicked about spending special time with him.

He fooled us all (thank goodness), and lived well for another 20 years.


Dear Grateful: I’m happy you two enjoyed so many “bonus” years together.

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You can email Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickinson.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.