Annie’s Mailbox, 5 April 2013:
Dear Annie: I’ve been a widow for 15 years. I moved to another state to be with my kids and met “Jerry.” We’ve been dating for nine months.
Jerry has been divorced for two years and has two adult children. His ex-wife was his childhood sweetheart and the only woman he’d ever been with. The problem is, I have never been to Jerry’s house. He says his niece and youngest child live with him, and he hasn’t told the family about me. When I asked why, he said, “Then everyone will know it’s over between my ex and me.”
I think Jerry’s mother sustains the hope that he will get back together with his ex, and I’m pretty sure his ex would like that, too. I gave Jerry a deadline of three months to make our relationship public. He swears he’s not still married, and he gave me a ring for Valentine’s Day. He spends the night at my house every week. I just want to know what you think. — Not Yet Official
Dear Not Yet Official,
What stands out to me about Jerry is how thoughtful he is—wanting to protect his poor, helpless ex-wife and mother from the heartbreak of believing that just because a marriage ends in divorce, it’s over.
It’s too bad that Jerry’s ex-wife and his mother are so invested in the fantasy of reconciliation, with Jerry powerless to do anything about it, such as introduce you as his girlfriend to literally anyone he has ever met. If only Jerry’s ex-wife and mother were not so obsessed with maintaining a fantasy of reconciliation! Oh, Jerry’s ex-wife and mother, why do you hold Jerry back in this way?
Anyway, it would be impossible for any lying, cheating married man to give his mistress a ring for Valentine’s Day, so we know for sure he’s not living at home with his wife and keeping you a secret from the entire world. After all, he lives with his, uh, “niece” and daughter, so you know, if you just happen to be driving by his place one day and see some grown-ass woman acting like she lives there, it is definitely not his wife, to whom he is definitely not married.
Don’t let this one go. He’s a keeper.