Monday 19 November 2018

Dear Mary: I left my husband for my girlfriend but my mother won't accept her

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'Things have changed a lot in Ireland, particularly in the last decade and now thankfully the LGBT community has achieved full acceptance by the State'

Mary O’Conor

I am a 45-year-old woman. I have two teenage children and was married for 16 years but I ended it five years ago when I met 'Elizabeth'. Elizabeth and I started dating when I was still in my marriage, and when I split with my husband she and I got our own house and moved in with the kids.

My mother didn't take the news very well and fought with me every day until it came to the point where I couldn't take it any more.

We didn't talk for a year and it was the hardest thing I ever had to do, but my mother is very controlling and it was the only thing I could do to stop her. We started speaking again at the beginning of this year and it was lovely but I felt she was always having an input in things and before long we fought again. Elizabeth and I are getting married in two years and I am not sure if my mother is even happy for me as she has never congratulated me.

She never asks about me and Elizabeth, and I was told by a family member that my mother said she cannot look on us as partners but just friends, and that hurts me.

Elizabeth often says she would love to have children together and in a way I would too, but my age puts me off and the thought of starting again scares me. But there is another part of me wanting another child because I know Elizabeth would make a good mother.

I don't know if I am just thinking how my mother would react as there is not a day goes by that I don't think about what my mother would say or think.

This even happens if my kids say or want to do something, and straight away I think about what my mother is going to say.

I know I shouldn't but I always do, and I know this is my problem with having more children - what would my mother think and say.

Mary replies: Nobody leaves a marriage easily and the added complication that you were leaving your husband for a woman must have made it even more difficult.

You obviously had very strong feelings for Elizabeth to have taken such a very big step.

I can understand your mother's concerns - when your own children are old enough to set up home with a partner you will see how much you worry about them, although ultimately what you will want is for your children to be happy, and I'm sure your mother is no different.

Things have changed a lot in Ireland, particularly in the last decade and now thankfully the LGBT community has achieved full acceptance by the State.

However, some individuals, while agreeing in principle with all this, find it very difficult to accept that their own family members are part of this community, and for them denial is often an option.

So instead of acknowledging that you and Elizabeth are a couple your mother is simply ignoring the issue and chooses to see you only as friends. This must be both difficult and hurtful for you and for Elizabeth.

You seem always to have had issues with your controlling mother. But she is not going to change and so the only thing that you can change is yourself. In your head you are always running things by your mother, seeking her approval, but the reality is that you have no way of knowing whether or not she would approve of whatever you are thinking about.

However, that doesn't stop you wanting her approval although I imagine that she will not approve of your getting married. Your mother is part of your family of origin, but the main focus in your life right now is the home you have set up with Elizabeth and your children. So instead of looking for your mother's approval tell yourself that you are doing your best to be a good daughter, but above all you want to be a good partner to Elizabeth and a good mother to your children. Then get on with your life trying to do the best you can.

This brings me to the question of whether or not you should have more children. Any 'older' mothers that I know have all said that having a baby in the mid-forties was much more tiring than when they were in their twenties and thirties, so your fears are well founded.

You don't tell me how old Elizabeth is but presumably she is younger than you if you are considering a pregnancy. It is very understandable that she wants to have a child of her own, albeit one that you would both raise. Your children have had Elizabeth in their lives for some years now and hopefully they have a good relationship with her but how would they react to a new baby? It would be important for you to get their views, given the circumstances.

However, ultimately, like any other prospective parents, the decision will be between yourself and Elizabeth.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at dearmary@independent.ie or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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