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Deceased Ex Wife Sharing our Marriage
May 8, 2012 Ask Dr. Love Advice Column
I was married 2 weeks ago to Jim. He is a good man and is good to me. He works off shore so he is going 10 days and home only 5. My problem is this: He was married to “donna” and had one child. They divorced and she remarried. Donna then died of cancer when the child was 11. Her parents helped him raise this child who is now 18. In fact Dona’s mother has complete control of Jim’s checkbook. He promised this is going to change but it has not even though I have been added to all of his accounts. Donna’s sister, "Jan" and her bf were 2 of only 5 ppl at our very informal wedding. After the wedding, Donna’s sister pulled out the old wedding album from Jim and the Donna. I heard how beautiful she was from Jim and how tiny she was. After listening to them go down memory lane for almost an hour I walked outside. Jan's bf apparently realized things were not going as they should be and insisted that they put up the book. Jim and I discussed it and I was able to let him know just how badly that hurt me. I believed that this was the end of it. This weekend he calls Jan. I hear him tell her that Donna was the "ultimate wife" and he has "had" to move on. I probably handled things entirely wrong but that hurt badly. We discussed it later and he said that yes she would always be his ultimate wife even though they were divorced and both had remarried when she died. He says he still thinks of her all the time..she has been dead for 8 years. He says he doesnt want this to become a problem between us. I feel as if I am sharing my marriage with a ghost and I do not know what to do.
Haunted in Mississippi
This is a very tough situation and I do understand your pain. Don't worry. Relationship advice is on the way!
I have a couple of thoughts. The first is that I don’t believe him when he says that his deceased EX wife was the ultimate wife. If that were true, why did he divorceDivorce is a legal dissolution of the marriage bond. Many couples divorce themselves from each other on an emotional level long before a legal divorce is sought. As I say in my book, Till Death Do Us...(Click for full definition.) her!
This thought leads me to the second idea. I’m thinking that your husband has an intimacyAn intimate relationship is a particularly close interpersonal relationship. It can be defined by these characteristics: enduring behavioral interdependence, repeated interactions, emotional...(Click for full definition.) phobia. In other words, I think he’s using the ghost of Donna to dilute the connection and intimacy between you two. Any time you bring in a third party into your relationship, dead or alive, it has the effect of driving a wedge and creating emotional space.
The fear of giving oneself fully to another person is universal. We all fear suffering the pain of loss due to death or rejection.
On top of that, many people fear giving over to love because they are afraid to lose their freedom, something that is especially common for younger men. But when an older man avoids or sabotages connection, then we are dealing with a deeper issue than fear of loss of freedom. In this case, we are talking about a fear of the loss of one’s very identity or self. The latter fear of losing one’s identity/self comes from having been raised by an intrusive or controllingExamples of controlling behavior include within an intimate relationship include: one partner isolating the other from his/her friends or family; not letting ythe partner go out of the house, to the...(Click for full definition.) parent; this results in an underdeveloped sense of self or what we call in shrink land “weak ego boundaries.” When the ego is weak, there is a deep fear of being swallowed up, taken over or eaten alive by a partner/spouse. Oftentimes a person with this kind of upbringing will both yearn to be controlled (because it’s familiar) and at the same avoid intimacy. Being in a relationship with this kind of person can make his/her partner feel like a human yo-yo.
If you notice, Jim exhibits the problem I describe to a tee. He gives up control by allowing his former mother-in-law to control his money, and then he creates space from you by talking about his ex in front of you. Also, look at the work he’s chosen. There’s built-in space galore!
Knowing what’s really going on will help you to not take his behavior personally, which will help you to stop feeling so hurt by his triangulating and diluting behaviors. The point is, you don’t need to misinterpret his words and actions as signs that he doesn’t love you. When you aren’t feeling personally wounded, you will have more creative energy available to deal with him.
I’m thinking it's best to not focus directly on his behavior, which could easily make him feel defensive, which will only cause him to protect himself more and increase the upsetting behavior. Instead, I would go at the issue in an oblique fashion, by addressing the feelings that are fueling his behavior. You see, feelings create internal pressure. They need to come out in words or actions. What we want is feelings to be described in words rather than be acted out, because actions are invariably destructive and break our connections with others. As you see, the way he is acting out his feelings of fear, the behaviors that he’s engaged in, are very destructive of your connection.
So what we want is to get him talking about his feelings.
You could start talking with him about how he felt growing up. Ask him what his relationship with mom felt like. Be interested in him and listen.
In time, he may start to describe how he felt drowned by his mother’s controls.
Then you could get him talking about his ex. What didn’t work in that relationship?
Then, little by little, you can get him talking about how it feels with you. Do you give him enough room? Do you smother him?
Talking about his feelings will create magic in two ways: 1) Resolution often results simply by talking; 2) And, when feelings are put into words they don’t need to be put into action. In other words, if he can talk about his fear of being taken over, he won’t need to act out his fears by talking about his ex to create space.
You have your hands full here.
If you need further help, don’t hesitate to contact me in my private consulting division.
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"Love Never Dies is guaranteed to give immense hope to those grieving the perceived loss of a loved one. Dr. Jamie Turndorf, together with her husband, Jean, now in spirit, provide stunning evidence of the continuity of love and life, along with the tools to help anyone connect with those in the unseen world."
Author of Messages of Hope
"Dr. Turndorf's eternal love story powerfully proves that our loved ones in spirit are waiting for us to reconnect with them! Read this amazing book and discover her new dialoguing technique, which enables you to reconnect and turn grief into peace and joy."
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bestselling author of Beyond Past Lives
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-- Fr. Richard Rohr,
Founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC), and bestselling author of Falling Upward
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Part 1 was her story of losing the love of her life. Reading about the pain and agony she experienced and SO MANY people experience will be healing to know that others experience the same emotions after the passing of a loved one. I think the first part could be a book on it's own merit because it is so beneficial to people dealing with the same intensity of grief.
As a scientist myself, I was glad to read that she didn't focus on a religion. As a medium, I have come to know that "god" not of a religion, but is the consciousness of all living things. Like Dr. Turndorf I've learned that all people are equal and all creatures part of all existence (and with "souls.").
I particularly enjoyed reading how she used her talent/mediumship to help people overcome their grief. Readers will get a lot out of this book and know that their loved ones are always connected.”
-- Rob Gutro,
Author, Medium, Scientist
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-- Linda G. Russek, Ph.D,
Former Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Human Energy Systems Laboratory, U of Arizona, Co-author of The Living Energy Universe
“This is the most beautiful true love story that I have ever read. The depth of the author's love for her husband and her terrible grief at his death, and then her triumph as she learned to continue her relationship with him even after his death are all palpable. I lived it with her, and her story has stayed in my mind. For me, though, the reason to read this book is the author's wisdom in teaching her readers how to heal rifts across the death boundary. As one who has done extensive afterlife research, I can attest to the importance of post-death healing of relationships to both our dead loved ones and ourselves! Yet few people know how essential this healing is, and fewer still know how to begin it. As a prominent relationship counselor, Dr. Turndorf tackles this essential area, and she does it well. Hers is a wonderful book.”
-- Roberta Grimes,
author of The Fun of Dying: Find Out What Really Happens Next and The Fun of Staying in Touch
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“Midwest Book Review”
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-- Dave Campbell,
Certified Windbridge Research Medium (WCRM)
“When I held this 248 page spiritual giant in my hands, even before I started turning the pages I knew I had found a special guide that would help me through one of the hardest journeys I have taken. To love so deeply and completely and then to have the person removed from my physical life is hard enough, but then to find a way to stay connected with them is even more frustrating. So it was totally Heaven sent when I was asked to review this gentle messenger that helped me to stay connected, to recognize the connection and to even validate the connection. I also loved the way the author shared on such a deep and personal level it helped me to not feel alone and gave me courage to bypass my mind. I would recommend this sweet giant to anyone who feels the loss of a loved one. Thanks so much Jamie for the awesome blueprint. “
-- Riki Frahmann,
Chief Reviewer for the ezine Mystic Living Today
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author Emotional Incest in Group Psychotherapy
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-- Ken Page,
L.C.S.W. from "A Life-Changing Exercise for Anyone Who Has Lost a Loved One" published in Psychology Today
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author of Dancing on a Stamp and Dancing Forever with Spirit
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Author of NY Times #1 bestseller Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus
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Pulitzer Prize winning author and Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School
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Syndicated Radio Host
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Host, The Matt Townsend Show