Ask Amy: A widow can’t quite face FaceTime

Dear Amy: I am a widow. I’ve been in a relationship with “Bernie,” a widower, for nine years. We live quite a distance apart and trade off spending weekends together.

A few years ago, when Bernie established a FaceTime account, he included his late wife “Bernice’s” name on it so that when he FaceTimes with me, the notification comes in as from “BernieandBernice.”

I have asked him to change it, and his reply is that he cannot change it and that he still “cares about her.” Obviously, he does not want to change it.

I take issue with this. It’s as though he is including her in our personal and sometimes intimate conversations.

Bernie says I am too sensitive; I say he is IN-sensitive.

I feel it is disrespectful to me, and also to his late wife.

It hurts me terribly every time I receive a Facetime call from him. I have shed many tears because of this.

And, if he were to email or contact friends of mine through Facetime and the two names appeared this way, I would find it humiliating.

I have told only a few friends about this, who say they would never tolerate such insulting disregard.

What do you suggest?

— Tired

Dear Tired: I am assuming that because “Bernie” lives on his own, he likely has photos, objects, and memorabilia from their lives together, honoring her legacy.

The way I read your account, you believe he chose this particular “handle” for his FaceTime calls after you two started seeing one another, but FaceTime handles are often tied to an email account, and if he and his late-wife shared an email account, this handle would automatically turn up on FaceTime.

There are ways to change this. He could unlink FaceTime from his email address and have it only identified by his phone number (go to settings/FaceTime and “uncheck” the box next to the email address).

You are triggered and saddened by this very specific thing. This one thing. You have mentioned this to Bernie, and he remains intractable.

If receiving these FaceTime calls upsets you so much, then you should stop accepting these calls when they come in. Don’t make a big deal about it. Just tell him that you can’t seem to get over this particular hill.

Perhaps during one of your weekends at Bernie’s, you two might research other video chatting services to use where this issue wouldn’t surface.

Dear Amy: Many years ago, I left my wife and child. I’m not proud of what I did, but I acknowledge that I basically abandoned them. I did pay child support (most of the time), but I moved to another part of the country and basically started over.

I am a better man now. I have a solid marriage and two children I love and care for.

I have not seen my son from my first marriage since he was 9 years old. He is now in his early-20s and has contacted me. He obviously wants to have a relationship of some kind with me, but I don’t want to have one with him. I don’t think I can continue on the positive path I have in life if I have to go back and pick up the pieces from my previous mistakes.

I’m wondering how to tell him this. I’m hoping you can give me some ideas.

— Divorced Dad

Dear Dad: If you aren’t brave enough to take on having any kind of relationship with your first-born child, then you really aren’t a better man. You’re just a different version of the man you were. My interpretation of your issue is that you are hanging by a thread, and you know it.

I suggest that you tell your son much of what you say here, acknowledging that you abandoned him, that you are ashamed, but that you are not brave enough to have a relationship with him now. Express your fervent hope that he grows to be a better man than you’ve been.

Dear Amy: “Curious Mom” had recently hired an in-home therapist helping to care for her special needs son. Although the therapist provided good care, Curious had a number of concerns about her.

Thank you, Amy, for encouraging this mom to communicate her boundaries and expectations, using clear language.

These parents should use a “team” approach to their son’s care, and the therapist is an important team member.

— Experienced Reader

Dear Experienced: The team approach is a great way for this family to move forward. Thank you.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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