Ask Ellie: Lifestyle changes reinforce the need to communicate

Ellie's suggestion columnistDear Ellie: We are both 55 years old. We started dating when he left his 28 year marriage to a narcissist and felt very insecure. She lives with her grown sons in a house she bought after her divorce. I live in a condo where my young son lives part time.

After a year of dating, she said that she wanted to remarry. I suggested that we live together in a city condo close to where I work. He doesn’t work but prefers a suburban house.

I am against spending/maintaining a house, giving us more time to travel. He came to the idea.

In the fifth year of our relationship, we love each other very much and get along well.

We had one episode where I broke up with him over something via text. He went crazy and said I can’t do that anymore; we have a lot to talk about. I am sorry.

One day she asked me how people would call her if she wasn’t my wife. I replied, “spouse or better half or your name.” He didn’t say anything.

One night, he texted that he wanted to get married or goodbye. I never asked her when she wanted to get married and assumed it was after the boys moved out.

But I was very angry inside and said he has to go find happiness. We broke up.

A year later, he is dating his ex-fiancé 35 years ago and is very happy.

Did I make the mistake of not talking face to face instead of letting it go? Or am I right because he gave me a marriage ultimatum when he knew I was all for living together?

Getting married is more important to him than me.

Is she so insecure from her past that she needs the security of another marriage?

Why did her past engagement with this man not work out or because of their religious differences and their family disapproval?


Sometimes in a relationship, the subtle differences that seem to add up add to the visible division.

He has left a narcissist, feels insecure, wants the stability of the home, and especially marriage. You are confident and pragmatic about your desires – a city condo, travel, living together as a loving “partner”.

Yes, the ultimatum is a pressure that is hard to accept. But it makes clear what the stakes are. She may find the new/old relationship has brought her full circle to the man who wants to marry her.

Yes, you should have discussed the “ultimatum” in person. But you may still miss him.

A year has passed, it’s time for you to move on. In your next relationship, realize that major life decisions in middle age have to be compromised as they both stem from years of personal experience and a learned need to feel safe again.

Dear Ellie: I am a widow and have never had children. My best friend who also had no children died. Now I don’t have that connection anymore.

I had friends over the years with a lot in common but he now has a grandson who he always wants to talk about as if no one else has a grandson as smart as his.

I can’t relate to that. How do I handle this situation without losing our friendship?

Lonely widow

Consider your common interests. If reading is one of them, start a book “club” of the two of you, or join one (online clubs are available). Similarly, watch theater and orchestral productions virtually (until they are safely opened) and discuss them later.


About a divorced woman who buys a condo with her new love. She then secretly rented another condo for her daughter and she lived together, expecting her partner to move in with them and rent out the co-owned property (June 29):

Reader – “In addition to seeking therapy for himself, he also needs to see a divorce attorney about their relationship status, and a real estate attorney about their condo.

“He needs to understand his choices. This condo might be considered the “marriage house” of their relationship. He would not be able to sell without his consent.

“But since he’s moved on, maybe he can show that there’s never been a long-lasting relationship. Meanwhile, he revealed that he did not deal with this woman in good faith. Courts don’t like that.

“He should also consider changing the locks soon. This will show him that he really doesn’t believe it.”

Ellie’s Tips Today

Relationships after divorce and lifestyle changes require frequent/open communication about what is important to each person.

Send relationship questions to

Follow @ellieadvice.

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