Sunday, August 31, 2008

Dear Ms. Vicki,

Do you have any basic advice for someone in a “not so basic situation”? I’m not looking for sympathy from anyone, but my husband was killed in action in 2003.

I will be the first to admit that the Army was really there for me and my two children, as well as family and friends. It was a tough battle for me and my children, but somehow we are managing to move forward. I’m still very close to my in-laws and they provide a lot of support for my family. This gets me to my dilemma.

My in-laws have said they will never get over the death of their son. I totally understand this. In some ways, I will never get over it either. However, I have met someone and know I am falling in love with him. We met while I was having my lunch break where I work in downtown D.C. I’ve been dating him for about six months, unbeknownst to anyone, not even my children.

I know my late husband’s family would not approve and this concerns me. I know I am a grown woman, but they have been good to me and my kids. I would love to have their continued support. Ms. Vicki, my question is simple, when can I move on with my life? Is this a good time to give a new love a chance? - Wanting Love in D.C.

Dear Wanting Love,

I really appreciate you writing me for advice. I know I’m not the first one to tell you that your journey has not been an easy one. Your husband paid the ultimate price for freedom. He did it for his country and I want to say thank you for your sacrifice, too.

Your feelings are very normal. You probably are wondering about things like “Should I trust my heart?” “Is it too soon to get involved with someone?” “What about my children?” and “What about my in-laws?” Some of your feelings could even be guilt about moving forward. Again, all of this is normal.

Second, let me commend you for not involving your children in this relationship, especially since you don’t know what the extent of this relationship will be. Far too many parents involve their children in a relationship too soon. If it fizzles out, the children can be left angry and confused.

Regarding your in-laws, I’m not sure if they will ever accept your moving forward with your life to include a relationship with a different man. In their defense, I know it has been very difficult for them losing their son. Parents in their shoes report that you never accept the fact that you had to bury one of your children. At any rate, you appear to have a great relationship with them, as they continue to be very supportive of you and your children. This is a good thing, and you can and should be part of their healing.

With that said, though, I think you should start having conversations with them about your dating someone new. You also should let them know you will be cautious and use good judgment for you and your children. Let them know you value their opinion and would like their continued support in your life and with your children.

I can’t tell you when it’s time for you to move forward. That’s for you to decide, and will occur when you are emotionally ready. Just take it slow, OK? What’s the rush, right? Who says he’s the one? Only time will tell and you have plenty of time.

Last, my intuition tells me you may have received therapy to help you deal with the tragedy of losing your husband. If you have a counselor or therapist, please consider talking to him or her about your new feelings about dating. Keep in touch from time to time and let me know how you’re doing.

Vicki Johnson, a licensed clinical social worker, military spouse and mother of three, has been counseling service members and their families for 15 years. Her column, Dear Ms. Vicki, runs in The Washington Times on Thursdays and Sundays. Contact her at

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