How can we better adjust to our parent’s new romantic relationship?

It was Friday. I will meet Edith, my father’s new friend, a widower for ten years. She seemed so hurt, I had to put on a good face. He immediately cooled me down: he took up all the space and, at the end of dinner, he said to me: “I have known your father longer than you.” War is declared. » Novelist and journalist Ariane Bois has published a powerful account of her septuagenarian father’s last love, turn off the sun (Plon). A story of influence and rivalry between two women: the daughter and the new friend. “However, I was so happy to see him come backAriane Bois confessed, he lost his son and his wife, my mother, in an accident. And me, I’m not looking for a “mother bis” but a big sister, confidante. » It’s not easy to support her parents ’new loves, but she has to face it!

According to the National Institute of Demographic Studies, with prolonged life, the number of divorces among those over 60 has doubled in ten years and the number of divorces after more than thirty -five years of living together has increased. at nine to forty. years. But if divorces are on the rise among the elderly … so are marriages! They have almost doubled in ten years. “Dating sites and social networks have a lot to do with it. Now, we will no longer close the door on our emotional and sexual lives when we get older »deciphers psychoanalyst Catherine Bergeret-Amselek*, a specialist in intergenerational relationships.

To also discover: How happy is the job?

He’s handsome, your new girlfriend!

If this is good news for the elderly, on the other hand, the “big kids”, they will sometimes fall from above. Especially if events are fast: Four months after the death of her 88 -year -old husband, my mother began “dates” with other friendssaid Erica, 48. Men who invaded my father’s space at home… I felt betrayed, uncomfortable. Not only was she the one I lost, but she too, who became a lover… I really took a long time to digest it and understood that my mother had a great desire to live with her. »

“The image of attractive parents is always cruel for children, no matter their age, analyzed by Catherine Bergeret-Amselek. We don’t suffer from imagining them in love. » Hence the confusion when the new spouse is somewhat excited, even the exhibitionist: “This woman who kept stroking her hands with my father’s hair, with her knees, with this twisted hand… She, being modest, was probably very ashamed of it, and everyone turned away. A missed first contact », regretted Ariane Bois. But, in old age, how comforting it is to know that our parents have found a soul mate!

“I was 23 years old when my mother met Francis, the new man in her Alexis. I lived alone at home with him, like a kind “youngest” of the brothers. And the mood is not good. When I passed him during a party, with a kind, bearded gentleman, they were walking side by side, smiling. I felt the lead screed on my shoulders lighten. I whispered in his ear, “He’s handsome, your new man!” He replied to me, surprised: “That’s not my man … Not yet!” Then he told me they kissed that night, as if he let it go thanks to me. »

Oedipus appeared again years later …

For Erica, after feeling betrayed in the beginning, everything was in order when her mother met the “Good” mate, three years ago: “I used to be uncomfortable with some friends. With Bob, everything changed. She was very attentive and took care of him during the pandemic, which I think was good. And, most of all, they left to live in the new house. Suddenly, I didn’t feel it like seeing my space in my family squatted by a stranger and my dad replaced by another man. » Alang’s Catherine Bergeret-Amselek, “Sometimes there is replacement lover syndrome, especially after the loss of one of the parents. It hurts more when the spouse comes to invade the family domain. »

The child, becoming an adult, imagines this companion falling on the parent’s plates. And it’s an image of extraordinary violence. Why? “Because the primitive scene, that of our parents in the process of conceiving us, sleeps all life in our unconscious, which explains why“ new couples ”often change in places, furniture and decorations.Otherwise, there is something wrong with living in someone else’s bed.explanation to the psychologist. “The worst times Ariane Bois added, it was when I went to visit them on vacation, at home in the South where I spent so many happy summers with my parents. My mother’s shadow is permanent by their side. And me, I can’t sleep in a flash all night, as I have to stay vigilant… One night, I got up to open the photo albums: in all of this, he took photos of my mother. I was hurt. »“Repartnering replays the question of the Oedipus complex, even at an older age, analyzing the psychoanalyst. Often, a new triangulation is seen, which evokes feelings of aggression between the child and the spouse, even in adulthood! »

“I have to understand that my mother has a great desire to live. »

Another card that changes the relationship

If all goes well, if the calendar and rituals are respected, a new relationship can be established. For the best: “What helped me so much was that Bob was very different from my father. One was very smart, thoughtful, very creative; the other was more conservative, worked in a bank. I would have had more trouble supporting a” double father “, said Erica. Me, I’ll call him “pretty step-dad”. It’s a bit kitschy, but that’s exactly how I feel. Between us, there is a free relationship. There is no education contract. Just great respect for who we are. He was a very cultural man, we talked about the exhibits we saw, the books. » Mentor? Giya? Educator? Friend? “It’s hard to say. It’s a wonderful relationship.”

Isabelle, who returned to a relationship after the death of her husband, also welcomed her 24-year-old son’s relationship with her current partner: “I would say they admire and respect each other. It seems to me that the fact that Pierre didn’t raise her made their relationship more unrestrained. There is no “passive”. Looks like “super big brother”. » And this distance is much in the new agreement. “When I have marital or employment problems, I am more willing to talk to Françoise, my ‘new mother-in-law,’ than to my mother. He was farther away, less worried. He had better advise me ”recognized uncomplicated Lucie, 28 years old. “In the most extreme cases, these spouses are smart, like a new card to live out the family dynamics”deciphers Catherine Bergeret-Amselek. “It was so much tension between us before Francis came, said Alexis. We kept getting mad at my mom, maybe because I didn’t feel like she was so happy anymore. It was like a gift, it invigorated and changed our relationship. Everyone won. »

* Member of the Society of Freudian Psychoanalysis (SPF) and edited the book Living together, young and oldEres.

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