DEAR ABBY: I was married for more than 30 years and have two grown children. The marriage wasn't perfect, and I admit there were times when I badly wanted to walk out the door. My husband was charismatic and talented, but he was also an addict. I covered up most of his bad behaviors so our children would be protected from being hurt. He passed away suddenly. My children adored him but never really knew how hard it was for me to keep our family together.
Fast-forward to today: I am dating an old family friend I'll call "Jeff," who knew my husband well. He saw my spouse at his best and his worst, so I don't have to sugarcoat my feelings with him. My issue is, I was so hurt during my marriage that I have a hard time trusting anyone. My anxiety is sometimes overwhelming.
Jeff is supportive and understanding and loves me despite my emotional behavior at times. My adult children are upset that I am dating and try to make me feel bad about it, which creates more stress. I don't want them to know all the hell I went through, but at the same time, I don't think their belittling me is appropriate. Is there a tactful way to explain to them that I just want to be happy and have the freedom to move forward? -- READY FOR THE FUTURE
DEAR READY: A polite, but assertive, way to convey your message might be to say: "I have just one life to live, kids, and I intend to live it to the fullest. Jeff and I are old friends -- he's not a stranger. I don't need your approval to move on with my life. If you can't stop belittling and second-guessing me and treat my friend with respect, you will be seeing a lot less of me."