When a Boyfriend is Not Really a Boyfriend

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Sometimes a boyfriend is not really a boyfriend.

I have said before that my dad often thinks that my mom has a boyfriend. She has been told that she should be flattered that he thinks she “has what it takes” to get a boyfriend. But after more than 50 years of marriage, my mom does not want the love of her life to think that she has a boyfriend.

Several weeks ago when we had a chance to meet with Teepa Snow, we asked Teepa why my dad would think that my mom has a boyfriend. She gave us an explanation and I am going to do my very best to explain her answer.

Over fifty years ago my parents entered a marriage as equals. They said their marriage vows and agreed to love and cherish each other for the rest of their lives. They agreed to be partners. Equals. They walked through life making decisions together. Their lives were filled with happy times and sad times and much discussions in between.

Now my dad has dementia and things have changed. They are no longer equals. They are still husband and wife but they are not equals. Mom is now the leader. She is the decision maker, the caregiver, the one we call to discuss matters that we once called dad to discuss.

Teepa used her fingers to describe the relationship. When you are single, you are the pointer finger. When you marry, your partner become the middle finger. Feel free to chuckle here. Your partner is not really the middle finger but in this example they are. Now, put those two fingers side by side and they will act as one. They go everywhere together and do everything together.

Now imagine that one finger has dementia. The fingers separate slightly so that one finger can lead the other. Care for the other. The relationship has now changed. They are no longer equals so something must be different.

This is surely how things are with my parents. Dad may have dementia but he recognizes that the relationship has changed. To my dad, this change must mean that my mom has a boyfriend.

Unfortunately, we still cannot convince my dad that mom is not cheating on him but it is easier for the rest of us to understand.

Sometimes a boyfriend is not really a boyfriend.

 

 

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