Help! My stepdad married a man just six months after Mom died

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Q:

My mom died a year ago, and it’s been unimaginably hard on my siblings, half-siblings and myself. Then my stepfather made it even harder: He decided six months after her death to remarry — this time to a man.

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I really care about my stepdad, but I’m furious. He and my mom backed me 100 percent over the years of my coming out journey, and they embraced another family member who turned out to be trans. Their support meant a lot to me.

I’m surprised he’s with a man, but that’s not the problem. I have no problem with two same-sex septuagenarians acknowledging their attraction. I think it’s cool that they can act on feelings that neither felt they could express openly in their younger years.

What’s not cool is that my stepdad apparently jumped so quickly into another relationship before grieving my mom. The marriage happened so fast, I wonder if he lied to my mom all those years, or if he cheated on her with this guy.

My sister and I approached my stepdad (her dad) and defended my mom’s reputation. We told him that we are concerned about the super-fast courtship, too.

He cried and said some really nice things about Mom and their marriage. He said he always wondered if he was gay, that he is in love with his husband, and that he thinks that’s “all we have a right to know.” His words.

What can we do?

Dear Offspring:

Losing a parent is a club that only members understand, and one that no one wishes to join. You will live with the loss for the rest of your life, and you will get better at it as time passes.

One thing you said is affirmed: Your stepfather’s decision is part of your post-Mom life and part of the process for you and your siblings.

Try to wrap your head around the fact that your stepfather is grieving too, maybe even more. On top of losing his spouse of many years, he’s also dealing with being openly gay or bi for the first time.

  • Maybe he needs someone in his life more than he can stand being alone.
  • Maybe the two men acknowledged their feelings before your mother died. Maybe they didn’t.
  • Maybe as an older person, he sees his limited remaining time and doesn’t want to waste any of it.
  • Maybe he really loves the guy. Most couples “fit” in ways that others may never see.
  • What if your mom knew? She wouldn’t be the first, and while your impulse to defend her is understandable, she’s not here and you don’t know the facts.

All of that conjecture can be tempting, but none of it is your business. Your stepfather has the right to include you on the details or not. He is a grown man and knows his own mind.

Like your own coming out journey, he may slowly open up as years pass. Don’t ruin your relationship with him before he has the chance.

Illustration by Brad Gibson. Send your burning Qs for As to [email protected] Enjoy past editions of Q Advice here.

This column originally appeared in Q Atlus magazine. Read the full issue here:

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