My boyfriend of four years and I lived separately, but were together every other weekend when my teenage kids were with my ex.
We had an undefined plan to move in together when they leave high school for college.
Suddenly, his mother died unexpectedly at 68. She’d lived across the country, to be near his sister.
I comforted him, helped him through the funeral, and agreed he needed some grieving time with his sister.
After a two-week visit, he returned and said we were over. He’s moving to her city, has already made arrangements for a job there!
I’m stunned. Does this mean he never loved me deeply, that our relationship – no responsibility for him - was just convenient for him?
The sudden death of a very close person can knock a person off their former balance.
If he said he loved you, then he did.
But he can’t stay on track together, because he’s been too shaken up by this loss.
He’ll likely need a process of grieving that can take over a year or two, before he’s secure again with where he is and what he’s doing.
It’s very hard on you, but it’s about him, not you.
This past Christmas was our fourth together. We've now been married for over a year.
My parents live hours away which made Christmas visits impossible for us, but they'd always visited us around the holidays.
But with my husband’s family, my children and I will always be outsiders.
My in-laws ensure that the grandchildren born to their child (my husband) reign supreme.
My husband says that we are still “new” to them, he can't change what his family does or how they treat me and the kids.
He's partly right. We keep hearing that my husband’s son will carry on Granddad’s last name.
His daughter’s also special as the first grandchild.
Two other grandchildren live with them (along with their daughter and son-in-law).
My husband told his sister that if she makes plans with his daughter, she needs to include my daughter.
Yet we practically have to force her to take my daughter with them when they go out to a movie, or shopping, when we’re visiting there.
My kids and I bring presents, help cook, help clean. They play with their little cousins a lot.
It doesn't matter. I have to accept that’s the way they are.
It’s much harder on my kids when they see oodles of presents for the biological grandkids, and gift cards for them.
They accept the cards with grace and gratitude, but I later have to soothe their hurt feelings.
This is about acceptance, not money or “things.”
This past Christmas, his parents and my mom (my dad passed just before the wedding) received a wedding photo on canvas of my husband, all of our kids, and me - the family.
Hopefully, it’ll look great on their walls.
Trying to Make it Work
Yes, it does work, because you don’t give up.
And your children are being raised to be gracious and understanding.
Though your husband said he can’t change his family’s treatment of you and your children, he did make a stand with his sister.
You’re both leading by example.
So long as you two maintain your values and rise above the different treatment of your children, it’s your reaction that counts most for their comfort and their character.
The situation can/may improve. Meanwhile, your own family remains strong because of your commitment.
FEEDBACK Regarding the grandmother who worried about her grandson being over-scheduled and pressured by his parents (December 21 and November 23):
Reader – “A reader has suggested that the boy’s grandmother should go to her grandchild’s school to get information about how he’s doing socially and academically.
“However, in most schools districts, privacy laws are in place.
“I would hope that the teachers and school officials would not discuss private information about a child with anyone but his parents.
“To do otherwise would be highly unethical, if not illegal.”
Ellie – Perhaps her concern for her grandson’s performance at school could be something she raises with the parents instead, but without directly criticizing them, which might close down the conversation.
She’s already learned from the parents that the boy is unruly at school.
Sometimes, asking the right questions without expecting an answer gets the listeners re-thinking the matter, even though they don’t share this.
Tip of the day:
Sudden overwhelming grief can change how a person deals with his/her life, including a relationship.