I’m 31; my boyfriend of three years is 41 and has been friends with his ex-girlfriend for 18 years. She’s 50 and has two adult children (not his). We’ve never met - initially I didn’t want to, and when I was ready, she said she never wants to see me.
After they split, they stayed best friends and went on vacation together.
Her children visited him when we started dating but cut back when we had problems through their telling their mother stuff about us, which made her tell off my boyfriend.
She got married a year before we started dating and fought with her husband regarding this friendship. She and my boyfriend met secretly, but with a counsellor’s help, he realized it was wrong and cut off contact.
Now she’s getting divorced and he wants to resume the friendship, and arrange a dinner date with both of us. He says he’ll never meet her without me, but sees no problem with phone conversations and emails.
I cannot stand his desiring this friendship so much.
Am I being insecure or is he being unreasonable?
You’re showing insecurity because she has too much say in his life.
He’s unreasonable about resuming this close a connection, and should get back to the counsellor who helped him see the negative effect on her marriage.
Start showing confidence in your relationship by telling him you want to be the confidante he finds in her. If you two can settle into a comfort level as a team - without his frequent contact with her, or her criticism - then you should be willing to occasionally have her join the two of you for dinner.
My brother’s wife has a domineering, aggressive personality; she’s very protective and self-righteous about her mothering. She always has her mother over and they visit her family nearly every weekend.
My parents want to see their two grandchildren but they barely get an hour once a month. She also won’t let my brother take the kids on his own.
Recently my parents were nearby, and dropped in. She opened the door, grabbed her kids and didn’t even say hello. Mom told her daughter-in-law she was rude, over-protective and should ease up. My parents ended up walking out and they haven’t talked to her since.
What’s the best way for my parents to deal with her and get to spend time with their grandchildren?
- Concerned Daughter
First, they must talk to their son, without badmouthing his wife, BUT pointing out that he’s giving up a say in his children knowing his side of the family. They need to help him understand that caving in about this issue doesn’t make his wife more secure or truly self-confident; it just makes her keep control of the kids, and him. He can be a better support to her – and to his children – by showing strength as an equal partner, and insisting that his family has some part in their lives.
Secondly, your parents have to ask him, and be willing to hear, if there’s a real problem about something they’ve done in the past, that they don’t know about.
Lastly, to clear the air, Mom should approach her daughter-in-law personally and positively, saying she’d like a fresh start between them, for everyone’s sake, especially the children’s. It may not work right away, but over time, these in-laws may see that a united family is far better for kids than one with cold divisions.
I’ve just started bringing my boyfriend of three years around my family.
I’m divorced, with two children (not his).
My father and my older brother don’t like him simply because he’s Puerto Rican and I'm Mexican. They think our relationship won’t last and don’t want him to hurt me or leave me pregnant.
I love him, he treats me real good, and he’s a nice guy.
- What to Do?
Your father and brother are trying to protect you but are unfairly projecting their own fears and prejudices on your guy.
If he’s proven faithful, been kind to you and involved positively with your kids over three years, then they can already see his decency, loyalty and commitment. Tell them this.
Meanwhile, follow your own evidence from him, as well as your heart.
But, for future family harmony, ask him not to hold any grudge against them for their misguided anxiety.
Tip of the day:
An ex may be a friend, but a partner comes first.