I'm very-early 20s, in a serious, loving, healthy relationship with a man ten years my senior.
I see him as a future partner. He speaks of marriage. He’s only dated women older than me; I’m the exception and he’s deeply in love with me. His intelligence, care, and ambition astound me.
However, I'm having two major concerns:
1) My father passed away when I was 18. This man’s helping me with career and life advice. Is my love for him a longing for my dad?
2) We’re of different races/religion. How do I introduce not only the race factor but also the age difference to my immigrant family?
You’ve raised the concerns yourself, so it’s not just about others’ opinions. And, you’re young enough to take plenty of time to see the effect of these concerns on you and him, which is most important.
If you’re relying on him for many of your career and life decisions, you may well be trying to replace your father in your life. This can backfire in a way that getting parental advice doesn’t.
In healthy relationships with a father or mother, adult children outgrow the need to follow all directions, and parents respect their independence.
However, in a couple, if the older/wise vs. younger/questioning dynamic is a set pattern, challenging advice can become hurtful to both sides, even a power struggle.
As for race and religious differences, it depends how much these matter to the two of you. In early love, passion and enthusiasm override. But time will reveal whether one of you wants the other to convert, whether cultural gaps and misunderstandings create distance.
You two have to be certain you can withstand any family opposition, or not care about its effect.
My ex-husband is narcissistic. We’ve been divorced for several years, and he’s completely convinced that I’m a horrendous mother, just as I was a “horrendous wife.”
When the kids have difficulties, they must be my fault because he’s never wrong. He even tried to take away my custody recently when one child was in trouble.
I’ve not been a perfect parent, but I don't manipulate my kids emotionally the way he does. I’m certainly able to admit to them when I am wrong.
There’s no way to rationally discuss any issues with him… except not to deal with him. No dialogue except by e-mail, and that as little as possible.
The kids are subject to parents who don't communicate, and one of them thinks the other is horrible and says so.
I remain respectful of him at all times. However, no issues get resolved. The kids are never in physical danger, but I’m worried about their emotional state. Any advice?
Not Horrible Mom
They’re his kids too, yet you never say “our” kids. I mention this to help you see that yes, he’s a difficult non-partner in raising them, and yes, they’re going to be affected by his opinions as well as yours.
Since one child has been in trouble, and they all receive his negative messages about you, it’d be wise to have some counselling sessions with the children, if they’re willing to attend.
The purpose would be NOT to challenge their father, but to openly talk (with professional guidance) about how day-to-day issues between you and them are handled. If they reject the idea, consider going yourself, which means you could also discuss how to deal with their father’s influence on them, about you.
FEEDBACK Regarding the young woman who’s decided to stay silent though she’s discovered her wealthy boyfriend is cheating on her (March 22):
Reader – “Your assessment of her boyfriend’s behaviour is spot on. He’s a player. Should she choose to continue with this relationship, there’ll be nothing ahead for her but distrust, lies, deceit, and heartbreak.
“Given the circumstances of their relationship (age difference, living arrangements, etc.) I was surprised to read that “If he denies it, (and) makes no move to change… then run.”
“There’s little hope of any change in his behaviour. By even suggesting it, I believe you’re setting her up for a period of confrontation and deep personal stress that will, at best, have him playing along for a time, but ultimately result in the same ending.
“A leopard can’t (or won’t) change his spots.”
Ellie: Point taken. I gave her that admittedly short-term hope from confrontation, because she was so determined to stay silent.
Tip of the day:
Combined age, race, and religious differences require being certain you can handle them.