It’s All in the Family…or is it? Make Sure Everyone’s on the Same Page

 By Nina Atwood

Dear Nina: I’m in a three year relationship. The hours that we work differ greatly and as a result, we do not get to spend the time together that I would like. My daughter seems to want to love her, but when I ask her to go and spend time as a family, there are an abundance of excuses. Even watching TV she will sit away from us and then claims that I push her away when my daughter is there. I just don’t understand what else I can do other than continue to ask her to join us. I really need to know if this is worth it or if I should finally break it off. – Pete

Dear Pete: There are several issues in your question. First, what are your intentions in this relationship? I hear you calling it “family time,” but until you are married, you are not a family. Your girlfriend may be responding with ambivalence toward you and your daughter because she’s unclear about what her role is in the family that you already have. If you haven’t discussed marriage as a strong intention, then you can’t complain because she doesn’t want to get too attached to you as a threesome.

Second, what is your intention regarding communication with your girlfriend? I hear your complaint but is she fully aware that you are feeling this way? Until you clearly express what bothers you, ask questions, and listen to her point of view, you don’t know what is really happening here.

She may have some other issue with you and your daughter that she’s not voicing. Closely bonded father/daughter relationships often present a barrier to the woman a man dates. How does she fit in? She’s not a mother, she’s not a stepmother. What is she? Try to have compassion for the difficulty that she may be having with this dynamic.

The way out of all of this is open, honest, loving communication. Sit down with your girlfriend and open two vital discussions: 1. What are our feelings/intentions toward one another? Is this a serious relationship, or is it a transitional love that has outlived its purpose? 2. If it’s serious, how can we blend together more as a future family?

Pete, it’s vital that you do your own personal self-reflection before raising these questions. If you don’t see marriage with this woman, if you’re not absolutely wild about her, then maybe the real answer is that you need to move on. On the other hand, if you are in love with her and you do want a future, then it’s time for you to get serious about it; it’s time for you to step up and push for far more open, honest communication.

Once you’ve clarified your own feelings, then your feelings for one another, you have some context in which to discuss how you are going to blend as a family and move toward marriage. These two discussion items may go back and forth – don’t expect it to be clear cut. Expect more than one discussion to clear the fog and understand where you are with one another. Then you can begin to work out the issue of family time.

Entry Filed under: Advice for Men,Dating,Marriage,Relationships


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