Home For The Holidays
Dear Dr. Tracy,
I've been a regular reader of your column for over a year now and
have read and reread many of the things in your library (being a
librarian myself, that only seemed fitting).
Here is where I am. I am 32, he is 43. I have 2 kids, 7 & 10. He
has 2 kids, 12 & 15. I've been divorced for 5 years, separated for 6.
He's been a widower for roughly 1 1/2 years now, and we have
been dating for the past year. His wife was sick for 6 years. I have
worked very hard at being understanding and loving and caring and
helpful in as many ways as I have been able over the past year for
all 3 of them, including helping cooking, cleaning, rides here and
there, even coordinating a fundraiser for them etc., to help offset
the $70,000 in medical expenses from his wife's doctor bills.
However, the boys still resist my presence from time to time and it
really hurts. I understand they have suffered the most significant
loss of their lives and I have read tons about children's grief and
spent time on web chat pages listening to those experiencing grief
talk, etc., and I really try to tune into what they are feeling, etc.
Sometimes it is great and I know they are glad I am around,
especially the youngest boy, but sometimes, still, I get this, "what
are you doing here" look. The holidays are becoming especially
stressful and I wish they were over - even thinking about who goes
where, with whom, when, puts knots in my stomach. His oldest
doesn't want me at the family Christmas party (even though his
own mother never even went to that party because of bad blood
between her and his family). We are always in "Plan B" mode
because of the kids anyway, which we are both O.K. with, but the
holidays and all of the "outside judges" of our relationship are really
getting to me.
I haven't even said how wonderful our relationship is - we really are
good together - we laugh and are serious and he is there for me and
I am there for him - we enjoy the mundane things like grocery
shopping or renting videos because we are doing it together and
have wonderful intimate moments. We share a deep love and know
we are lucky to have what we have, but.... now what??
The "M" word is your next question... maybe someday - but when
is someday, when his oldest goes to college, when my oldest goes
to college? Is that too long to wait, how long will the boys resent
me, or will they always resent me?? He worries too and has even
talked to someone he works with who experienced the same loss -
the prognosis was not good - he never really accepted the new
woman in his father's life. Am I beating my head against the wall?
I'm 32 (NOT getting any younger) in decent shape, fairly attractive
with a good job and career and 2 good kids.
I just want to be happy, and, if possible make everyone else happy
too, but I don't know if that can happen...
I'm sorry this is so long.... help...
Holidays are the most stressful time of the year, especially in a family situation such as yours. His kids are upset and depressed, not so much because you are there, but rather because their mother isn't. Remember though, Christmas only comes once a year, it's just one day, and shouldn't be such a big deal. Let him be with his family and you stay with yours.
Your fella's kids are at a difficult age. They may never fully accept you in the way you want, but give them time, and they'll get used to you. In the meantime, don't let them upset you. They're only kids.
Stop trying to make everybody happy. You can't. It's an impossible task. The best you can expect is to make yourself and your kids happy, and to have some private times together with your boyfriend. Stop beating your head against the wall. If you and he have to be separated on Christmas day, pick another day, say December 27, to celebrate and make that day your own special Christmas. Cherish the special relationship you have and don't let other people's problems sour the deep love you share.
Let Mr. Wonderful know that you don't expect his sons to fully accept you, but that you don't want to wait to get married until his kids are off to college. Since his oldest is the biggest problem, you might agree to marry after he goes to college. That's a very long engagement, but you may find that after you're formally engaged, the boys accept the relationship better and you can move things up.
Meanwhile, you must stop listening to the "outside judges" of your relationship. You're both mature grownups; stop worrying so much about what other people think.
A Man Who Can't Share
Dear Dr. Tracy,
I have been dating my boyfriend for 1 1/2 years. We talk about having children and we talk (indirectly) about rings and marriage, but he has a problem with sharing his space. He wants me to stay every night, but seems afraid that if we "commit" his whole life will be turned upside down. I get mixed messages. He will ask what kind of rings I like, talk about being my mom's Son-In-Law, having babies but then he will turn around and say that he doesn't want new pictures on his wall. He wants me to go home with him for Christmas and be with his family, but he doesn't want my stuff in his house. What can I do to make him feel less threatened? This is his first home and I know that he worked very hard for it, but what good are material items if you can't share them? Will he ever marry me?
No wonder you're confused by his mixed messages. He wants to share the Holidays, but doesn't want to share his belongings. He gives you marriage and children signals but refuses to share his space. This is a serious problem. The very essence of marriage is sharing. A man who can't share is not a good marriage prospect. Couples who can't agree to share their belongings and their space shouldn't be thinking about sharing their lives.
Before you consider marrying him, talk to him about finances and his expectations about marriage and sharing. Let him know that you expect him to be able to share if he wants to be married and have a family.
See if you can teach him to share. Start small. Leave a toothbrush, a bottle of nailpolish, a sweater. Ask him to assign a drawer to you. Borrow a sweater or something from him, wear it, and return it. Let him see that sharing doesn't mean he's going to lose something. Buy something together, splitting the cost, and leave it at his house. That way, you have something there that belongs to you both -- the beginning of sharing. Also, you let him see that sharing means he could have more, not less.
When you spend the Holidays with him and his family, take pictures that include you and him and his family. Then share those pictures with his family and him. Make up little albums and send them to his parents. Frame a nice photo and give it to him. Show by example that sharing is fun.
Whatever you do, don't marry him until he learns to share. If necessary, see a therapist together and talk about the problem. Ask him what he thinks he will lose by sharing. Once you know what his problem really is, then you'll have a better chance of overcoming it.
Your primary worry right now shouldn't be "Will he ever marry me?" Instead, please read "Qualifying" Someone in my library for a checklist of the things to think about before worrying about how soon you'll get married.
Overweight and shy
Dear Dr. Tracy,
I am a 24 yr old SWM who has never been
on a date in my life. I have met some great girls online
who have been interested in getting to know me and
we have even exchanged photos and called each other.
However, long distance relationships do have a downside.
They make it hard to actually spend "quality time" together.
I am a little overweight and it's hard to
find the courage to ask a girl out. Actually I find it hard
to find someone to start out being friends with. I know
it's probably me but I need some solid advise. I always
have had the idea that if I was able to date a girl who was
slender to average size, it will give some extra boost to
lose weight seriously. I would like to meet a girl from the
Oklahoma area, however, there doesn't seem to be anyone in
cyber-land in the area who is interested in getting to
know me! OH WELL!!!!
Dear Never Dated,
Stop blaming your weight for everything. I've dated
fat guys who were tons of fun ;-) They
had great personalities and lots of women. Forget your
weight and concentrate on becoming a really good friend. Be
supportive and giving. If a woman has a great time with
you, if you're a good buddy and a good lover, being a little
overweight doesn't mean a thing except "more to love."
However, don't look to a woman to give you weight loss
motivation. People don't lose weight for others, they do it
for themselves. Join Weightwatchers. There are lots of
women there. You'd have better luck finding someone to lose
weight with than looking for a slim woman to
make you lose weight. Read "Are You Looking or
Waiting?" in the Love Library. You can do this!
Submitting a Question to this column
Dr. Tracy regrets that it is simply impossible for her to answer all of the hundreds of questions submitted to this column each week. However, she does read every question, and tries to select the three which are of the most general interest to the visitors here.
Dr. Tracy says, "Is your question urgent? Many of the most beseeching, desperate messages
I get are not answered in this column because the answer is just a couple of clicks away in my
Love Library. Have you tried my Love Library? I know that nobody goes to libraries anymore, but check this one out -- it's so easily searchable that it's fun and easy to use!"
If you can't find your answer in the Library and you feel you MUST have an answer, you can
get a personal answer from Dr. Tracy within two business days by availing yourself of her inexpensive
You may submit your question to Dr.Tracy's column by e-mail here. (Tips: to increase your chances of having your question chosen, state your age and your marital history, and remember to use paragraph breaks so that your question isn't just one big, hard-to-read clump of words. Also, questions in all caps won't be answered.)
(Featured art from cover of Letting Go, by Zev
Wanderer and Tracy Cabot, published by "Bitan" Publishers,
Return to "Ask Dr. Tracy" Home Page
copyright 1995-2011 Tracy Cabot