family strongly dislikes my partner

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I have been with my significant other for almost 11 years. We have had a very up and down relationship and he has done some terrible things. He is an alcoholic and addict but has been sober for over a year now. We also have a 3 1/2 year old daughter together. I left him a little over a year ago but he has made significant changes for himself and a little over 2 months ago, I decided I wanted our relationship to work – for me and for our daughter. Things have been great – we are in couples counseling, he is wonderful with our daughter and we have finally learned to communicate the “right way” with each other.

The problem is my family – they cannot stand him and he is not welcome in their home. I have always been very close with my family but feel if I’m going to make a go of my relationship and I have my own family to work on, I cannot worry about appeasing them. Things have become very strained with them – they have alienated me and made me like such a horrible person for wanting my family to work. Am I correct to put the father of my daughter and the man I love ahead of them??

A: On the one hand, you can’t hardly blame your folks for having their doubts about your boyfriend. He hurt you (their baby) and he hurt their granddaughter. They have been going through all your ups and downs with you. Of course they are distrustful. Of course they are trying to protect you from further pain.

On the other hand, people do change if they are motivated enough and if the stakes are high enough. Maybe your boyfriend finally woke up to the fact that life was passing him by and he stood to lose both you and his daughter if he didn’t straighten out. I agree that it’s worth a try to see if you can put your own family together.

But I also think you owe your folks a little more understanding and your boyfriend owes them a heartfelt apology for all the pain he has put them through over the years. I suggest you talk to your therapist about including your parents in the therapy for a few sessions. They need to understand that asking you to choose puts you in an impossible situation. You and your boyfriend need to understand that it is natural for them to be cautious. It may take quite a bit of time for them to believe that he deserves your love and their support. That’s okay. It’s time well spent if the end result is a family that can be there for each other.

I wish you all well.
Dr. Marie

Photo

 

 

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Nov 2008

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). family strongly dislikes my partner. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/11/25/family-strongly-dislikes-my-partner/