I have been with my boyfriend for almost 5 years now and the last three we have been struggling to stay together. His adult children have caused us so much grief that I have not been allowed at his home to the last 3 years because one of his kids live there still. He has been saying that we can not move forward and get engaged or live together because he still is not legally divorced from him exwife and we can not live together out of respect to his parents. The are very old school but very nice and supportive of us.

The biggest problem is my 2 young adult daughters are seeing that I have no say in my relationship because it is all about what is best for his family. My daughters are starting to let their boyfriends treat them like they have no say in their relationships.

I have always raised my daughters to be strong independent women, and now I feel that my relationship is hurting them. What can I do to make my boyfriend understand that this relationship is not healthy for my children or his children to see. I also need to know how to get him to stop using his family as and excuse and to be a man and state the real reason behind this stalling. I just don’t know if I should be even more patient and wait or just give up and walk away before I get hurt anymore.

A: What a painful situation! Something has you and your boyfriend very, very stuck. For some reason, he isn’t willing to put his foot down with his kids or divorce his wife. For some reason, you’ve been willing to accept a part-time and partly visible relationship. Your girls are now holding up a mirror that shows you what you already know to be true but maybe didn’t want to see.

However much you want to, you can’t make your boyfriend understand something he doesn’t want to accept. I’m pretty sure you’ve already told him that the current arrangement doesn’t suit you and that in fact it is giving your daughters the wrong message about what a relationship should be. After 5 years, this can’t be new information.

Perhaps you are ready to do what you wish he would do: Act on your words. If you aren’t willing to continue the relationship as it is, take a time-out until he gets a divorce and makes clear to his adult children that they need to respect his relationship with you.

Only you can decide if half a loaf is better than none. Unless you take some action, a half a loaf is probably what you will always have.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie