My boyfriend and I have been together for almost a year. He is my old boyfriend from years ago. We have been talking about marriage and our future plans, but haven’t formally announced it mainly because of his mother’s resentment towards me. She does not like me at all. Which has also made the rest of the family distant from me. He can’t even mention me in a conversation because it becomes a fight. I keep my distance and don’t come around since that’s how she prefers it. So, for family dinners, birthdays, etc. he attends alone without me. Recently though I felt upset that he decided to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with his family. He stated family is very important and his bonding with them will eventually lead to his mom being more accepting of me. He knew I felt upset so decided he would cancel with them to be with me. I asked him not to since initially his plans were he wanted to spend the holidays with them. I stated all I wanted is for him to be fair with me as he is with them. I feel he does not draw a line or create boundaries with them. I know he feels like he has to choose between me and them sometimes. But I don’t know what to say anymore or how to handle it. I have no grudges against her. I understand she has been through a lot and is a very troubled person, but I’m worried things won’t change and it will become serious conflict once we get married. Am I being too selfish? How do I support him without getting hurt?
Thank you for this question about your boyfriend’s family. This is your boyfriend’s responsibility to manage. He needs to be an advocate for his relationship with you with his family. If he is not doing that, which it doesn’t seem he is, then the work for you as a couple is to find out why he isn’t taking a more direct approach and making some clear requests and boundaries with them. You have stated your age as early thirties and I am imagining him to be roughly in the same age category. A thirty year old man about to be engaged needs to be better able to deal with his family.
Ask him how you can help him do this. It might be in the way of letting him visit with his family alone to have these discussions, it might be in the way of going to couple’s counseling together. In any case the responsibility lies with him to deal with his family and advocate for his relationship with you. If he is unable or unwilling to do this, you may want to have a serious discussion with him about how this will affect your relationship going forward.
Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.
APA Reference Tomasulo, D. (2018). Boyfriend’s Family Is Distant from Me. Psych Central.
Retrieved on May 23, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2015/01/25/boyfriends-family-is-distant-from-me/
Last updated: 8 May 2018 Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018 Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.