AARP’s online community is a kind of “wisdom circle”
that draws on the shared experiences of AARP members.
This column is adapted from an online discussion.
OF YOUR LIFE
A woman is fed up with
her partner’s family
Dear Wisdom Circle,
I don’t have kids, but my partner,
Brenda,* is a single mother of three
adult children who have their own
children. I see her only on weekends—
we live far apart—so I would like our
limited time together to be just ours.
But when I’m at Brenda’s house, her
kids walk in without warning. And
when she’s at my house, her family
constantly calls. (During one visit,
she got a dozen calls in two days.)
I genuinely like her family but think
their calls and visits are intrusive and
disrespectful. Brenda doesn’t see the
problem, and I’m feeling resentful.
Any suggestions? —Hopeful Romantic
RESPONSE #1 Blaming her kids won’t
help. Maybe you both have different
needs and can compromise. Or maybe
your partner isn’t ready to commit to
you and is using her family as a buffer.
Try taking her on a camping trip where
there is no phone reception and see
RESPONSE #2 My husband has four
adult children who call at all times of the
day and night. I eventually got him to set
some boundaries (no calls before 8 a.m.
or after 11 p.m. unless it’s an emergency),
and I’ve asked him to set more. It’s difficult. I just hope his kids will recognize
that even though they are very important,
we have a life beyond them.
RESPONSE #3 Your partner is the one
who should set boundaries with her
family, and she’s not doing it. If you’ve
voiced your feelings and she’s still resisting, you have two choices: Extricate yourself from the relationship, or keep silent
and accept what you cannot change.
I tried to get Brenda to compromise
during a recent weekend visit, but
she accused me of trying to turn her
into a loner. When I got home, she
had e-mailed to say that I’m negative
and unforgiving—and that I need to
“look within” to fix my problems. I
guess it’s done. I still don’t know if my
request was unreasonable. [ Editor’s
note: At press time, the relationship
appeared to be ending.]
Adapted by Karen Westerberg Reyes
To ask your own question, or to answer someone
else’s, visit aarp.org/wisdomcircle.
*Names and identifying details have been changed.
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