Question: Dear Luise: I write to you as both the happiest and most frustrate woman I know. Six years ago, I met a wonderful man who grew to be my best friend and the love of my life. I never imagined a companionship that is so complete; (religion, politics, humor, interests, socializing, etc.), supportive (he encouraged me to follow my dreams to medical school), or joyous. You can imagine we want to shout to the world about our love and share it with everyone. However, we are still “in the closet” with regard to my family. You see, he’s 27 years older than me (32&59) and twice divorced. I am close to my parents and siblings–with this HUGE exception. But, every time my mother hears about us being together (for instance, that I went to brunch at his house last year at Christmastime), her first reaction was “OH NO!!!! you don’t have a ring, do you!?”, my dad’s was “you’re not romantically involved with this man, are you?”. —I perhaps need to explain here that when we met, we lived in the same town, now my parents live an hour away from where he lives (and still have close social ties there) and I live four hours away from him, three from them.– When I still lived there, she actually called his house and told his son to give his dad the message that he was ruining my life. Add to that that his children are unbelievably rude, unappreciative (he gave up a career he loved so he could raise them after they were abandoned by his now ex-wife.), and loathe me. Given their ages (20, 22, 29, 36, 38), one would think they wouldn’t play into the picture so much, and for his daughter (36), that’s the case–although she advised her dad that he needed “to get control of that woman”. But the youngest is still in college (he and I actually used to get along really well, but then I found out that he’d been posting inflammatory things about me on Facebook) and so is dependent on him. The next (22) is married and my dearest partially supports him and his wife, although they haven’t spoken to him since Thanksgiving last year. The next lives in the basement, and the oldest lives in a house owned by his father (and doesn’t pay rent or even keep up the place). At this point, I don’t know how to tell my parents. And then I don’t know if we can ever marry with his children like they are. He asks what I want him to do about them, but I just don’t even know where to begin without coming off as the evil-future-step-mother. Any and all advice on any front would be much welcomed—I’m at a loss. Thanks! F.
Answer: Dear F.: It’s going to be pretty hard to extricate yourselves from your respective families. Your guy has grown but dependent children who are probably being hurt by that dependency. They aren’t going to mature if they don’t have to and will eventually hold it against him that they didn’t. You family is afraid for you. I know you can understand that. My husband is 17 years older than I am and now, at age 99, he is in a nursing home because I got to where I couldn’t take care of him any longer…and my life is about my daily visits to see him. No matter how much we disregard the specter of any future complications in a relationship with such age-disparity, it comes back to haunt us. I honestly don’t see how you can make a break for it and call your lives your own nor do I see how you can make it if you don’t. Please come over to my Web-forum with this and see if you can get any better take on it than I have offered. We are at www.WiseWomenUnite.com Blessings, Luise