Every Monday her parents come over for supper and I think that’s wonderful, so that’s not the issue. The issue is her need to eat with them another 2-3+ nights per week. Also, her mom comes over every night to tuck in her granddaughter, and they talk all the time. On the weekend, I know my girlfriend is awake because she instantly FaceTimes her mother from bed, then her cousin. Rinse repeat every weekend.
If I don’t go to family things, they grill her and she hates that I don’t go to everything. Then, if her family has questions about me and my life, they won’t ask me, they ask her. I’m 32 years old, I’ve spent thirteen years in the military and I’ve moved across the country twice, with many more regional moves. I’m close to my parents, but I don’t feel nearly as close to mine as she does to hers.
If I ask her about why she’s so involved with them, she tells me that, when her husband left her, she relied on them and this became normal. I have not asked her to change anything other than to ask her mom not to come by at night. She would come over and sit down for several hours but do nothing to help. It was very uncomfortable for me because I can’t unwind with my girlfriend’s mother over my shoulder every night.
Am I letting this get to me or is there really a problem? — Confused in Connecticut
I think the biggest problem here is that you moved in with a woman whose lifestyle as it was wasn’t a fit for you. And knowing she had a daughter, you both should have been extra cautious about taking such a big step as moving in together. That you made that step before you felt confident in your lifestyles being a match is a big red flag. You’ve both been married before — why would you take such a big step in a relationship without being fully ready? THAT, more than your girlfriend’s relationship with her family, is the biggest issue here.
But, yes, your girlfriend’s relationship with her family is an issue, too, because it’s interfering with your relationship and family life. Your girlfriend is being rude by not respecting your privacy and your time together. And you’re enabling her as long as you don’t “ask her to change anything other than to ask her mom not to come by at night.” So, you expressed your concern about that, your girlfriend talked to her mom, and now her mom no longer spends hours at your place every evening sitting on your couch not helping out, right? That’s great — sounds like communicating with your girlfriend works! So… why don’t you communicate about the rest of your concerns? Tell her you feel disrespected when she Facetimes her mother and cousin every weekend morning from bed (with you right next to her, I’m assuming?). Maybe you could ask her to wait until you’re out of bed/in the shower/at the gym, etc. Maybe she could excuse herself to another room or switch to a quick phone call where you don’t have to be included. If you would like her to spend less time eating dinners with her family, suggest she cut back to the Monday family supper you all enjoy together and maybe one additional dinner without you (and then you could use that time to do something you enjoy on your own).
What you’ve described doesn’t sound that crazy. Is it different from what you — and a lot of other people — are used to? Yes. Is it different from what you want? Yes, obviously. But it also doesn’t sound like anyone is refusing you and your needs. The one time you expressed a concern, it was validated, and behavior was changed. So, continue expressing your concerns and work on compromise with your girlfriend. And in the future, make sure you know what you’re getting into before you make another big step forward in a relationship!
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].