It’s time again for Shortcuts. For every question, I’ll give my advice in just a few sentences, because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great, being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go.
You’ve been dating this guy since you were 14, so I can understand how the thought of not being his girlfriend seems very foreign. But, at this point, you are his girlfriend in name only, and truly more like a friend in reality. Pull the cord on this relationship and give each other the gift of a clean slate and the chance to be available to more fulfilling opportunities and relationships in the future.
When we were first married, I very much agreed with my husband on this point (and we never left our daughters alone with their grandfather), but in recent years, my father-in-law has been taking medication to treat his violent rages. He is definitely much improved. But my husband still wants very little contact with his father.
I haven’t pushed my husband for any closer relationship with his father, because I do feel this is his decision, but I do feel bad that this grandfather barely has a relationship with his granddaughters. — Loving Wife
It’s wonderful that your FIL is seeking treatment for his violent rages and hopefully, moving forward, he will find more peace in his life and the ability to maintain healthier relationships. However, the scars of the past will never be erased and you need to support your husband’s desire to keep distance between himself and his father, and especially his daughters and their grandfather. I bet they are lucky enough to have an abundance of love in their lives and if they never get to know their grandfather well as children, they’ll still have strong relationships with other family members, and may even have the chance one day to forge a relationship with the man it was too painful for their father to let them know well as kids.
Say: “You’re a great guy and I love your company when you have the time to spend with me. I can see us being happy together, but I’m looking for someone who has more room in his life for a relationship. Please let me know when/if your schedule opens up a bit more and if I’m still single then, I hope we can realize the potential I think we have.”
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.