If your boyfriend wants marriage and kids, so much so that he talks about it a lot, why would you consider your own kids “baggage”? And why on earth would you even continue dating someone, let alone consider marrying someone, who would make you feel like your daughters are baggage? You say your boyfriend “gets on” with your younger daughter but not with the older one because the older one’s “confident” and “forthcoming.” Confidence is a wonderful trait! You’ve either done something right as a mother and/or gotten very lucky to have a 15-year-old daughter who exhibits something women twice her age struggle to find themselves. A confident daughter is anything but baggage, and I’m sorry you’ve been spending your time with a man who doesn’t appreciate what you bring to the table. And I’m even more sorry if you yourself don’t appreciate it.
If your boyfriend loved and accepted your daughters the way they should be loved and accepted by a potential stepfather, then “making things work” would be pretty easy. You’d have a conversation about expectations if you moved in together and got married — like, does either of you want to try for a baby together, and how would you split costs and divide domestic duties, and what are your parenting styles and what would be your plan for parenting together as well as co-parenting with your ex-husband if he’s in the picture. (Here are a few other items of discussion you should address before you would move in with him or any other potential partner). Once the two of you addressed all these items and made sure you were in agreement on them, you’d have a discussion with your daughters (without your boyfriend present) about the idea of the boyfriend moving in/marrying you, and, basically, get their blessing.
But all of that is a moot point if your boyfriend doesn’t get along with both your daughters. If there’s tension between him and your older daughter, then he’s not a match for you and that’s that. If you want to be a good mother — and I hope you do — you don’t marry someone or move in with someone who hasn’t won the love and acceptance of all your kids. That doesn’t mean you can’t go out to dinner with him or enjoy his company in a casual way, but I sure wouldn’t be calling him your “partner” and talking about marriage and kids together.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].