Dear Amy: I wanted to ask if I’m being too uptight or if I have a right to feel upset regarding my wife and her ex.
They have been divorced for eight years now and share three teens/young adults.
We have been married for almost six years. He is remarried as well.
He gets her very expensive gifts for Christmas, her birthday or “just because.”
This really bothers me, and I don’t feel it is acceptable nor appropriate.
I am 60 and my wife is 45. Her ex is a couple of years younger than her.
I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this and wonder if I’m making a mountain out of molehill.
Brent in Texas
Dear Brent: I’m often asked if people get to feel their feelings.
Yes, you do!
The burden here is for you to examine your feelings and describe them cogently to your wife. (“This is a boundary issue and a power move on his part; it makes me feel insecure.”)
She should not dismiss your feelings, but should explain her own motivations in accepting these gifts from her ex.
Gift-giving can be a sign of intimacy, but if she explains that accepting these expensive gifts is a way for her to redistribute some of her ex’s wealth, I wonder if you would feel differently about them.
Dear Amy: I’m an out and proud gay woman. Two years ago, I met a wonderful girl. We had an instant connection and started dating.
After initially sneaking around, she told her parents about us.
She is an only child, and her parents are traditional, old-fashioned, “my way or the highway” people.
I differ from them in almost every aspect of life.
Until this year, she lived at home with them, and things were uncomfortable for her — the topic of her relationship with me was always the elephant in the room.
I was never spoken about or acknowledged; they simply pretended that I don’t exist.
Her mother seems to be trying to be open — she and I exchange small talk over social media — but her father still won’t acknowledge me at all.
I attended a holiday party where they were also present, and he ignored me for the entire night.
When we go to their house, I am not welcomed inside. He doesn’t acknowledge any part of her life having to do with me.
I have done a lot to try to present myself respectfully to him. I’ve purchased Christmas gifts for them, baked pastries, done favors, and I’ve never gotten even a “hello.”
I know from experience that it takes time for parents to come to terms with having a gay child, but I’m disheartened that this has gone on this long.
What should I do? Should I just give this some more time?
Dear Black Sheep: Yes, you should give this more time, and you should be patient while your girlfriend continues to gauge her parents’ rejection and find ways to cope. For now, I suggest that you cease any campaign to win them over.
This is exhausting, emotional work that places an unfair burden on your girlfriend, but as an only child new to this experience and with few family allies, she likely wants to try to maintain a relationship with her folks. A therapist would be very helpful to you both.
I read through a 2021 empirical study focusing on how LGBTQ adults maintain relationships with parents who reject their child’s identity.
The adult children take on the heavy burden for figuring out how to manage these family conflicts through avoidance (don’t ask, don’t tell), acceptance (they accept the underlying strain but decide to stay bonded with the parents), and boundaries (setting significant boundaries with the parents in order to manage rejection while staying bonded).
In your case, the girlfriend’s mother might become an ally to the relationship. You two should spend time with her, in order to normalize your relationship. The father might not ever come around, and I hope you both can come to view his rejection as entirely his loss, as you choose to continue to love one another, regardless.
Dear Amy: “Concerned Cousin” wondered about telling a cousin that the man who raised her wasn’t her biological father.
I am absolutely stunned that you suggested that this was a good idea.
Talk about MYOB!!
Dear Disappointed: The cousin was already estranged from the family Everyone else in the family knew the truth. The person who actually possesses the DNA also deserves to know.
You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.
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