Question:

Dear Emily,

I find myself in a bit of a bind. Sheltering in place, and wondering if this relationship I’ve been in the last five years is really worth its weight.

We come from different worlds, her and I. Believe different things, both politically and religiously. We disagree on how to raise children (my own, from a previous relationship), and we have very conflicted views on what it means to spend quality time together.

I try so hard to be perfect and to make her days easier. I have changed and compromised to try and bring contentment to her life, but here I sit. Wondering again. After her support of the current administration was thrown in my face. After forgiving her for taking a swing at me. And after accepting that I will always be second to someone else.. and more.

I have now had my boundaries as a parent questioned. We agreed before she met my child that he has a mother, and doesn’t need a person trying to fill that role. But now she wants a say in things, she wants to be heard when it comes to discipline. She doesn’t want to hear me out though. She wants to say what she wants to say, and hear me say “okay,” and leave it at that. Like, have the conversation on her terms only.

Am I crazy? Have I lost my mind? She is wonderful in her ways, and when things are good, they are really good. So maybe it’s on me when she has to sit through my diatribes after accusing me again and say, “I just wanted to let you know how I was feeling, not go down the rabbit hole you always get lost in.”

Maybe it’s me and maybe I’m crazy. Maybe the isolation and lack of space is eating my brain.

Am I crazy?

Sincerely,
Daddy in Distress

Answer:

Dear Daddy,

Wow! It seems like you’ve had a lot of time lately, considering that novel you wrote to me. I’m so glad you reached out for help though. Trying to make rational decisions during a very tumultuous time (like the one we’re currently in) is a bad idea to say the least.

It sounds like you two live together. I can understand how living with a partner and his kids would leave a woman wanting some say in how they are raised, disciplined, cared for, etc. She can’t just be a bystander if you’re in a serious live-in relationship. However, the root of the issue seems like it’s coming from the differences you two have in most matters.

I would first suggest that you let her know that she is important to you. That you want to be able to feel comfortable including her as a parental unit in your shared household. Additionally, you need to sit down together to go over the ways you will collectively do this. Someone doesn’t do their homework, gets violent, talks back, doesn’t eat their dinner, tells a lie… What happens? What’s the punishment? How is the conversation going to go? You need to be on the same page from the get-go in this new endeavor.

Yes, I am advocating for giving it a shot. At least at that point, you can say you tried, even if it fails miserably.

One thing I think that gets lost in romantic relationships is the fact that people treat their partners differently than their friends. Worse sometimes. There are expectations unmet and it leads to resentment. You have to nip that in the bud. If you wouldn’t be her friend, why are you in a long term committed relationship with her?

You could ask her the same thing. If you two weren’t dating, would you even be friends, knowing all you know about each other, how you think, feel, etc?

Maybe try counseling if working it out between yourselves doesn’t go well but you still want to put in more effort. I am a HUGE proponent for mental health services. And contrary to public opinion, you don’t have to be crazy to attend. Go for yourself, and if she’s open to going, go to couples therapy. But regardless, go for yourself. Everyone should be in therapy, in my opinion.

Have a conversation with your kid. Honestly, what he needs and wants matters most until he’s out on his own. So if he loves this woman, maybe he will be on board for showing her a little more R.E.S.P.E.C.T. I imagine there have been some incidences that led to her feeling like she needed to have a place in his life to discipline him…hmm?

I don’t think you’re crazy, but I do think you need to rein it in a little. Don’t get carried away with all the feels. Just take it one step at a time and stop pussyfooting around. Get to it. Then you can get out of it sooner if it doesn’t pan out.

Best of luck,
Emily

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