I recently spoke on the radio with a man who, I think, made a wise choice in canceling his wedding. Folks who marry others with children, even adult children, have to pay attention to the dynamics of the relationship between that parent and child.
You will not have power to make decisions regarding stepchildren, as the biological parent retains that power and is dealing with guilt (divorce and what that brought) and fear (of losing that child).
This is why almost 70% of these marriages end in divorce.
Second, the cornerstone of a good relationship is being able to discuss blips along the way, let alone major concerns.
Alex: My fiancé and I had our first major fight over the holidays.
Her behavior led to our breakup. I wanted to find out whether I was too hasty?
Dr. Laura: You’re thinking of trying to repair the relationship? I am not.
Then why are you wondering about my feedback?
Well, I guess going forward for other relationships.
I think it would help me. OK, that I get.
How old are you? How old is she? I’m 52, she’s 59.
How long were you dating before you got engaged?
Two years. And you were married before and have kids?
Both of us have been married before with adult children. And until this argument, how did you two resolve diff erences?
That’s the thing.
We hardly had any differences, as hard as that may seem, for almost two-and-a-half years.
How did the two of you deal with the everyday stuff of disagreements?
We both had that type of personality where we avoided conflict.
That generally makes for a marriage that can’t work.
The reason that doesn’t work is that means both of you are stifling yourselves.
That’s not growing together. That’s not being open and vulnerable.
What happened on that particular day?
We were celebrating Christmas Eve at my parents’ house, and then we were celebrating Christmas Day at our house.
Her adult son had come to visit from out of state, and he said he didn’t want to come over to my parents’ house. I said, "Fine," and then she said, "Well, I’m not going either." I asked why. She said, "I don’t want to leave him alone."
I asked, "Why don’t you just make an appearance for 15 minutes? I mean, this is a big deal. We’re newly engaged, and I’ve got people also coming from far away. Everyone’s expecting to see us and celebrate us. So, can you just make an appearance?"
Then she went to ask her son if it was OK to just leave for half an hour.
He said no and that he would pack up and leave. Is he six years old? I don’t understand.
Why he couldn’t be alone?
I guess there’s two reasons.
One, he had a recent breakup with a girlfriend he had dated for two months, so she didn’t want to leave him alone.
Also, there’s some family tragedy from 10 years ago where her son’s father committed suicide. That was never said, but I’m thinking there’s trauma from that background.
She’s attuned to her son’s feelings and coddling him a little bit.
OK sir, that day would have been the rest of your life had you not broken up, correct?
I really agree with that.
That’s why I decided not to go forward. I think that was a wise decision.
However, in your next relationship, if within months you two aren’t struggling to get through a difference of taste, timing, or something, then you’re doing the nonsense of avoiding conflict, which means you’re avoiding intimacy.
There is no intimacy without quality resolution of conflict.
You really get to know each other and can work as a team, compromising and sacrificing and understanding each other.
To me, this was doomed, and I don’t know how, for two years, you didn’t know this was a very unhealthy relationship with her son.
But here we are.
Based on everything you told me, you made a wise decision.
Dr. Laura (Laura Schlessinger) is a well-known radio personality and best-selling author. She appears regularly on many television shows and in many publications. Listen to Dr. Laura on SiriusXM Channel 111, Mon.–Sat. 2–6pm ET, Sun. 5–9pm ET. Read Dr. Laura's Reports — More Here.
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