Dear John: I am a 41 year-old mom of six children, ages 10 to 20, with four of them still at home. I've dated Andy for six years. We even lived together for three years. We broke up for six months, but we have resumed seeing each other. He tells me he loves me very much, and cannot see himself with anyone else.
Our big ongoing issue is my children. Andy was an only child, and he is not comfortable around my children. I know that my children must come first, but I also love this man dearly. I really want to grow old with this man, but not at the expense of my children. Is there anything I can do to assist him in getting a handle on his hang up?
— Hopeful, in St. George, Utah
Dear Hopeful: Naturally, you're right to acknowledge that your children come first. Be there for them. Make time to see Andy. In your own words, however, not at their expense. Instead, schedule regular dates. Knowing your time constraints, if he wants to see you, he will accommodate you. Should you want to have an evening alone with him, do so at his place. At least one of your children is old enough to cover for the others.
You can't force Andy to like your children. You can only hope that he can accept them on terms that work for him, and that they will do the same. If you are willing to accept that fact that he does not want to participate in your parenting experience, enjoy what he has to offer you and expect no more than that.
Dear John: In your Mars/Venus books, you talk about men having “caves” and women having “wells.” I've noticed this in my own relationship. Recently, our conflicts have escalated to every few days. He goes to his cave, and I go down into my well.
— What's Happening? In Tulsa
Dear What's Happening: The problem may be an unresolved issue yet to be addressed by either of you. If you can think of anything that has made you angry or resentful, you need to bring it up as soon as possible. Then again, he may be the one with the issue. The best way to find out is to wait until the two of you are alone and neither of you is upset. If in fact you are the one holding back, tell him why, without blame, anger or guilt. If you feel that he is still holding back, say: “Honey, I've noticed that we've been arguing more frequently. I love you so much, and I don't want anything to stand between us. Is there something you'd like to ask me, or is there something that I need to know?” This lets him know that you are open to hearing any issues. Usually we will hold something in because we fear the response of our partners. Until we can express our fear, we cannot move beyond it, so start talking. It can create the breakthrough that you're hoping to have.
2013 John Gray's Mars Venus Advice. Distributed by Creators Syndicate. John Gray is the author of “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.” If you have a question, write John in care of this newspaper, or by email at: www.marsvenus.com. All questions are kept anonymous, and will be paraphrased.
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