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.