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To what extent should a boyfriend stand up to family?


goldberry
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DD is in a pretty serious relationship. Dating over a year, talking about marriage.  DD is 18, boy is 19, still lives at home.  They are a good family overall, but obviously have their own quirks as families do.

 

But it's kind of become a pattern that the mom especially treats DD not very welcoming. I think it has to do with the boy being the oldest of 6, and the first one going through the growing up and out process.  There have been times that DD has been very hurt by some of the behavior, but boy did not seem to think much of it.  When she would try to talk to him, he would say, well, talk to my mom.  DD started avoiding spending time with this family, but then boy said why do you never want to be around my family.  She explained, I don't feel welcome because of xyz.  Boy basically responded, can't you keep trying because I want you all to get along.  But apparently he thinks it should all be on DD.  He won't say anything to his family about it. 

 

DD even tried to set a coffee date with the mom, just to chat and maybe clear the air some. Mom was busy (that was honest I believe) said, oh, but I really want to, let's do that.  But then Mom never brought it up again.  DD and I both thought at that point it was kind of on the mom to reciprocate since she was the one who had to refuse. 

 

Today DD was at the family house and something happened that made her feel very uncomfortable and unwelcome.  She left shortly after.  She called boy and said this is why I don't want to be around your family, because of what just happened. Boy seems to think that she should just deal directly with his family, that's between her and them, why would she come to him, what is he supposed to do about it.  

 

DD feels (and I agree) that he is the one bringing her into this family, so he does have some responsibility here.  She is also looking forward to a time they might be married and wondering if this guy will stand up for her.  Is that reasonable to think?  Thoughts or experiences here?

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DH and I got together quite young and he is also the oldest of a bunch; I had similar problems with his mother and we are still not what you would call close.  We are civil.

 

He didn't run interference between me and her and I would not have expected him to; on the other hand, he also didn't insist that we get along.  He was not living with his mother when we started dating, though (she had mostly moved out to her fiance's house and then DH graduated high school and moved out).  The boyfriend living with his mother probably makes things more difficult as she has to be in the house with the mother more often.  Can she just insist that until the mother clears the air with her, she doesn't want to be part of that environment and so they will have to hang out elsewhere?

 

Does the boyfriend plan to move out anytime soon?

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Just my $0.02, but they seem very immature to be considering marriage from what you describe. And I got engaged at 21 so it's not like I think young marriage is necessarily a bad thing.

 

Red flags from where I'm standing:

 

-BF can't stand up to his mom.

-Your DD is not able to make her feelings understood to the BF.

-Your DD is getting you involved in something that is frankly none of your business.

 

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On the front end, I'd think it very romantic to have a boy stand up for me to his family.

 

If at 18 I could see down the road, 30 years of marriage to a mom-fearing firstborn son and associated MIL negotiations, I might think about taking a step back from the relationship.

 

(Sorry maybe that's not the response you were looking for. Others will surely be more helpful.)

 

ETA that's me, I've been married near 30 years to mama's firstborn.

Edited by Seasider
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Can she just insist that until the mother clears the air with her, she doesn't want to be part of that environment and so they will have to hang out elsewhere?

 

 

 

This is pretty much the plan as of now, except not so much putting it on the mother.  More so, I am not comfortable there.  I've done all I can do on my end.  If you are unwilling to talk to your mom about her end, then there is nothing I can do further except just avoid this situation. 

 

He wants to live at home until they are ready to get married and then move in together.  Financially that allows him to save, etc.  

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Sounds like the boy is not ready to leave and cleave.

 

I don't know that I'd wait on rescheduling that talk with the mom. 

 

Depending on how the 'unwelcomeness' plays out, I might let it go or I might see it as very serious.  I feel like without some details it's impossible to assess.  It is, after all, the boy's parents' house, and I can understand if they want him to set a good example for the younger sibs and also if they have multiple priorities to juggle.  For instance, if it's 'you can stay here but not hide out up in BF's room and stay the night' I can see it.  If it's 'you can't have that cookie, because it belongs to baby', that's pretty inhospitable.  If the BF is not ready to declare himself and get engaged, then they cannot treat her exactly as family, or else they would be running ahead of him.  So their most gracious available option would be to treat her as very loved and welcome 'company' or 'friend of our kid's'.  At this point, he has not 'brought her into the family' except as a GF.  Having said that, this can set up a bad pattern of resentment and of him being torn between the two of them and not standing up for his wife down the road, so it's important to tread carefully.

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Just my $0.02, but they seem very immature to be considering marriage from what you describe. And I got engaged at 21 so it's not like I think young marriage is necessarily a bad thing.

 

Red flags from where I'm standing:

 

-BF can't stand up to his mom.

-Your DD is not able to make her feelings understood to the BF.

-Your DD is getting you involved in something that is frankly none of your business.

Totally agree with this.

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I think I'd be asking myself if he would stand up to ANYONE who was rude to her.  It doesn't bode well, though he can certainly turn it around.  And for what it is worth, I think it is totally normal and appropriate for your 18 year old daughter to ask advice navigating this situation. 

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If you love someone, and your family treats that person badly, and you shrug it off or consider it "not your problem"..... that is not mature behavior.  Either gender.

 

BUT, I'm not sure here, not knowing if this is a slight personality issue (people with good intentions who just rub each other the wrong way) or if the family is genuinely snubbing the girl.

 

Like if the mom is a more acerbic sense of humor, and the 18 year old gets super touchy about it, that might be a "you guys need to get to know each other better" thing, rather than rudeness.  Even if the boyfriend quietly is telling his mom to tone it down, the mom & future DIL need to build a relationship anyway.

Edited by poppy
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Just my $0.02, but they seem very immature to be considering marriage from what you describe. And I got engaged at 21 so it's not like I think young marriage is necessarily a bad thing.

 

Red flags from where I'm standing:

 

-BF can't stand up to his mom.

-Your DD is not able to make her feelings understood to the BF.

-Your DD is getting you involved in something that is frankly none of your business.

 

From what I can tell, DD has been very clear to him exactly what the problems are and why she feels the way she does.  They actually have good communication, he just disagrees that he has any role in this situation.

 

DD was upset and I asked what was going on.  It's normal to vent to your mom I think, also she sometimes looks to me to tell her whether or not she is being unreasonable. (Which I have been honest with her about on other occasions.) She just wants some perspective, she doesn't want me to get involved in the situation.

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This is really tough. I don't think this is necessarily a preview of things to come - the dynamics of living at home and not being self-supporting are really different from once they get out in the world and achieve some independence and possibly marry. On the other hand, negative patterns are being established. It seems like both she and the bf are in a difficult place. At that age and in that situation, should the bf stand up to his family? I honestly don't know. And should she have to feel welcome there - again, at this stage of the relationship. If he stands up to his family and "takes her side" then that's quite a serious step in terms of their relationship - one that he shouldn't necessarily have to make, even though the relationship is serious. But if she insists on hashing things out with his family, then she risks alienating him and pushing in where she doesn't really belong. It's not a good situation for *either* of them. And I think I sympathize with both of them.

 

Ideally, he'd get where she was coming from and sympathize at the very least. And then support her in making overtures or do things to subtly back her up. It's hard to say what since what his mother did is very vague in the OP. But presumably just him learning to see this stuff would be good. It sounds like he's completely oblivious. And that, I guess, is the thing that's the most concerning. Forget this would-be future MIL. The bf has to be able to see things from her side and make a reasoned choice from there. If he can't... then that's a bigger issue than either of them having been forced into this uncomfortable situation by his mother.

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My DH absolutely stood up to his family when they treated me very badly. It meant we were "on our own" and they had nothing to do with us for a couple of years. I don't think it would have worked out for us if he hadn't. And not that he started a fight our anything. Just, this is how it's going to be. Well, except for when his brother suggested the only way I could have made tips as a waitress was by giving lap dances. *That* was a bit different.

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so, what is boy doing when the uncomfortable things are happening?

 

And no, he needs to sort out his own family, not your dd. Some of it could be circumstances (immaturity, living at home, wanting to save, family culture) but he will have to at some point delineate his new family (your dd) and draw new boundaries with his own parents. Sooner will be better for everyone.

 

I have some sympathy, dh and I married at 18 & 20, and navigating this issue wasn't easy or without consequences - though I was more like the boyfriend in this scenario.

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Does he agree that her feelings are valid or does he think she's overblowing the gestures or comments and they aren't really rude?

 

If he sees mom's behavior as a problem but thinks it's your dd's alone to solve, I'd see that as a problem.

 

If he thinks dd is being overly sensitive and mom isn't really doing anything wrong, I'd see that as a different problem.

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Not specific to your situation, goldberry; the following musing is general.

 

I get the whole "stay at home to save money" thing. But here's the rub: before committing to sharing my life with someone, I want to know for sure he has some ambition, is willing to work, is capable of taking care of himself and managing his finances...In short, I'd like to see some proof that the marriage won't have to limp along on subsidies from the inlaws, or that prospective spouse isn't going to be a weak partner in the relationship. I don't know if I'm making sense, but for my own older kids, I know I feel better thinking that they're going to be marrying adults as opposed to old kids.

Edited by Seasider
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She's getting a preview of what it would be like to be married to him. If I were her, I'd run the other way.

THIS...and oh, yes....THIS

 

If she thinks it's frustrating to tell her feelings to her boyfriend and have him shrug them off and tell her to deal with it on her own, she should think about how hard this could be if they are married. This is a red flag.

 

The other thing is that no matter what, MILs have a big impact on marriages. I had no idea how true this was until I was married. I love my dh and think he's the cat's meow, but I sure wish I had known how to handle her when we were first married. (We dated far away from his family, then moved very close to them shortly before marrying.) Their family has very different boundaries than mine and it took me far to long to deal with her because it was just so different than what I was used to. I would *not* marry into a family where I didn't feel welcome. Life is too short.

 

I would caution your daughter about marriage. She clearly has a lot to learn and a lot of growing to do in her own right. 

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I think it really depends on if we are talking about a situation where she is being "treated badly" in the absolute sense: things that everyone would recognize as "bad treatment" between any two people... or, if this is an expectation mismatch.m

 

Examples of a range of expectation mismatches:

 

If she is "expecting a welcome" but bf's mother is like, "She's not my guest, so why would I be on the welcoming committee?" -- that could easily be considered something that would make her feel unwelcome, but it's not actually mistreatment.

 

If she is "expecting good manners" but this family has some in-family standards that are lower than hers (such as semi-harsh teasing) but it's the way they ordinarily behave to all in-family folks, I'm not seeing that as mistreatment either. It's unpleasant and unexpected but not "being treated badly".

 

If she is "expecting personal space" but the family asks personal questions, or if she is shocked by swear words, or if she expects inclusive maneuvers but is being treated to indifference... all sorts of things make people uncomfortable. These things don't need anyone to "stand up for her" because they are preferences not cut-and-dried stuff.

 

If she is actually badly treated, the bad should not indifferent it from his mom, or from anyone.

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From what I can tell, DD has been very clear to him exactly what the problems are and why she feels the way she does.  They actually have good communication, he just disagrees that he has any role in this situation.

 

DD was upset and I asked what was going on.  It's normal to vent to your mom I think, also she sometimes looks to me to tell her whether or not she is being unreasonable. (Which I have been honest with her about on other occasions.) She just wants some perspective, she doesn't want me to get involved in the situation.

I think her talking to you and asking your perspective is a wonderful thing! I'm, um, much older than your dd and I still run things past my mom--parenting questions, things we're thinking about doing in our lives, job issues, etc. She's my mom and I love her and trust her opinion. Talking to my mom is not a red flag and I don't see that your daughter has done one thing wrong by discussing her feelings with you. Be proud she trusts your opinion!

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There is only one reason it worked out in this department with my MIL.  DH moved to another country.  Otherwise, his mother is a jerk and would have driven me away.  I don't know if DH would have spoken up.  I'd like to think he would, but....

 

yeah....

 

I don't really have advice.  Just saying I wonder if I would have stuck around if I had to deal with her on a regular basis.  I'm leaning towards no. 

 

 

Edited by SparklyUnicorn
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This is really tough. I don't think this is necessarily a preview of things to come - the dynamics of living at home and not being self-supporting are really different from once they get out in the world and achieve some independence and possibly marry. 

 

This is very true.  Sorry, I don't want to get too specific with the situation.  I wish I could say more.  

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I was thinking about this... you know... if he "got it" then one sidestepping solution would be for him to just accept that they spend less time with his family together. That's a natural consequence of her not feeling welcome. It does feel like a bit much - unless they were just outright rude to her - that he have to stand up to them at his age and situation. He's only barely not a kid. But at the same time, he can't act like there isn't a problem and bury his head in the sand. And if the dynamic continues and the relationship continues to be more serious he has to be willing to call them on it eventually. And he has to believe that *is* his job at some point.

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I do think I understand why he might not think to speak up.  It's his mother and he's used to the way she is.  He probably doesn't realize how she comes across to other people.  It's mom...that's how mom is.  I think this is how my husband is.  He knows how she is and knows her typical "ways" but he is used to her.

 

I did have to tell him not to tell me about her suggestions for me to correct my behavior.  Yep.  She used to make comments about anything and everything.  He once suggested I scratch my nose differently.  I shi* you not.  He said his mother told him to tell me.  I let him know what I thought about that.  Let's just say he never passed along her "suggestions" again.  I also had to tell him I didn't want to hear about her rants towards him about him.  These were things he was doing wrong despite the fact he lived in another country and she never saw him. 

 

She is not normal. 

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I was thinking about this... you know... if he "got it" then one sidestepping solution would be for him to just accept that they spend less time with his family together. That's a natural consequence of her not feeling welcome. It does feel like a bit much - unless they were just outright rude to her - that he have to stand up to them at his age and situation.

 

YES! And that's what she was doing actually.  But he was "I want you all to get along, and spend more time together.."  They do "get along" in that there is no arguing or bad feelings or outright rudeness.  I don't blame him for being young and uncertain how to handle it.

 

And oh yes.  I do know they are both lacking in maturity in many areas.  I advised her and would have loved for her to wait longer before getting so serious.  The horse has left the barn.  

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Is there any reason to think it won't just be issues between herself and inlaws? That it'll be anything she needs that he doesn't feel like giving?

 

 

He's a kid. If he's not ready to stand up to his parents, and he is still living on their dime, he should at least be validating her feelings and he isn't doing that. My advice would be to run screaming. What will life be? Her being the responsible one trying to address problems and him feeling hen pecked because she never lets up? 

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I think her talking to you and asking your perspective is a wonderful thing! I'm, um, much older than your dd and I still run things past my mom--parenting questions, things we're thinking about doing in our lives, job issues, etc. She's my mom and I love her and trust her opinion. Talking to my mom is not a red flag and I don't see that your daughter has done one thing wrong by discussing her feelings with you. Be proud she trusts your opinion!

 

Thank you for this...

 

I know where the lines are, because thankfully my own parents towed those lines.  There was a time in my younger days when they told me, "you're married now, you need to deal with this with your husband" and they were right.  There were other times, though, when I was glad for their advice and perspective.

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Is there any reason to think it won't just be issues between herself and inlaws? That it'll be anything she needs that he doesn't feel like giving?

 

 

He's a kid. If he's not ready to stand up to his parents, and he is still living on their dime, he should at least be validating her feelings and he isn't doing that. My advice would be to run screaming. What will life be? Her being the responsible one trying to address problems and him feeling hen pecked because she never lets up? 

 

Can't tell yet honestly. It's hard to tell what is immaturity and what may be a lasting character trait.   He's very logical, DD is very emotional.  So he does have a hard time understanding things his logic doesn't apply to.  But he tries.  He is quick to apologize and quick to own his fault in things USUALLY.  Which is good.  

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YES! And that's what she was doing actually.  But he was "I want you all to get along, and spend more time together.."  They do "get along" in that there is no arguing or bad feelings or outright rudeness.  I don't blame him for being young and uncertain how to handle it.

 

And oh yes.  I do know they are both lacking in maturity in many areas.  I advised her and would have loved for her to wait longer before getting so serious.  The horse has left the barn.  

 

Poor kids.

 

I hope you can talk her through figuring out how to help him understand this.

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I haven't read the rest of the responses yet, but given all the time here on the boards that we hear from boardies whose in-laws have a problem/boundary issues and we tell them the dh should deal with his own parents, I'd say the boyfriend is just wrong on this.  If he wants to keep her around then he needs to stand up for her and be on "her side".  This "get over it or deal with it yourself" precedent does not bode well for her if she marries him.

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Is she doing or saying things in front of him?  My MIL was a master at taking digs at me when there were no witnesses around.  Dh had a hard time saying anything to her because he didn't witness it and she would deny it adamantly if he said anything.  So I became a master at saying very loudly so that even people in the next room heard, "Why would you say ____________ to me?"  It curbed her behavior because she couldn't get away with it. 

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Can't tell yet honestly. It's hard to tell what is immaturity and what may be a lasting character trait.   He's very logical, DD is very emotional.  So he does have a hard time understanding things his logic doesn't apply to.  But he tries.  He is quick to apologize and quick to own his fault in things USUALLY.  Which is good.  

 

They don't sound like a good fit for one another. If she's very emotion based now, how's she going to be as a sleep deprived mother? It won't be *his* fault, will it? So what will he do about it? Tell a frantic woman that it's her problem and she has to suck it up?

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Is she doing or saying things in front of him?  My MIL was a master at taking digs at me when there were no witnesses around.  Dh had a hard time saying anything to her because he didn't witness it and she would deny it adamantly if he said anything.  So I became a master at saying very loudly so that even people in the next room heard, "Why would you say ____________ to me?"  It curbed her behavior because she couldn't get away with it. 

 

This made me lol.  :laugh:

 

We have mostly lived far from in-laws, and I have good ones besides. I don't know if I would have had the nerve to do this, but I like to think if I were in that spot, I would!

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Is she doing or saying things in front of him?  My MIL was a master at taking digs at me when there were no witnesses around.  Dh had a hard time saying anything to her because he didn't witness it and she would deny it adamantly if he said anything.  So I became a master at saying very loudly so that even people in the next room heard, "Why would you say ____________ to me?"  It curbed her behavior because she couldn't get away with it. 

 

Gosh how awful!  No, nothing like that.

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Your later post suggests that there is no overt rudeness?  I think that I had this fantasy that my ILs would be like second parents to me.  I had to give up that fantasy and accept that being civil was just fine.  Fondness is going to take time and can't be forced. 

 

Editing because the first ten years were not civil.  It was only when MIL started to have dementia, that she became nice to me.  I didn't care that we weren't really friends.  Civil was such a relief! 

Edited by Jean in Newcastle
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They don't sound like a good fit for one another. If she's very emotion based now, how's she going to be as a sleep deprived mother? It won't be *his* fault, will it? So what will he do about it? Tell a frantic woman that it's her problem and she has to suck it up?

 

Well, in my marriage I'm the logical one and DH is the emotional one.  It was not the easiest road at the beginning, but we did figure it out.  It required lots of growing and working from both of us.  It paid off in the end though!  :001_wub:

 

So yeah, it will either be a disaster or an "opportunity for personal growth"!  :laugh:

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It's hard to say without specifics, but in general I think the boyfriend needs to stand up for the girlfriend, especially if marriage is on the table. Even if it's a relatively simple matter of family culture, and all he has to say is: "Guys, GF doesn't like it when you do that. Please lay off."

 

MIL-DIL relationships can be really complicated; there can be an uneven balance that needs to be addressed, lest it fester over the years. MIL has known her boy for his own life, and may have strong feelings about who or what is good enough for him. DIL may appear to her like a little upstart. Son doesn't want to appear ungrateful to his parents, and anyway, he's used to their quirks. But at some point the son needs to signal that he's a grown man, he's left the protection of his parents, and he's going to take care of his wife and new family no matter what. Hint: moving out would be a terrific start! Saving money is all fine and dandy and maybe it'll work out great. But I have seen young people who get complacent about being taken care of by mommy, and then it follows them for years or decades. It gets ugly when there's a spouse involved.

 

GF should think about what early marriage would look like. The emotional highs and lows involved with the wedding. What about when the first babies come? Unfortunately for the chat board, I try not to air dirty laundry online, otherwise I'd have some real doozies to tell. What about when someone's sick, or navigating celebrations and holidays? What about late in life issues (I know someone who is currently choosing between his family's financial needs and his elderly mother's needs; the women have never gotten along)? What will life be like in 30 years if this isn't ever addressed?

 

I think it's okay to spend years working through in-law issues. That's life. But a grown son needs to show that he is working on it and he's open to truly listening, and acting on it if necessary.

 

ETA: I don't want to sound like I'm coming down too hard on the boyfriend or the dynamics in his family. He's only 19, and I certainly didn't have my stuff together at that age, though I considered myself extremely mature :001_rolleyes: . It's just that people who are discussing marriage really need to get on top of things like future family dynamics, financial plans, communication skills, how to rely on each other, and when it's wise to ignore the in-laws. Getting a cheap place with a bunch of friends would go a long way.

Edited by lavender's green
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OK, if there's no real rudeness, just lack of whatever everybody considers to be a Hallmark relationship in such a situation (although none of have ever navigated it before, including potential future MIL), then I say

 

and this is the voice of experience

 

everybody calm down and lay low until the boy moves out. And he needs to move out.

 

Just don't allow drama to arise. Don't encourage her to fixate on potential future MIL's tone and every move as if she's out to get her; if there's overt rudeness, encourage her to have a discussion. Nobody should be forcing relationships at this point, or requiring a layer of intimacy that the other is not ready for...grace on both sides, as long as everyone's trying. I'd tell these young people, and their parents, to let a LOT of it GO.

 

I'm in a parallel situation (with less drama, thankfully, but we've had awkward moments). The problem of living a foot in several worlds is causing my son to move out in a year, after his junior year of college, so they can go forward with their engagement and plans as actual grownups. It'll cost him a little in the student loans he's living at home in order to pay off as he goes, but he doesn't want to be officially engaged while still living at home.

 

She's fine, he's fine, I'm probably fine (?) but I do feel I've probably offended or misunderstood her a few times; I can't tell you how weird it is to have your eldest son truly grow up while still depending on you for his daily lunchbox and sleeping in your garage. I've probably embarrassed them both. Mistakes will be made, even if overall everybody is behaving themselves and being polite.

 

In our case, I genuinely love this girl, she's great for my son, and we're all excited that they plan to live in our city, near both sets of parents. Once he moves out, and especially once they are actually married, I don't anticipate a lot of problems. Both families are a lot alike, and the young people are pretty good at communicating.

 

But he needs to take his dirty socks and lunchbox and move out before I can totally switch gears, however much I do try to respect them both.

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Agreeing with Carol in Cal.

 

Just another thought here, trying to see that there might be a different perspective on this, so disregard if this is not helpful! ;)

 

One other thing to remember is that the boyfriend comes from a family with many siblings (all younger), so relationship-wise, they are all used to letting things roll off and very little is a big deal. I know several families with 6, 7, 8 kids, and honestly, it really is a whole different dynamic. They are very used to getting ignored or knocked down, and have learned how to compromise, let go, and just plan not have things go your way, and keep getting up and going as a family. The boyfriend may honestly not see that this IS "anything", because whatever is being a big deal to your DD has never been an issue in his family.

 

In contrast, your DD is an only child, and very frequently, only children are very used to all the focus being about their feelings and what they need to make relationship work.

 

Not at ALL suggesting that your DD is a prima donna! But I am suggesting that the two of them have extremely different backgrounds in how relationships work. ;)

 

 

re: the mom

Since you didn't provide specific incidents, it's really hard to tell *what* is going on. 

 

Yes, it could be she's giving your DD the cold shoulder, or that mom is having a hard time letting go of her first born, or that mom is not a friendly person.

 

But it could also be she's just stretched thin and frazzled keeping up with the needs of 6 kids (5 of them not yet adults) and a husband, and doesn't have the *time* or energy for initiating. Especially about something that might not even be on her radar as "a problem" that needs addressing. And especially since DD is a friend (girl friend) of one of her children, and not an about-to-be-family-member.

 

Maybe what DD perceives as "a pattern of not being welcoming" might be a woman who is very introverted and finds it incredibly hard to initiate anything social, or she has constantly used up her small amount of social-energy as an introvert on her family, and the very thought of having to set up a time for coffee and a heart-to-heart feels completely fatiguing to her. Maybe from her perspective as a mom juggling a big family, your DD has loads of free time, so she may think that if this really IS important to your DD, just like with her own kids competing for mom's limited energy/attention, that your DD will initiate. Or maybe mom has struggles with depression, or stress in the marriage, or stress with one of her kids that your DD knows nothing about.

 

And maybe none of those things are what's going on... But my point is that it's really hard to make these kinds of judgments or have expectations on another family that is very different from your own.

 

Since DD and boyfriend are both young, perhaps some relationship counseling would be wise -- and could be fun! Not marriage counseling or troubled couples relationship counseling, but more of a joint side-by-side learning about communication skills, expectations and how/when you need to let go of expectations, and when/how to clearly express needs/wants, whether it's a friendship, a workplace co-worker, a parent-adult child relationship, or a marriage. It could also help them see how very differently men and women approach things, which is vastly helpful in any kind of relationship.

 

BEST of luck! Warmly, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D.
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YES! And that's what she was doing actually. But he was "I want you all to get along, and spend more time together.." They do "get along" in that there is no arguing or bad feelings or outright rudeness. I don't blame him for being young and uncertain how to handle it.

 

And oh yes. I do know they are both lacking in maturity in many areas. I advised her and would have loved for her to wait longer before getting so serious. The horse has left the barn.

That cinched it for me. If they can get along then that's good enough. Save complaints for more serious issues.

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I kind of think on his side he is envisioning her blending with his family in a big happy group.  When she was not too keen on hanging out with them for various reasons, it spoiled that vision.  She was fine just being polite but keeping her distance.  He has to realize that he can either deal with some of the issues OR be okay with her keeping her distance a little.  He can't just say "you be okay" and have it happen.  

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My husband's mom used to make dinner for the family and they'd sit down and eat while I waited in the living room. I thought that was rude, but maybe they thought I was rude for not taking a hint and leaving. Family dynamics can be weird. One of my girls is dating a guy whose family adores her and treats her like family. Another daughter is dating a guy who is the only of a lifelong single mom. Things aren't going so smoothly there. She checks in with me often: is this normal? Weird? Am I being too sensitive? Not trying hard enough? It's not as easy. I've helped her to learn to set appropriate boundaries and the boyfriend will stand up to his mom on occasion when he feels like she's being too pushy. But yeah there are times he just doesn't see how manipulative or demanding she is being because that's all he knows. That's his normal.

 

I think the boyfriend had better be prepared to choose between defending his mom or his girlfriend if he doesn't help her to handle the situation. Because if he allows her to handle it, he has to deal with how she chooses to address it. He doesn't understand that in one way or another, he's going to be sucked into it.

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I kind of think on his side he is envisioning her blending with his family in a big happy group. When she was not too keen on hanging out with them for various reasons, it spoiled that vision. She was fine just being polite but keeping her distance. He has to realize that he can either deal with some of the issues OR be okay with her keeping her distance a little. He can't just say "you be okay" and have it happen.

Exactly.

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I'm guessing boyfriend won't truly grow up until he moves out of the house. You don't bite the hand that feeds you. Also, getting along and happily thriving in a large family is a life skill that a lot of people just haven't developed. If it's not toxic or deliberately hurtful, you have to learn to not be bothered, or at least to stand up for yourself. With 10 people sharing space, SOMEBODY is bound to disagree with you or say something "the wrong way." You just grow a thicker skin when you grow up with a lot of people.

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DD is in a pretty serious relationship. Dating over a year, talking about marriage.  DD is 18, boy is 19, still lives at home.  They are a good family overall, but obviously have their own quirks as families do.

 

But it's kind of become a pattern that the mom especially treats DD not very welcoming. I think it has to do with the boy being the oldest of 6, and the first one going through the growing up and out process.  There have been times that DD has been very hurt by some of the behavior, but boy did not seem to think much of it.  When she would try to talk to him, he would say, well, talk to my mom.  DD started avoiding spending time with this family, but then boy said why do you never want to be around my family.  She explained, I don't feel welcome because of xyz.  Boy basically responded, can't you keep trying because I want you all to get along.  But apparently he thinks it should all be on DD.  He won't say anything to his family about it. 

 

DD even tried to set a coffee date with the mom, just to chat and maybe clear the air some. Mom was busy (that was honest I believe) said, oh, but I really want to, let's do that.  But then Mom never brought it up again.  DD and I both thought at that point it was kind of on the mom to reciprocate since she was the one who had to refuse. 

 

Today DD was at the family house and something happened that made her feel very uncomfortable and unwelcome.  She left shortly after.  She called boy and said this is why I don't want to be around your family, because of what just happened. Boy seems to think that she should just deal directly with his family, that's between her and them, why would she come to him, what is he supposed to do about it.  

 

DD feels (and I agree) that he is the one bringing her into this family, so he does have some responsibility here.  She is also looking forward to a time they might be married and wondering if this guy will stand up for her.  Is that reasonable to think?  Thoughts or experiences here?

 

What she sees now is what she will get. 

 

Edited because I had only read the Op and didn't see clarifying stuff. 

Edited by Laurie4b
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One other thing to remember is that the boyfriend comes from a family with many siblings (all younger), so relationship-wise, they are all used to letting things roll off and very little is a big deal. I know several families with 6, 7, 8 kids, and honestly, it really is a whole different dynamic. They are very used to getting ignored or knocked down, and have learned how to compromise, let go, and just plan not have things go your way, and keep getting up and going as a family. The boyfriend may honestly not see that this IS "anything", because whatever is being a big deal to your DD has never been an issue in his family.

 

In contrast, your DD is an only child, and very frequently, only children are very used to all the focus being about their feelings and what they need to make relationship work.

 

 

 

This is very true and I totally admit it, even though we tried to avoid it. 

 

Re: the mom, when the two first started dating, the mom confided in me that she was so not ready for this, that she had no idea how to deal with it, that she was so freaked out by it she was referring most things to her husband to deal with.  Boyfriend was 18.  We are both pretty conservative families, but ... wow.

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I kind of think on his side he is envisioning her blending with his family in a big happy group. When she was not too keen on hanging out with them for various reasons, it spoiled that vision. She was fine just being polite but keeping her distance. He has to realize that he can either deal with some of the issues OR be okay with her keeping her distance a little. He can't just say "you be okay" and have it happen.

Or quite frankly they decide they aren't for each other. If it's genuinely important to him to have that vision, then they shouldn't be together. And likewise, if she can't accept that "getting along" is good enough, then she shouldn't be with him either.

 

And that's okay. Better to know now than when marriage or kids come along.

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