Dear Coleen: His children froze me out after I moved in with him

Dear Coleen

I have a problem relating to my partner of three years. I’m 53 and he’s 62, and we both have grown-up children.

I moved in with him a year ago and that’s when the problems started.

When he told his children we’d decided to live together, two of them stopped speaking to me and now I never see them.

His daughter seems to be the ­ringleader when it comes to causing problems – she posts pictures of her dad and his ex-wife (who’s still single) with her and her kids, and arranges dinners for them and I’m not invited.

I’ve had arguments with my partner over this and try to explain that excluding me is disrespectful, even though I try not to let it bother me.

But whenever he goes to visit them, my mind is in turmoil, wondering what’s being said.

In addition to this, his son got married abroad a few months ago and everyone went, but I wasn’t invited. My partner has been divorced 20 years and he’s had a few girlfriends, but none have lasted, and I wonder if his kids are the reason. How do I make this work long term? Things are great in every other way and I get on great with his siblings, who have said he must like me a lot to ask me to move in.

But why won’t he stand up to his family? He doesn’t like confrontation and I think they bully him.

Coleen says

I get quite a lot of letters about grown-up children causing problems for a new partner. I think it’s a lot to do with jealousy and insecurity, loyalty to their mum and past issues buried and not talked about. There might be guilt involved from your partner’s side of things – maybe he wasn’t around much when they were young following the divorce; perhaps he’s never said “no” to them.

But these kids aren’t eight years old any more and their dad – and you – deserve to be happy.

Unfortunately, I think it’s going to have to come from your partner – he needs to be the one to stand up to them and show he supports you, and that you’re now part of his family.

He doesn’t have to confront them, but he can help to integrate you into family life and he can decline certain invitations that don’t involve you and explain why.

Tell him you would like a ­discussion about the situation and how you feel without it ending in an argument. It’s important to be able to do this if he wants the relationship to last.

His marriage ended 20 years ago, so I doubt you have to worry about his ex. And if photos on social media bother you, unfollow the posters (you don’t have to delete anyone to do this).

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