Dear Ann Cannon • I am a newly divorced woman in my early 50s with two grown boys in their 20s. I have been in my first post-divorce relationship — actually my first post-divorce anything — for eight months with a wonderful man my age who I was not looking for or expected when we first met. He is everything I would want in a post-divorce relationship: funny, no drama, honest, trusting to a fault, fun to be around and has included me in all of his interests and hobbies that I would never have experienced before meeting him. His married situation and cause of divorce almost mirror my own experience, yet we don’t dwell on it or make that the reason we are together now.
With that being said, I have not met his family or his kids. In the beginning, we talked about his younger pre-teen daughter who had a rougher time with the divorce than his older almost 20-year-old daughter, even though they both knew it was the best thing to happen. That was two years ago, and from everything he tells me, she is doing fine. They are very close and I respect his time with her and he appreciates that. Here is my dilemma: I have not met his family or his kids, yet he has met part of my family and both of my kids over the last few months willingly. Additionally, his entire family and oldest daughter knows he has been seeing someone for the length of the relationship and has noticed how happy he has been. I feel like he should want his family to meet me at this point, even if it is family first, then his kids, etc. He has never acted ashamed or embarrassed of me so I don’t believe this is the case at all.
Am I being unrealistic in thinking this is a natural next step that he would want his family to meet the person he says makes him so happy and is in love with? I have not asked if or when this will happen. I don’t bring it up and neither does he, other than an occasional comment from his family that he will share with me regarding a question or comment about me or us. Yet we talk to each other about everything else. I only ask because I am starting to feel excluded and I don’t want to build any kind of resentment — subconsciously or otherwise — over this, especially given how we feel about each other and how happy we both are together. Any words of wisdom that may help me put this in perspective?
— Wishful Thinking
Dear Wishful Thinking • No, I don’t think you’re being unrealistic. Meeting his family does seem like a natural next step. He may, however, want to keep his lives separate. Some people do operate that way. Or perhaps there are other reasons he hasn’t introduced you to his family. You can’t know what his motives are, however, unless the two of you have a conversation. My friend, who’s a therapist, had this to say about your situation: “My gut reaction is to have her ask about it rather than wonder and assume things. If he’s all that wonderful, then it’s a great time to practice open and honest communication.”
Bringing up the subject with him will also allow both of you to share your desires for and expectations about your relationship. You may or may not want the same things, but at least you’ll both know where you stand, right?
Good luck. I wish you and your partner the very best.