Question: I’ve been working as a British expatriate in Malaysia for years, and met my wife there. She’s from France. We’ve stayed and built a life with good jobs and many friends, and now have two children, who are 6 and 8 years old.
My wife’s parents still live in France but visit us as often as they can. And we’ve travelled there in return. Our children are very comfortable with them. But my parents, who live in Ireland, never make plans to visit. They don’t even offer us excuses as to why not. When we travelled there a couple of times, they seemed to have no interest in our children.
They also made little effort to get to know my wife, which was hurtful to her. They acted as if they were still hurt that I had moved so far away, though I did so very long ago.
We’d like our children to know their heritage and relatives on both sides. Also, when it’s time for the children to go off to universities, we’d like to consider ones that would ensure they have family close enough to visit or to help in an emergency.
Do I just write my own parents off as ever being caring grandparents to my kids, or do I go there and have it out with them about why they remain so cold and distant?
Answer: What happened between you and your parents has clearly stayed between you and them. You know the atmosphere and events during your upbringing, and what caused you to leave home and never return. Share this past history with your wife, and perhaps the clues to your parents’ imposed estrangement will emerge.
Or, it’s possible that they simply can’t comprehend the expatriate lifestyle you’ve chosen. They may even feel that it implies that you disapprove of how they have chosen to live.
If you truly want to understand them and their distancing better, and make an attempt to reconnect, visit them on your own.
Once together, insist you all clear the air, about both the past and present. It may not bring you closer, but at least you’ll know why.
Question: I love my boyfriend of 18 months so much. He says he wants to get married, so we have talked about a future. But he’s just starting a career that requires him to be away and now he’s wondering if he does see a future with me.
When questioned, he says he loves me, wants to be in a relationship with me, and is happy being with me. But he’s unsure of our future.
He’s 10 years younger than I am, but I never thought it would be a problem. It’s not fair to be in a relationship, if I see the long-term, and he does not.
Should I just stay in the relationship, and just enjoy being with him right now?
Sometimes I feel deeply hurt and angry, but I also believe that if you love someone, you’ll make it work.
Answer: Your boyfriend is being realistic and thinking maturely, while you’re insisting on dreamy plans before he can honestly make them.
It’s unfair of you to keep questioning his feelings when he’s been open about them, as well as about his uncertainties about the future.
Back off. Either count on your mutual love overcoming this period of adjusting to his career, or end the relationship.
His age difference isn’t the problem; it’s your insistence that he ignore it, and its natural consequences.
TIP OF THE DAY
When families are estranged, someone has to have the courage to create a better connection.