My boyfriend's ex wife was controlling and demanding and wanted nothing to take any attention away from her, including their own children. When they divorced, the girls chose to stay with him. When we started dating, he made it clear that his daughters were his top priority, which I understood. He's also an air force pilot and is away a lot. Ive always been patient and understanding of these constraints, but time and again, I have taken a far back seat to his kids and job. This past week marked our one year anniversary and we were both looking forward to celebrating. However, I have a funeral Saturday and was only free Sunday. Today he informed me that his 18 year old was coming home from college unexpectedly. Since she was going to be with her mother on Saturday, he was going to spend time with her on Sunday, canceling with me. I expressed my disappointment and told him I felt like I wasn’t a priority. He flew off the handle and accused me of trying to get him to compromise his relationship with his kids, which he does every time this topic comes up. I don't know what to do. Should I ever come first? How can I get him to discuss this with me?
Lost in Love
When you date someone with children you have to learn to be super flexible. The kids do come first -- and it won't always be that way, but while they're minors, they will. But don't despair, because the great news is that you and your boyfriend have a one year anniversary. And it sounds like you're just disappointed about this one incident -- his daughter is coming home unexpectedly and he wants to be able to see her on Sunday, which is your free weekend day and the day you were hoping to celebrate with just him. I get it. It's a bummer. You have to change your plans. You're disappointed. But take a look at the bigger picture. Your anniversary is going to happen -- and that's the important thing, and you can celebrate it on any day in the world! In fact, why not pick a different day or a different night to celebrate? Or.... compromise by giving in on Saturday. If the funeral is in the morning, go out with him to celebrate Saturday night. If the funeral is in the afternoon, have a romantic champagne brunch ahead of time. Or celebrate the following weekend!! Find a way to make this work because it's easy to get into relationship conflict with your future step-daughters, but it's a lot more productive to make this relationship you have with their dad work. Holidays - like Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays and even anniversaries have to be source of flexibility because there are so many relationships between the five of you (you, your boyfriend, his kids and their mom). Breathe. Take the high road, and be creative, flexible and triumphant. You can celebrate your relationship any weekend of the year -- don't get rigid about dates. Focus on your feelings for your boyfriend, instead.
Hope that helps!
Hope that helps!
April Masini is a relationship and etiquette expert, author of 4 books and the #1 relationship advice forum, blue-chip corporate spokesperson and preferred go-to source for the world’s most prominent media and news outlets.