What’s your love and relationship problem?
Ask Meredith at Love Letters. Yes, it’s anonymous.
Another family question … less intense than yesterday’s. Do you have family/in-law problems in a relationship? What about dating and time management?
Send your questions about love, dating, single life, and relationships to [email protected] or use this anonymous form.
I’ve been with my boyfriend for nine months and we’re in our mid-20s. He is fantastic, we have so much fun, and I love him very much. From the beginning, I knew his family was extremely important to him. He lost a close relative a few years ago, and his family has struggled a lot since then. It also brought them all very close together, including his more distant family, like aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.
He lives with his sister and they are VERY close. Like closer than any siblings I know. They live together, are best friends, and inseparable. I also love his sister, but have had run ins with her about the time he spends with me, cutting into their time together and his time with his family. I try very hard to be conscious of the time he wants/needs with family, but recently, it has felt threatening. His sister said to me that I shouldn’t speak up against his extended family when they said controversial things because I haven’t been around long enough yet.
It didn’t feel so harsh in the moment, but when I got home and thought about it, that hurt me. I know that he loves me, but sometimes I feel like I have to stifle my thoughts or comments because of his family, out of fear that their opinion of me could have negative consequences for our relationship. I’m not sure how to address this with my boyfriend or whether this is something I should brush off and see as something I have to deal with. Thank you!
Have you talked to your boyfriend about any of this? Try asking him if he’s happy with the balance between you and family. Then ask how he feels about you speaking up to extended family, etc.
His answers (assuming he can be real with you) will reveal whether this is his problem or his sister’s. If he says, “Hey, speak up, be yourself,” you’ll know he’s not concerned . If he says, “I see my family a ton; I love time alone with you too,” you’ll know you’re on the same page.
At that point, though, you’ll have to consider the best communicate with his sister – because this is her problem. Or maybe she speaks on behalf of the rest of the family. When she complains about time, it might be best to say, “Maybe this is something to talk to [boyfriend] about.” Because it is.
I know they’ve been through a lot, and his sister has every right to share her opinions, but you can give her a kind and clear response in return. You can even thank her for her advice and move on.
I do think that over time, his sister might get used to a new normal. The comment she made about you not being around long enough yet … that might represent her own feelings.
Over time, even if things get easier on that front, consider whether you’re getting what you need. You want your own life with your boyfriend, where alone time isn’t judged, and you’re the center of attention, without an audience. If that’s not how things work, especially after a year or so, this might not be a great fit.
Readers? Would you give this family some space? How would you talk to the sister about this?
“So, you’ve happened upon a family of tomcats, marking their territory against all foreign enemies. This won’t change unless your BF stands up for you. That’s unlikely in your mid-twenties. Take care of #1.”Valentino—
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