You've seen celebrity clinical psychologist Dr. Sherry Blake, author of The Single Married Woman: True Stories of Why Women Feel All Alone in Their Marriages, keep the Braxton sisters calm on the hit show Braxton Family Values. Now it's your turn to sit in her chair...
Dear Dr. Sherry,
I am writing to you for some relationship advice. I am in a happy place in my relationship with my soul mate. We have been dating for quite some time and have been living together for two years. He is in the midst of building a fabulous home and totally has me in his future plans, and I love it all. The only problem is that he has recently told me that he will be having his teenage son come live with us full time. I currently do not have kids but we have spoken about them in our future. His current job has him working shift work – 12-hour shifts with 4 days on, 4 days off, 4 nights and 4 nights off. I feel his current work schedule will not allow him to be a full time parent. I don't have an issue helping out sometimes, but should this be equally my responsibility if I move into his home? I think his mother should take on the responsibility while he is working. The teen has a number of issues that they fail to address, like obesity, constant bed-wetting, lack of manners and poor hygiene. I am made to feel like the bad one when I try to address these issues. Do I put my feelings of happiness on the back burner or try to work out the new living arrangement? I am hoping you can provide me with some help on this one.
I am so glad you are in a “happy place” in your life. I hope your happiness is not about to come to an abrupt end. There are several unspoken issues that could derail your happiness here. You say that you are in his future plans but you failed to mention in what role. Are you going to be his wife, his ongoing “live in” girlfriend or are you getting promoted to the role of stepmother? It’s important to clarify. Each role has serious implications depending on how things are handled from the start. While your boyfriend is building a fabulous home, there was no mention that your name is on the deed. It sounds as if he is building a home for his son and a place for you to take care of him in. I agree with you about your boyfriend not having time to be a full time parent given his work hours. It does not sound as if there has been an open, honest discussion regarding his son living with the two of you.
Have you discussed his expectations of your future relationship with his son? It is quite clear that his son has some major issues that are not going to go away with a change of address. If you are made to feel like the bad one now, you will definitely be the bad one when his son lives with the two of you full time and things aren’t going well. Being in the role of stepmother is not easy, even under the best circumstances. It is extremely difficult when children have problems and you have no authority to intervene or seek help. It is unfair for your boyfriend to move his son in without considering your feelings or without a clear plan for his son's care. If you are not careful, you are quickly moving into the role of what I call “The Single Married Woman.” Do not put your feelings or happiness on the back burner. Think twice before moving into the new house without resolving the issues. I would suggest that you seek couples therapy to open lines of communication and address issues. You deserve happiness, sweetheart. Set yourself up for success, not failure. -- Dr. Sherry
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