Fed Up with His Family
Q: I've been with my boyfriend, living with his family, for eight years now, and we had our first child two years ago. He is a really good guy and hard worker but he doesn't want to help me find a place of our own. He refuses to marry me. His family does all these bad things and my son is starting to be bad. They try to take over my son. It's so bad that my son and I stay locked in our room until my boyfriend gets home. I try to talk to him and all he says is, "I know." My parents said we could move into their guesthouse. I told my boyfriend, and his response was "If you leave, it's over and you will not take our son." Help me please; I'm so confused. -- Mary, 23
Dr. Susan: I wonder why you go out of your way to state that your boyfriend is a really good guy. That's not what I get from his actions. He won't marry you, even though you've been together plenty long enough for him to be sure about you, and you've even got a two-year-old child. What's he waiting for, or does he plan to keep you all living with his folks for another decade? No one should have to go through what you're going through, hiding in a room all day to avoid his parents and their unpleasant behaviors. Even he admits they're worth hiding from.
Sit this cowardly fellow down and ask him what's so bad about the three of you moving into your parents' guest house for a change, just until you two figure out how to afford getting out on your own (if that's his concern). Did your parents only invite you and the kid? However, I don't recommend you live somewhere different from where he lives, especially as he feels strongly enough to bully you into staying by threatening to keep your child from you, which isn't okay at all. I fear you may be in for a lifetime of this sort of misery. He MUST talk with you. Decent men don't run from facing issues that matter to their family (you and his child). I suggest you avoid being angry when you bring it up the next time. Gently insist on talking about what the future holds, because you're too unhappy now to be a good mother.
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.