When children are in the mix.
By Tom P Blake of Finding Love After 50
Last week, we featured a story about Harry, 55, who loves spending time with his "big, noisy" family, and Alice, 44, his girlfriend, who has no children and resents Harry's dedicated involvement with his family and friends.
You'd think that after writing close to 1,800 columns on dating and relationships over 16 years that I'd have a good handle on any topic that comes up. But I blew it on this one.
A San Clemente, California, resident commented that I sided with Alice when I wrote that Harry should back away from being with his family somewhat and pay more attention to her.
I should have known better. My partner, Greta, has eight grandchildren and three great grandchildren. I know how important family is to her. If I resented her spending time with her family, we simply wouldn't be together.
It is wonderful Greta spends so much time with them. I am very fond of her family. I should spend more time with them, but being a columnist, owning a deli, and having been a caregiver to my mom until she passed away this Wednesday at the age of 98 and 1/2, it has been difficult to do. Greta understands that and doesn't badger me for more time with her offspring. We are comfortable with each other's roles and are happy if we can turn out the light together when we hit the sack.
People who have never had children--including me--need to realize the importance that their mates' children are to their mates. Many others made me more aware of the importance of family vs. lover. Here's what some said:
Patrick: "I had a similar situation in a short, second marriage. My wife resented my life, my friends, and my communities. The marriage lasted a year. There was a lot of passion but she began trying to isolate me from my friends, business and family. Tell BIG AND NOISY to move on before it hurts anymore."
Dave shared, "Alice--not ever having children--seems to have built a barrier to enjoying Harry's children and grandchildren. Family is the very essence of life living! There is no fix here, Harry needs to move on."
Lynne: "Alice is the needy one, not Harry's kids. Harry should not have to choose, especially since his family is willing to include her. Alice wants exclusive rights to Harry's time, and that just does not fly."
Gail: "Harry doesn't have a mature girlfriend; she obviously has jealously issues, these are usually from low self esteem. She will always be jealous of his family. Harry should find a woman who feels good about herself and won't be threatened by his family, and want to be a part of it. She is insecure."
Liz: "Harry and Alice need to look for other partners who fit in better with their personalities. Why should Harry give up a life full of people he has loved for many more years than he has loved Alice? Better to move on (sad as that might be) than try to make something work that has little chance of succeeding."
Cris: "Harry needs to tell Alice he chooses his family. Family should always be a priority. This is a time when Harry should be a doting 'grandpa' not a father. My daughter-in-law's father started a second family at the same time she had a child of her own. It's sad that her father is so exhausted raising these kids that his own grandson is missing out on time they will never get back."
Lynn: "This sounds like a classic mis-match between two people who are at different stages in their lives. Harry needs to find a mature woman who would appreciate and accept his family.
Advice to Harry: Stick with your "big noisy family."