Peace Seeker in San Francisco writes:
I finally figured out that I just don’t seem to fit in with my long time boyfriend’s family. It’s gotten to the point where I am just fed up with the misunderstandings. My boyfriend’s mom calls to give us the latest on her ongoing feud with her spouse. Oftentimes it’s hard to get through to her and thus I am reluctant to have any type of communications with her or my boyfriend’s siblings. Of course this upsets her, but it’s just frustrating to deal with someone who considers herself a victim. Frequent family squabbles is the norm for his family. This is just a major turnoff to me. It’s gotten so that I am thinking of terminating my relationship, and moving on with my life in another city. Their disruptive behavior upsets me so that it is hard for me to stay focused on what I need to do. Often I fear family gatherings. The last one we attended was a disaster, and so I decided it best not to partake of my boyfriend’s family activities. I have to protect myself. With all this chaos in his family, it’s gotten so that I am losing interest in remaining in this long relationship and I have decided that my peace of mind, sanity and safety is more important and that perhaps I need to prepare to leave. Please let me know whether this is the right thing to do.
Dear Peace Seeker,
I can’t say that leaving your relationship is either right or wrong. I have no powers that put me in a place to pass that kind of judgment. All I can do is tell you what I see, and hopefully give you enough information that you can make your own decisions.
Even though you may not fit into your boyfriend’s family in the classic sense, these people definitely see you as family. As a family member, you are going to get dragged into the chaos. Families, particularly the non-blood relative kind, can be a pain in the butt. That’s just the way it is.
Your boyfriend’s family isn’t your core issue, though. Your own unhappiness and the current state of your relationship is.
It seems as if you have grown rather complacent in your relationship with your boyfriend. The honeymoon stage has passed, and what you have is the life you’ve created with him. Well, it seems that you feel you are getting the short end of the stick, and because his family is as dramatic as it is, you are using them as an excuse not to look at the real problem. You simply are not happy.
Alienating yourself from the family definitely will put a barrier between you and much of the chaos, but it is also going to be yet another barrier between you and your boyfriend. This is his family, after all. The poor guy is caught in the middle, and there is no way for him to make everybody happy. You are who you are, they are who they are – and he cares about the whole lot of you.
You can call it quits with his family, and you can leave this relationship. However, starting a fresh life in another city isn’t going to bring you the peace of mind, safety and sanity that you are looking for – unless you throw some counseling into that plan. Of course, you don’t need a whole new life to start getting some help, you just need to find a counselor or therapist that you want to work with. It’s a shame you can’t drag his family with you, because some of them need some help, too.
You have options, and your life is yours to live however you choose. The bottom line is you have lost touch with yourself, and you are looking everywhere but within to try and improve your circumstances. Dealing with your boyfriend and his family can be a three-ring circus. I see that. But, I also see that you have taken a passive/aggressive approach to try and deal with all of this, and now it’s all crashing in on you.
Get some help so that you can get back to yourself, and then deal with everything else.
Your relationship doesn’t have to end, nor does it have to remain on auto-pilot. There is still love and compatibility between you two. It will take work, but it can be changed for the better. Once you have peace and happiness within yourself, you will also be able to deal with the drama that is his family in a more positive way. Every way I look, this isn’t a hopeless situation.
You always have the opportunity to leave. You are not bound. Just make sure that if you decide you are better off alone, you are fully prepared and able to handle being alone. That has its own chaos and challenges, ones you can deal with much better if you are at peace with yourself.
You are the key to your own happiness, as well as your own misery. It doesn’t matter where you are, who you are with, or if you are alone – the one thing you cannot escape and is in need of the most healing – is you.