Managing priorities in a relationship becomes a struggle when mates and children are involved

By Tom Blake

Tom Blake
Tom Blake

One of the biggest challenges older couples face is when one or both partners continue to enable their children to the detriment of the relationship.

Such is the case with Lucy, which is not her real name, who emailed me this week.

Lucy said, “I have just become domestic partners with my live-in boyfriend of six years. I wasn’t sure we would make it this far due to the codependent relationship he has with his three grown children. Anything they ask for they get, almost without exception.”

Point of clarification: In California, where Lucy lives, “domestic partner” is a legal designation that can provide certain benefits to unmarried people living together. As a domestic partner, she receives medical coverage under his policy.

Lucy continued, “We are probably going to have to sell our home, the home we planned on retiring in, because when his daughter needed money for college, she did not want to get student loans, so he borrowed the money and gave it to her. We are now in debt to the point where we will most likely lose our home.

“His 23-year-old son lives with us three days a week. He lives with his girlfriend four days a week, 70 miles away. He lives with us because he likes the community college here. He is only taking two classes and we pay for everything, such as his food, gas while he is here, medical expenses, etc. He is even driving one of our cars. Yesterday, he asked us to give him money for when he visits his girlfriend.

“His dad suggested he get a job since he is only going to school part-time. His response: ‘I don’t want to.’ The outcome: My domestic partner is giving him $50 a month.

“My partner has canceled dates to give his kids rides to places at the last minute. His children have used our credit cards fraudulently. He once asked me to let his daughter throw a party at our house when I had pneumonia and strep. I said, ‘no.’

“I know he loves his children, and luckily, only the one lives with us now, and that is only part-time. I like his children as people but he and his ex have raised them to be spoiled. I blame them, not the kids. I do not feel comfortable giving him money when I know it just goes straight to his kids.

“So, I am torn. I have a considerable amount saved up that I could put down on the mortgage, which is still only in his name. But I won’t as long as he won’t tell his kids ‘no.’”

I responded, “Why did you enter into a legal domestic partnership when there are the issues you describe?”

She said, “I am in love with him and he says he wants to take care of me. Plus, I need his medical coverage.”

Oh my, the things we do for love. I wonder if she would stay with him if her medical wasn’t being paid? She would be wise not to invest in a mortgage together.

When parents continuously enable their children, it doesn’t teach the kids to be on their own. And that can put stress on a relationship.

Email Tom at tompblake@gmail.com to comment.

Tom Blake is a Dana Point business owner and San Clemente resident who has authored books on middle-aged dating. See his website at www.findingloveafter50.com.

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