‘My new love dislikes my children’

The new woman in Noel’s life is not getting along too well with his children. He asks psychologist Dr Emmanuella Murray for guidance.

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Q. Noel
My wife died about six years ago after a short illness. I’ve met a woman and we’ve been seeing each other for six months now. All is going well except that she is very critical of my three adult children. Yes, we go through a few bottles of wine when we get together, and we speak quite plainly, but we keep it nice. The kids and grandkids are a big part of my life and the obvious disapproval is taking its toll on me. Do I give her an ultimatum?

A. I’m sorry to hear about the passing of your wife. You have been so brave putting yourself out there and it’s great you have met someone. Noel, I bet I don’t need to tell you this, but relationships are tricky sometimes. It sounds like you connect well with your partner, but one of your struggles is expressing how you feel. The most important ingredient to a happy and intimate relationship is how we communicate with our partner. Please try not to give her an ultimatum. Nobody likes those, and it can give off a ‘threat vibe’.

I’m curious, Noel, does this woman you’re seeing have children? If she doesn’t, she might have preconceived ideas about how adult children should behave. If she does have children, were they raised very differently? Sometimes people are judgmental because they are justifying the decisions they have made. In other words, perhaps she had a completely different parenting style and so she’s feeling a bit confronted when she sees you with your children. By combining empathy for the woman you’re seeing and explaining how you feel about her criticisms, hopefully this issue will soon be a non-issue.

Dr Emmanuella Murray is a clinical psychologist who has been practising for more than 10 years. She works with children, adolescents, adults and couples, and presents to professionals and community groups. Go to her website for more information.

If you have a question for Dr Emmanuella Murray, please send it to [email protected]

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