He Stews in Silence

Q: I am in a relationship with a woman who is 17 years younger than me, and she has children. I find that she is very domineering. I sit back and don't say anything, but that makes me very angry. Does she want me in her life for her own gains? -- Will, 54

Dr. Susan: I don't know what you mean by her wanting you in her life "for her own gains." We all feel we are gaining something when we embark on a relationship, and there's nothing wrong with that. What I don't get is why you behave passively and yet stew on the inside. If her domineering personality gets on your nerves, speak up. That may be just who she is, take it or leave it. But if you get angry, you gain nothing. Regardless, there will have to be a lot of compromise on all sides if you are going to have a happy life with someone who is that much younger, who has kids. Get it all into the open as soon as you can. Gently explain what is upsetting you and see if there are ways of dealing with problems that you both can agree on. Stepfamilies are hard, so don't expect magic solutions.

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