How Much Family Is Too Much Family?



Dear 40-somethings,

I’ve been together with my boyfriend for about half a year now, and we’re definitely in love. The only thing I can’t seem to get used to is just how close he is to his family. It’s completely naturally for him to schedule his entire weekend with family activities. Obviously I’m always included, and they really like me and I like them too, I just wish sometimes he’d understand that our alone time and time away from his family is important too. This just doesn’t seem obvious to him even though I’ve actually sat down and talked to him about it. Recently he even mentioned us moving in together in his parent’s guest house!

How can I get him to cut the umbilical cord?


A.   I had a boyfriend for 6 years who was very close to his family…similar to yours. My parents lived in another state so I wasn’t used to the every Sunday dinner with family. They were accepting of me and always trying to make me feel at home…but I somehow felt uncomfortable being made a fuss over. It contributed to a feeling that perhaps we weren’t compatible. Did we want different things? I wasn’t into the routine of it all and felt a bit smothered. And like you, wished for some Sundays of our own.

For a variety of reasons, I decided to take some time apart to get my head around the relationship and what I wanted. A few weeks later I went to a wedding and saw how much my friend, the bride, was accepting of her husband’s family…despite the fact that they were not the type of people she would have befriended of her free will. It crystallized for me that I was focusing on all the wrong things. This guy was amazing and suddenly I saw his family, and him, in a whole new light. They showed their love in a different way than my family but that is fine. How boring if we were all the same. I went back and told my guy that I was ready.  He was not ready to take me back. I have to say that is definitely a huge regret. It never worked out but I grew to truly respect his parents.

So all that said…before you make this a big deal, think about what you might miss. Would you ever miss that time with his family or what it shows about him. And typically a guy who has a good relationship with his family is something many women value in their partners…better than a drama. Is there anything you appreciate about his family or will they drive you crazy overtime?

Of course if you end up together you have to form your own family and he has to separate to some degree. It’s important to from your own traditions. If you have talked to him about it and it went in one ear and out the other, then try suggesting or planning what you want to do instead and see how he reacts. – 40-something, marketing consultant



Great to hear you have formed such a positive relationship with your boyfriend. Regarding his close relationship with his family, I think honestly it will not change over time. It may get worse.

My husband and I got married about seven years ago and now have twins age 5 – I had the same feelings you did about the over-involvement of his family when we were dating but naively thought once we got married it would change. It did not. His family interferes in many aspects of our lives and it is challenging to deal with. We have a positive relationship in many respects but having in-laws meddle in your day to day life is really difficult. One of my siblings deals with the same issue and for both of us I can say it is perhaps the number one challenge in our marriages.

The fact that you spoke to him about this and he then proposed moving in with his parents is concerning. I am also curious if he has been receptive to spending lots of time with your family and friends?

I would decide if you are okay with spending the rest of your lives with his family or move on to a relationship where you and your significant other can have some independence. Sorry to be so blunt but trying to provide an honest 40 something perspective. Good luck and best wishes. – 40-something, PR



Do you and your boyfriend have similar life’s goals? He’s a family man he wants to move into his guest house to save money and perhaps save for a home of his own to start a family of his own? Is that what you want? This could be a lifelong tension or at least something to think about now.

You might consider offering up a compromise. Say, “I’m willing to spend one weekend a month with your family one weekend alone or with my family or friends & the rest are for us to be together alone.” Don’t make it an ultimatum (unless it is for you) as they never work. However, you may find that making yourself absent/missed may make him come around or bring a decision to the forefront.

My last relationship was similar only it was his family events or the highway. He had no reciprocity for my family events and I chose to end the relationship if his mother ran the show. Which is what happened. Painful extremely-but co-dependence is no joke. I am much better off. – 40-something, artist

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