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Dear Mark,

I’m up at 2 a.m. not sleeping because of an issue I have with my boyfriend. We’ve been together for almost three years now and I would have to say it’s the healthiest relationship I’ve ever been in. My problem stems from the fact that when we first met, he went on a European cruise with his elderly parents for three weeks. It was totally acceptable at the time. He came back refreshed and the relationship was exciting and new. I liked the idea of the forced separation since we had only been seeing each other for a few months. He kept saying he could never go away again for that length of time.

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Dear Mark,

I’m up at 2 a.m. not sleeping because of an issue I have with my boyfriend. We’ve been together for almost three years now and I would have to say it’s the healthiest relationship I’ve ever been in. My problem stems from the fact that when we first met, he went on a European cruise with his elderly parents for three weeks. It was totally acceptable at the time. He came back refreshed and the relationship was exciting and new. I liked the idea of the forced separation since we had only been seeing each other for a few months. He kept saying he could never go away again for that length of time.

In 2009, we celebrated two years together. His parents come and visit at least two or three times a year and have grown to accept me as part of their son’s life. It’s nice since I don’t get that from my immediate family. Last year, they called and said they were going on another cruise and they wanted him to come with them. They pay all his expenses. They said I could come too, but they couldn’t afford to pay for me and he went again.

The phone call about this year’s cruise came tonight. His parents are booking a two week cruise in 2012 and they want him to come with them. The rules are the same: I can go but they can’t pay for me. This trip is $3,000. I know the outcome already. He is going to say yes and although my financial situation is going to improve by then, I know I won’t be able to afford the trip. I also know he is going to say that his parents are elderly and they need him to go and they don’t have that much time left on the planet, etc. Do people in a relationship do this? Would they call his brother and ask him to go on a cruise without his wife? And how come in 2012, it will be okay to take two weeks off in February? I comprehend his reasoning, but yet, I am still hurt and angry. (Yes, I go to therapy.) How do I deal with this without sacrificing my relationship? My first inclination is to save up for a gay cruise or some other separate but equal vacation.

Bill

Hey Bill,

I’m just getting this message. Sorry to hear you’re having a tough time in your relationship. I have been there before….anyone who’s been in a long term relationship has been through this. You love each other but you see things from totally different perspectives. This turns into a power struggle. Of course your boyfriend has the right to spend time with his family. But, as his partner, you have a right to feel upset by the idea of being discounted by his parents. I think that this is the issue, no? You talk about wanting to take trips that will coincide with his so you won’t feel “less than” but what I really hear you saying is that you’re feelings are hurt that his family could so easily count you out and he could so easily allow this to happen. When this happens…how do you imagine he feels about you? What do you start to think about the viability of your relationship? These are questions that make sense to me that you might be thinking.

I think you guys should try a couples counseling session or two. Maybe you could come up with some sort of compromise. Or at least create a venue where you could talk to each other about how you really feel. He may not be able to do anything about it right now, but maybe you could consider telling him how left out you feel when his parents don’t invite you on the cruise. Have you ever talked about the possibility of him sticking up for you and your relationship with his parents? Something like, “I would really like to come on the cruise but Bill is my partner and I wouldn’t feel right going without him. Maybe he and I can save together and both of us join you next year”. How do you think this would go over? These are just some initial thoughts. If you want to talk more just give me a shout.

Sincerely,

Mark Rutherford LCSW

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