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My boyfriend is a 33-old, separated from his wife but not divorced yet and dad of 2 little girls. I am 25yo. Despite this particular family situation, our relationship has quickly become serious and we have been together for one year now. The problem is that my mother doesn't accept this relationship.

  • Personal background

My parents divorced when I was 16 in difficult circumstances and my mother never rebuilt her life, she globally thinks that all men are trash. I have always felt that having a boyfriend is a taboo subject with her.

  • I talked about my partner for the first time to my mom after 6 months of relationship...

... not too late, not too soon regarding our unusual relationship, I thought. I wanted to spend quiet time with him during Christmas holidays in my mother's house while it was empty (we live in Paris, my mother in the countryside) and wanted to ask my mom first before inviting him. Maybe it wasn't a smart approach to directly say something like "Hey, I have a boyfriend, can he come home?", but I really needed my mother permission as both my boyfriend and I didn't want to hide my plan to her.

At this point, I learned she already knew that I was dating a "still married" man (don't know how, don't know when). I would have prefered to tell her myself, my way, to avoid misunderstandings. The result was terrible.

She was extremely angry, disappointed. I really felt like trash, but I insisted and after a really hard time I succeded in convincing her, my boyfriend could come. But after his departure and the return of my mom, she yelled at me, accused my friend to invite himself into the house, told me that she despised him, claiming that he left his wife for a babe. She also said he would not be back anytime soon.

  • I tried to explain that I had nothing to do with his divorce...

... that the age difference was the same as my uncle (her brother) and his wife.

Since then, I try to give some evidence that our relationship is serious. I tell her regularly what we do together, I told my mom I met his family and that it went well... She just answers by some "hum hum", or simply ignores what I am saying, leave a big blank in the conversation, and I feel the urge to change the subject.

  • I think she makes parallels between her story and my boyfriend's one...

... as if she thought he was my father, even if she doesn't know anything of my loved one. However I am not sure I could use this argument to calm her, I think it would get worse... She has an explosive temper and can sometimes respond unreasonably. I have big issue communicating with her, I don't dare asking about things that I know won't please her, which leads to situations like the Christmas holidays... it's part of the problem, but it's another subject.

In parallel, my young sister (21yo) has been dating a guy (21yo too) for 4 months and my mother was excited about meeting him, has already invited him for holidays... which doesn't look like my mother's usual behaviour. Maybe she wants to make me pay for dating this guy?

She also continues sending messages to my ex, who became a great friend of mine, but it's just weird. She goes as far as making him gifts, inviting him home regularly... even my ex finds it creepy, nice of her but creepy.

All of this is really hard to take. I constantly feel a burden in my chest.


Short term goal

My boyfriend and I are invited next week-end at a friend's party near my mom's house, I would like take this opportunity to see my family but he would be there. I feel like I'm stuck. I'm afraid of asking my mother to bring my boyfriend home.


My question

How do I help my mother accept this relationship and gain confidence when I talk to her about him? I would like her to be okay with the situation, to be willing to meet him...


TL;DR: I (25f) am dating a guy (33m) who is soon to be divorced and father of 2 children. My mother doesn't want to hear about him because of his marital situation. How can I help her to accept this relationship?


!! UPDATE !!

I called my mother yesterday to explain my plans for next weekend. We had a long and painful talk about how she is ashamed of me, she blamed me for breaking his marriage. Finally I think this is the real problem. It's not that much a problem with my partner. The real problem is she thinks something that is NOT TRUE.

I don't know how she put this in her mind, or who told her so. She didn't want to hear the truth, she said I was lying, that she was crying every day. It makes me mad to know that it is based on unfounded facts.

My parents divorced because my father cheated on her. It seems to my mom that I haven't learned the lesson, that I am reproducing the same mistakes.

I tried (again) to explain that my boyfriend didn't leave his wife for me. She hung up three times, I insisted. She didn't want to continue the conversation by phone. But I know that when I see her, she won't talk about it. I will have to take actions by myself. But how can I make her see reason? Should I just maintain the right version and abandon the fight if she remains stubborn?

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  • Hey user! Please take a look at our good question guidelines and our help center. We can't really tell you what to do, questions asking 'what should I do' are off-topic. We need you to tell us what behaviors you used when interacting with your mom so far, when dealing with her rejections, what outcome you expected that behavior to have, and what difference there was between the actual outcome and your expectations. Also please include your goal, what do you want to happen? – Tinkeringbell Jul 20 '20 at 5:57
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    You said he'll be divorced "soon", do you have a specific timeline? Is there a good justification for the delay? – Kat Jul 20 '20 at 20:10
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    I don't have specific time-line. The justification is that my partner had a toxic relationship with his ex and it is still difficult for him to talk to her without being insulted or blamed for everything (accusing him of not loving his children etc etc) . This previous relationship hurt him a lot. He's "just" not ready emotionally and does not feel hardened enough to face his wife during with this long battle. – bbee Jul 20 '20 at 21:39
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    @bbee I completely understand. For his sake, I'd gently push him to figure out the steps to get things officially resolved, whether that involves getting therapy or hiring a lawyer so he doesn't have to deal with her directly. I've been there, and it's easy to think avoiding the ex is the easier path, but it'll weigh on him until he deals with it. You're a good partner for supporting him. – Kat Jul 21 '20 at 16:58
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    Thank you for your understanding. I already told him that it will weight on him and spread over time his pain if he delays the moment (and I would be lying if I said that it doesn't weight on me too sometimes even if, as you said in another comment, it doesn't affect much your day-to-day life). Maybe I should help him more realize he won't be alone. I will inquire about the divorce process, I don't know if in France hiring a lawyer can avoid direct confrontation with his wife. – bbee Jul 22 '20 at 6:48
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First question: You can't. Your mother, as you write "she globally thinks that all men are trash". That might be due to your father behaviour, that might be due to her experience after the divorce. Your partner could be an anecdotal evidence against her claim. But because he is divorcing his wife he can't. To already exsting claims aganst men he added one that rub your mother the wrong way.

I have two experiences of similar nature. One is dating a girl whom mother would LOOOOVE to brag about her (the girl) boyfriend from HS and first years of college. And bashing our age difference (5 years), or that my parents were divorced. While she lived in separation for 14 years. But it's not divorce. Divorces are bad ;).

You cannot argue with a picture someone painted in their head.

What you can do is to make that person DEAL with the fact that you, an adult, make your own life choices and they make not like them. But they are yours. With benefits and consequences.

Which lead to answer to your second question. You need to acknolwedge that her bias is hers. Did your partner "left his wife for a babe"? No, then the accusation is non existing. It's not true and you should ignore it. While making your mother aware that it's not true and lying. If you want to meet your family do it outside of the house, without your mother. While making her aware why you do it. You, and she, need to realize that she have nothing to say in relationship of two adults. And if she, as your mother, badmouth you or accuse you of bad things that never happend you won't give her "material" to talk about.

Additional content after update: I've seen your mother behaviour many times. I was also told by my mother she's ashamed of me. For various reasons. But the thing is SHE was ashamed of how she though something showed HER in, in her opinion, bad light. There are layers of projecting, mind reading and expectations.

You see, who rised you after the divorce? She start from the assumption "if divorce then it's always because men go for other women period". And from that she think it reflect that SHE raised you wrong. But it's not her fault (in her opinion). That's why she decide to be ashamed for you.

From my personal experience: drop it. Just play broken record "I will not talk with you about that. You don't listen to truth. I cannot talk about things that are not real".

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My dear Kat, I read through your entire story and I am sorry to say that in my experience there are times when children's values contrast so sharply and so severely with their parents' values that the differences cannot be bridged. I have been there myself, though with different issues.

My parents are now deceased and I do not regret having taken a stand for who I am in my own life, my own values and my own principles. Your mother has made it clearer than daylight that she does not approve of your relationship with this man. Nothing you can do or say will change her mind.

That does not mean you are doing wrong or that you must end the relationship so long as he ends his marriage before beginning a formal relationship with you involving legal and financial issues. But that is outside the parameters of this question; I'm just clarifying my position.

My suggestion is to keep the relationship in the background, out of sight and sound of your mother. Let her know that you will not impose on her but that this means she will see much less of you as a consequence, that you will not put up with bad manners every time you see her. If she cannot be polite regarding your man, inform her that you won't be in touch.

Then make a life for yourself and keep your word. Don't keep her updated when you move or change your telephone number if you don't want contact. That is the best I know to suggest if the situation is so hostile. It is unpleasant but I have known many people in similar situations who have found no contact better than constant hostilities.

I never completely cut contact but hostilities were not quite so overt and "hot."

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