Dear Mary: I'm sick and tired of playing second fiddle to everybody
I'm a widow who was married to a wonderful devoted husband and we had children who are now adults. Some years after he passed away, I met a widower who also has adult children.
We embarked on a relationship and were very happy - both have our own homes - for the first year.
But while he introduces me as his partner, his adult children's needs and his in-laws' needs are all put before me.
His children interrupt our time together looking for lifts here and there, and never consider using a taxi even if we are out to dinner at my children's homes.
My partner thinks this behaviour is OK but I find it disrespectful to me and to our hosts. He has let me down on a few occasions to attend anniversaries of his late wife's family and casually sends a text to say he can't come to dinner.
His children are married, as are mine, and I'm sick of not being prioritised.
He is obsessed with his family and in-laws and I feel that I, as his partner and the person he has been sleeping with and holidaying with, am not being respected despite his profession of undying love for me.
He is retired but likes to keep in touch with one lady in particular from his office and also his late wife's sister.
I find this inappropriate and have told him so but I know he's still in contact even though I've asked him to pull back in order to give "us" a chance.
He thinks I'm being ridiculous and he doesn't like to be challenged in any way and just wants to be Mr Popular to everyone.
Mary replies: I can see that as his children, and indeed his in-laws, have been in his life far longer than you have, your partner was used to taking care of them all.
Like you, he may have had a very happy marriage and a good relationship with everybody. Perhaps it even gave him something to do, driving his children to and from different events - and they will always be children in his eyes no matter what age - and it is certainly a way of keeping in touch with them all.
He may be feeling at a bit of a loose end now that he is retired.
There should be room in his life for everybody - his family, his in-laws, even his ex-colleague as well as you and it would certainly be wrong of you to suggest a 'them or me' scenario.
But leaving the dinner table, or casually dropping out of a date, simply to drive people from A to B is not on.
You are in a tricky situation here, because you don't want to be seen as coming between him and his family or friends, but you do need to feel that he values you and your friendship.
Explain to him that while you fully appreciate his family ties you find it very thoughtless and rude when he leaves a dinner - or cancels at short notice - to do something that his children could take care of by themselves.
Suggest forward planning and next time he is invited with you ask that he specifically tells his children he will not be available on that particular night.
Compromise, as always, is the way forward.
You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at email@example.com or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.
Sunday Indo Living