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Girlfriend doesn’t get along with my kids

Dear Annie: I’m a father in his 40s who has been single-parenting two kids (one preteen, one teen) for a bit under a decade now. When I began dating again, I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to navigate a long-term relationship when you already have young children from a prior one.

Eventually, I met a lovely single lady who doesn’t have kids. We’ve been dating for more than five years now, and she seems to love me deeply but finds my children intolerable. They were deeply traumatized by the events leading up to my becoming a single dad, and we’ve all done a lot of therapy.

As a result, me and my girlfriend live separately but talk about living together (and perhaps marrying) someday, once I’m an empty nester. In the meantime, she avoids them, frequently going weeks without seeing them, which limits how much I can see her.

I love my children and her very much, and I find it hard that she is unwilling or unable to find it within her to be more present with them, even if she doesn’t always enjoy it.

And I fear that if they don’t move out after graduating school, she will lose patience with waiting for me to be free, without attached children. I’ve noticed that stepparent relationships seem to be fraught, even under the best of circumstances. Am I ignoring warning signs, or is this just to be expected for a single dad with traumatized kids? — Unsure

Dear Unsure: The perfect woman for you will be one who welcomes your children with open arms, loves them for who they are and embraces them as her own. The fact that she is unwilling to even associate with your children is inevitably putting a strain on your relationship. Worse, it is probably damaging your relationship with your children.

Tell your girlfriend that your children are the priority in your life, especially during their impressionable years. If she is unwilling to be involved in their lives, then it’s time to part ways.

Dear Annie: I am a woman in my early 50s dating a man my age. I am regarded as an attractive lady with a pretty face and a medium-curvy figure. I am tall and wear a size 12. I keep busy with gardening and walking my dog. I have never been a “gym rat,” but I am fairly fit. I keep up with friends when we hike.

All this intro is necessary because I am surprised to have my current problem. Although my beau is very complimentary about my looks and figure, he is rail-thin and makes constant remarks about working out. He golfs weekly, hits the gym and is part of a running group.

He brags about wearing the same jeans he wore in college! If I mention having a poor night’s sleep or a bit of constipation, he claims to rarely suffer these problems, explaining, “I work out daily.” If he happens to feel a bit off, he explains it in the context of spending time with me: “Since I didn’t work out yesterday…”

I am befuddled at this. Generally, he and I walk my dog or something. We don’t sit around. How can I respond the next time he makes a cut about my sedentary lifestyle? — No Miss Piggy

Dear No Miss Piggy: Sounds like your partner is a bit up on his high horse regarding his workout routine. Next time he makes a subtle dig, I would tell him exactly what you told me. Be direct. Say that you enjoy being active but that you don’t appreciate his undercutting remarks.

That being said, hitting the gym does have a huge positive effect on both your mental and physical well-being. Maybe you want to join him for his workout once or twice a week. Do it for you, though — not to please him.

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