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Should I Give Him an Ultimatum?

(53 Posts)
justwishing Mon 18-Oct-10 18:41:00

I am feeling very confused about my relationship with a lovely man who I have been seeing for over a year now. Things had a rather difficult start due to issues over how much we were seeing of each other, but lately things have gone really well and we have managed to spend more time together and had a holiday together with my DS2 and his sons which went really well.

One thing that contributed to a problem between us last year was that he decided to spend Christmas with his in laws, he is a widower and he and his sons have always gone at Christmas since his wife died. The in laws always did a family Christmas for all their children and their families before that. I am a widow myself (2 years),and totally appreciate how important it is for everyone to keep that connection, but I feel that it is not necessary for me to actually spend Christmas with them! Last year our relationship was very new and I could understand him carrying on with the usual Christmas arrangements, though I was very sad.

Over the weekend we have had a very frank and emotional conversation, he told me he intends to spend Christmas there again this year. He says that his boys enjoy it so much, but admitted that he would rather be with me. I suggested that he offered them the choice as they get on so well with my family and often stay over, but he declined to do that. Despite my obvious distress he has refused to commit to being with me next year when we will have been together for more than 2 years. I was so upset by the whole thing that I told him just how sad it made me and also the fact that we are not going to be able to live together for financial reasons, possibly not until his youngest child now 7 leaves sixth form.

He hadn't considered the impact of this on me as my children will probably all leave home within the next 4 years. I cannot bear the thought of so many lonely years, before I can have what I want which is a shared life together. He is kind, gentle and very loving, but I don't know how long I can or should wait for him.

My friend believes that I should stop being so reasonable and always putting other people's needs above my own and give him an ultimatum that I need him here with me at Christmas. It is such a difficult/delicate situation that I really don't know whether that would be the right thing to do. It is perfectly true as my friend said that he could visit them before or after Christmas and be here with me for the actual day.

ZZZenAgain Mon 18-Oct-10 18:43:34

Doe sound hard on you. The problem with giving an ultimatum is that he may say what you do not want to hear, it is then the end of the relationship.

Take some time and ask yourself how you will feel if it ends with him.

phipps Mon 18-Oct-10 18:47:14

I think giving him an ultimatum is wrong. What you need to remember is his inlaws have lost their daughter and of course they are going to want to spend Christmas with their son in law and grandchildren. They are all they have left of her. I know you understand that being a widow yourself and don't mean to be harsh.

Why not start your own tradition and have a family day with your children, him and his children maybe a couple of days before or after?

What is your reason for not wanting to go to his in-laws, would popping in for a drink and a mince pie be doable?

justwishing Mon 18-Oct-10 18:55:28

They live hundreds of miles away, they have 2 other daughters, a son, their partners and 2 other grandchildren so they will not be alone at Christmas. Also they know he is seeing someone but have chosen not to acknowledge that to him in any way, so I certainly think going there is not an option especially as my older children would probably refuse to go.

He took the children to stay with them for a week in the summer, and they complained because he didn't go at Easter! The children also see their aunts and uncles on a regular basis.

I am not saying I don't want him to see them, but I don't think it is reasonable for them to expect him to go to them for Christmas every year or for him to agree to that. We will visit MIL before Christmas for a lunch out and to exchange presents and she will spend the day with BIL, I drive my children to see her regularly an hour each way, so it is not that I don't understand.

Magicmayhem Mon 18-Oct-10 18:57:08

What phipps said... do they see them any other times thought out the year?

justwishing Mon 18-Oct-10 18:58:09

Yes they do, see above smile

purpleduck Mon 18-Oct-10 18:59:22

Yes, why not have 2 christmases?
Christmas is about family - the "inlaws" are his children's family - surely a compromise can be reached....?
Why on earth can't you live together?

Hassled Mon 18-Oct-10 19:01:35

I always think ultimatums (ultimati?) are a dangerous game. The Christmas thing is probably more about a comfortable/comforting routine than anything else - and while I gather his kids are quite old, they will still value the tradition. What I'm trying to say is it doesn't sound like your relationship is strong or solid enough for you to be in a position to start rocking the boat - or at least not without getting badly burned (hideous mixed metaphors) in the process.

If he spends this or next Christmas with you solely on the basis of your ultimatum, what have you actually gained? He has to want to do it, or it's meaningless.

justwishing Mon 18-Oct-10 19:03:57

Financial reasons, we are both widowed and we would lose our Widowed Parents Allowance if we lived together and it is not possible for us to manage without that for the forseeable future. Although of course that is coming to end much sooner for me, and I am having to make plans to manage without it.

If we could live together then there would be no question about where we would spend Christmas, but whilst we can't I fear this will be a yearly problem.

justwishing Mon 18-Oct-10 19:07:51

Hassled I agree, and that is why I am so unsure about doing it, but until this weekend I would have said that we had a solid relationship, although because of our situations it hadn't always been straightforward getting there. He was extremely upset when he saw things from my point of view, being left alone when the kids have gone, with no prospect of being together, he just hadn't considered that, which worried me sad

ZZZenAgain Mon 18-Oct-10 19:10:18

without giving him an ultimatum, you could tell him that you are troubled about that and also his wanting to spend Christmas away from you has hurt you although you understand him and his reasons. All thisi s weighing on you and you need some time apart to consider how you feel about things.

That could have a similar effect to an ultimatum - make him think about you a bit more in the relationship

PirateScaredyCat Mon 18-Oct-10 19:10:39

i don't fully understand the financial side, but you said that he says you can't live together till his 7 yr goes to uni? hmm

sounds rather weird and uncompromising. No you shouldn't give an ultimatum, because this situation seems to not be in your favour in any way.

phipps Mon 18-Oct-10 19:15:22

I don't think you should worry unduly that he hadn't considered what would happen when your children have left home. Some people just don't think about that far ahead. It doesn't mean anything really.

What is it you really want?

You know, you should see this as a plus. He is putting his children's needs first, it is how it should be.

warthog Mon 18-Oct-10 19:22:20

seems to me that the problem isn't necessarily just Christmas, it's that you won't be living together for another 10 years. i don't blame you.

i also think an ultimatum isn't the right way to go.

you could say that you'd like more of a middle ground, a compromise.

how about he spends Christmas evening with you, so you still get to see him on the day?

can you talk about how you could see a way forward wrt to the living together problem?

justwishing Mon 18-Oct-10 19:34:35

One of the things I admire the most in him is his commitment to his children, and believe me I am very committed to their wellbeing too. We have holidayed as a family, go out as a family and have such lovely times together, but it seems at Christmas I have to forget what it is like the rest of the year, even though he could visit the in-laws around the Christmas period rather than actually for Christmas. Indeed he said earlier in the year in a conversation that he would do that if we were engaged or living together. Effectively because of the financial situation, which actually is largely caused by school fees for his eldest and the potential need to pay them for his younger son that is ruled out, so I feel as if I have no "official" status and nothing will change.

I want to feel that my needs are important too. He has agreed to think about the situation with regards to living together, but I am not sure that thinking about it will lead to a different conclusion.

phipps Mon 18-Oct-10 19:38:45

"We have holidayed as a family, go out as a family and have such lovely times together, but it seems at Christmas I have to forget what it is like the rest of the year."

Read what you put. You have him for all the other lovely times. This is just one time.

mrscynical Mon 18-Oct-10 19:49:13

A friend of mine went through a similar scenario. She had 3 years of sitting with her daughter on Christmas Day whilst he was with the in-laws of his late wife and his children (their granchildren).

It took time but she forged a great relationship with his kids, visited the in-laws and went out of her way to befriend the siblings of the late wife. Gradually she was invited to in-law family anniverseries, birthdays and by the fourth year was invited for Christmas. She did suffer for a long time but realised that putting her foot down was not the way to go and has recently been told by the mother of the late wife that she is a great person and they are very glad she is in their grandchildren's lives. She even pops round to the mother regularly for coffee and chats on her own.

Don't give ultimatums you will lose - either with a straight off 'no' or bad feeling (of your own making) for years to come.

Until the time is right, do something different at Christmas with you own son - stay in a hotel, go abroad, make plans with friends. This man sounds decent, don't mess it up.

expatinscotland Mon 18-Oct-10 20:08:07

I think he's entirely reasonable to go to the ILs.

He'll always have to put his childrens' needs first until they leave home, and it sounds like his children are younger than yours and right now, they need that connection most of all. They are not adults like you.

As phips pointed out, this is just the one day, and I think you have to be a bit more flexible about it, tbh.

If you want someone who will put you and your needs on one holiday of the year before that of young children, then you need to find someone who can do that - has grown children or no children, for example.

You don't need anyone on Xmas, you're an adult, not a child. And you have a family, too.

How about getting a better job so you don't need the allowance and then you can live together. Is that possible?

Try to see it from his childrens' eyes and the eyes of those parents who have lost their daughter and are probably frightened of losing their grandchildren, too.

clam Mon 18-Oct-10 20:23:20

Erm.... I might be misunderstanding this (so forgive me) but, if you were to live together as a couple, why would you still need the widowed persons' allowances? Surely your joint income as working adults would be similar to other people's?

I agree, you both sound like decent, thoughtful people, so I think you should trust your instincts and not rock the boat on the Christmas issue. Although it sounds grim.

expatinscotland Mon 18-Oct-10 20:27:02

What did you do before he came along, that you now need him so much on the one day?

Are your children not good enough company?

It's often enough couples can't be together on Xmas day for one reason or another.

phipps Mon 18-Oct-10 20:32:10

Also, these children have lost their mum. They need her family.

justwishing Mon 18-Oct-10 20:43:55

I had my husband until two years ago so that was what I "did" for Christmas, for those of you who cannot understand why Christmas is difficult and a lonely time for me. I have family who will come to me as well as my children, who have lost their dad and our bereavement is more recent. His elder son is 14 so older than my youngest son and his younger son has no memory of his mum. I am not trying to be competitive on who has a greater claim to sympathy here, but I actually didn't think it was so terrible to want us to be together for Christmas sad I haven't told my children yet that they won't be joining us, but I know that they will very disappointed too.

ZZZenAgain Mon 18-Oct-10 20:48:04

I'm sorry, it sounds very hard for you.

phipps Mon 18-Oct-10 20:50:01

I know you are not trying to be competitive but your situations are different.

He is trying to give his children Christmas with the family they have left who is the link to their mum.

What you want is to celebrate Christmas with your boyfriend which is different. This doesn't mean your children won't have family time, but it does mean his children won't. I know I am not explaining what I mean very well but I hope you can see what I am trying to say.

expatinscotland Mon 18-Oct-10 20:50:57

I think you're going to have to learn to be a bigger person about this one day, just, if you want this relationship to work.

It doesn't matter if they have no memory of their mum, it was their mum and their family.

To be frank, I'd start finding other ways to be happy on Christmas.

It doesn't need to feel lonely if you're surrounded by your family.

I think you're making a bit of a mountain about this one day perhaps because of the entire not-living-together situation in general, but giving an ultimatum is going to make you look like the bad guy no matter what.

This type of relationship, bereaved children invovled, is not the time to play emotional brinkmanship.

That's very unhealthy, and it might be better for you to examine if you two are going to be compatible over hte long-term on the other 364 days a year.

You find Christmas a sad and lonely time, imagine how you'd feel if you were a child who'd lost his mother on that day?

gettingeasier Mon 18-Oct-10 20:57:51

Sorry I dont want to be harsh but you all sound like lovely people with lots of support and closeness as a family -isnt that enough ? Does it really matter what happens on one day of the year ? Is this subconsciously some kind of test of his committment / how important you are to him ?

phipps Mon 18-Oct-10 20:59:35

Is it that you feel low on his priorities as he won't live with you or plan for when he will and you just wanted your own way (bad choice of phrase I know) for once to prove you are important?

ChippingIn Mon 18-Oct-10 21:13:06

I'm sorry that you are feeling hurt & upset over this - it's not a nice way to feel. I think he has contributed to this, by saying it would be the way you want it to be, if you were living together. I think that he would probably feel more comfortable telling his inlaws that he was spending Christmas Day with you, if you were living together... which is understandable. However, this is signalling to you that your relationship isn't yet 'important' enough to him and that is something you need to discuss - how you both see your relationship/how important/long term it is.

I'm not suprised he hasn't thought about what you will do when your kids leave home - you've only been together a year and it's not the sort of thing most men (generalising I know) think about, unless someone highlights it for them. It really doesn't mean anything.

Living together - I don't know how much you get for your Widowed Parents allowance, but surely (at least when you lose yours), the cost of living in one house rather than two would make up for it - or near enough? I also think, that when you both feel strongly enough that you want/need to live together, the money will take a backseat - it sounds like a convenient out to me (but then, as I said, I don't know how much it is!!).

However, Christmas is for the children. You & yours had other plans before he came along, and so did he & his. I think that denying his children Christmas with their family to spend it with you, would be selfish (even if you were living together tbh). As adults, it's one day - do something fun with your DC (your parents/sibling/friends) - as adults, it is so not important.... it's not as though your kids are going to be upset that he/they are not there... have a joint 'Christmas Day' to swap presents another day... their Christmas is hard enough without their Daughter/Sister/Aunt without making them spend it without these GC as well

Really, his kids have lost enough, without losing their family Christmas Day as well. This isn't about not wanting to spend it with you (I'm sure you'd all have a lovely day), but about spending it how they usually spend it.

Not to mention you've only been together a year, it's not a long time (even though it often feels like it is).

Sorry if that sounds harsh as I am sure you know, better than most, how hard it is for children to lose a parent

ChippingIn Mon 18-Oct-10 21:19:52

x-posted with you - sorry.

I am sorry that your bereavement is so recent as well. Now this is going to sound harsh - but having your boyfriend there isn't going to stop you missing your husband being there

I really get the feeling that you need to slow things down, for everyone's sake, but mostly your own.... it all seems very fast to me.

(I honestly mean that in a caring, not judging way x ).

atswimtwolengths Mon 18-Oct-10 22:14:01

I think everyone's being very unfair. The OP is trying to build a new family with this man and she can't do that if he isn't there for her at significant times.

Her partner's family are not accepting that he has a new relationship, though his own children have. I think that his children need to keep in close contact with their mother's family, of course they do, but if they have the chance of forging a new, loving family with a new mum and siblings (who we know they have a close relationship already) then they should take that chance.

I don't think the OP would be as upset if he said, "Let's leave it like this for this Christmas and I'll tell them in plenty of time next year that things will be different."

It would be wonderful for his children to have a new mother figure, just as it would be wonderful for her children to have a new father figure - all of the children have been through a lot. It seems it's the OP's partner and his wife's family who can't accept the change.

And yes, if anything happened to my daughter (touching all the wood in the house) then I would find it extremely difficult to think of her husband with another woman, but I hope I would want him and their children to be happy.

justwishing Mon 18-Oct-10 22:52:52

I would just like to say in my defence that I love the children dearly and part of the reason I feel so sad is that they won't be with me for Christmas either. We have been together for over a year, in that time I have made birthday cakes for the boys and given them birthday parties, attended school events, mended their clothes and done lots of things for them, out of love. I love their father dearly, but they come with him and I love them for themselves.

They are very fond of me too, and always run for a hug when they see me, and the little one loves me to read his bedtime story and tuck him in. I am a very maternal person and what I want is for us to be able to make a go of this for all of our sakes. I am not heartless and am only too mindful of what all our children have lost, only last week I got DP to keep some baby things as mementoes for the boys, I certainly don't want them ever to forget their mum sad. Thank you atswimtwolengths I think you really get it.

purpleduck Mon 18-Oct-10 23:02:23

Are the inlaws close (distance wise?) can you at some point have the best of both on the one day?

Can I ask this <<<very quietly>>> but are you ready for such a big relationship...? if its been 2 years since your dh died, and if this christmas thing is throwing you... are you ready for this? I mean that very very respectfully as I have no idea what it must be like to be in your shoes.

But, I would think that its more important than anything that your son knows that you and he will be ok no matter what. That your happiness on that day is not down to external circumstances, but that YOU will make it ok.

Honestly, I would just take the decision out of his hands and go to your parents or something. And have fun.

yesyouknowme Mon 18-Oct-10 23:06:53

The in laws lost their daughter.
Their son and law and his children are the remaining link they have , and it must be extremely hard for them to accept a new partner for him.

Do not give an ultimatum, it's unkind.

expatinscotland Mon 18-Oct-10 23:09:44

'The OP is trying to build a new family with this man and she can't do that if he isn't there for her at significant times.'

But they're not going to live together for potentially another 10 years.

purpleduck speaks sense.

It's only been a year. It's only been two since your beloved spouse passed on.

Perhaps take things more slowly and as they come.

It's one day, one holiday out of a whole year's worth.

justwishing Mon 18-Oct-10 23:15:55

The in laws are a couple of hundred miles away and last year he went for a week so I don't think that is an option. I really want to have Christmas at home as I am hopefully moving house next month. It will be the first Christmas in my new home, and he came and viewed it with me, it is nearer where he lives than I am now and I so hoped they would all be there to share the day with me. I think I am ready for another relationship, he makes me very happy, but of course it is a very emotional time for me leaving the home I made with my husband and I just wish DP could be there for me at Christmas, he is very caring and supportive in general.

justwishing Mon 18-Oct-10 23:20:33

Please don't judge me, if you read my OP you would realise that I have not issued an ultimatum a RL friend suggested it and I felt so unsure as to whether I had handled this right, I didn't expect people to think I was being unkind to another bereaved family. My MIL has lost two of her children, but is delighted that I have met someone and wouldn't expect me to miss Christmas with him to be with her sad I did say I was more than happy for him to go and see them and would never stand in the way of that, but it is very hard to feel that I can't have Christmas with them all.

expatinscotland Mon 18-Oct-10 23:25:49

It just might not be as soon as you wish is all.

It's not he's breaking it off with you.

And you two admittedly have barriers to living together that will need worked through, and the issue of your children flying the coop.

Serious issues that need to be worked on.

For now, it's a relatively new relationship because it's one involving two people who've had loss and all their children.

Pleas try your best to accept that and work round for now if you want it to go the distance.

I don't mean this to be harsh, but it sounds like you're getting fixated on the one day as a symptom of the bigger picture of your relationship.

calypsoblue Mon 18-Oct-10 23:37:20

He sounds like a good guy trying to please everyone . Why not have two christmasses ?

spidookly Mon 18-Oct-10 23:59:42

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

justwishing Tue 19-Oct-10 00:13:59

If you had read all my posts you would realise that your unpleasant abusive comments in no way reflect the reality of this situation. I have reported your post.

justwishing Tue 19-Oct-10 00:19:44

That was to you spidookly and I truly hope that you never have to stand in my shoes and experience what I have gone through in the last two years. As to my "questionable" financial arrangements, I wonder how yours would be if the main breadwinner in your household died and left you coping with three children. Just a thought.

spidookly Tue 19-Oct-10 00:32:49

Why do you feel so entitled to spend Christsmas "with them all"?

Why would your MIL assume that your first priority at Christmas is to your new boyfriend and not your own family?

Your selfishness and childishness is astounding.

No matter what you've been through in the last 2 years, you still shouldn't think that makes it OK to upset a standing family tradition because you don't think it necessary.

What about your children? They lost their Dad 2 years ago. Do they really want Christmas to revolve around another man so soon?

Perhaps they'd like to spend it with their Granny?

celticfairy101 Tue 19-Oct-10 00:46:25

I agree with everything that spidookly said.

It takes time to heal from losing a parent and time to heal from losing a partner.

I think you are sounding very insecure and putting all your emotional eggs in one basket. You need to give the new bloke and his children time to heal. It could take ages, as long as the wait for you both to move in together, which presumeably won't change.

Make Christmas special for yourself and your boys. Do you really have to have a man, not their dad, to complete it?

justwishing Tue 19-Oct-10 00:52:58

Perhaps if you both read all the posts rather than just the OP, you might see things a little differently.

spidookly Tue 19-Oct-10 01:18:23

I have read all the posts. Twice.

I re-read them after your last complaint. I stand by what I said.

justwishing Tue 19-Oct-10 08:43:33

Thank you to all the posters who posted with helpful input and advice, I know now that my initial instinct that an ultimatum over this Christmas would be the wrong thing to do,as to next year and the future it is something that my man and I will need to keep talking about I think. Some of your insights into the situation have given me food for thought, so I am grateful for that.

To those of you who posted unpleasant comments casting aspersions on my character and my parenting of my own children, perhaps you should have thought about the fact that I too am bereaved and I did post this in Relationships not AIBU.

I am a regular poster who has namechanged for this and thought that I could ask this question here without being flamed. I had so much kindness shown to me in the Bereavement section after my DH died and recommended the site to several other widows. Perhaps I should now amend my advice to them and tell them to stay in Bereavement where people understand what they are going through.

Just to answer a couple of points for those who are concerned about my children/husband's family. MIL wouldn't expect me to be there automatically as that was not happened when DH was alive, my own children would most certainly not prefer Christmas there and will be spending it with me, their other grandma and their beloved step-grandfather in our new home, although we will certainly see my in laws over the Christmas holiday. The children would have been more than happy to welcome this other family into our home and they would certainly not have seen it in terms of their father being replaced, nothing and nobody can ever do that.

Also anyone who feels there is anything dubious about my finances needs to know that Widowed Parents Allowance is not means tested and is only paid if your DH had paid sufficient contributions over the preceding years, you continue to receive it until your youngest child is 18, hence the ongoing impact of losing it. Within the next year I plan to up my hours at work, and am currently studying hard to get a higher qualification to enable me to get a more senior role with a higher income. I do not think I need to feel shame at taking something I am entitled to to help me through this difficult period of adjustment.

Once again thank you to those who genuinely wanted to help me.

ChippingIn Tue 19-Oct-10 10:28:19

Justwishing - you were right, your friend did not give you the best advice, but I'm sure she only said it because she can see how much it would mean to you.

I'm glad you are going to think about some of the things that have been said and I hope you come out of this feeling better about things, if not completely happy about the situation.

Of course you don't need to feel any shame at receiving the Widows Pension - I think there was only one twat poster who suggested you were, a couple who thought you wouldn't need it/be entitled to it, if you moved in together & me, who also thought/hoped you could, together, do without his if you lived together (especially when you are about to lose yours anyway). However, as it's not means tested and it's based on the deceased partner having contributed enough, I think it's unfair to lose it, irrespective of whether you go on to live with someone else or not. It shouldn't be about what you do, when it's about what they did.

Good luck with getting the higher qualification & better pay!

I really, really hope this works out for you, you deserve it to (both of you & all the kids), but I am still worried that you are rushing into this so soon - I just hope I am wrong. I wish only the best for you!

PS: I think I know who you are and I'm not sure why you name changed - you shouldn't be worried about being 'you' here

ChippingIn Tue 19-Oct-10 10:28:49

(I mean who you normally are on MN, not who you are in RL!)

expatinscotland Tue 19-Oct-10 10:39:29

It is very very wise to be working towards a better-paying job in this economy under this government.


As with DLA, which is also non-means tested, I wouldn't expect any such benefit to be secure anymore.

Honestly, please try to work past this and find some peace with yourself and your own family at present.

This guy sounds like he is trying ot please everyone but his priority needs to be his kids and right now, he doesn't feel the time has come to do things differently.

spidookly Tue 19-Oct-10 10:51:37

"my own children would most certainly not prefer Christmas there and will be spending it with me, their other grandma and their beloved step-grandfather in our new home"

Wow, that sounds so nice.


a) why the burning need to have your boyfriend there?

b) why do you want to upset a similar arrangement for these other children?

You want them to spend their Christmas with your children's grandparents instead of their own, in your new home instead of their Grandparents' house.

Why would they want that?

Gleeb Tue 19-Oct-10 11:08:06

Oh give it a rest will you Spidookly

spidookly Tue 19-Oct-10 11:10:12


xkittyx Tue 19-Oct-10 14:49:52

Poor OP, I feel for your situation, it sounds very sad and like you are doing your best.
Can I also say that spidookly sounds terribly vindictive, spiteful and nasty to come on here and bully a bereaved woman trying to build a new life in unusually tricky circumstances. I'm saddened to see responses like that - how uncompassionate :-(

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