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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?

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