Dear Renita,
My partner and I have been together for almost three years. We had a wedding planned but because we were still using alcohol, it was called off to deal first with sobriety. Sucessful there! Thank God! I love this man dearly and he, me. But, he doesn't seem to accept my son from a previous relationship. This concerns me deeply. To not love and accept my son seems like a rejection of me. When I've addressed this in the past, my partner gets very defensive and tells me not to push the relationship because it pushes him further away. This child needs the man of the house to love and respect him also, right? Isn't it torturous to this poor boy who just wants to be accepted by this man?

Dear Heidi,
Let me start by congratulating you for wisely postponing your wedding to deal with alcohol issues in your relationship. Other couples might have ignored the disease and convinced themselves that the problem would magically resolve itself once the marriage commenced. But you two didn't do that. You faced your problems with alcohol abuse in order to give your marriage the best chance to succeed. And now, there's something else you must face as you contemplate your future together as a couple.

You can't make your fiancé accept and love your son from a previous relationship. To marry a man who resents your son is quite possibly the cruelest thing you could do both to your son and to yourself. Don't do it. And your heart is telling you already all the reasons why you mustn't: "To be with me you've got to be with him also and love him also"; "this child needs the man of the house to love and respect also." Listen to your heart, Heidi. It's telling you what you need to know.

My advice is that you find a way to talk to your fiancé about this. You must make it clear that while you love him dearly, you and your son are a package deal. You love your fiancé for being strong enough to get the treatment he needed for his substance abuse. Now you must love him enough to face his weakness and limitation. Perhaps in time he will grow to love and accept your son. Until then, protect your son and resist marrying this man. Give your fiancé time to work through his feelings. Thank God for sobriety. For now that you're sober, you see things for what they are. Face them. Don't be in such a hurry to marry that you exchange one form of abuse for another.


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