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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Carolyn Hax: Merger can wait for nest to empty

The Washington Post The Spokesman-Review

Hi, Carolyn: I am almost 50 and have been dating by all accounts (especially mine) one of the finest men on the planet for three years. Our relationship is to the point that we do virtually all things together, maintain a mutual calendar, have daily interaction via phone and face to face, kid celebrations, family events, etc.

We each have three high school/college-age kids. For the most part we all get along. He’s a churchgoing Catholic, very successful, thrifty, a doormat for his kids, and an overthinker. I am feeling it is time to merge our lives, as “dating” at this point is quite costly in time and in maintaining two expensive households, while living essentially the same life. He says his kids will not react positively to this “merger” and he will “lose” them.

While I respect there will be a learning curve for all of us, if he really can’t begin to plan on our life together, I am ready to move on. Can you glean any considerations to manage this situation? We love and enjoy one another tremendously, are loyal, compassionate confidants … but we have reached a stalemate and I am growing restless with the situation and skeptical about my life’s path being decided by his children’s contrivances. – S.G.

If you used the word “contrivance” to describe my desire not to have my world upended when I’m, what, three years from leaving the house? Not even that? Then I’d be angry at my dad for marrying you, too.

Home is a very, very big deal. You may be the adults of these homes, you and your boyfriend. You may be in a position to exercise your will over the will of your children. You may have legitimate reservations about kids who have this much say over their father’s life.

But as one of the two adults here, you also have the ability, I hope, both to take the long view and to delay gratification.

You and this man have the rest of your lives to be together, but these kids have just a few years left in the nest. Why should at least three kids have to give up their home – bedrooms, hangouts, neighborhood, touchstones – and the others have to shuffle theirs, to tackle a “learning curve” they don’t need to tackle? To accommodate a situation where, so far, they get along “for the most part”?

I don’t advocate coddling children. When change is necessary for the greater good, then the kids will have to adjust.

But this is change for your good. And these are kids who have already been through one major nest-upending. I wonder what effect it would have on the stalemate if you were to propose this: You and he plan on merging your lives officially when the nests empty out on their own.