Q. My fiance and I have been together for four years. We plan on getting married this year. He is very close to his family, and I often spend time doing what they like.
During our annual vacation last year, all I wanted was to try one particular restaurant and to share a kiss on New Year’s Eve. He invited his family over instead.
They speak a different language, so I was excluded. (They all know English very well but did not consider including me.) A few years ago, one of his parents was rushed to the hospital with an illness. I dropped everything and went to be with them, and they were so grateful.
We have decided to relocate to a different city, and my fiance moved before me to look for jobs. As this happened, my own parent has needed serious medical attention. I really need to lean on my fiance right now — just as he leaned on me. But he is taking his mother shopping. Or going to the car wash with his sibling. Or visiting another family member. He responds to my messages after hours.
He says he speaks to me whenever he can, but I don’t feel that way. I feel like his family members are more important to him than I am. I want more support from him. Am I being too needy?
A. It sounds like you need to negotiate a plan ahead of time — before your boyfriend fails to meet your expectations.
Some people are excellent caregivers and can anticipate the needs of those around them. For others, it’s a skill that has to be learned. Your boyfriend knows how to care for his family because he’s been doing it forever. You require more support than you used to; you’re allowed to explain what that means for the relationship. Tell him exactly how much time you need from him, and schedule appointments. Ask him to consider how check-ins can become part of your routine.
Understand, of course, that he can’t be available for calls 24/7. Sometimes people have to drive, shop, hunt for jobs, etc. Busy is OK — as long as he makes time later.
The asking-for-what-you-want thing extends to his family, too. You can ask them what they’re talking about, and request that they include you in the conversation.
Don’t assume they’re leaving you out on purpose.
I only see this getting worse in a new city — particularly as it sounds as though the new city is closer to his family. I’m sorry.
The guy is married to his family. The letter writer is an outsider, and always will be.
I don’t think you should have to ask his family to speak in the only language you all understand when you are together. Your fiance should not ask them, but tell them. GRETCHYNN
If this is your fiance’s culture, either get used to it or bail. Personally, I’d run out of there screaming.
boston.com/loveletters. Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.