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DrJackiePhD
DrJackiePhD, Doctor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 139
Experience:  I have been doing research in relational/interpersonal communication since 1998. My Ph.D. is in interpersonal communication.
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3 weeks ago, my girlfriend left me to move to California to

Resolved Question:

3 weeks ago, my girlfriend left me to move to California to go to school, and she left me with nothing a note. We've since been talking, and she told me my relationship issues are also a reason she left. I've vowed to change these things, I've started therapy already, and we've decided to try to work it out. She's going to be gone for 3 months for her program, and then possibly return if we work it out.

I'm leaving tomorrow to go visit her for a few days. We've had a lot of positive conversations, and were both looking forward to it. I was even planning on proposing, which is something I should have done a long time ago.

We loosely talked about our future last night, and the prospect of marriage and a family. She's told me she's always wanted me to seek her father's blessing before proposing, and reaffirmed that last night. So I told her she needed to tell her father of my impending visit, and our intention to work it out.

She did so this morning, and he flipped out, telling her it was a terrible idea, and she should leave there and not see me. And he then proceeded to keep calling her, each time becoming more vocal of his disapproval. I barely know him, and his main judgement of me is the result of her expressing her issues with me recently leading up to her leaving. So obviously, there is zero chance of me getting his blessing now, maybe not ever. What should I do?

We've talked about the financials, and I fully support her going to school. We've been together over 2 years, we've lived together for 1. Her family, including her father, really pushed her to move back home to do this. They hate that she has been living in Wisconsin.

When we were together, she thought I would be proposing much sooner, as I definitely led her to believe that. And I never acted. She said part of her leaving was she didn't know where our relationship was going. She's also told me in the past, several times, that the ring doesn't matter, I could give her a piece of gravel and she would say yes to a proposal.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  DrJackiePhD replied 11 months ago.

DrJackiePhD :

Hi, I'm Dr. Jackie and would like to try to help

Customer:

Great

DrJackiePhD :

I read your post and am re-reading now a second time to make sure I have a better grasp.

Customer:

ok, ask me anything as needed

DrJackiePhD :

I definitely will. Maybe you could start with what you want to discuss first?

Customer:

What I should do about her father's meltdown and disapproval

DrJackiePhD :

Parents are such a difficult issue because you want to please them and I'm sure she wants to please her father. You probably have put yourself in her shoes--she probably feels very torn.

Customer:

Im sure she does.

DrJackiePhD :

You are going to stay in a hotel/motel when you go visit, right?

Customer:

yes, we're staying in one together

DrJackiePhD :

Because it sounds like she is living back home?

DrJackiePhD :

Oh, I can imagine her father would be upset by that as well.

Customer:

she is staying with a family friend during the week while at school, and back home on weekends. But by home, i mean her mother's. Her parents are divorced

DrJackiePhD :

Let me ask this--did she move to Wisconsin to be with you? Because it could be her father would resent anyone who took away his "baby".

DrJackiePhD :

OK

Customer:

She moved to wisconsin for an internship. We met after she moved here, and then she ended up going full time at her job. I was a big reason she decided to stay for sure

DrJackiePhD :

I'm trying to understand if there are perhaps deeper issues on the part of the father.

DrJackiePhD :

Yes and if her dad needs someone to "blame," you're the perfect scapegoat, especially if she has expressed negative aspects of your relationship to her father in the past.

Customer:

Yes. He 's a very toxic individual. He was very abusive while his children grew up. He's 70, and still has child like tantrums. He's actually suing one of his sons right now.

DrJackiePhD :

Wow!

DrJackiePhD :

Well, that actually clarifies things, at least on my friend as far as me being objective...

Customer:

Yeah, he's a piece of work. But he's been very supportive of D(my girlfriend) going back to school. he's paying for everything

DrJackiePhD :

What I mean is, it sounds like he is well set in his ways and isn't going to change unless HE wants to

Customer:

for sure

DrJackiePhD :

Is she afraid of him pulling the plug on the money if you two get engaged?

Customer:

I'm sure, but I told her I would 100% support her if she came back here and went back to school.

DrJackiePhD :

And to address what I think you have said is your biggest challenge--he is not going to accept you any time soon. And both of you have to be realistic that asking for his blessing is actually not only not going to happen, but it could make things worse. What I mean is, think about this. I often "give advice" based on real research and what people in interviews and surveys tell us about their relationships. We know there is always a distribution of power in any relationship (romantic, parent-child, etc.). From what you have shared, he controlled his children with a lot of "power." And he is still doing that. If you ask for his blessing, you actually are giving up more power to him, at least from an outsider's point of view. Does that make sense?

Customer:

Yes, it does. So now I'm torn on how to approach this weekend. I planned on proposing, it's what I want, and it would show her I'm committed to this. But she wants the blessing, which isn't going to happen, most likely ever. And hearing her father say things about me, such as there's no way I can change, and I'm only faking things to get her back, has caused hesitation on her part. She told me she doesn't believe those things, but she did hear them.

DrJackiePhD :

So I would suggest that while the two of you are together, you discuss this and the fact that if you two really are together, he is not going to be fishing or golfing with you and that it most likely is going to cause more friction between her and him. I am NOT suggesting at all to be mean or nasty to him--if either of you did that, you would be sinking to his level. But the reality truly is this: If she wants to be with you, she has to realize her father's reactions.

Customer:

She actually thought he could react poorly. But I wanted to be honest with him, to let him know we were trying to work it out. So we both agreed she would tell him, then I would eventually contact him. Last night, she was on board with this. And now today, after what he did, she's lost certainty in what we were trying to do

Customer:

She has no clue that I'm planning to propose this weekend

Customer:

Hello?

DrJackiePhD : hi
DrJackiePhD : I am so sorry--my laptop power cord just broke so
Customer:

Gotcha. Bummer

DrJackiePhD : I had to switch to my tablet. So sorry
Customer:

ok

DrJackiePhD : I am here now--just typing more slowly.
DrJackiePhD : I am going to take a min to read what you just wrote if that is ok.
Customer:

yes, please do

DrJackiePhD : ok so just to make sure I understand--in 24 hours she has changed her mind?
Customer:

Not changed her mind, she says she still wants to work things out. She has just become a lot less committed to definitely coming back. She says I have to prove things to her, which I get. But her father's words are weighing heavily.

DrJackiePhD : HERE IS SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT__DOES HER FAHER HAVE THAT MUCH CONTRL OVER HER?
DrJackiePhD : Because that won
DrJackiePhD : will not change over night.
Customer:

Not that much, I mean we're still talking, still working, and despite her father telling her not to see me and not to spend any alone time with me this weekend, I'm still going out there.

DrJackiePhD : I think then that you are going to have to prove to her through your behaviors that her father is wrong and that you are not the person he thinks you are.
DrJackiePhD : This means don
Customer:

???

DrJackiePhD : do not push engagement unless she is ready but ready to do that without father
DrJackiePhD : her father's approval.
DrJackiePhD : so sorry--this tablet is hard to type on
Customer:

I know she wants to get married, we were talking about it last night, and starting a family, even as soon as next summer, and she was definitely excited. She wants to get married, but this issue with her father throws a wrench in it. How do I broach the issue, and find out whether i should propose or not, without coming out and basically proposing?

DrJackiePhD : But hopefully you can overlook this bad typing. I think you two have a lot to discuss--that is obvious. But you really need to think about the proposal. I fear for you that if you do propose this weekend, it might be bad time if she is sort of uncertain.
Customer:

What i know is she definitely wants a ring, she just also wants to please everyone, including her father. But the way he is, he will never approve. So how do i discuss the proposal without actually letting on that my plan is to propose?

DrJackiePhD : I think being direct is the best. You have already discussed marriage obviously more than once. So be direct. You can be romantic at a later date soon and give a real proposal. But just talk about it bluntly and get it all out in the open.
DrJackiePhD : A good friend was in a similar situation. He bluntly told his gf he wanted to marry her but that they needed to talk about some things first to better move forward and that he was not proposing directly in this conversation but that he did intend to that soon--to reassure her.
DrJackiePhD : And she did get a ring in the next couple of weeks.
Customer:

So talk directly, let her know it's what I want and am willing to do it right now, but ask her if she wants to wait for the blessing or to go for it now and work that out with her father later?

DrJackiePhD : Yes exactly!
DrJackiePhD : That way she knows she is more reassured and that you want to do right--even by her dad but that you need to spend the visit trying to sort things out now...versus later once things are more complicated--like after a child is born.
DrJackiePhD : The more you can get on the
Customer:

Ok. So the plan is to take the ring, but keep it in my pocket, possibly for the whole weekend and bring it back with me. Talk it out, and if it's what she wants, go for it. If not, ride it out.

DrJackiePhD : same page now, the better chance of success you will have in th e future, statistically speaking.
DrJackiePhD : And that makes sense, I think.
DrJackiePhD : I think that makes sense. How do you feel about that\/
DrJackiePhD : Take the ring and if you feel right, you will know. If it isn
Customer:

Nervous. Scared. Like a huge part of my future hinges on a 70 year old child

DrJackiePhD : t the right time, at least let her know you intend to propose in the near future once you both are on the same page.
DrJackiePhD : :-)
Customer:

Ok, That's the plan. Any advice on dealing with her father? Or just let it work itself out?

DrJackiePhD : I am unsure what you mean. Do you plan on interacting with him--like having dinner or something like that?
Customer:

no, not this weekend. But he will eventually need to be spoken with, whether we're engaged or not

DrJackiePhD : Sure and that is one thing you need to discuss BEFORE any proposal--because as long as he breathes, he is a part of her life and that means your life too.
Customer:

ok, so we both agree he will never give us his blessing. How do I overcome that with my girlfriend?

DrJackiePhD : I mean, she has to be willing to even distance herself from her father if she really wants to commit to you and especially to having a family with you. That becomes her priority and her father eventually needs to hear that from her. You need to find out if she is wiling to do that.
DrJackiePhD : She doesn
DrJackiePhD : doesn't have to cut him off completely but take back control. If he loves her like Iam sure he does, he will choose his daughter over fighting with you. It might take awhile, but Ibelieve that.
Customer:

Ok, so basically just let her know that while he may not approve now, if we work things out together, over time we will prove to him we know what we're doing and are making the right choice. Do that, and he'll come around?

DrJackiePhD : Exactly!
DrJackiePhD : If he is silly enough to chose a feud over a relationshipwith his daughter, then that is his loss.
Customer:

Any parting words of wisdom on how to talk to her about wanting to get married? I know to be direct, but is there any way to do it in a really positive way? To make her know its really what i want, but don't want to pressure her?

DrJackiePhD : And most people in the end will choose the relationship.
DrJackiePhD : Be honest and direct just like you are here. :-)
Customer:

That's a lot easier to do on here than when facing her and my entire future...

DrJackiePhD : I know.
Customer:

ok, i'll give it a shot.

DrJackiePhD : I totally wish you the best!
Customer:

Thank you

DrJackiePhD, Doctor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 139
Experience: I have been doing research in relational/interpersonal communication since 1998. My Ph.D. is in interpersonal communication.
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