Mom dating boyfriends dad My daughter doesn't like me dating her fiancé's dad

A woman who is dating the father of her daughter's fiancé is worried by the younger couple's disapproval. Mariella Frostrup says that the older pair should be sensitive
Back view of a young woman in wedding dress looking at bridal gowns
Mariella Frostrup: 'Your new-found happiness should take a back seat to your children’s wedding. You’ve been dating three months; they’re about to commit for life.' Photograph: Alamy

Mom dating boyfriends dad My daughter doesn't like me dating her fiancé's dad

A woman who is dating the father of her daughter's fiancé is worried by the younger couple's disapproval. Mariella Frostrup says that the older pair should be sensitive

The dilemma For the past three months I have been seeing the father of my daughter's fiancé. We have known each other for a couple of years, but recently acknowledged that we like each other romantically. We told our respective children about this a month ago, and brought it into the open, but they have made no secret of the fact that they disapprove. All our other family and friends do not see what the issue is and are very supportive.

However, our children say the situation is "weird and unusual", they will not "ever accept it" etc. They are doing everything possible to end our relationship. They are getting married this year and I think a lot of it is based on what other people will think. We have reassured them that we will not embarrass them in any way.  It's so difficult – we like each other so very much, and get on so well – and at our ages (50s) probably will not find another opportunity to be happy.  Are we so wrong?  I just don't know any more, but I object to being blackmailed by my own daughter!

Mariella replies Let's take the emoting down a notch or two, shall we? With your daughter getting married this year it is understandable that she's a trifle peeved. Hooking up with her prospective father-in-law shifts the spotlight from their upcoming union to your new romantic liaison and brings with it added complications in the eventuality that it doesn't work out between you, or them. If I was a gambler I'd say it actually doubles the odds of trouble.

They are also no doubt excited about being the focus of their friends' and families' attention, and now here you are stealing their thunder. Instead of everyone cooing at the beauty of the bride they'll be peering over their shoulders to see if you two are holding hands or not. It would probably have been wiser and less confrontational to save publishing your very new relationship until after the wedding. Then again you're in one of those damned if you do, further damned if you don't situations, as you'd no doubt have been accused of duplicity had you kept it under wraps.

You don't need to be entirely selfless, but you should be sensitive to their feelings. Naturally you two consenting adults have every right to pursue this new relationship with enthusiasm, but it is unusual (or weird, as they phrased it) and should be handled with empathy for the two people who brought you together, who, while adults themselves now, are also your children. Whether you and your soon to be in-law stay together for ever or split in a blast of antagonism, it will have an impact on both your children's lives.

Initially it's only fair that your new-found happiness take a back seat to your children's wedding. You've been dating three months, and they're about to commit for life, so I suggest you make them your priority until they've tied the knot. It doesn't mean splitting up but being sympathetic to sensitivities. The last thing they'll want is you two mooning at each other over the top table.

I wonder if it's an indicator of ageing or the myopia of midlife, but barely a week passes without some aspect of my correspondents' dilemmas harking back to moments in my own life. A close relation of mine once dated my gynaecologist. I'd recommended him to her for his medical skills rather than his romantic qualifications, but it was love at first sight over the stirrups apparently (she was also in her 50s). While I was delighted that she had found a decent guy to date, my appointments with him became excruciating ordeals from then on; watching them snog over dinner wasn't too great either. That said, it would never have occurred to me to drive a wedge between the happy couple, and I think your daughter and son-in-law's response, while understandable, is also over the top.

You all need to turn down the emotional heat. This whole "We're in our 50s and may never have the chance of happiness again" declaration is overwrought. You've half your life still to live. I'm sure it would be lovely to settle down to a second stab at happily married bliss, but it's equally possible that this is just a short-lived but hopefully enjoyable romantic interlude. For both couples' sakes I'd recommended that you tone down the rhetoric and simply enjoy the moment. Continuing that level of "This is our last chance" pressure on each other would make me more worried about your relationship staying the course than your daughter and her boyfriend getting over the news.

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