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Dear Michelle Valentine,

For nearly four years I have been dating a man who is very close to his family, something that drew me to him in the first place.

But with time I realized his nurturing makes him a bit too close to his family.

He lives with an uncle, and they own property together, on which they plan to build. He wants me to move out there, and we have even talked of having our wedding out there. Now he is talking about moving his mother to the property.

Ms. Valentine, I like his family – I just do not wish to live the rest of my life with them. He does not seem to understand why I would not welcome this arrangement.

I do not feel like the No. 1 person in his life, or even No. 2. We have fought over this many times.

Am I crazy, or is this a recipe for disaster?

Cassandra, via e-mail


Dear Cassandra,

It is normal within certain ethnic groups for extended families to share common living areas. I grew up in a community where grandparents, parents, children, aunts and uncles sometimes shared the same home!

Other family members lived in separate homes but right next-door or within just a few blocks.

Today, however many families live thousands of miles apart. Although I personally feel the happy medium is somewhere between these extremes, whatever works best for each individual family is what matters most.

Your fiancé wants to surround himself with everyone he loves – not a bad quality.

The problem for him now is that his girlfriend of so many years – who seemingly approved of his choices – is now not sure she still wants to be a part of it. You need to discuss these feelings with him immediately.

Maybe you are not feeling like his “No. 1” right now because he has been busy trying to build a life for the two of you – and then some. Discuss possible options too, such as having separate living areas within the same house or building separate homes for his mother and uncle on the same property.

Please have all this settled before marrying this man – and marrying his family.

Dear Reader:

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