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Counseling/Fiance meeting the family?


Alright so my name is Alison and I am 24. I have been dating this man, Christoph, for a year and a half now. Heís 33, and heís a bail enforcement agent (basically a bounty hunter.) I was very taken aback when I first met him, I didnít know they were actually a real thing, to be honest. He has seen a lot of scary people, been in a lot of scary situations, and he is still the most polite gentleman you will ever meet. He is charming, charismatic, and he treats me so well. He brings me home flowers for no reason, pulls out my chair for me, etc. He is wonderful. His job makes things difficult sometimes; he works a lot of long hours, and I worry about him because it is a very dangerous career. Itís worth it, though, because I love him more than anything.

Well, he just asked me to marry him, and of course, I said yes. :) I live across the country from my family, so the only person who has met him is my mom when she came to visit 5 months ago, but my parents are more open-minded than my extended family. In a couple of weeks, we are going to visit them, and I want to tell them that we are engaged, but none of them have met Christoph, and Iím nervous about it. On one hand, he is very charming, and extremely polite, so I think he will have no problem getting their approval. On the other hand, I donít know how well my family will take to his career. They are all mostly lawyers or teachers, and very conservative, while he chases down criminals for a living. I just really want them to like him. Any advice on the situation?

Hi Alison - The reality is you cannot "make them" approve of him and his career - it's out of your control -  I suspect if your family wants you to be happy, they'll recognize his good qualities and accept him despite any reservations about his work. Good luck! - Pete


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Peter Gerlach, MSW


I can answer questions about mood disorders, depression, suicide, relationships, communication skills, problem solving, clear thinking, bonding disorders, trauma recovery, addiction management, grieving, shame, guilt, fear, reality distortion, and trust disorders; courtship, family functioning, "problem kids," mediation, (re)marriage, divorce, stepfamilies, stepparenting, boundaries, self-neglect, abuse, parental neglect, personality subselves, ("parts work"). I cannot answer legal or medical questions.


I maintained a private therapy practice near Chicago for 27 years, and have worked with over 1,000 men, women, couples, and families on a wide range of personal and family problems. I have been in personal recovery from growing up in an alcoholic family since 1986, and have worked with five therapists to heal my own psychological wounds. I maintained a "warm (phone) line" for callers on the topics above for 20 years, and have taught over 200 seminars and classes in midwestern universities, churches, support groups, and schools since 1981. I have practiced internal-family therapy ("parts work") with trauma-recoverers since 1991.

National Stepfamily Resource Center (NSRC) Experts Council; Compassion and Choices, and Final Exit Network

# Several hundred articles in my non-profit "Break the Cycle!" Web site at These articles are augmented by over 150 educational YouTube videos .

# six books on childhood-trauma recovery, effective communication, and stepfamily courtship, coparenting, and management.

A bachelors degree in mechanical engineering (BSME, 1959) from Stanford University, a Masters degree in clinical Social Work, (MSW, 1981), and over 500 hours of post-grad training in the topics above - including clinical hypnosis, spirituality, codependence, addicrtion-management, and guided imagery. My post-grad traning includes two 9-month internships on doing internal-family therapy at the University of Illinois.

Awards and Honors
Hundreds of grateful emails and comments from students and clients all over the world.

Past/Present Clients
Over 1,000 average Midwestern-US women, men, couples, and families. A physical disability limits me to doing telephone and Skype counseling now.

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