Wednesday, 16 Jan 2019

Ask Amy: The double life of a man and a secret family

Dear Amy: My partner and I have been together for almost three years. He has two grown children from his previous marriage and a teenage child from a previous relationship. When we met, I was divorcing and her other relationship was dissolving.

We now have a 2 year old and we are expecting our second child soon.

He never spoke to his children about me or our child. He has a very tense relationship with adult children, but a very good relationship with the teenager. They talk every day and are together every weekend.

The mother of the teenager does not want the child around me. My partner's reason for not telling his child is that he fears that the relationship will end and that the child does not want to see him, is not with him or may be angry at him.

This situation has caused a lot of arguments at home. I desperately want his child to be part of our lives, especially for our children. My partner tells me that eventually, he will talk to his child. But it's been a few years!

I can understand his fear, but he did not even try to talk to the child. I think the longer he waits, the worse it will be.

I am frustrated and hurt by the way he handled things.

I'm tired of fighting for it. What can I do to help? Should I just accept that the child may never be part of our lives? It's as if our life was secret, and it should not be.


Frustrated: First of all, I'm really puzzled as to why you would choose to have two children with a person who already has two children and who keeps you – and now your children – in the closet.

The way your relationship started (the two of you dissolving other relationships) may have created a pattern of continuity. And, yes, every day that passes and more and more children, this disappointment becomes more and more serious.

Rather than face the reality that his teenager might be confused, hurt and angry to learn that his father has a whole family, he doubles the secret. His cowardice creates needlessly a crisis for all of you.

You are also a coward. If you do not want your life and the existence of your children to be a deep, dark secret, then acknowledge it. Give him a non-negotiable time.

Find a relationship advisor, make an appointment and state your very reasonable case of not staying in the closet. Draw a plan for this disclosure. If he refuses, you should consider staying in the relationship. This is not emotionally healthy for any of you.

Dear Amy: My brother-in-law is divorced with two girls. His daughters live in the same city as their mother and he recently returned to live on the west coast with his fiancé, who has two teenage daughters from a previous marriage.

Last Christmas, my brother-in-law gave my son gift cards, as he has done for a number of years, but this time, he signed his daughters AND daughters of his fiance.

I guess he'll do the same thing this year.

Are we obliged to send gifts for his fiance's daughters? We only see them once or twice every two or three years.

Give or not give, Los Angeles

To offer or not to offer: Welcome to the season of "donations".

First of all, I must state for the record that I hate the word "gift" used as a verb. I recognize its legitimacy, but – here I said it. Why "gift" when we can all "give?"

Yes, you should send gifts to these girls. They are part of your brother's family – and now of this one. These gifts do not need to be elaborated. In fact, reciprocal gift cards may be suitable, but I hope you find a warm way to welcome them into the clan.

Dear Amy: "Upset Ex" was divorced from her husband for 18 years but she said that he was now asking her for financial help.

Although I agree with all of your suggestions for trying to help her, I felt that she would feel responsible if he managed his threat of suicide. It would be the most difficult thing to handle.

Concerned by Upset Ex

Concerned about Upset Ex: Yes, his threat is part of the way he handles it. Putting him in touch with a professional social worker would be better for both.

© 2018 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency


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