Fallout from man’s double life with secret family
My partner and I have been together for almost three years. He has two adult children from his previous marriage, and one adolescent child from a previous relationship. When we met, I was getting divorced, and his other relationship was dissolving.
We now have a 2-year-old, and we’re expecting our second child together soon.
He has never told his children about me or our child. He has a very strained relationship with the adult children, but a very good relationship with the adolescent. They talk every day and are together every other weekend.
The adolescent’s mother doesn’t want the child around me. My partner’s reason for not telling his child is he’s afraid the relationship will end and the child won’t want to see him, be around him or may be angry with him.
This situation has caused a lot of arguments in our house. I desperately want his child to be a part of our lives, especially for our children. My partner keeps telling me that in time he’ll talk to his child about it. But it has been a couple of years!
I can understand his fear, but he hasn’t even tried to talk to the child. I think the longer he waits, the worse it will be.
I’m frustrated and hurt by the way he’s handled things.
I’m tired of fighting over it. What can I do to help? Do I just have to accept the child may never be a part of our lives? It feels like our life is a secret and it shouldn’t be.
DEAR FRUSTRATED: First of all, I’m genuinely puzzled about why you would choose to have two children with someone who already has two sets of children and is keeping you -- and now your children -- in the closet.
The way your relationship started (both of you in the midst of dissolving other relationships) may have created a pattern for how it is continuing. And yes, with every passing day, and more children, this deception grows more serious.
Rather than face the reality that his adolescent might be confused, hurt and angry to learn that Dad has a whole other family, he is doubling down on the secrecy. His cowardice is needlessly creating a crisis for all of you.
You are a coward, too. If you don’t want your life, and your children’s existence, to be a deep and dark secret, then own it. Give him a nonnegotiable deadline.
Find a relationship counselor, make an appointment and state your very reasonable case that you will not stay in the closet. Map out a plan for this disclosure. If he refuses, you should reconsider staying in the relationship.
This is not emotionally healthy for any of you.