I DON’T KNOW MY STEP­DAUGH­TER

Your Pregnancy - - Q&A Month - Karin Steyn Coun­selling psy­chol­o­gist and hyp­no­birthing prac­ti­tioner

Q: I am 23 years old and mar­ried to a won­der­ful man. I can’t wait to see our baby. My first preg­nancy was ec­topic and I lost the baby. With the sec­ond preg­nancy, I was re­ally sick for three months but the doc­tor told me the baby’s do­ing fine. My hus­band is too scared to have sex, as we went through hell when I lost the first baby. He keeps telling me not to do any kind of work, ei­ther, even though the doc­tor has re­as­sured him that ev­ery­thing’s on track. An­other thing is that he has a daugh­ter from a pre­vi­ous re­la­tion­ship. I’ve never met her, only seen pic­tures. I try to be sup­port­ive, even when he goes to visit her, but he still ac­cuses me of not be­ing sup­port­ive. He also hasn’t told his ex-girl­friend about me or the new baby. What should I do? A: Karin says: When we have new ba­bies, our love dou­bles rather than di­vides be­tween the other chil­dren. It is never easy to be a step­mother to your man’s chil­dren, es­pe­cially in your case where you have not even met your step­daugh­ter. I can imag­ine that it must be very frus­trat­ing to be ac­cused of be­ing un­sup­port­ive, but then you are not even be­ing granted the op­por­tu­nity to build a re­la­tion­ship with her. All re­la­tion­ships need time and en­ergy to grow stronger and de­velop. I can also imag­ine that this would be near im­pos­si­ble un­less your hus­band openly ac­knowl­edges your re­la­tion­ship and mar­riage. His keep­ing this se­cret from his ex-girl­friend al­most seems like he is treat­ing you as the mis­tress, and you are not. It is pos­si­ble that your hus­band is very afraid that he would lose his daugh­ter if he were to come clean about ev­ery­thing, and it sounds like he is pro­cras­ti­nat­ing be­cause of his fear and un­cer­tainty. He should how­ever re­alise that things will not get eas­ier the longer he waits, and that his daugh­ter will need to know the truth about her fa­ther and her new fam­ily to feel in­cluded. I know it is hard to take ac­tion when we know oth­ers will be up­set, but we can­not be re­spon­si­ble for ev­ery­body’s feel­ings. We can only do what is right. I think he owes this to you and both of his chil­dren. Now, what you can do is a talk to your hus­band about this in a lov­ing and sup­port­ive man­ner. Please do not ac­cuse him of act­ing in­ten­tion­ally hurt­ful, but try to un­der­stand where he comes from. As a cou­ple, this could be a won­der­ful chal­lenge for the two of you to un­der­take to­gether. Your hus­band might have more courage to do what he needs to do know­ing that you sup­port him all the way. Think about the best pos­si­ble out­come to this sce­nario – per­haps where his daugh­ter feels like part of your new fam­ily and gets to spend fam­ily din­ners and hol­i­days with you two and her new sib­ling. Wouldn’t that be great? Keep your fo­cus on what you would like to have hap­pen, and help your hus­band to stay as pos­i­tive as he can, so that he doesn’t over­re­act to the ini­tial shock that his ex-girl­friend and daugh­ter ex­pe­ri­ence when they learn the truth.

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