I DON’T KNOW MY STEPDAUGHTER
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.