Twenty years ago I was dating my now husband and broke up with him. Admittedly, it was a dysfunctional relationship at the time. During the time we were broken up, he impregnated a woman. He approached me to get back together and told me he wanted me back, but I told him that under no circumstances would I ever want to be a step-mom. My deal-breaker has always been men with kids. I made this 150 percent clear. I couldn't have been more clear and concise about this, and he was more than fine with this. In fact, he had already discussed this with the other woman and signed away his parental rights.
Our marriage has been somewhat rocky. He didn't love me enough to ever have my back. Things are better now, but he just dropped a bomb on me. He wants to meet his daughter and possibly have a relationship with her. I quit my job and moved to another state for his career roughly 20 years ago. His career required a lot of travel, so I stayed home with the kids. I do not want this girl or her mother in my life or my children's lives. I feel like I can't stay in this marriage. I did not sign up for this. I was perfectly clear about this and now I just don't know what to do. I'm a 50-year-old woman with outdated skills.
– 150 percent clear
Here's the thing about people: Sometimes they change their minds.
You can make all the rules you want, but your husband had a child before you were back in his life. There was always a chance that his daughter would show up on her own. It was always possible that your husband would want to seek her out over time.
You asked him to promise that he'd always do what made you most comfortable, but it was all wishful thinking. Marriage involves flexibility and accepting that not all decisions are final. You have to be willing to grow with someone – and to listen.
I'm going to suggest couples therapy (no shock there), but no matter what, you should ask your husband more questions about why he wants to meet his daughter. Pay attention to his answers. Try to be empathetic and to consider how it could work, as opposed to how the whole thing might fail. Remember that he has not asked you to be a step-mom, and that it's very possible his daughter isn't looking for one. She's 20 years older now. Don't assume anything about her.
If you know you don't want to be with your husband anymore for a list of reasons, please be honest about that. If you felt more employable, would you already be out the door? If so, that's something to discuss.
Readers? Can you hold someone to a promise they made 20 years ago?