Again: Former letter writers, I think it's time for some updates. If you wrote a letter, please email and tell us what happened. We love closure. Send updates to [email protected] with "update" in the subject line. Send updates even if you wrote in a long, long time ago.
I'm a reader on the West Coast. I've been with someone for almost five years, and when I met him, he had a 2-year-old child from a divorce who lived out of state. The mother/ex-wife has made it very difficult for him to have any contact with his child out of spite, although he is loving, contributes, and wants to be actively engaged with his child.
My question is: how long should I wait before I'm introduced to his daughter and/or his ex-wife? This is a delicate scenario because they are just barely coming to a place where they can communicate cordially and more frequently. He essentially ended his marriage because his ex was supposedly nude modeling on social media more than he could agree to, and she was half his age. When he calls his daughter on FaceTime, he makes me hide like I'm not there.
After two years of patience, I thought things might change, but it is going on almost five years. When I had a heart-to-heart with him about feeling disrespected and unworthy of knowing his family, he blew up at me and told me he did not care about my feelings, he only cares about his daughter's, and that she is too young to understand my involvement. He won't acknowledge our relationship on social media because of all of this. Mind you, his ex-wife has had at least 10 different boyfriends around his daughter by now, and we were engaged as of last February.
Today I said I was done waiting. I'm a young, usually optimistic, beautiful 42-year-old woman, and he's lived with me and my three teenage children and been involved and their lives all this time, but he is not reciprocating. I openly involve him in my co-parenting discussions with my ex-husband, and I've even tried to lend him advice on getting partial custody or regular visitations, but that is met with total disdain. I don't know how many women would put up with this disregard, but I have because I love him. I should never have to hide from anyone and I really feel his daughter would understand. He swears he is over his ex-wife, but why else would he do all of this tiptoeing for her instead of acknowledging me?
My advice is to see a family therapist, some kind of counselor who specializes in divorce, kids, and blending loved ones. These therapists are available via Telehealth right now. Tell your partner it's time to get professional help.
I can't tell you why he thinks it's wise to keep this secret. It will not be easy when he has to explain to his ex and daughter that he's known you for half a decade. (That detail will become clear, without a doubt.) Also, let's consider what your kids are learning from this. They know he has a child, right? Have they asked why they've never met the other people in his life?
It would help to know the terms of his divorce and how your presence might affect his visits with his kid. But again, all of these details will be easier to talk about with a third party present. Make it clear that you intend to make an appointment soon because you've hit a wall. You both need guidance and a plan.
I don't know that I'd assume he still has feelings for his ex, by the way. Some people work very hard to avoid any kind of conflict, and in an effort to prevent difficult discussions, they wind up creating so many more problems. It doesn't mean he wants her back. Try not to jump to any conclusions.
Readers? Why hide?