I thought I was his first wife

Joey Garcia

My husband and I have been married for five years, happily I thought. Yesterday I received a phone call from a woman demanding that my husband pay child support for his daughter, now 11. I told her that she must have the wrong number because my husband has never been married before. She said she’s his second ex-wife! I asked her to give me a week to straighten things out and, praise God, she agreed. I need to confront my husband, but I am so hurt and angry over being betrayed. He never mentioned any previous marriages or children to me, but after her call I went through the bank records from our first married year together and discovered that he did pay child support for a while. Please help me. I love this man and at my age (55 years old), it’s not easy to find someone. I am lucky to have anyone at all.

If you love him, there’s only one thing to do. Look yourself in the eye and demand to know why you didn’t ask him detailed questions about his past back when the two of you were dating. Here’s a hint: it wasn’t the euphoria of attraction. Nor was it the perfection of the relationship. It was likely this: you believed yourself so lucky to find anyone that cooperating in lies of omission was better than discovering something that might end the relationship. So you probably denied the tiny signals within yourself that warned you that something was amiss. When you did, you were betraying yourself, but it wasn’t the first time. The self-betrayal began when you told yourself that you were lucky to have anyone. In that moment you diminished yourself and your vision of relationship.

Once you have accepted responsibility for your part in this drama, you will be able to talk to your husband in a more balanced manner. Tell him about the phone call and how it felt to receive it. Ask him why he did not tell you and let him know that his entire history is important to you, because he is important to you. Share your desire to repair the trust between you. Discuss how to create an environment that supports truth and trust. Then open your home to his daughter and do whatever is necessary to pay back the child support.

My brother mooches off my mother and I’m sick of it. He is 44 years old and has never kept a job for long. She is always rescuing him by giving him money between paychecks, giving him jobs in the family business (which he always screws up) and letting him live with her when one of his girlfriends kicks him out. I don’t want to be a Scrooge, but I need my brother to become a responsible, working adult like everybody else. Any ideas?

Do you need your brother to change or do you want him to? Here’s a suggestion: don’t make your brother’s recovery a condition of your happiness. It only guarantees your misery. After all, if your brother is coming home just for mommy to kiss his boos-boos and hand him an allowance, he’s obviously emotionally unhealthy. So is your mother. They’re in this disease together and they relish the benefits. From their perspective, you’re just meddling or misunderstanding the situation. So say nothing to them. Talk to yourself. Ask yourself why it’s OK for you to rescue your mother, but not OK for her to rescue your brother. That’s a good one, isn’t it? When you stop chuckling, call a family therapist to help the three of you sort things out.

Meditation of the week
I was delighted by a message left on my voice mail by a reader of this column. “We’re here to learn how to love more deeply,” said the male caller, “to love with the spirit of our Creator.” Amen, I thought. The true definition of perfection is to love fully. Have you prepared yourself to give and receive perfection in 2002?

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