Daddy issues

Joey Garcia

My boyfriend has a child with a woman he never married. She never wanted him in his daughter’s life except to pay child support. Now that my boyfriend and I are together and heading toward marriage, this woman calls him day and night to tell him stories about his daughter. He is having a difficult time because he loves that little girl, but he never got together with the child’s mother because she is a freak. She would sit in her car for hours outside his job or his house and wait for him, even though they had no scheduled plans. She was real emotional and scary, too. He’s afraid that she will turn on him again. What should we do?

Start with a paternity test. When it proves that your boyfriend is the child’s father, he can hire an attorney, head to court with copies of past child support checks and ask for joint custody. Yes, it does mean that your man’s baby mama will remain in your lives. But if she acts out inappropriately and your man reports it promptly, there will be consequences that may allow your boyfriend more time with his child. The child’s mother could also receive court-mandated psychological counseling to help her understand why she behaves as she does and how to change. This can help her become a healthier adult and better parent. And that would be a sweet gift for that little girl, wouldn’t it?

Of course, you need to change, too. You are in love with a man who has a deep history. Embrace it. If you don’t, your worry or jealousy will destroy the relationship you treasure. Most importantly, never say anything that would cause that child to question her love for her mama. Parents are not perfect, we know, but let her arrive at this reality on her own. Focus on serving as cheerleader and listening ear for your boyfriend before easing into the step-mama role. Don’t interfere, though. Your man needs to make all of the decisions concerning this situation on his own. That way, he will always be confident that he did the right thing.

After seven years of marriage, my husband wants a divorce because he says I am not the woman I was when he fell in love with me. While it’s true that I have changed, I really think I am a better person now and I am shocked by his intention to divorce me. I always believed that people should change. I feel betrayed by my husband and by my own expectations. I don’t know what to do or believe anymore and really need some guidance.

Let’s put your situation in a 21st-century context. Most people marry under the spell of infatuation, so they are blind to the traits, needs or limits of the person they wed. Instead, they construct an image of a person who fulfills their own needs and fantasies, project that image onto their partner and marry the image. When a real person emerges from beneath the illusion, it is a shock. At that point, the choices are simple: either cling to the illusion and divorce, or learn to love the person you actually married. Your husband prefers his illusion.

And you? Did you present yourself to your husband as someone who you thought he could love? Or did you simply grow into being more of yourself over the years of your marriage? Only you can answer these questions, but doing so honestly is the only honorable path into your future. If your changes were organic, leaving you feeling more authentic now, trust the way your life is unfolding. You are being guided into more delicious possibilities.

Meditation of the week
“It’s when we’re given choice that we sit with the gods and design ourselves,” wrote Dorothy Gilman, author of spy thrillers and mysteries. Did you turn out the way you expected?

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