Extended Family

My husband and I have been happily married, or so I thought, for 23 years. We have two teenagers. Five months ago I found out he has been keeping a secret family in China for the past eight years. The strange thing is he only went to China on short business trips. That’s why I never suspected a thing.

The other woman is much younger and has given him a young son. Trouble is, my husband has now brought that family to the country where we are living. He’s supporting and spending time with them even though he comes home to me every night.

He insists I accept this family and allow him to see them as and when he likes. He feels coming home to me at night makes everything all right. He says if I cannot accept it, he’ll just leave.

I feel battered and lost. Both our kids need their dad, and my daughter is a real daddy’s girl. But I don’t know if I can hold on to our marriage in this way for long.

This is not his first affair, but definitely his worst. I’m so afraid I may not be able to handle divorce after reading so many negative things about it.

~ Rachelle

Rachelle, you could stand by your husband if he lost his leg, if he lost his business or if he committed manslaughter by driving while texting. None of those things would change your relationship to him.

But you see where this is heading, don’t you? You’ve gone from marriage, to sharing a man, to being one wife of two. It’s only a matter of time before it’s one night with you, one night with her. And worse. He is offering you a chance to be part of a clan, and in the end, he may still cast you out anyway.

This abusive partnership started the first time he cheated and got away with it. Your children don’t need a mother who models that for them. Divorce may be the only option to show your children you do not accept his adultery.

Talk to a lawyer and find out how to end this “marriage” on your terms.

~ Wayne & Tamara

Attractive Nuisance

What should I do about a son who rejects spending time with me when I visit him? I am unable to see him regularly as he lives with my ex-wife in Mexico.

My son is seven. I speak to him regularly on the phone. Because of work and my own family, I see him only once a year for two or three weeks. The last few times I’ve come to visit he says he wants to sleep over with his mom or his grandmother, not with me. He cries and does not let up.

Recently when he did that in public I gave him a few spanks to make him stop. I did not want to discipline him that way, but I felt it was the only solution available at the time. Now whenever he doesn’t want something, he starts crying.

I love him very much, but am torn. I don’t want to let my son dictate the terms of the time we spend together.

~ Enrique

Enrique, look at it from your son’s point of view. You are a stranger who shows up once a year. A flash of anger is the last thing to show him. It reinforces his desire not to be with you.

This is not a test of wills. It’s more like looking for the answer to a question. How do I become so attractive to my son he begs to spend more time with me? If you want a relationship with him, it has to be because he wants it. It has to fulfill his needs.

Be the concerned dad, so interested in his son, the boy wants to be with you and spend time with you.

~ Tamara

Column for the week of March 10, 2014

Send letters to: [email protected] , or Direct Answers, PO Box 964, Springfield MO 65801.

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