My boyfriend of three years was separated from his wife when we met.
They’re experiencing the longest divorce process, due to joint business holdings.
They have a young child whom I haven’t met, and who doesn’t know about the relationship.
I understand the need for sensitivity but I feel left out, especially over holidays.
He spent Christmas with the child and the wife, to keep "normalcy" for the child.
I often doubt the relationship, wondering whether I should find someone with whom I won't feel so left out.
You have choices.
This father also has choices, but they’re limited: He must help the child’s adjustment to parents being separated.
He must not neglect his child at holidays, when doing so can feel cold and unloving.
BUT, he must introduce you to his child as an adult “friend” whom he likes a lot.
His business matters don’t need to be settled for that to happen. Three years is long enough.
Your choices are flexible. You can recognize that this child (and possibly the ex-wife too) may be a part of your life with him for years.
You can accept that he’ll sometimes see his child without you, but you can also put your foot down about his having to include his ex without you there too (if you want to be).
You have the option of making your own plans sometimes – family, friends - knowing you have many more nights alone with your love.
Last choice: Whether you love him enough to keep having to make these choices.
My mother and step-father moved to a foreign country several years ago. She’s in poor health and barely leaves the house.
Recently my step-father said she’s been experiencing more health issues. But she doesn't want me to know.
I suggested they move back where she’d be covered by health insurance in three months.
But he says she couldn’t endure the flight, and that if she requires hospitalization she insisted he never use their home as collateral.
I think he's saying this because, if something happens to her, he doesn't want me to hold a grudge against him for not doing more.
He provides basic care but has developed a new independent life now that she's immobile.
I endured much neglect from both of them throughout my teenage years.
I never had a fair chance at education or normal life because they were always partying and held extreme views about women's role in society, etc.
I now live a comfortable life and I do very much love her despite the past.
I can’t support her, but if she lived in the same city I could help with care and be there for her emotionally, which would lift her spirits.
How can I convince her that she's not alone and needs to discuss her situation with me?
I feel responsible to do the right thing.
If at all possible, visit her.
You’ll be able to talk alone and assess her situation.
Despite the expense, it’ll assure you that you’ve learned the truth and can decide your response.
Also, she’s more likely to agree to a flight back if you’re able to accompany her.
If a visit is impossible, speak to her doctor. Insist that your step-father provide necessary contacts.
Then tell your mother what you’ve learned.
Also, call one or two friends and ask general questions about her state, without showing suspicions about your step-father’s care or lifestyle.
FEEDBACK Regarding the “Mom in Pain” because of her drug-addicted son (November 30):
Reader – “My son’s mentally ill and we don’t know where he is, having tried everything to find him. He refuses treatment.
“Family, various professionals and friends, all give well-meaning but unwanted advice that assumes I could’ve done more, or need more education on his condition.
“They need to realize that we don’t want their assumptions and blame, it cuts like a knife.
“Our son was a normal, well-educated young man with a very good career, a car, and many friends until he hit his 20s.
“Then he lost everything and now lives far away.
“There’s a tendency to blame the parents and perhaps this mom in pain is feeling it too.
“There’s no closure for us. Perhaps more understanding of our grief and respect for our feeling is warranted.
“Unless you’ve been there, you don't know.”
Tip of the day:
Divorce proceedings don’t preclude treating your girlfriend with the same respect you treat your child and ex.