When I met my on-off boyfriend of nine years, he helped me leave a very abusive relationship, which I’d been trying to flee for years.
I was also struggling with mental illness/addiction and on a self-destructive path.
However, he’s still married to his ex. They’re legally separated and haven’t been together for years.
We now have two children together. He keeps promising to clear up his divorce and gave me an engagement ring.
But I know that he may never finalize his divorce. He’s self-employed and hasn't dealt with tax issues, which he lied to me about.
When I ask why he hasn't finalized things, I never get a clear answer. I think it’s related to proving his income.
I feel like a fool because I love him.
He's also lied about his age which I discovered when we travelled together.
He’s 20 years older than me and we can never have a future because he has bad debts.
I want to move on but don't feel able to manage on my own. I feel depressed and trapped, longing for a real life.
He hides me from friends and family. I feel that my children and I are invisible.
He rescued you when most needed, and you love him, which makes it hard to confront the negatives.
But you need to learn whether, in your jurisdiction, there are common-law benefits to you – especially child support and help with accommodation - despite his not being divorced, should you leave him or he dies.
Tell him that you and the children can’t be left with nothing. If he won’t divorce, he needs to write a will leaving you whatever he can – home, any private savings, etc. But make sure you’re also not left with his personal debts.
If you decide that you must leave him, get advice from a local YWCA or Family Services Association that helps single moms find housing and gives emotional support.
Dear Readers – I was rightly taken to task by a reader who objected to the short response I gave to a teenager struggling with how to tell parents about being bisexual. (June 9).
I was caught out having hurried to finish a column and only having limited space left. But that’s a poor excuse.
So here’s a much-needed fuller response:
"I’m 18 and unsure how to come out to my family as bisexual. I feel very overwhelmed emotionally and physically.”
The organization PFLAG can help both you and your parents. Formerly known as Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, in the United States, it’s billed as “the largest organization for parents, families, friends, and allies united with people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer.”
PFLAG Canada volunteers are also experienced at hearing from frightened adolescents and teens, and from their parents, who may be fearful, angry, ashamed, or just needing more understanding. Call 1-888-530-6777.
Another helpful resource is through Kids Help Phone for teens (1-800-668-6868).
Also, through the website www.safeteens.org you can find tips directed to your age and situation, as well as support groups.
You should also know that, if you need backup and have access to a school counsellor or your family doctor, they or even a trusted family friend may help you talk to your parents.
You obviously care greatly about your family indicating that they have always cared about you.
If your relationship’s been good, say how much you need their support, and explain what you can.
FEEDBACK Regarding the husband who lies and embarrasses his “Tired Wife” (June 5):
Reader – “She’s so unhappy that counselling isn’t going to help.
“I felt the same way about my life, and said I had enough and was leaving after 25 years of marriage.
“That was 20 years ago. I’m 64 now, still single but HAPPY. I worked things out with our families and they understand now.
“They didn't then, but I had to get out for my own sanity and have never regretted my decision.
“Please tell that poor woman to get out and enjoy living!”
Ellie – It may be helpful for her to hear your experience. However, she’s 20 years older than you were when you left, and said she likes the lifestyle they have together.
So she was conflicted. I believe counselling can clarify such decisions, and either give her the confidence she needs to leave or, less likely, get her husband to change his behaviour.
Tip of the day:
Don’t let gratitude obscure your need to secure your children’s future.