I was secretly unhappy in my marriage for years. I got involved with someone, my ex found out, and we separated.
We share 50/50 custody of our three young children. I see him almost daily. He’s still close with my family.
It's been over a year since we separated. I told him in an email that I began seeing someone. I was told to keep him away from our kids, as he couldn't trust my ability to judge character.
I'm still with this guy. How much influence and control do I give my ex in this matter?
I constantly feel guilty (from my ex and my family) for trying to move on. My family isn't ready to meet the new guy as they’re still trying to remain "neutral."
Even though my ex knows there's no chance of getting back together, he hasn’t started dating.
Talking to him is very difficult. We barely converse for any reason other than the children.
I want to include this new person in my life. I’d never introduce him to my children as anything other than a friend to them. He’d be treated by me the same way I’d treat a girlfriend when they’re around.
What’s the best way to proceed? I separated for a reason.
Guilty and Controlled
Forget guilt and learn how to proceed confidently but responsibly. You had solid reasons for separating, that’s fine. But you set yourself up badly… by cheating to end the marriage instead of walking away (unfortunately, it’s common). And by announcing a boyfriend by email to your already resistant ex.
Talk to your lawyer. He’ll spell out exactly how much influence the kids’ father has as a 50/50 partner, regarding others’ involvements with them.
Ultimately, you’re entitled of course to have a relationship, but there are some restrictions he can impose, and you need to know them.
More important, recognize that your three youngsters have already been through upheaval, are sensitive beings, and can tell the difference between your girlfriends and a new man on the scene.
So no matter your legal rights, proceed slowly. There’s enough time for you on your own, with fully shared custody, not to need to bring him into their lives in a rush.
Post-divorce family counselling might also help everyone adjust to the realities of moving on.
I’ve been in a five-year relationship with my boyfriend and my family’s still against it. Actually, my dad and brother don't even know about it (I'm planning on telling my brother soon).
My mom and sisters claim that they’ll not be involved in my life if I choose to marry him.
Ellie, I love him. He’s the most caring, respectful, and loving man I ever met. He gets me; he makes me want to be better.
We went to high school and university together. We're graduating this year and both going to graduate school.
My family wants me to marry an Assyrian because they’re so nationalistic they can't think straight. He isn't Assyrian. That is the ONLY reason.
I'm torn because I love my family. There’s no way I can choose.
Distraught in Love
Consider how marrying “out” has been treated within your family’s community… will they truly cut you off? Is there any likelihood of your being punished physically?
Then talk to a counselor (through student services). Probe your own ability to live estranged from your family long-term (change sometimes comes when grandchildren are born).
Sometimes, star-crossed love increases desire because of the drama. Be sure you can handle the repercussions.
Our longtime friend, 27, hasn't been in school or worked for six years. He plays online poker, and researches diets and health plans.
He lives with his parents who consider him a bum. He’d left University because he thought third year would be too hard. He wanted more time for online poker.
He usually sleeps all day. But he's always fun when he hangs out every few weekends.
We want him to get his life together. He’ll mention returning to school or getting a job, then defends his recluse lifestyle, saying work isn't for everyone and he’s not taking government handouts.
What should we do (if anything)?
He’s addicted to online poker, possibly also suffering some mental illness/depression. He cares about health so urge/accompany him to get a medical check.
If clear, consider an intervention. This requires planning, goals, and ongoing support. Get informed through a professional counselor.
Tip of the day:
Shared custody requires trying to stay respectful, but neither controlling nor controlled.