Child comes first when relationships change [Ellie]

Question: When I left my husband in 2008, our son, 22, was living on his own, and our daughter, 12, was at home. My husband and I had met a kind man (as a friend), then I saw him again two years later and we started to talk on the phone.

After yet another fight with my husband, I cracked and ran to my friend. I didn’t come home. My husband then started his smear campaign against my new relationship and me.

I left my daughter with him, thinking it was better for her to continue at the same school. But she disapproves (of course) of my new relationship.

She wants me to leave him, and that she and I get a place together. I’m in love with this man. I struggle everyday with whether or not it’s a matter of choosing one or the other.

When I visit my daughter and ex-husband they seem happy without me now. Only when they have a disagreement, or my ex won’t buy her something, does she call me.

What to Do?

Answer: She’s asking you to be her mom again. Frankly, there’s no choice between a child and a new lover. Get a place for her and you. If this man is the right one for you, he’ll understand, and build a deeper relationship with you while respecting your daughter’s well-being. You can still see each other; stay together when she spends time with her father.

But she’s at the most vulnerable age for learning how to be responsible, to make good choices herself, and to not use her sexuality as a trade for attention and quick comfort. You’re the role model, Mom — running right into the arms of someone who’s practically a stranger to her, as well as a competitor, is neither smart nor a decent example.

She looks happy with her dad because you left her there and she’s got to adapt. But she wants you.

Question: My husband and I are from the same culture. I had a great job but had to quit, as we had to move for his work.

The first week of our marriage (after several years together) he was completely different. It’s his old-fashioned mentality. He physically and verbally abused me.

After having my first baby, I went to college. He doesn’t do anything in the house. He has no regard for my feelings, no respect for me as a wife or a mother.

I’ve been treated by therapists for severe depression for two years. I have no family here, no close friends, so I still live with abusive language to me and to his kids.

I don’t want to leave them alone with him. He won’t go to counselling with me.

Is there any way to resolve our problem? Should I leave him? What’s the legal advice I should get, to protect us?

Abused and Miserable

Answer: See a lawyer privately, and learn your rights and financial position. Ask for help, too, in making a safe plan to find accommodation and work, and take the kids with you should you decide to leave.

Meanwhile, consider suggesting that you both talk to someone he respects in your culture, perhaps a faith leader. Despite “old-fashioned” ways, most community leaders are aware that physical abuse of wives is illegal in this culture, and that you could have him criminally charged.

Or, if you fear his reaction, discuss with the lawyer how to safely involve the police if he harms you again.

TIP OF THE DAY

Loving someone new should never have to mean giving up a child.

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