A month later I unexpectedly got pregnant and unfortunately miscarried eight weeks later. After the miscarriage I found out he was talking to women he doesn’t know on Snapchat. I forgave him for a stupid mistake and he’s done everything to prove that I’m more important. But since the miscarriage we’ve been going through a rough patch. He isn’t sure being a stepdad is what he wants in life. He says he doesn’t want biological children of his own, which I’m fine with; I don’t want any more children either.
We love each other very much, and two months of a limbo state of what’s happening in our relationship has been driving me crazy. He says he isn’t sure if we have a future. He misses his best friends, too. I told him that if he felt like he needed his own time that he could have it. We do everything together other than work and going to classes. But I don’t have many friends to do things with, so I can’t just go out, plus I have my children. I told him he can have his space if need be, but I’m not sure if that’s enough for him. I just don’t understand how he was always fine with the idea of our being a family, having talked about our plans for the future being marriage, and then its suddenly changing. I just need some advice from a unbiased mind. — Tired of This Limbo
When you say he was “always fine with the idea of our being a family,” how long is “always” really? You’ve been together only a year and a half, and he didn’t even know your children for the first six months (which is a good move, by the way). After six months, you introduced him to your oldest kid, so that’s a year — and you don’t say when you introduced your younger two children to him — just a year in which he even had a clue what being around your kids was like. When you look at the time that you’ve actually been living like a family — six months, the last three of which has been a “rough period” for your relationship — the time of living happily as a family is reduced even further. Basically, you all lived together three months before he expressed that maybe this lifestyle wasn’t for him after all. And those three months followed only a handful of months that he even knew your kids. When you look at it that way — when you look at the actual timeline of your relationship, the “always” part of always being “fine with the idea of us being a family,” isn’t so impressive.
The truth is, he was fine with an IDEA, and when he began living the actual reality of life as a family with three young children, he realized he wasn’t so fine with it. I mean, the baseline we’re looking at here — how he felt about the idea wasn’t even great or excited or happy; he was “fine.” That was the baseline you started with. It’s really not such a big surprise that in three months’ time, he went from being “fine” with an idea to being unhappy with the lived reality. It’s not a surprise and it’s not confusing. He changed his mind. It happens ALL the time. People change their minds. They particularly change their minds about situations that are much harder than they had any idea they would be – situations like raising three young children.
I’m sorry to be the bearer of this bad news, but your relationship simply is not going to work out. No amount of love between you is going to change the fact that your boyfriend doesn’t want kids and isn’t ready — and may never be ready — to be a stepdad. You need to let him go. And in the future, you have to be much more protective of your children. To go from living with their father to living with another man in one year’s time has to be a little tumultuous. In the future, only move your children in with someone who has spent extensive time with them over the course of not a handful of months but rather a year or two at least. Don’t move your kids in with someone who has no experience with children, who does not fully understand the reality of raising children (either through raising his own children or through lots and lots of time with your children).
You need to end your relationship, and, rather than begin looking for a replacement partner, spend some time cultivating a relationship with yourself and building a circle of friends. It’s speaks volumes that you don’t have a friend you could call up to hang out with. That’s not healthy. We need friends. We each need a social life. We can’t depend on a romantic partner to meet all our social and emotional needs. For one thing, it puts a lot of pressure on you to find and accelerate a romantic partnership rather than let it take a slower, more organic pace. For another thing, you don’t have trusted individuals who care about you and your well-being acting as a sounding board and giving emotional support when you are making huge life decisions like moving your new-ish boyfriend in with your three young kids six months after finalizing your divorce and moving into your own place. A solid good friend would have/should have said, “Hey now, maybe take another year to let this develop a little more, and let the fall-out from the divorce and the move settle a bit, at least for your kids.” You need that friend. You need that friend a whole hell of a lot more than you need a boyfriend. I hope, for your sake and for your kids’ sake, you will focus on finding and building that kind of relationship in your life.
When I told my friends, they couldn’t believe my luck (!). Although I consider myself to be fairly good looking, Ally is beautiful. The problem was (and is) that I didn’t find her sexy. There was no chemistry. But because she is pretty, she is a lovely person, and we have a lot in common, and because my friends told me I’d be crazy not to, I gave it a shot. Long story short, we got on well (and still do) and started dating. Before long, we moved in together and were engaged in 2016. Although the chemistry never really materialzed, we had an ok sex life and all other aspects of our relationship were pretty good.
Shortly before our engagement, I started working more closely with a colleague a few years younger (Anna). Anna is very good-looking, and, although she was also engaged, there was immediate chemistry. She is sexy and funny, and as we have gotten to know each other, I realise Anna and I have more in common than Ally and I do. I’ve spent quite a lot of time with Anna on sales visits, and I feel like I know her better than most of my friends.
I kept these feelings to myself for a long time and so did Anna. Unfortunately, a month before my wedding, we went on a sales trip and ended up getting drunk together in the evening. I found out she had the same feelings for me and we kissed. Nothing else happened that night, and we didn’t speak about it too much. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it even though I was due to be married in four weeks. I didn’t say anything to Ally and we went through with the wedding, having a great day with our friends and family.
After our honeymoon, I returned to the office (and Anna). The feelings I had before returned and she confessed she hadn’t stopped thinking about me. We had several international sales visits lined up, and not long after being back, we slept together on one of these. This was really the beginning of an affair, and as well as seeing each other at work, we were constantly messaging each other on the evenings and weekends, and meeting up where we could.
It is now seven months since Anna and I have been seeing each other, and she has just ended it with her fiancé. She wants me to leave Ally and start a new life with her, or she is going to end what we have. I can’t bear the thought of it ending, but leaving Ally will absolutely destroy her, as well as causing tremendous pain to both our families. I can’t fault Ally as a person – she is incredibly kind, caring, and thoughtful, and she has done literally nothing wrong. She is also quite fragile, and ending it will undoubtedly cause irreversible damage.
What should I do? I could stay with Ally, let Anna go, and try my best to make my relatively new marriage work.
Or I could gamble on someone who might be better for me, perhaps even my soulmate. But in doing so, hurt someone I do still love and who only 9 months ago I promised to love and protect forever…
Please help me. — Should I Gamble?
If you really loved Ally and wanted to protect her, you wouldn’t have married her knowing you weren’t sexually attracted to her and that you had feelings for someone else. You were selfish and you were cowardly. And now all of you — you, Anna, and especially Ally will pay a far bigger price than if you’d been honest months ago BEFORE your wedding and before starting your affair.
You think you have a choice — you presented your options as if they are equal, worthy of weighing on a scale to determine which has better cost benefits. The truth is, you don’t have a choice. You stay with Ally and you and she will be unhappy for as long as your marriage lasts. The cancer that has developed in your relationship, which she may have already noticed the symptoms of, will only continue growing, the cells multiplying, and will create a resentment between the two of you that will never go away.
The best way you can “protect” your wife from a life of unhappiness, betrayal, and lies is to be honest now and let her go. Whether or not you “gamble on someone who might be better for you,” is irrelevant, honestly. Your feelings for Anna aren’t related to your feelings for Ally, except that it took the adoration of another woman for you to admit your dissatisfaction with the relationship you were about to commit yourself to. Nothing you say indicates Anna is the right match for you (maybe she is, maybe she isn’t); but everything you’ve said indicates that Ally is not. And that is what you should focus on right now — finally being honest with yourself and with her about this sad truth and about the heartbreaking mistake you made to pursue a lifelong commitment with someone you were never really in love with. Yes, it will be incredibly painful for Ally. That doesn’t mean she shouldn’t know. Living a lie with you would be far more painful in the long run, and you owe it to her to spare her that fate.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.