- This topic has 60 replies, 3 voices, and was last updated 11 months, 3 weeks ago by SM.
OwenOctober 8, 2022 at 3:29 am #1116401
My partner and I have been together a few years and it seemed early on that marriage was on the cards. We’re both in our forties and I have been married previously (I have two children too). After we moved in together we decided to try for a baby, first time we conceived, we’d spoken about marriage before so I proposed and she cried and said yes.
Thirty weeks into the pregnancy my partner was starting to not feel well. We assumed it was the pregnancy but then a lump appeared, 32 weeks pregnant she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Our child was born early and is a very healthy six month old now. My partner started treatment and it’s starting to shrink the cancer. This obviously has us in a more positive place. But a week or two ago, I talked about getting a joint will for if anything were to happen to the two of us at the same time and where our daughter would live. She then said “I need to do my own will so that our daughter lives with my parents” I was completely taken a back. I am an excellent dad. My kids from my previous marriage and I are so close and our daughter and I already have a really special bond. But she doesn’t think I can raise our daughter. Obviously this hurt me greatly so I said “it doesn’t matter what your will says on that, I’m her father with parental responsibility I’ll challenge it in court as I’m not losing my wife and daughter at the same time” that’s when she said “I don’t want to get married, you get too much benefit from my death if I die before you”. I asked what she meant, she said that I can get all her life Insurance, pensions etc and that our daughter and her parents would get nothing.
I showed her my will I had written up after we conceived (I’m nearing the age of my dad when died) my will shows that my life Insurance goes to her 100%, my death in service is split three ways between the children and she gets my pensions.
She doesn’t intend on me being in her Will at all. Basically I’ll get our house but everything else will be split between our daughter and her parents.
This is why she no longer wants to marry me.
I’ve had one of the hardest years of my life, I sat in a hospital with my fiancée in one ward not knowing whether she was going to survive or not, and my daughter in another ward fighting to breath. I honestly thought I was going to lose them both. But not at anytime was I thinking about any inheritance all I could think about was not seeing the woman I love ever again.
For the first two months of our baby’s life I wasn’t able to see my other children as ours was too weak to outside germs. This broke my heart not seeing them, but I love my fiancée and our daughter so I had to do it.
I’ve tried asking her about the marriage thing as the reason I wanted to get married was because I am in love with her and want to spend my life with her and have a family together.
How can I continue this relationship if she actually doesn’t want me to have our daughter? Or marry me? Or even want the best for me should the worst happen?
Your fiancée has stage 4 cancer and just became a mother, and I can’t imagine what she’s going through emotionally.
And it sounds like she does have doubts about your ability to parent on your own. Have you had a real, honest conversation with her about why she feels that way?
Seriously, this part is very concerning:
“I said “it doesn’t matter what your will says on that, I’m her father with parental responsibility I’ll challenge it in court as I’m not losing my wife and daughter at the same time” that’s when she said “I don’t want to get married, you get too much benefit from my death if I die before you”. I asked what she meant, she said that I can get all her life Insurance, pensions etc and that our daughter and her parents would get nothing.”
That’s not normal. That doesn’t sound like a conversation that would happen in a loving and trusting relationship. Unless she’s on some medication that makes her paranoid, it sounds like she doesn’t trust you. She’s looking out for her daughter and doesn’t seem to think you’d do what’s best for your child. That’s strange. I have to think there’s more going on here.
Your threat there was weird too. Like why would you go right to threatening her rather than trying to get to the bottom of her fears?
Also, seems kind of disingenuous to bring up the idea of a joint will in case something happens to you both at the same time, when she’s the one with a life-threatening illness right now. Why would you need a “joint will” when you can each say in your own will what you want to happen if the other partner were to pass away. She (realistically) is only thinking about the scenario where she’s gone and you’re still around. And in that scenario she wants your daughter’s grandparents to take her. I really think you need to get to why she feels that way. You immediately went to, “I’m an excellent parent.” Okay, but why is your partner’s view on that not matching up with yours?
Agree with Kate. The content and tone of your response to her when she said that her will specifies that your daughter would go to her parents upon her death is weird. but so is her saying that she doesn’t want you raising your daughter. Something is going on here and it may be a combination of her postpartum hormones plus her cancer side effects (both physical and emotional) or there may be something between you that you aren’t articulating in your letter here. Either way, it sounds like you need some open, honest conversations and maybe the help and guidance of a professional – ideally a therapist who specializes in trauma responses, chronic illness, and/or couples counseling.AnonymousseOctober 8, 2022 at 9:45 am #1116419
I agree with Kate and Wendy. I can imagine many scenarios where maybe her parents would be better. Maybe financially, maybe because you have kids and a lot on your plate already, maybe something else, maybe something completely irrational that she just feels. A lot of people say things on the top of their mind, and not necessarily are making a pronouncement or ruling on something forever. It’s just an idea they are presenting. But to meet her comment with a threat of your own is really weird, and might be why she’d rather her parents raise her kids. If you go immediately to threats with her, an adult facing mortality, incredible pain and a new baby she’ll never see grow up, maybe she has reason to believe you’re a bit too stern or a heavy hand with discipline, or maybe none of those things. There’s a lot of emotions going on and that not even considering the hormones and drugs that could be affecting her.
I’ve never had cancer, but I’ve had babies and been very, very ill where I was not at all facing death but I thought I was. Unless you even try to put yourself in her shoes a tiny bit and meet her with empathy and try to understand what she’s saying, and feeling -you’re going to actually be having a contentious battle, and you don’t want that. Or maybe you do? If you love her and want to marry her, put aside the threats and talk to her.AnonymousseOctober 8, 2022 at 9:55 am #1116420
Also, I understand what you are saying about her will, but why would you be talking about a joint will when she’s a actually facing death? That’s cold. You’re presumedly healthy.
I understand you don’t understand why she doesn’t trust you but that’s a fundamental relationship problem that you need to discuss with her or both of you with a therapist, because we can’t tell you why she doesn’t want you to raise your new baby.
It seems there’s a big gap between what you feel and what you say, and what she still feels for you, possibly.
Are you a good father? I’m not trying to be tough, but something doesn’t add up here.FyodorOctober 8, 2022 at 12:47 pm #1116421
This whole “you did not respond with perfect equanimity when your partner said you were an unfit parent and that she was going to try to deny you custody of your child is PROOF that you are an unfit parent” is just I think pretty unfair given the circumstances and what is a pretty shocking revelation.
It’s not her private unilateral decision about what happens to their child-he has rights and obligations legally and morally. I could see how having something presented to him this way would provoke a lot of people to respond as he did, even if it’s not the solution-oriented response. If I were told this in his circumstance, I don’t know how I would respond, but I think that at least some part of my response would include that no, that’s not a simply not a decision you can make on your own, and it’s not something I’d abide by.
So to answer your question, OP, I do not know why your wife has made these decisions. It may be that she finds the thought of her child having her own family around to be comforting as her life may potentially end. It may be that she feels that you are not capable of taking on the responsibility of being a single parent. She is facing a potentially life ending illness and may be understandably angry and bitter about it and is taking it out on you. This may be her way of exerting control over circumstances. It may be that your relationship with her has been good during good times but she has not gotten the support she needs from you during a time of crisis.
So OP, some questions for you.
1. Are you and your partner currently living together? Are you raising your child together on a daily basis?
2. Are you capable of raising a child on your own? Do you have the support systems in place? What would you do with the kid when you are at work. You need to be engage in a brutally honest fashion with yourself. Having custody of a baby is not something that you do to validate your worth. Being a “great dad” when someone else is the primary custodial parent is very different than being a sole caretaker of a baby.
So first, I would suggest you and your partner speak to a counselor. You are going through some extraordinary circumstances right now and not equipped to handle it on your own. Doing so may allow you to reach a better understanding of where your girlfriend is coming from and possibly reach some compromise on your issues.
I would also speak to a family law attorney about your rights and obligations with respect to the kid. To the extent that you have after significant reflection, determined that you wish to challenge whatever custody arrangements your fiance is making, you should be as well informed as possible. That doesn’t mean that you send your dying wife threatening letters but you need to know the lay of the land. There may be options for trying to formalize arrangements now. It may be that some kind of joint custody or other arrangement that is satisfactory to everyone is possible. But you need to talk to someone who knows what they’re doing and has navigated these kinds of fraught situations before. A good attorney may also have practical advice beyond legal options from seeing these situations play out previously. I wish @guy-friday still participated regularly, as he I think has dealt with custody situations in the past.FyodorOctober 8, 2022 at 12:51 pm #1116423
This paragraph should read
“[It may be that] She is facing a potentially life ending illness and may be understandably angry and bitter about it and is taking it out on you.”
It’s really really weird that she doesn’t want him raising their child. I can’t imagine that came out of nowhere. If it was totally out of the blue, I’d think he’d be more like “WHOA, what are you talking about?!” than “well, it doesn’t matter what you want, I will have custody.”
There’s more going on here.ronOctober 8, 2022 at 2:50 pm #1116429
Like Fyodor, I find it strange that everyone else is coming down on the side that since the fiance is behaving in a strange and seemingly unhealthy way, then the OP must be somehow at fault. Nothing in what was written sends me in that direction.
I don’t see why a joint will strikes others as terribly strange. This is (was) an engaged couple who are co-parenting a 6-months old child. A joint will would provide for child’s future and define who is to parent the child if both parents die. Totally normal. When LW proposed this, he had no inkling that his fiance would break engagement and try to give their daughter to her parents.
What would be a normal disposition of her financial resources after her death would be to leave all of her assets in trust for the daughter. What isn’t explained is leaving half her estate to her parents.
The mention of pensions is strange, although perhaps the OP and his fiance are Americans. Also, not sure what forty-something people mean by ‘pensions’. In my experience, a pension (as in a fixed monthly or annual payment post-retirement or death) can be paid to a spouse, but not to a parent and generally not to a child. If by ‘pension’ she means a 401K, IRA or similar, of course that can be left to her parents or child.
Just guessing, but I think her parents are the instigators of this. I can think of a variety of reasons: they never liked OP, they fear their contact with granddaughter will be reduced if OP remarries, they intend for grandchild to take their family name and that is required for name to continue, they are different religion than OP, they just want their daughters $.
The person behaving very strangely is the fiance. She is a middle-aged adult who decided to marry OP, had a planned child with him, was co-parenting, and OP was there and took charge when his fiance and child were both in hospital. He seems genuinely clueless why she has done this sudden 180 on their relationship.
I think it imperative that OP talk to an attorney ASAP. The danger is that fiance’s parents swoop in as soon as she dies and take the child, even disappearing with her, before OP can enforce his parental rights.
I have trouble seeing the grandparents as preferable parents over the child’s father. Given daughter’s age, they likely are mid-60s. That’s quite old to be parenting a 6-month old child. Seems unfair to the child.