Dear Amy: For the past year, I have been dating a man who is separated from his wife. They separated shortly before we started dating, and both want a divorce. He loves his two children (11 and 13) very much, but does (fairly openly) regret having children with her.
He and I currently live together – I know we rushed this, but there were various factors (he is still paying the mortgage on his house, and all expenses. His wife doesn’t work).
His friends know about me, but his wife is barely aware of my existence/importance to him, and doesn’t know that we live together.
I’m fine with this because her knowing could make the divorce worse. Nor do I really want to interact with her.
Bluntly speaking, he is dreading starting divorce proceedings due to the nastiness that could ensue around the money/potentially selling their house.
He is not moving forward, and is very upset when I bring it up.
I am 31, and very much want to have a family (especially with him). He also echoes this and says he wants the same thing.
My concern is that the divorce will take a long time due to his fears/inaction, and thus the integration of me into his life (i.e. meeting his children) will take more time, and I’ll be too old to have a child.
I do not want to be with a married/separated man for the rest of my life.
How can I stay supportive but also stick up for myself (without nagging)?
Am I being too impatient? How does one keep faith?
– Patiently Waiting
Dear Waiting: By cohabiting, you are pushing this man’s divorce farther into the future. Because he is living with and sharing expenses with someone he also loves, he has no incentive to initiate the emotionally, legally, and financially challenging process of dissolving his marriage. Whew! What a relief for him!
I wonder where his wife and children think he lives?
I understand your stance that you’d just as soon reside in the shadows and avoid this drama, but you should also understand that your guy is telling a series of lies – lie upon lie – in order to avoid dealing with this. He is pathologically passive, paralyzed, or both.
Yes – his choice to cohabit with you could ultimately make a divorce tougher for him. Quite simply, he should not be doing it. In addition to every other negative factor, his children will feel quite betrayed when they find out. (And they will find out.)
He should seek the advice of an attorney immediately, and he should follow the attorney’s advice – step by step. And you should ask him to stay with a friend or family member until he can get things sorted out.
You might also consider the reality of having a child with someone who regrets having the children he already has – even though he loves them.
Dear Amy: We have guests that have visited us every year for 20 years.
They used to split their stay between their sister and us, but now they stay only with us. They still come out for a week, but that is too long for us.
How can I tell them that three days would work out much better than a whole week?
I remember the old saying that rings true: “Both fish and guests start to stink after three days.”
Can you suggest ways we could handle this?
– Concerned Hosts
Dear Concerned: Be honest. As hosts-with-the-most for 20 years, you’ve more than earned the right to advocate for yourselves.
Try this: “We’re really looking forward to your annual visit. Unfortunately, we need to shrink your stay with us, down to three nights. We hope you’ll still find a visit worthwhile and promise to pack in a week’s worth of visit into a shorter time. Can we make a plan?”
Dear Amy: I just wanted to tell you how much your advice comforts me, makes me smile, and just generally reassures me.
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It has also helped me reframe my “ok, boomer” mentality.
If you’re this with it, if you understand youth and culture, there is no excuse for anyone else.
Thank you for being a voice of reason.
Dear T: Thank you! I am not the heppest of hep cats (to use a phrase that really needs to be brought back), but I do scramble to keep up. Most importantly – I’m aware of my own influences, feelings and reactions from when I was young.
©2022 Amy Dickinson.
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