Dear Ellie: My husband and I have been a very close, loving couple for more than 20 years.
When we started dating, he told me that he’d been in a sudden whirlwind romance when he was 19 and living in another country for university.
The marriage didn’t last two years because he recognized it was a mistake and got divorced. However, he had a son and paid child support for him.
I never met his son, who’s now around age 30. But the stories of their occasional meetings were enough to convince me not to get involved.
It was obvious from what my husband told me about the mother and conversations with her, that she’d told her son that his father was rich. That’s not true. He’s a hard-working man, I also work, we live in a rented apartment.
When the boy was a teenager, his mother insisted his father host him at a hotel, which my husband paid for. They spent a week seeing our city together, with my husband frequently urged to buy clothing and other items for his son.
Later, the boy told my husband they were all “gifts for his friends!”
Now, there’s renewed pressure from the mother and son for my husband to visit in their country. My husband’s asked me to go along, but I’ve said it’s not my place to be there. I was never involved with these people before and feel that being in their midst could become a big problem for me, and for my husband, too.
What do you advise?
Fearing His Ex-Wife
Your husband needs your moral support for his seeing his son and defining the realities of their relationship. But you don’t need to be with him, which could be a negative factor from the mother’s perspective.
Instead, communicate daily to help your husband assess what son and mother want and expect, and whether he needs legal help to deal with them.
They seem determined to find ongoing support means, despite his son’s adult age and no mention of reasons for his not being independent.
Your husband will also likely need information defining when, in their country, financial support is required.
Stay closely connected online with your husband during this “family” matter, and carefully research any financial and legal obligations presented to him. You’ll stay strong together, because there are (and must be) no secrets.
Dear Ellie: I’m a woman learning to define myself somewhere between being separated and getting divorced.
I can never again trust my husband regarding his “single” life, though I trust him regarding our two children, since he’s always been a very good father.
We were married for eight years, and in the latter three or four, he announced he’d be out a couple nights a week because he needed the “stimulation” of socializing with his male colleagues from work.
I was surprised that two of those guys were also married fathers. Didn’t their wives, like me, mind being left home alone when our kids were pretty young?
How do I now try online dating when I don’t know my own “status”?
Be truthful. You’re separated from your husband, and interested in meeingt new men for dating.
The story about his male colleagues is more information than needed because you’re still uncertain about what that means.
This is a good time to instead share your thoughts with a professional life coach, to discuss the best life you want for yourself, independent of what your ex is doing.
Reader’s Commentary regarding “social media” that gets way too much attention in today’s world:
“I’m a man in my late-70’s and glad I missed much of the rush to social media. It’s where people tell way too much about themselves and also judge others, often harshly, when it’s obvious they know almost nothing about them in person.
“In my day, a lot of us poor students hung around the Universities after school and kept our eyes open for pretty female students leaving their classes, so we could walk someone home and start a conversation.
“Fortunately, the girls who hung around the pubs near the Universities also had their eyes on the smart young men who’d likely end up with decent futures.
“That’s how it was for my sister. She married a professor and they travelled the world whenever they could. I was lucky, too, because my love thought I was smarter than I am… and still does!
Ellie’s tip of the day
Stay distanced from your spouse’s ex if things didn’t end well. Protect your own marriage through loving support.
Send relationship questions to email@example.com.