I have been in a three year relationship with a married man, ten
years my senior. He left his wife recently. He is currently deciding
upon his future, but won't consider the idea of moving in with me because I
have two young children. He has three teenage boys. There are other
reasons for not wanting to move in, but he gives as his primary reason his
children's resentment of my kids. I do not want him to be a replacement
parent for my kids, but I do want a closer relationship with him. I have
tried not to influence his thinking, but he says that I am pulling away from
him. I believe that if I tell him what I really want he will call our
relationship off so that I can be released to find another
partner who will have my kids. What should I do?
I believe that getting involved with a person who is in the process
of getting divorced is risky business. Having an affair with someone who
subsequently divorces is even more risky. And when there are young children
involved, the risks are far, far greater.
When people are having an affair, the person who is married is never fully
available to his or her lover. A large portion of his psychological
investment lies with his/her spouse and family. As such, the lover only
experiences part of that person. Thus, it is a very unbalanced relationship.
One person is emotionally and physically available while the other is not.
The person who is married views the lover as a source of pleasure,
excitement, and fun. S/her looks good as a supplement to a marriage that is
going sour. As a supplement, the lover may be quite adequate, but as a main
course, the feelings may change.
When someone becomes involved with a person going through a divorce, the
divorcing party is likewise heavily invested in dealing with his/her
situation -- loss of family, friends, lifestyle, finances, etc. Often the
lover becomes a transitional person for the divorcing party to hold onto for
support and nurturance during the course of the dissolution. Once the
divorce is over, and some healing has occurred, the divorcing party no longer
needs the lover in the same way.
When there are young children involved, the children may become attached to
the lover. And when the circumstances change, they have to deal with the
consequences. They have already lost their family and their Daddy, now they
may have to lose the lover. That's a lot of loss to deal with at so tender
an age. It is one thing to risk one's own life and happiness, it is quite
another to risk that of children.
In your situation, we have all these circumstances operating. Your friend
has to transition from being a lover, to a mate, to a potential stepfather,
all within a very short period of time. It should be expected that he is
ambivalent. It would be natural for him to want time to reassess his
situation and what he wants for his future. Is he ready to make another
commitment after having just left a long marriage? His children
are grown. Does he want to start all over again with the responsibilities of
having to contend with young children? Does he want to go through the same
circumstances as he just left with only difference being a change of partner?
Your best bet is to put all of your cards on the table, including your
awareness that some or all of the above issues may be operating. A frank
discussion of all of these issues may bring you closer together, may lead you
both to take some time to consider what you want to do next, or might lead to
recognizing that the timing and circumstances make continuing the
relationship inadvisable. In terms of your children, better it happen sooner
Dr. Edward A. Dreyfus is a Clinical Psychologist,
Marriage, Family, Child Therapist, and Sex Therapist. Dr. Dreyfus has been providing
psychological services in the Los Angeles-Santa Monica area for over 30 years.
He offers individual psychotherapy to adolescents and adults, divorce mediation,
couples counseling, group therapy, and career and vocational counseling and
assessment.His book, Someone Right For You, is available in the Amazing
Dr. Dreyfus can be reached at: (310) 208-5700.