His wife is in the way of our happiness

Dear Counsellor,

I have been dating this man for three years and we have a one-year-old together. We have invested in a house together, and want to live our lives as man and wife, but there's a big problem. His wife of 13 years refuses to grant him a divorce, though he has asked many times. She also went and got pregnant, even though she's too old, and their last child is just two months younger than mine. Because of her and this baby, a son, he had shortened his time with me. He said he has always wanted a son, but had only daughters before. He is over the moon about his son. I have reached out to the wife on numerous occasions, including telling her about our daughter, and all she did was laugh. She hinted once that he had legs, and if he wanted to leave, no one was stopping him. I feel like I am caught up in some game, and in the meantime, it's my child who will suffer, as she won't have the benefit of paternal grandparents and other family, nor will she be able to have a relationship with her siblings. How can I convince this woman to just leave us alone, so we can be together?

From what you've shared it's apparent that your partner is still living with his wife and has been intimate with her while dating you. I understand that you want to have a family of your own and you'd like for your daughter's dad to play the role of a present father to her and an available partner to you. However, based on what you've shared, it honestly does not seem like this is his plan. I remind you and others to use as much "head" as "heart" when looking to start a family.

His wife is absolutely correct — I'm sure he could leave if he really wanted to. So before committing yourself to anyone, you must see the signs that he is emotionally, physically, and often financially available to you. This should be absolutely clear, especially before you make any life-changing decision — like having a child or buying a house. The shame is his, but the error here is yours. However, you can still pursue a happy and healthy life for yourself and your daughter.

My advice:

Be confident that you can be happy: Don't allow this possible disappointment to deter you from happiness. Believe the best things for yourself and your daughter, despite the probability of a new reality. It would be prudent to consider booking a session with a reputable counsellor.

Realign your values: No, no one can tell his wife to leave him alone, especially if he's not leaving her alone. Be prudent about securing your future. Only build on the solid ground of an available and committed partner.

Speak to him: Give him an ultimatum with a time limit. Let him determine what he wants to do. But stick to the time and terms you lay out. If he doesn't agree to your terms, then move on, for your sake and your child's. Determine that your relationship with him cannot be romantic again. He should have access to your daughter, but no romantic access to you. And again, as a rule, don't think to buy a house together with a man before being married.

Leave his wife alone: Do not contact her about your relationship with him. She's obviously still committed to him and he to her, despite what has happened. Her having another child was her prerogative and it seems to be making them happy. He has cheated both of you — you, by probably misleading you, and her by breaking his marital vows.

I pray for you to find the strength and tenacity to build a happy life for your daughter and yourself.

Get on The Counsellor's Couch with Rev Christopher Brodber, who is a counsellor and minister of religion. E-mail questions to allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com.

Christopher Brodber

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