#114 Woman still hasn't met her longtime boyfriend's family / Am I a kept woman?
Dear Annie: I have been in a relationship with "Bryce" for almost eight years. When we met, we were both in unhappy marriages. Bryce helped me financially and emotionally with my divorce, and also pulled me through the death of a beloved sister. He even purchased a house for my children and me to live in.
My divorce was finalized four years ago. Bryce lives with my now-teenage children and me, and we all get along great. The problem is, Bryce refuses to introduce me to his family, all of whom live close by. He has a mother, brother, sister and a daughter in her early 30s. He still is not divorced, but keeps assuring me he will be "as soon as the smoke clears" with his family.
I'm beginning to think he is never going to completely share his life with me, as if he isn't certain I'm really what he wants. He assures me he loves me and that his living with me is proof, but it's just not enough. I want to have a normal relationship that involves both families combined. I want to spend holidays and special occasions together instead of apart. By the way, he has met all the members of my large family and they like him, but some are beginning to wonder if he's just jerking me around. Am I wasting my time here? —Confused in N.Y.
Dear Confused: It's obvious to us that Bryce's family strongly disapproves of his relationship with you. Either they have asked him not to bring you around, or he thinks they will give you a hard time and lacks the courage to stand up for you. They also may believe he will not get a divorce as long as they keep you at a distance, and so far, they are right. This is what happens when you become involved with a married man, so decide what you are willing to settle for because this could be all there is. —Annie
Hi Confused: No. You're not wasting your time. Each of us have our lessons to learn. You are learning exactly what you need to learn en route to enlightenment.
I don’t have any sense that you are operating from choice, as such you’ll have to continue doing what you have been doing until circumstances force a decision. That is to say, I don’t think you could choose to follow any other advice. However, conversations such as these are an essential part of the process.
I say "choice" because it appears that you are operating from a complicated dramatic program in which you lost your ability to choose to be happy and satisfied a long time ago. Much like being in the middle of a pout few have the ability to choose to instantly be happy; the childhood pout program is running them. With you the complications are compounded by the house.
I have a few thoughts that may facilitate completion of this problem.
You don't mention his wife but as a fellow sister she should be foremost in your thoughts. Unfortunately I know of no statistics that reveal how many relationships that began with someone selfishly intervening in another’s troubled relationship (pre divorce finalization) that also ended in divorce—I don’t think a large number of divorces would shock many—it seems to be appropriate karma. When a person of integrity hears the words, "I'm in the middle of a divorce" it’s gotten as a cry for support not an invitation to date, laugh, and have fun at the expense of another's downfall. For this reason, I'm concern about the integrity of how you met each other. It requires impeccable integrity to pull off a clean exchange of one partner for another while still married; the odds of two doing it without abusing the other two are not favorable.
Most divorced individuals remain stuck in blame, few learn how to tell the truth about their responsibility, their cause, how they masterminded their first divorce, these blaming lies (repeated like mantras) contribute to the failure (minimally the mediocrity) of subsequent relationships.
I’m also wondering about the condition of your ex. Your philosophy about morality and right and wrong, the absence of compassion for his wife, your very moral fiber, suggests that he’s still suffering emotional bruises inflicted by you, whether conscious or not.
There's a great question that you can ask your friend, it reveals the integrity and compassion of anyone in the process of divorce: "Do you have your partner's support in dating and having sex before the divorce finalizes?" Sometimes an abusive partner will create an upset to use as justification for breaking their fidelity agreement, just so they can have outside sex, knowing full well it hurts and upsets their partner. It ultimately won't work to be party to another unilaterally breaking their marriage vow. It’s called sabotage. In other words, does he have her support in having sex with you?
Re: "He even purchased a house for my children and me to live in" and "pulled me through the death of a beloved sister" Many readers have drawn the conclusion that he probably has not asked for a divorce, possibly that he never intends to. Worse, that you are a user and running your victim con intent on taking as many down with you as possible. You write as though you aren't a capable woman, as though you haven't heard the sayings, "Don't immediately jump into a new relationship," "Don't steal another woman's spouse." Notice that you are silently hexing the demise of her relationship instead of intending that they heal and stay married.
You come across as needy. An actualized person brings his/her wholeness, their ability to make it independently in the world, to financially contribute equally, into a relationship. Bringing a trashed financial condition into a relationship is not a gift of love. He is what's referred to as an enabler. Enablers intuitively look for women addicted to controlling and being controlled. Whereas it looks like he's controlling you the truth is you've used your leadership-communications skills to manipulate him into helping "poor" you; that's extremely cleverly powerful of you. Such a women can be counted upon to not ask, or get answers, to questions such as, "What smoke?"
The terms associated with the "house" arrangement are: kept woman, concubine, mistress. No matter what he says or you believe, most readers will agree that he’s buying your sex.
Notice that the way in which you relate the story doesn't mention your support of the abuse of his wife. Who taught you that such "gifts" were acceptable? How does she feel about him spending huge sums of their divorce settlement money on his new girlfriend? Does she even know he bought you a house? If, say, she doesn't know about you, imagine what it must be like for her to live in the presence of such an unethical person. His kind, generous, compassionate, behavior is an act, else he'd be open and honest with her also.
We know he doesn’t love you. How do we know? With love one is driven to share the awesome love with others. He should have needed to share you with his children and family. "I want you to meet this wonderful person I’ve found!" Instead, he hides you.
I'm concerned about your parent's support of your adultery, intervening in another's messy relationship. You've enrolled them as co conspirators. To many your letter might come across as a cry for help but I don't get that you're ready to do what's necessary to effect an experience of integrity for all concerned. I can't imagine the "house" being a source of healthy vibrations. Could you simply refuse to see him ever again and keep the house? I think not.
Think of what you've already taught your children about integrity (being whole and complete), manipulation, using, and putting up with? A child needs certainty else his/her moral compass veers left and right. Set aside a budget for their therapy later in life when they wonder why they can’t choose to leave a relationship that’s not satisfying.
Lastly, you need to make a conscious decision. You either want a relationship with open, honest, and spontaneous communication (zero thoughts withheld), or, you want what most everyone else has, one in which the agreement is, each can hide their thoughts of choice from the other, resulting in mediocrity, and little or no joy, seldom any ecstasy.
Do show this to your children and him; it will facilitate completion.
Thanks for writing. Many will get value from reading it. —Gabby