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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5762
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I hope I am asking the right kind of professional - I have

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I hope I am asking the right kind of professional - I have a relationship question. I have been in a relationship with a man for 12 years and he still has not introduced me to his children or even told them that I exist. During the first six years, he was separated (not legally) from his wife but living next door in another house they owned so he could see his children daily. For the last six years he has been legally separated but not divorced and lives in a house about two miles from his ex-wife. His children are ages 28, 26, 24 and 17. He says his wife wouldn't let him pick up his 17-year-old daughter and take her to school daily and would give him a generally difficult time if she knew he has a girlfriend. Also, he says our relationship has been rocky (because of this very issue) and he doesn't want to tell his children he's in a relationship, only to tell them that we've broken up. I say all of this is completely bogus. He says he WANTS to tell them, but certain things in our relationship need to change first - i.e. I have to be more adventurous, tell him that I want us to be together forever, and generally act more enthusiastic about being with him. Is there any answer to this besides breaking up with him?
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

The fact that you have been with your boyfriend for 12 years and he has not yet introduced you to his children says that he is putting his kids before your relationship. While his children are important, they are no longer young (most are adults) so he should no longer be concerned about affecting them with his relationship with you.

It also sounds like he lets his ex wife control his contact with his one child and with you. In a normal situation, he should be able to see his child regardless of what his ex wife feels about it. If she causes problems, there is the legal system to deal with the issues. But he seems to be deferring to her and his children and letting them dictate what he does.

The other possibility is that he is still so involved with his ex and his children that any other relationship is not as important to him. Although that is not a pleasant thought, it happens a lot in relationships where there are ex spouses and children. A legal separation occurs in the marriage but never an emotional one. So the girlfriend/boyfriend in the situation gets put in second place and stays there, never able to have a normal relationship as long as the ex is still in the picture.

You may want to talk to your boyfriend and let him know that you are at an impasse with your relationship. He needs to choose between letting his ex rule his life or moving on and being with you. And he needs to also decide if he wants to include you in his life or leave you on the outskirts. Depending on his answer, you can decide from there if his terms are acceptable to you and staying in the relationship is worth your time and effort.

I hope this has helped you,

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your answer - I just have a quick follow-up. What if he continues to say that he wants to include me in his life and tell his kids, but things in our relationship need to change first. Given that I didn't put similar conditions on him meeting my children and my family, I resent this. But what do I say to him?

There should be no conditions to you being introduced to his family. Whatever is going on in your relationship should be between the two of you to work out (kids or not) and should not impact you meeting his kids. And given that you introduced him to your family without reservation, he should at least do the same. It sounds like he is making a lot of excuses for not doing what should be natural for him to do in your relationship.

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