Relationships

March 9, 2022

Dear Bunmi: My children don’t want him back in my life!

BY BUNMI SOFOLA

Dear Bunmi,

Towards the end of last year, my husband of 20 years decided to separate amicably. My two children from my first marriage, aged 29 and 26, were happy about the decision. My daughter told me she’d never liked her stepfather and was glad she didn’t have to see him or interact with him.

I was surprised. She’d never really shown her resentment or said anything before he was out of the picture. He’d started coming over recently and we now get on so well that I wondered if we should get back together. When I asked my daughter’s opinion, she accused me of choosing him over her feelings.

I think she was carrying her resentment a bit too far. I’ve been a good mom and my kids, including the only one I had with my husband, are grown. Two of them have families of their own. Should I do what makes me happy or do I put them first?

Ellen, by e-mail.

Dear Ellen,

Don’t make any rash decision. Since your eldest daughter is the most resentful, ask her reasons for disliking her step-dad. Explain to her how you feel and perhaps she’ll be able to see things from your point of view.

This is your life and your future. Your eldest children have lives and families of their own, and it’s time to focus on yourself. Let them know their blessings would be much appreciated but listen to your heart. You’re the one who’s going to live with your estranged husband, not kids who have flown the nest!

His wife refused to let him go

Dear Bunmi,

I’ve been with my fiancé for two years. I thought I was happy with the relationship until I met a man at work. He is married and has two young children, but he said his marriage was on shaky grounds. We found we wanted a more permanent relationship. We talked often of leaving our partners and eventually getting married.

When his wife found out about us, we thought that would be the end of his marriage. To his surprise, she was furious and threatened to cut all ties between him and his children. She said as far as their marriage went, it was over, but she would hang on for the sake of the children.

Do you think it is possible for his wife to deny him access to his children? I feel I can’t cope without him, but I know he won’t leave his wife if it means losing his children.

Kemi, by e-mail.

Dear Kemi,

Any woman not happy in her relationship can easily find a man who is willing to give her the intimacy, sex and affection that she feels denied. If he has a wife, his new lover will find an excuse that makes betraying that woman seem acceptable somehow, otherwise guilt gets in the way of the two lovers enjoying their adultery.

What your lover wanted was an additional bed partner, not a substitute for his wife. It is now that he’s being pressed by you to leave his wife, you face the moment of truth. Your lover has decided that he would not leave his wife for someone else’s fiancé.

Blaming his wife allows him to avoid admitting that his loyalty to his wife and children is too great to abandon them.

Do you want to break up someone else’s family? Happiness such as you seek is uneasily built on the sadness and loss of others.

Do you imagine that if this man deserted his wife and children, just seeing those hurt children occasionally would somehow make his and your behaviours acceptable?

An unscrupulous wife can always find ways to obstruct a man’s access to his children but that’s not the issue.

If you feel that your relationship with your fiancé is in any way unsatisfactory, then face that problem honestly, don’t continue to deceive him and don’t again toy with another woman’s husband.

He was never violent before Dear Bunmi,

My husband and I have had our ups and downs and our share of bad luck. At first, the rows were verbal but recently he has become really aggressive. He’s always criticising me and, most weeks, he beats me up and I end up with bruises.

I was once in a violent relationship and when I first met my husband, I was always on the defensive and a bit irrational, as I don’t like being bossed around. Over the years though I’ve calmed down, but my husband has gotten much worse.

We have a four-year-old son and I’m worried the fights could affect him. I just want us to be happy. I’ve told my husband that the rows are not fair on any of us.

He’s a loving father who adores his son. I don’t want to split them up, but it seems we don’t agree on anything these days. I don’t know what I should do about the situation.

Please help.

Made, by e-mail.

Dear Made,

Anger, whether it leads to violence or not, is a damaging way to respond to the fears a couple face. Although you’ve come to terms with your anger, your husband has still to discover how to deal with his. And neither of you has yet developed ways to communicate peacefully and without confrontation. Your poor son is suffering because of his parents’ combative behaviour.

Unless it changes, your son’s insecurity will soon match yours.

Don’t blame yourself, your husband or a former partner for the rows with your husband. Instead, both of you should agree to express yourselves better by avoiding anger and be ready to compromise. Have a heart-to-heart talk when you have no issues with each other and encourage him to bare his mind – be prepared to hear things you’d prefer not to.

Like you, he could be full of regrets about what has been going on, so you need to meet each other half-way in reaching amicable solution. 

It’s not going to be easy but it’s not impossible to put your marriage on an even keel.

My son behaves like a thug!

Dear Bunmi,

I know a mother is supposed to love her children. But if I were to be honest, I can’t stand my 28-year-old son. He’s always been an aggressive person. It’s not just youthful problems. He hangs around with a bad crowd, steals from me from time to time and beats up his girlfriends. No girl ever stays for too long.

Whenever he shows up, I feel resentful. Thank God he’s not an only child. But once in a while, I feel guilty about not liking him.

Dora, by e-mail.

Dear Dora,

You need not feel guilty. True, parents often stand up for their children simply because they’re their parents. But there’s no rule that says you have to.

It sounds as if your son has turned out badly through no fault of yours, and it’s impossible to ignore this fact. So, don’t be hard on yourself because of this.

Your best bet is to give your son a clear message that you don’t approve of what he’s doing. He may not like what you’re saying, but at least you’ll be true to yourself and your feelings. Your son is a full adult and needs to look out for himself. If the stealing continues, then discourage him from visiting so often.

How can I cope with my violent man now I’m pregnant?

Dear Bunmi,

My boyfriend of four years is so possessive and jealous that I sometimes fear for my life. He thinks I’m having an affair if I just pop out to the market or if I stop to talk to a man – any man. I’ve left a few times only for us to make up again.

Now I’ve just found out I’m expecting a child for him and he’s ecstatic. Only, he’s got even more of a hold on me now. He watches me like a hawk and could be verbally abusive. He doesn’t look like a man I want to spend the rest of my life with, but I don’t want an abortion. Please help.

Nike, by e-mail.

Dear Nike,

Do you want your baby to be brought up in an abusive environment? Be firm with your man that you’re not putting up with his jealous and possessive behaviour any longer – and if he carries on, walk out or enlist the help of people who can talk to him.

The problem with excessively jealous people is that they can’t change.  Even when they’re with the ugliest partners, they still suspect them of two-timing. Life is too short to spend your life dodging the blows of a partner with a problem. Think before you leap should be your watchword here.

How do I tell him I no longer love him? Dear Bunmi,

My 25th birthday is around the corner and I’m thinking of having a fairly big one.

My current boyfriend is getting worked up about it and hinted he had something really special planned for the day.

That gets me panicking because I’ve been unhappy with the relationship and plan to dump him. As things are now, I can’t do that if he’s making a big romantic gesture for my birthday. Can I?      

Uche, by e-mail.

Dear Uche,

Don’t assume that just because you feel less for your man, the relationship is doomed, particularly if you’ve just met. Things can change and love can grow. If you’re not sure, commit to about a month, and then take a break.

Most relationships have times when each partner’s emotions shift. A few days, weeks or even months of unbalanced feelings doesn’t necessarily mean the end – especially if you’ve been together a while.

After your big event and you’re still not certain you can’t be committed to him, then the fairest thing – even if it’s painful for both of you – is to end the relationship.

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Dear Bunmi,

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