Married in Haste, Sorry Now
Q: My wife and I have been married for four years. We got married very quickly, probably our first mistake. Our relationship started out great until I began meeting her four kids from another relationship. First I met the two boys. It didn't take long before I realized that they were raised mostly by their grandparents. No discipline, no school, and very very needy. Even now at 17 and 15 they sleep with their grandmother and grandfather, and their mother. Next comes her two daughters who, when they met me, were not allowed to know my wife and I were married. To this day they don't know we're married. When I worked out of town all week, then came home on Friday night, most times I was sleeping by myself as her daughters insisted on sleeping with her. As you can imagine, I feel like a sucker and our marriage and relationship is all but gone. I moved out two weeks ago. I want a divorce, but she's making it difficult. Am I overreacting? I really need input from a professional. -- Bryan, 44
Dr. Susan: Rest assured, Bryan, you can trust your common sense on this one. As you've learned the hard way, whirlwind courtships and quickie marriages leave a lot to be desired. You've allowed yourself to be drawn into a really nutty situation, if you'll forgive the expression. It's hard to believe your wife would ask, and that you'd go along with, her kids not knowing you're married, and this after four years! And those poor teenage boys. What IS going on there that they're not going to school and they still sleep with their grandparents and mother? The bottom line, though, is that this is a long-standing messed up family situation that you've arrived in the middle of. These are big problems that are not only beyond your solving, but that would eventually get even bigger if you stuck around. And drive you bonkers. In the interest of knowing that you've tried your hardest, I'd suggest you go with your wife to a therapist for a few sessions before making a final decision. It's my opinion that any counselor worth her license will ask your wife to start being honest with her children and to start giving her relationship with you priority, at least in bed at night. If that doesn't happen, see another professional: a lawyer.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.