I married my wife two years ago. She has two lovely girls from a previous relationship. Recently, the father of these girls began calling claiming to check on them. He calls whenever it suits him. I have requested my wife we sit down and come up with a plan of how he can meet the children or when to talk to them but she is hesitant and says we cannot prevent him from seeing his children. To the best of my knowledge, this man has never supported my wife and the children financially or otherwise. His disruption is rocking our relationship and I don’t know what to do about it. I love my wife and our two daughters so much. Please help.
I empathise with your current state of affairs regardless of the deep passionate love and feelings you have towards your wife and two daughters. From the onset, I must commend you for seeing these two angels as your own children. This is where true connection happens. These children need to have a father figure in their lives as they mature and become adults.
I am glad that your love for her has translated into a fatherly love and care for these children. My prayer is that your wife comes to the realisation that the quality of a step-parent-child relationship is linked to the stability and well-being of the new family.
My worry is to get so caught up in fights over who is in charge of the family and its well-being that you forget your responsibility to raise these two girls.
That said, I don’t want to look like I am not concerned with the children’s right to know and relate to their biological father. Of course not! It is important for the children to be aware of who their biological father is even if they build and enjoy their relationship with their current parent.
It has been observed by many family counsellors that; some stepfathers have been known to jealously keep their stepchildren from getting to know their biological fathers. This should not be the case. Even in the case of a divorce, denial is not necessarily the best option unless it is perceived and established that the best interest of the child/ren is at stake. Indeed, some exes might have malicious intentions disguised as interests to be part of the child’s life.
It is equally clear that some children regularly ask for their biological father/mother. In such cases, we should look for ways to fulfil their wish without compromising their relationship with their step-parents. Working as a team of husband and wife on such a matter is key to avoid suspicion and jealousy.
On the other hand, maybe your wife’s detachment was not complete. If her intentions are inconsistent with the values you hold together, then discuss it. I would suggest that, where you are unhappy with the children visiting their biological father, request your wife if you can get involved in the visit. Maybe a neutral place can be suggested where both of you are comfortable such as a restaurant, public park or the mall.
Love is about being open and sincere with each other on all matters. It is therefore difficult to understand why your wife would not want to listen to you. I suggest you engage her politely and lovingly on the issue to determine whether there are any underlying concerns on her end. Share your honest fears without being defensive or threatened. Focus on building a healthy connection between you and your wife. In addition, make it your aim to build a thriving father-daughter relationship with these girls. Let the nurturing love you give them see you as a father even though you are not their biological dad.
In conclusion, there are a few issues that require your attention and consideration. First, is the need to know that coming into another relationship when one has children in a previous relationship is a challenge that has to be carefully managed over a period of time. Second, children generally respond positively when a step-parent refrains from being controlling and instead engages the children in a friendship that is built on openness, trust and authentic connection in the home.
Third, avoid appearing as if you are competing with their biological dad for the children’s attention and affection. Finally, don’t expect that a close-knit relationship with your wife and your stepchildren will form overnight.
Address unresolved issue
Here are my final tips on the way forward: First, grow slowly but steadily in your role as husband to your wife and stepfather to the girls. Second, avoid being overly controlling and manipulative and instead learn to listen to reason from your wife and the children by getting to know what they what. Third, be a facilitator and an anchor of stability and a sound mind by offering a shoulder where both your wife and children can lean on.
Fourth, acknowledge that as much as you are the father these children need, they have a biological father they may need to be exposed to at the appropriate time. Fifth, instead of agitation and fear, share your concerns lovingly and freely in an environment that shows that you are secure in who you are to both your wife and daughters.
In conclusion, if you discover that your wife has undisclosed vested interests, be careful not to be caught in the middle of the fight. After all, you may not be in the full light of how the two related in marriage or even what caused the separation. In equal measure, seek to interrogate the way you relate to her.
Could there be unresolved issues between you that are making her so unhappy to the extent of wanting to reconnect with her former boyfriend?
This will help you see things in the right perspective and protect you from carrying unnecessary pain.
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