I am a widow with a 26 year old son and remarried 15 years ago. My husband also has two children from a previous marriage who are about the same age as my son. So far I cannot say that I had any particular problems with my husband, quite the opposite. There was understanding between us and the common decision to put above all the good of our children and then our own needs. However, an issue has arisen which I find very difficult to manage. My husband has a small business that he used to run on his own. When my son became unemployed last year, even though I had asked him to take him to work with him, he disagreed and told me that it was better for the children to try to build their future away from the family and that he did not want to give my son a job that maybe later could not support him financially. Indeed, my child looked for a job, found one, and went abroad. This year, however, his own son finished his military service, and was looking for a job, and while I expected my husband to have the same attitude as he had towards my own child, he hired his son. Really, I was in shock, it’s very frustrating and I do not know how to manage it. I believed that my husband was fair and that he would not treat any of our children differently, as I have done so far. I would like your opinion.
Relationships within a family between children and new parental partners are complex and difficult. Balances are not always easy to maintain and often lead to misunderstandings and conflicts, especially if the children are older.
However, from what you write to me, it seems that in your own family, things worked out positively for everyone. With your partner you had a relationship of love and understanding and the basic principle is ‘the good of the children.’
If, therefore, your spouse has been fair, affectionate, and supportive of your child, if all these years you have not felt that he was consciously or unconsciously ignoring him, that he was indifferent to him, or that he was separating him from his biological children, then there may be other reasons that he may have kept that attitude concerning work without any hidden motive or hidden intention to wrong your child.
He may indeed have thought it best for your son to try to build his future without help, he may have seen in him skills and prospects that he would not have used if he was employed in his business, or he might have feared that he might not be able to offer him financially what he could find elsewhere.
Now you will ask me, why did he not think the same about his own child? If in the case of the biological child, there were no different circumstances that have to do with the child’s life (i.e. if the mother lost her job and cannot support his child) or if there are no reasons to do so based on the different abilities of the two children, then perhaps psychological or emotional reasons influenced your spouse’s decision.
The man with children who has been divorced often find himself raising his wife’s children, while living away from his own children, whom he is forced to see every second weekend and half the holidays a year. In fact, many times he has to face the jealousy or bitterness of his own children who see their father living ‘with foreign children’, while they themselves are deprived of him. As much as their stepsiblings have a good relationship with each other, the daily absence of the father is a very difficult issue that they have to deal with. The father realizes all this and also finds it difficult to manage the guilt, the feeling that he does not contribute to his children what he would like or should, the fear that due to his own ‘inadequacy’ his children may be removed or that another can take his place. All of this can affect both the father’s psychological state and his attitude towards decisions or issues that have to do with his biological children.
What may have really helped you to feel better is to have an honest and calm conversation with him and to express your thoughts and feelings to him, without blaming or verbally attacking him. Ask him to explain the reasons that led him to such a decision and try to deal with the whole situation with understanding and love. Even if in the end you come to the conclusion that your husband has made a wrong decision, it is not fair to ignore his behavior and attitude throughout your previous life.
Stavroula Tsoutsa is a Certified Holistic Professional Life Coach, ICF ACC, Certified Heartmath Coach/Mentor and Trainer, and Certified Points of You Practitioner.