Dear Amy: I recently found my biological father through Facebook after more than 20 years (I am 28) of not knowing if he was alive.
Although I am really happy that I found him, I am scared to let my family (my mom, stepdad, and sisters) know that I have reconciled with him and reconnected.
I have asked about my dad before (I even had a picture of him), and my stepdad felt betrayed that I was even curious about him.
I ripped up his picture because I felt so guilty that my stepdad was hurt.
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I KNOW my stepfather will manipulate the situation (that’s just how he is) and con my sisters and my mom into not speaking to me.
On the other hand, I do wish to create a relationship with my father and start where we left off (I have two beautiful daughters I know he will love to meet), but I am so scared to do this because I know that it will divide my family.
What should I do?
Dear Daughter: First, a word of caution. You seem to have invested a lot of positive hope in the idea of having a relationship with your father. You say you want to “pick up where you left off.” But, where has he been? Has he been searching for you? You should start by taking this very slowly, and in careful stages.
You were eight years old when you last saw your father. You don’t say what transpired before he disappeared from your life, but it was wrong of your parents to deny your right to have a relationship with him –even if they thought they were protecting you.
I agree that you should pursue this relationship privately. If you develop a friendship with your father, you should notify your mother – again, privately (she should help you to handle your stepdad).
Please understand that she will likely feel very threatened by this, especially if your daughters are involved. Grandparents get that way, sometimes.
You are an adult. You have the right to contact your father. But because the stakes seem to be so high in your family, you must keep your eyes wide open to the consequences. Be circumspect about sharing this with others.
Dear Amy: I have been married for more than 30 years. Last year I learned that my husband was texting his old college girlfriend. He may have even visited her while visiting our son at college, over 10 hours away.
Seven years ago, I found out accidentally that he was texting this same old girlfriend, and I told him that if it happened again, it was a deal breaker.
At that time, our children were still living at home so I decided to remain in the marriage. Now we are empty nesters.
How do I decide whether to stay or go? There is no trust left – only heartbreak.
Counseling is out of the question – we live in a small town and our pastor knows both sides of our family.
I am stuck and sad. I am only 55 and I have a lot of living to do, but maybe not with this man by my side...?
Where do I go from here? How do I restart my life?
Dear Betwixt: First of all, if you want to pursue counseling through your clergy, understand that, of course, your pastor knows both sides of your family! That is one advantage that clergy can bring to counseling. You should be assured of their awareness of family members, and also their discretion.
Many couples come back from the brink, but you can’t yank your marriage back without a mutual commitment to work on it. Does your husband want to stay, or part?
If you decide to leave the marriage, you should start by privately researching your legal standing and reviewing your finances. Focusing on these practical matters can help to clarify your intentions.
Starting over requires a number of brave leaps. Supportive friends, family members, and having a larger sense of purpose will help you to rebuild your life.
Dear Amy: “Impossible to Escape” was concerned by an in-law who habitually butted into conversations and then dominated them. This family needs a Designated Distractor.
At large family gatherings, one person is designated to engage the in-law with undivided attention, keeping him from ruining the main conversation. Family members would decide this in advance and take turns.
Dear It Works!: This is a great idea. Thank you!
Email Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org.