He Still Helps His Ex
Q: I have grown children with my ex-wife. I gave them a piece of land and a trailer to live in. I let my children give my ex another trailer to put on the land to live beside them. I also take care of the taxes for them. Recently I purchased a lot in a cemetery where my ex and our children can be buried when the time comes. The woman I have been with for the last 13 years can't understand why I do these things for them. How can I explain my commitment to them to her? -- Gene, 55
Dr. Susan: I don't know if your current partner ever wanted to marry, but if she did, and you didn't, then it's understandable that she's upset. Then again, maybe I'm projecting feelings onto her that she doesn't have. As for your ongoing commitment to your ex and grown kids, the best way to explain your commitment is to, first, determine the truth of your own feelings. Are you doing it because your former family is needy and you feel obligated to help out, or because you feel guilty over the way you treated (and left) them, or because somehow they still feel like your "real" family while your current mate just feels more like a girlfriend than a "family"? Does your girlfriend feel that you're spending money on them that rightfully should be spent on her? It doesn't seem to me that what you're doing is all that extravagant, if you can afford it. It could be that your current partner feels neglected in other ways and this is an easy one to focus on.
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
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.