Dear Annie: Many years ago, my husband, “Sam,” and I divorced. I started seeing someone else and became pregnant. That man left me, saying he didn’t want more children.
Sam and I began dating again, and he said we could remarry if his name went on the baby’s birth certificate. The biological father didn’t care, so I agreed. Three months after the baby was born, Sam and I married again.
That was 13 years ago. The problem is, sometimes Sam and I will argue, and he’ll say, “Just take your daughter and get out,” and other hurtful things indicating he’s not her real father and so there’s nothing to tie us together.
I’m worried that our daughter will find out about her parentage and be hurt.
Should we tell her about her biological father?
I know her bio dad recently got out of prison after a year’s sentence for child molestation. I don’t know where he’s living, but I don’t really want him around my daughter.
Any suggestions? — Living a Lie
Dear Living: The biological father no longer has any claim on your daughter. He gave up his rights. Your daughter is old enough to know about her background, although due to the particular circumstances, we suggest you first discuss it with a therapist who specializes in such issues.
It would help to bring Sam into the sessions, as well, because his comments are not only reprehensible, but could cause all kinds of repercussions in his relationship with his daughter.
He may be too angry with you during these arguments to fully realize how much he can hurt this child.
Dear Annie: Two of our closest friends are getting a divorce. We are godparents to their adorable and sweet nine-year-old child.
This couple wants to cause as little disruption as possible to their child’s home environment. They plan to rent a nearby house, and the parents will swap living there so the child gets to stay in the original home.
Annie, I’m sure they’re not the first to think of this arrangement, even though it’s new to us.
As disruptive as a divorce is, would this add a sense of security for the child as opposed to sending her off to the estranged parent’s house for a short period of time as is commonly done? — Puzzled in Florida
Dear Puzzled: Quite a few parents have this arrangement, whereby the children stay in the home while the parents trade a rental space, or in some cases, both parents have their own place.
While children are resilient and can adjust to almost any living situation, we suspect it is easier if they don’t have to pack up every weekend. It also lessens the stigma for the non-custodial parent whose residence is “Dad’s place” or “Mom’s house” but not “home.”
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Washington,” who said her feelings for her husband are completely gone.
Many Catholic dioceses have weekend programs for married couples, and other denominations may have similar programs. Our diocese offers Marriage Encounter to help a couple rediscover the spark. The program is for those whose marriage is basically OK but could be better.
The other program is Retrouvaille, a French word meaning “rediscovery.” It helps heal problems in a troubled marriage by reopening communication and providing tools that can make a difference.
It’s for those who feel lost, alone or bored, or are constantly fighting, arguing or thinking about separating.
In neither case does the couple have to be Catholic, although they should be married. — Father B
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.