Should I give up my girlfriend and our children?

Dear Suzie,

I am a guy of 47 years old. I have a wife and two lovely children aged 14 and 10. I married to my wife out of responsibilities when we had a baby by accident (subsequently aborted). I never really loved her, and have lived my life feeling lonely inside myself. I traveled a lot with my job and that was what I liked. 10 months ago, I met a girl of 30 and deeply fell in love with her. We were meant to each other. She loved me and I loved her very much. I could talk anything with her, and every time, I left due to work, my heart got really hurt. It was like that when I left my wife and kids. We were just happy on whatever we did. Three months ago, she got pregnant. This was not out of the blue – we both actually wanted to have a baby, particularly with our ages. We could not wait. Early last month, I told my wife. Of course, she was very angry about it, and did not want to have a divorce for the kids’ sake. My wife asked her to have an abortion. But it was not possible. We found out it was not just a baby, but twins. My wife did not know about this. My wife paid her some money, and thought I had left her. My girlfriend sent an email to me and said she would let me go back to my wife, and asked me to leave her forever. The twins would be the symbol of our love and she would raise them.

I don’t know what to do. My wife is very religious and will not allow me to love two people at the same time. She also doesn’t want a divorce, mainly for the kids. She knows I don’t love her. My girlfriend doesn’t want to have a divorce. She only wants to see me and be responsible for the twins. I am in deep pain. What is worse is that I was recently out of work due to compnay restructure. Tell me what to do! I am dying.

I’m sorry to hear of this sad and sorry situation and can well understand your pain. It’s a lesson for anyone else reading this – never, ever do something as important as start or stay in a relationship out of duty. It hurts everyone, even the people you think you are protecting, in the long run.

So what can you do? Whether your girlfriend is having one child or two, or half a dozen, makes no difference. That child or children will be yours and you will owe them lifelong responsibility. It doesn’t matter what your wife thinks or feels, or what your girlfriend thinks or feels, a child of yours is owed your presence in their life from the moment they are born till you die. If you do go back to your wife, you should still be a co-parent with your girlfriend of your children and see them and help bring them up. Children are not symbols of love. They are people with their own feelings. Whatever she says to them or whether or not she partners with someone else, your children will feel abandoned and rejected unless you are there for them.

And whatever your wife ‘allows’ she cannot change your feelings. The love you feel, whether for her, your girlfriend, all your children, is real whatever she says about the matter – she can’t stop you feeling.

And whatever she says and feels she also cannot stop you leaving her and divorcing her. She ca ask you not to and you can accede, but if it’s what you want and feel is right, you can do it.

There’s one basic ground for divorce in the UK: the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This can be shown in a variety of ways. If you live apart for two years you can ask for a divorce on those grounds, and if both of you agree. If your spouse does not want to agree, you can still have a divorce if you live apart for 5 years.
If you do not want to wait that long you can sue for divorce arguing that your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with her. This is called ‘Unreasonable behaviour’ and is now the most common fact on which to prove the ground for divorce in England and Wales. Unreasonable behaviour could be things such as excessive drinking or financial extravagance, for example; but the court doesn’t insist on really severe allegations of unreasonable behaviour in order to grant a divorce. Relatively mild allegations such as devoting too much time to a career, having no common interests or pursuing a separate social life may well enough. Being miserable and living what amounts to a separate life sounds well within the definition to me. I’d strongly suggest you see a solicitor – and make it one who is a member of Resolution. They specialise in family law, can give advice on any family dispute and with separation and divorce, but encourage mediation and agreement rather than confrontation.

The main issue here is that you’re long, long past the point if trying to make sure nobody but you gets hurt. You can’t protect your wife or your children with her from pain and unhappiness and you clearly can’t protect your girlfriend and your children with her from it either. If you could be sure your carrying the can and being miserable meant everyone else in the equation is fine you may be justified in staying as you are. But even then, I’d ask why should you be so gut-wrenchingly unhappy? As it this, your misery doesn’t protect anyone else from being harmed. In which case surely the greater good for the maximum number would mean your getting a divorce, living happily with your girlfriend and her children by you while remaining an active, hands on and involved father for your 14 and 10 year old. It’s not ideal but then, life never is.

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