QUESTION: Dear Chuck and Garland,
I met a man two months ago at a night club. We danced a couple of dances, he asked me if I wanted his phone number, I took it, gave him mine, and he called me that night. We spoke by phone and sent texts back and forth the next day, then on that Monday he met me for drinks and we ended up back at my place, and in the sack! As the week went on we spoke numerous times, saw each other numerous times as well. During this first week he told me that he is married and that his wife is serving time in prison for embezzlement. He told me that he married her against everything in him because he knew she was going to jail. I asked him if he still loved her and he told me that he had grown bitter and cold against her, and that he rarely goes to see her in prison. I hesitantly accepted this, and kept pursuing a relationship. In the mean time I met his children, and his birthday was the next week. I surprised him after work that day and I took him, his children, and my children out to celebrate his birthday. My kids fell in love with him! We have spent numerous hours together with our children and alone. So much so that his children tell me that they love me, and my children tell him that they love him.
My dilemma is with the wife. He told me just this weekend that he is torn. He has very strong feelings for me and my kids, and he doesn't want to hurt us or his kids. He told me that he fells like he is being unfair to his wife even though that situation is killing him. He proceeded to tell me that he doesn't know what he is going to do. He wants to be with me, but he isn't sure he is ready for his marriage to be over even though she won't be released from prison until this November. She has been in prison since last May. His kids despise her for what she has done to them and their dad, and he is torn because of this as well. He worries about his reputation being seen out with me and people knowing he is still married, and he doesn't want anything to get back to her until he is ready to make his decision.
This is killing me. I want to be with him, but in reality I know that I have to prepare myself for the day that he may tell me that it is over between us and he is going to work things out with her. I am not ready to do that, and during our conversation last night he told me that it would kill him to see me out places if we didn't make it and he was with her. I am getting mixed signals and I need a little guidance. What do you suggest?
GARLAND: I started planting mental red flags as I progressed through your question so I could help formulate my answer. I only brought four flags with me and I had to go back and get several more from my mental office to finish them as I moved on.
Let’s see… I like to stay in order, but I’m going to skip the dramatics and tell you that you should prepare for the day his wife comes back home. He’s staying with her and he’ll definitely call you up for creapers on Saturday nights once in a while, but he’s not staying with you.
I’m going to chat about the kids for a second… So, they despise their Mother for what she did to the family AND they love you after a handful of dates? First, I have to tell you that most children, especially younger ones will not DESPISE either parent for embezzlement jail time. Kids suddenly hating a parent after just a few months of jail and then loving a stranger in just a few weeks – it just doesn’t pass the sniff test to me. I don’t know whether he is lying to you and selling you a pipe dream or if you could be misunderstanding the environment you’ve found yourself in. I’m not going to say anything else about that because you didn’t ask us to critique your whole situation.
My thoughts on him – He’s going back to Wifey. He’ll swear the kids to secrecy and if you ever come up in conversation, he’ll do his level best to minimize the situation between the two of you. When he sells it Mama Madoff, you’ll be little more than “some woman” he ran into with the kids at a McDonalds and you all shared a couple of Quarter Pounders [or Royales with Cheese if you’re in England]. Why am I taking such a negative tone to what he’ll do? Because of the first red flag I planted – he slept with you BEFORE telling you that he was married. This is pretty low down and self serving on his part. He probably knew that the odds were against him climbing in the sack with you if you knew there was a wife in the picture. The fact that she was doing hard time in minimum security is a minor issue.
The Bottom Line: I’m sorry to say that he is finished with you and your kids. He needed some company while The Boss was in lockup and he wasn’t man enough to tell you that. He sold you some foolishness and now he’s going to slither away. (Please Read My Older Post called “Rattle of the Snake”)
My best to you. I’m sure there’s a great guy out there somewhere waiting for you.
CHUCK: This guy is all about himself, and he has noplans to share his life with you. You're just collateral damage. Let's look at what took place here. You met this guy, slept with him rather quickly (let's face it), but afterward he tells you he is married. His wife is in jail, but you decide to continue seeing him, and introduce your kids to his kids! What do you think this is, the Brady Bunch?
The fact that he forgot to inform you that he was married until after you slept together ("I knew I forgot to tell you something! Guess what?"), speak to the idea that his wife is not the only one lacking in character here. He spins the story as hard as he can to make him look sympathetic, but let's face it, divorce papers are served in prison all the time. If he wanted a away out of his situations, there were well-lit exit signs all the way.
What I feel is going on is this guy got lonely, started something with you, but is preparing you slowly for the let down when his wife is released. I don't know if that was his original intention, because he involved his, and your kids in this, but carelessness or foolishness cannot be ruled out.
Face this fact: You cannot replace his children's mother. They may say they "love" you. They may mean it. They may be embarrassed of the fact that their mother is in jail. They may resent her for that. But she is still their mother. And, unless circumstances are a lot worse than you describe, they will eventually welcome her when she gets home.
My advice is to remove yourself from this man's soap opera, despite your feelings. For your own sake. If you find that he can decide to leave his wife for you, then that is another call for you to make. But as it stands now, there's no way this can work out for you, so leave it alone.