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Dear Mary: He's playing happy families with his ex and his daughter


I am looking for relationship advice. I am in a relationship two years with a man whom I love.

I've spent lots of time with his family and he has spent some time with mine.

He has a child from another relationship. This relationship ended about 10 years ago and his girl is now 13.

When they split up, the mother took the child to live in another country against my boyfriend's wishes and this separation from his child caused him deep trauma.

He currently sees his daughter about three times a year, spending three weeks with her in summer.

He spends two of these weeks with her in Ireland and one of these weeks in the other country with his child and the mother in the mother's house.

This makes me uncomfortable. I have never been invited to go there with him, but I have suggested it twice.

Beyond my discomfort of my boyfriend staying with an ex for a week, when the mother came to Ireland with her parents and her daughter this summer, my boyfriend spent a few evenings having dinner with them all.

One of these nights my boyfriend's mother joined them for dinner, but I wasn't invited once. He, the mother and the child also went on a walk together.

Again, I wasn't invited along.

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I do not believe he has intentions to cheat on me, but my issues are regarding his commitment to our relationship.

I want us to be partners, to marry and to have a child with him. It is hurtful to feel he is playing happy families with his ex and child.

A Your boyfriend is no doubt trying to keep everybody happy and finding it difficult. Of course the most important person in all of this is his daughter who sees her father infrequently and it always involves travel either by him or her mother in order for them to meet. Your boyfriend will always have ties with the mother of his child and her mother who is the girl's grandmother. This will never change, nor should it.

The best way you can show that you respect this very special bond between father and daughter is to say nothing at all that is critical.

Instead, try to be as supportive as you can of his times with her and let him know that you understand how difficult it must be for him to see his daughter only three times a year.

She knows of your existence so perhaps when he is Skyping or Facetiming her you could occasionally say a quick hello. Encourage him to talk about her, follow her progress with interest, and then get on with enjoying your life with him.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at dearmary@independent.ie or write c/o 27-32 Talbot St, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately

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