Counseling Corner with Chuck Semich

This advice column is dedicated in memory of Jae Semich, a most caring and giving person, who will always be remembered for her wise counsel and inspirational messages to help stepfamilies. - Paula Bisacre, Publisher, RemarriageWorks.com

Chuck Semich is a licensed therapist with his own private family practice, and has also lived through the trials, tribulations, and joys of merging families. Chuck became a stepchild when he was 9, and merged his grown family (children in their twenties) with his wife Jae's two kids, one a teen, another a preteen. 

Have a question for Chuck? E-mail him at advice@RemarriageWorks.com.

 


Boyfriend Not Sure of Marriage Ever Again

Monday, July 30, 2012

Reader writes:  I have been divorced for three years now with three children. My boyfriend has been divorced for six months and has two children.  We have known each other for over 10 years and actually started dating when his divorce was final six months ago.

We have been very happy and doing a lot together with all of the kids. His kids do not know we are dating, just that we are friends. We both agree they need time to adjust to the divorce.

Here's the problem. This is his second divorce. He married really young the first time and said they were more like best friends than husband and wife. That marriage ended after 10 years.

His second marriage completely changed his life. He became a devoted Christian husband and father. They even attended seminars and weekend devotionals about keeping your marriage alive and being good Christian parents. He worked harder than he ever had to make sure this marriage would last. After 12 years and a few bouts with Christian marriage counseling because of his wife's infidelity, she told him she didn't love him any more and left him.

He is very angry that his wife tore their family apart and separated him from his kids. Since they separated, he has learned a lot about his ex-wife that he never knew.

We agreed to take things slow and see where they go. He has a lot to work through. It has been six months, and we have been very open about our feelings for each other and what we want. He told me last night that he never knew he had all these walls up, but the longer we are together, the more fears and walls keep pulling him back. He knows that I eventually want to be married again and he says part of his fear is that he never will be married again. He fears making another mistake, letting me and my children down, having a blended family, etc. All the normal worries that anyone would have, even me.

So now neither one of us wants to lose the other. Keep in mind neither one of us is talking about it now, just down the road. He has a long road of healing, and I feel like if we stayed together and he continues to work on his issues, we have the potential to have a wonderful marriage.

But, I don't want to stay in a relationship if he will never be ready for one. Please help me!  What should we do? Take the chance, or should I run from the first man who has come along that has made me feel that I can love again?

Chuck replies:  How is he "working through" this issue? Is he involved in therapy, or is he just waiting to see if time will heal his wounds? Yes, he has been hurt deeply, and I can understand his fear of being hurt again. I doubt, based on what you have written, that he will be able to manage this on his own. One criteria you might want to establish in terms of your decision to stay in or leave the relationship is whether or not he would be willing to enlist the aid of a therapist to heal from this painful experience and explore ways in which he can move beyond his fear of re-commitment. At some point in that process, it would make sense for you to attend some sessions with him. Your participation could help him to understand the depth of your commitment to him, and it could potentially help you make an informed decision about this relationship. I wish you both well.


Seven-Year-Old Stepfamily is Still Struggling. What Can I Do?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Reader writes:  I have been a custodial stepmom for seven years. I thought it would get easier with time. My husband's ex continues to control him. She seems to come before me. She is a very difficult woman. This is the reason their relationship didn't work. How can I hold onto strength to keep our family together?

Chuck replies:  You are to be admired for hanging in there as a custodial stepparent for all these years. It's not an easy job under any circumstances. It's even harder when you don't have the cooperation (or appreciation) of the biological parents. As to how to maintain your strength to keep the family together, you will have to continue to rely on your inner resources (emotional and spiritual) and your support system. Additionally, you might need some outside help in improving communication between you and your husband. That could help resolve some of the issues you have with his relationship with his ex-wife.


Including My Kids in My 2nd Wedding Party?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Reader writes:  My two sons will be 21 and 19 when I get remarried. Both would make great groomsmen, but I don't want either of them to feel put out if I don't ask them to be my best man. Any suggestions?  

(Note: This question is answered by Guest Blogger, Martha Wiles. Martha is an encore bridal specialist and wedding planner with A Splash of Elegance.)  Martha replies:  Many times the bride and/or the groom just have too many people who are close to them and who love them, so they do not have a Maid or Matron of Honor, or in some cases a Best Man. They have attendants who stand with them on their wedding day. Great questions create a need to ask a few more details - like, is there a Matron and Maid of Honor being listed in the program? Are you going to have a program? Do you have a Best Man in mind? Most likely both of your sons will understand they are your sons and you may have another person for the Best Man position. Talk with them about who is going to be your Best Man and how they can be helpful to you in other ways. 


My Child is Getting Picked On By His Stepsibling

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Reader writes:  My 12-year-old came home upset (near tears) after a weekend visit with his father. His much older stepsibling has been teasing him, and it's really taking a toll on the kid. My little guy is a "brainiac" who prefers to read and play on the computer rather than play a lot of sports. The sibling is taunting him for this and calling him lazy. My son said, "I feel like I can't be myself there, or I will get picked on." His stepmom is also making little comments and my son is sensitive to all of it. He is more sensitive than they realize.

His dad and I have a fairly good relationship, but I hate to start poking into what goes on in his home. We have been pretty good about boundaries and trust. It is understood that we trust each other to do what's best for our son. I am encouraging my son to talk to his father about this, but I am doubtful he will do that. This is affecting his desire to spend time there. I think this teasing is going on under his dad's radar and part of me wants to call and raise a flag just so he'll take notice.  What do you think?

Chuck replies:  It's normally a good idea to accept that there will be differences in how things are managed at both residences and that there is generally no need to try to change that. This situation, however, seems to deserve some "poking into." Your son should not have to be subjected to taunts and ridicule while he is visiting his father and his father's family. It could adversely impact on his relationship with his father at a very important phase of his life and potentially endanger his mental health. As much as possible, visitations should be a pleasant experience for the children. I would encourage you to talk with his father, explaining what is going on, and tell him that you trust he will handle the situation. You will want to follow up with your son and his father after the next visit to determine if things have improved.


Remarried Military Husband Returns, Major Issues Ensue

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Reader writes:  My husband, fairly recently back from a deployment in Afghanistan, and I have been married for a year now. We first met as friends after my divorce from someone else in the military, dated for about 2 years, and we were married on his midtour leave. I have a 7-year-old daughter. He has two teenagers: a son, 13, whom moved in with us right before his dad got home, and a daughter, 15, who lives with her mother about 15 miles away. His ex-wife harbors some very deep anger toward him (even though she is herself remarried). When my husband and I were first married, his ex would send long, nasty e-mails to him about me, or text and call him back to back if he did not answer right away. She tells his kids bad things about him. My daughter's dad is deployed, but, when home, is several hours away.

I know that, in the throes of deployment, marriage seems like a great idea. I believe my husband missed having a family and made the choice to marry or that reason. Since he's been back home, though, the adjustment challenges have mounted. His daughter has a lot of issues with the remarriage. The daughter cuts herself from time to time and is often hostile. She and I were close in the past, but at this point, she isn't coming around. My husband had good intentions when he went for custody of his son, but he hasn't really been a full-time parent since his son was 6. So, in our home, his son has no rules. He eats junk all day, plays video games until 3 of 4 a.m. My husband tells me his son can take care of himself. My daughter, on the other hand, has a lot of rules. I am strict about nutrition, healthy habits, reading, extracurricular activities, and chores.

The different parenting styles have caused major issues between my husband and me. We have been seeing a counselor, and my husband will agree to do things. The counseling helps for a few days afterward, but then my husband doesn't follow through.

I am unhappy. The more I complain about things, the more distant my husband gets. He generally stonewalls when his is home, and then he is gone a lot with his military unit. Our communication is not very good: He'll say he'll call, but then doesn't.

The situation with his ex-wife has improved the past few weeks because my husband and I set strict boundaries about his taking all of her calls and letting her tell him off and being in our lives so much. I generally text or e-mail her about visitation issues, and I think she's gotten the hint temporarily. Now, though, she's letting the daughter choose to not come over for any visitation. And, I've been threatened, but have taken the high road and never confronted her about it. I've made polite conversation with her in the hope that she'll bother me, rather than him.

I feel I've tried very hard. I like having a family again. But if I do not feel like a real unit, and a strong pair, how can we get through all of this? What else can I do? Appealing to my husband doesn't work. He is short-tempered. I'm scared I am going to end up divorced again.

Chuck and Jae reply:  You're trying to deal with several serious issues at once, and you don't seem to be making any headway. That has to be very frustrating and sad for you. Let's take a look at these issues and assess what you might be able to do about them:

  • Your husband's relationship with his ex-wife. It's well that you were able to persuade him to set some boundaries regarding her attacking phone calls. As far as the rest of their relationship is concerned, there's nothing you can do about her behavior. What you can do is be supportive of your husband (but not offer yourself as a sacrifice to take the heat from the ex). You also might suggest that he contact social services and express his concern about his daughter's emotional health (the cutting and her being denied contact with her father), especially if you are aware that she is not getting any treatment.
  • Your husband's relationship with his son. There's not much you can do about his emotional distance and his lack of parenting of his son. It's sad that this situation exists, and sadder still that his son is not making healthy choices about his life. Generally speaking, the only circumstances under which you should personally intervene would be if his behavior were directly affecting you or your daughter. Again, you could be supportive of any attempts your husband might want to make to improve the relationship (like separate time together) and his son's choices of activities. We also have some concerns that the boy might be depressed and very lonely. Meanwhile, you should continue to raise your daughter in the way that you believe is most healthy for her. That's something that, at the moment, you do have control over.
  • Your relationship with your husband. We wonder if your husband's distancing behavior, short temper, and lack of follow through with the counseling sessions might be related to his recent deployment. These traits could be symptomatic of, among other things, traumatic stress. We'd need more information to determine that. Maybe he would be willing to go to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and undergo an assessment for this condition. If your husband is abusing alcohol, you might consider the Alanon Family Group as a resource for yourself.
  • Your response to these conditions. This is the one thing you definitely have control over. It's important that, to the extent possible, you exercise proper health habits (diet, exercise, rest, sleep) and remain as calm and rational as possible when discussing these things with your husband. Once you've determined that you've done all you can from your end, if things do not change, you'll be faced with some tough choices. We wish you well.



Divorcing Second Wife?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Reader writes:  After many unhappy years, my 12-year marriage broke down. I realize I may have been depressed the majority of the marriage. I was a trailing spouse to a corporate executive wife, and provided the majority of child-raising work - even with a career of my own.

When our third child was born, I stopped working, and within 2 years of that birth, she was involved in an affair. It took 3 more years to get through a divorce that left me scarred. My therapist advised that I had been emasculated early on and lost myself while married. I tried to get back on my feet in a new town (my ex relocated and I followed), but had no support group or family nearby.

I dated throughout our separation for companionship and a social life, and got involved with a lovely woman (never married, no kids) about the time my divorce was finalized. Although I didn't feel this woman was "the one," and I had many personal issues with her, we stayed together. She helped me fight a lengthy postdivorce custody battle, when my ex decided to relocate again, and we were married about the time we received the court order that my children would live with us during the school year and fly to spend summers with their mom.

My remarriage has consisted of disagreements, negativity, stress, and hurt feelings on both our parts, although we have shared some good times too. I don't like the manner in which my wife handles my older children, and she coddles the youngest. I have had difficulty getting back to work full-time during this period, and finances are extremely tight. We never joined our finances, and she had a great deal of debt that came into the marriage, much of which I have paid off. She hasn't contributed much to our shared living expenses since her house sold. She also has many issues stemming from childhood. I have been unhappy and have been considering divorce for some times. We seem to clash in so many different ways.

I have finally made the decision to divorce, move my children to the town where their mother lives (my home state, where I have been yearning to move because my family lives there, so I will have support), and start my life over. I know I was not ready to be remarried when I did. My wife thinks we can fix everything through counseling, but I assured her it is about me becoming the man I haven't been for decades, not doing the healing necessary after my divorce. Plus, and more important, it is about my children being close with both biologicals.

We have way too many issues and disagreements for me to feel that I will ever be "in love" with her, which I don't believe I ever was. I don't see myself growing old with her. I feel I married out of convenience so I wouldn't be alone and would have a partner in raising my children, and someone to support me in my fighting my ex. I now regret my decision to remarry. My wife feels I can find myself, get my career of the ground, get through our financial difficulties, overcome depression, and become a happily married couple if we stay together and seek counseling. She wants to "help" me. I feel it's time to throw in the towel and do what is going to make me and my children happy and me a productive, self-respecting man. I feel I need to do this alone.

I don't wish to fell like I am a quitter, but before I ever consider another partner, I need to address a number of issues on a personal level to move forward with life and find my happiness. Depression, low self-esteem, lack of motivation, and overall unhappiness is no way to go through  life, especially if I am tied to someone else. If she were the children't mother, then I would consider trying to reconcile, but because she is not, I feel the need to love on and learn to be along, while raising my children and being the best father I can be.

Chuck and Jae reply:  A key point in your letter is "...not doing the healing necessary after my divorce..." It's often the case that, when someone gets seriously involved in a relationship too soon after the breakup of the previous one, it's not long before major problems pop up in the new relationship. Sometimes, these problems turn out to be a repeat of (or very similar to) those that existed in the previous relationship. In our experience in working with couples, we have learned that it is important to allow sufficient time between relationships for grieving, healing, and self-examination. Unlike many individuals who, too early after the end of their marriage, are convinced they have met their lifelong soul mate, you sense early on that you were probably making a mistake. It sounds like you chose to stay in the this relationship for convenience's sake and out of a sense of obligation to her for the support she provided to you while you were going through the aftermath of the divorce.

It's clear from your letter that your mind is made up. You want to stop being so dependent on others and to reclaim your sense of self. You believe you will not be able to achieve these goals while remaining in this marriage, because there are too many hurdles to be overcome by both of you. Your wife disagrees with you, believing that current obstacles can be overcome with professional help.

As you go through this process, you will want to bear in mind the depth of attachment your children have to your wife, and deal with that accordingly. We assume you are having ongoing discussions with your therapist about these matters. If not, we encourage you to do so. We wish you the best, whichever decision you choose to make.


New Stepmother With Identity Crisis

Monday, July 12, 2010

Reader writes:  I’m writing for some expert advice in my new step-motherhood. I am almost 35, and avoided marriage for some time because I really enjoyed doing things on my own and wanted the freedom to pursue my career without consulting a husband. Two years ago, I rekindled a friendship from high school with my now husband. He was going through a separation with his then wife, who left their marriage of 11 years for another man. I found myself quickly head over heels in love, and moved in with him, before the divorce was final, into the home he shared with his wife and children. She had moved about a mile away so the kids wouldn’t have to change school systems.

He and his ex-wife have joint custody of two young boys, ages 4 and 9. Under their agreement, she is their primary parent, and has them about 60 percent of the time. His ex married the man she left him for just 2 weeks before our wedding, but did not inform him or the kids she was doing so.  She and that man are now divorced. As a result of her being a single parent, she has asked us to take the kids on more and more, so she can pursue her personal life. She is always respectful to me, by the way.

The bottom line is: My husband seems very clingy, always needing validation of our love in many ways. His children and I have a good relationship, but I find they are quite clingy to me as well. So much so that these three people I love often make me feel suffocated. Coupled with living in a house I did not choose just down the street from the ex-wife, I often feel like I am getting lost in their world. After all this time being independent, traveling on my own everywhere, and taking on new pursuits, I find myself in a family dynamic that crowds me out, and I’m struggling to cling to my own identity I’ve known for years. It feels as though I’m wearing many hats, but I lost my own.

I feel as though I care for the children and love them so much, but I am prevented from making any real decisions for them – even taking them to the doctor or helping to decide things for them with their mother and father. All while my husband depends on me heavily in caring for the kids on a daily basis.

It has left me wondering what an appropriate role for me should be and, just as important, what kind of role I really want to have. I don’t think my husband and I disagree on money or even how to raise the kids. And I get along with his ex just fine. This is me, having an identity crisis, and missing my old self and the freedoms I used to have, because I’m lost in their world. I’m questioning if I can have the freedoms I love and still be a wife and stepmom. 

Red flags are flying up so much lately that I’m scared I made the wrong decision in marrying him. How could a woman my age with my personality not see this coming? I truly believed I could handle it all, and I’m scared that I can’t.

Chuck and Jae reply:  Your story is an excellent example of why it’s so important to keep the heart alone from dictating the pace of a relationship’s progress. It’s obvious to us (and we’re sure it is to you) that both you and your husband needed to take more time to think things through prior to acting on your feelings for each other. Your husband and his children apparently had insufficient time to process their loss, which could explain their “clinginess” toward you. Now they are afraid of losing you as well. It’s possible that they are also unconsciously picking up on your feelings of suffocation and ambivalence, which is intensifying their fears. To further complicate matters, your husband and his ex appear to be taking advantage of your good nature by giving you the lion’s share of responsiblity for the kids. And, this responsibility is not accompanied by commensurate authority to make important decisions for the children.

Despite these handicaps in the relationship, there are some positive elements. First, you and his ex get along well and she is “always respectful” to you. We suggest you use this rapport to initiate discussions with her and your husband over how you might be able to be more clearly involved in decisions regarding the children, to include getting legal permission to participate in school and medical matters.

The second positive is that you and your husband agree on child-rearing and financial issues. These issues have historically been a source of major conflict among remarried couples. This suggests that agreement on other issues of concern to you might not be too difficult to achieve. We are especially thinking about your concerns with regard to your personal freedom and individuality. This does not have to be an either/or proposition. Think about what individual activities would help you both reclaim your personal identity and allow you to still function as an effective wife and stepmother. This might include occasional solo travel, membership in certain groups, or other types of activities. Obviously, you will need the cooperation of your husband and his ex to achieve this. Above all, don’t beat yourself up for the choices you have made up to now. It may still be possible to transform what appear to be negative choices into fulfilling positive ones. We wish you well.


Remarrying With Skeptical Friends and Family

Monday, July 12, 2010

Reader writes:  I left my husband in October after being married for 13 months, and we filed for divorce later that same month. I met the love of my life and started dating in November. We moved in together in December with my 6-year-old daughter. Now that my divorce is final, we are planning on getting married later on this year.

My family and friends who have seen us together are so happy for us all, but my extended family and friends from farther away don’t seem to get it. I am trying to be very understanding of their feelings, and I was in the beginning.  However, my fiancé and I have been through a lot in these few months together. We are raising my daughter, had our house broken into, one of us has filed for bankruptcy due to medical bills, and we have lost a baby. Many couples would have crumbled under the pressure, but we have grown closer together and it has shown us even more that we want to be together in the good and the bad.

Is there anything we can do to get people to understand our love is real and that this time is different for me?

Chuck and Jae reply:
  Wow!  Married and divorced in 13 months. New “love” 1 month later. Moved in together the next month. Getting married this year. House break-in. Bankruptcy. Miscarriage. The pace of all this activity is almost overwhelming. It’s admirable that you and your fiancé have grown closer through all this, and we must admit, it could be a good omen for the future.

We can understand, on the other hand, how some of your friends and family might be skeptical. Healthy, lasting relationships usually take time (and effort) to develop. Also, a reasonable amount of “solo” time between relationships is recommended, particularly to allow us to reflect on our part in the breakup of the previous relationship, so we don’t make the same mistakes over and over again.

The only thing that is going to convince others that “this time is different” is time. That  could mean years for some people. Even then, the quality of the relationship will be an important factor.

Rather than focus on persuading others, we recommend you instead focus on trying to make this the best marriage possible for you. That could include some professional counseling to help you learn from the mistakes of your previous relationships, as well as providing you and your fiancé important tools to assist you through the inevitable rough spots.


Dealing With Depression in the Stepfamily

Monday, July 12, 2010

Reader writes:  I have recently married the man I have dated for the past 5 years. We have been married for 6 months. We split up numerous times while dating because he would just out of the blue shut me and my kids out and tell me he can’t give me what I want. We each have two children. His children (girl, 17, and boy, 14) do not live with us and the girl hardly visits. His son is with us most weekends and over half of the summer. My children (girl, 11, and boy, 8)  love my husband with all their heart. 

The issue is my husband has turned cold to my children. He has just told me he isn’t happy and doesn’t want to come home to us and that my children fight too much. If they make any kind of noise or have a disagreement, my husband gets mad and doesn’t want to be around them (or me). When I asked him why he has seemed so happy until now, he said it is because we haven’t been home that much since the wedding (we travel with our job together).

I don’t disagree that my children have issues; their actual father is a piece of work and has caused a huge amount of problems that they are scared from. My husband recognizes this, but now he acts like he doesn’t care about any of us. No matter what I do with my children to make things better (I have them in counseling, I keep them away from him at night if he comes home before they are in bed; I try to do anything to make things better), he resents the fact that they exist, and all they want is to love and hug on him, and he cringes. All he will say is, “If it works out, it will work out.” I told him divorce is not an option, and he just looks at me. It is like he enjoys hurting us, and we do nothing but love him. 

He battles depression, and I told him his "pattern" has started and he needs to go to his doctor and have his meds adjusted, to which i get the response, “I am fine.” I don’t know what to do. My children love him so much, and he, for some reason, wishes they didn’t exist. For 5 months he was happy with them, took my son with him all the time, and watched TV with my daughter. Then one day it all turned to cold hate. Please help.

Chuck and Jae reply:  We are truly saddened by the difficulties you and your children are experiencing with your husband. It must be very confusing and frustrating for you.

Based on what you have shared in your e-mail, we believe the issue is primarily your husband’s depression. His irritability, inconsistency, bouts of isolation, and periodic withdrawal from your children are symptomatic of untreated depression. Your suggestion that he see his doctor about this is on target. If he continues to go untreated, his condition will probably worsen. The impact on you and your children will intensify as well.

Since he denies he is having a problem, it’s unlikely he will seek help on his own. Therefore, we recommend you discuss the situation with a family therapist to consider options for persuading him to have his depression treated. One option that comes to mind is an “intervention” conducted in the therapist’s office with you, your children, and your husband present. In this session, you and your children would let your husband/their stepfather know how much you love him and how concerned you are about his emotional health, provide some examples of his negative behaviors and how they have impacted you, and, finally, tell him how important it is to all of you for him get help.

If he firmly refuses to treat his depression, you will want to consider the potential seriousness of the impact of his behavior on the emotional health of you and your children. Then you will do what is best and safest for all of you.


Sunday Dinners – Have Cake and Eat It Too?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Reader writes:   My blended family life was finally well adjusted and peaceful after 20 years, then my husband and I separated 5 years ago. We both have new partners now. His two adult children, my steps, always had Sunday dinner with us. We carried on the tradition after our separation. Life was good until the ex and I acquired partners. The new partners (who also have children) rarely join us, and are uncomfortable with the Sunday dinner tradition even though we are now on neutral ground – my stepson’s home. To make matters more uncomfortable, my steps’ biological mother has decided to invite herself to the Sunday dinners since they are now on neutral ground. Neither my ex nor I like the woman.

Do you think it is possible for us to continue the Sunday dinner tradition? Will some just have to be excluded? I am loath to end family ties, but want to move on with my new relationships. Only one of my stepchildren is willing to come to my new home and have a relationship with my new partner. I am beginning to think it impossible to have my cake and eat it too – at least at the family Sunday dinner.

Writing this out highlights how complicated it all has become. I think we have reached the point where it cannot be worked out. We have to choose which relationships to continue because we cannot continue them all.

Thank you for any insights or suggestions you may have.

Chuck and Jae reply:   Congratulations on having successfully navigated the sometimes rough waters of the blended family for all those years. The fact that your stepchildren have chose to continue the tradition of having Sunday dinners together with you, even after the separation, says a lot about the quality of your relationships with them.

If we understand you correctly, the current arrangement for this gathering involves just you, your ex-spouse, and the mother of your stepchildren.  Neither of your new partners attend, and neither of you enjoy the company of your stepchildren’s mother. To add to your discomfort, only one of your stepchildren is willing to spend time in your new home with you and your current partner.

We agree that the Sunday dinner arrangement should be discontinued. That does not mean that you have to end your long-term relationships with your stepchildren. You obviously mean very much to them. We recommend you tactfully let them know that you plan to discontinue attending the Sunday dinners, because you would like to spend that time with your new family.  We think they would understand that reasoning, and it may relieve them of some of the awkwardness they themselves probably have been feeling. Also, please remember that their discomfort is not necessarily about you, but more likely their reaction to all the changes that have taken place.

We also recommend you inform them that you want to continue your relationship with them, albeit on a different basis. Perhaps you can meet with them for dinner or lunch (just the three of you) and talk about how you might do that. For example, you could arrange for a specific time and place to meet as a trio on a regular basis. At some future point, if the relationship continues, circumstances could evolve to where both of them are comfortable with your present partner. If that should occur, you could then establish newer traditions for family gatherings that would include them and your family. If not, you could continue to maintain contact with them in a variety of different scenarios.

Obviously, as you have already noted, they will each choose for themselves whether and how they wish to relate to you.


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