This installation of Dear CW comes from an anonymous Facebook posting.
My son’s mother was evicted from her apartment. I didn’t want her and my son in the street. My wife said I could bring in my son, but not his mother. I didn’t want to break them up, so I let them both stay. Now my wife isn’t speaking to me. Was I wrong?
Signed, Compassionate Dad
Let’s cut to the chase. Were you wrong? Yes. Did you have a good reason for being wrong? Maybe.
Let’s get to why you were wrong first, and your reasoning second. Your wife shares a home with you. You both have an equal stake in what goes on under your roof, so of course she would expect to have some say so in how your home life operates. Undoubtedly, your wife also expects you to consider her voice in all decision-making that impacts the household.
You decided what you were going to do and did it, over her objections. You basically, in your wife’s mind, vaunted another woman’s needs/desires above hers. Ten times out of ten that is wrong. It does not matter that it was your ex who was on the verge of homelessness. What you virtually said to your wife is: “I don’t care about you, your thoughts, your feelings or anything else, what matters most to me now, is the well-being of my ex.”
In your wife’s view, this is not even about your son, as he was more than welcomed in your home. It became about this adult who somehow found herself getting evicted, and now will become the responsibility of you and your wife for an indefinite period of time.
How would you feel if your wife invited another adult into the household that has already shown him/herself incapable, for whatever reason, of maintaining a home? Now this person is living in your home, while you’re forced to alter your entire routine to take care of him or her? Then let us add in the fact that this person is someone who had sex with your wife at some point in time. Be realistic, women (and men) are territorial. You have pushed your wife’s feelings aside and took it upon yourself to care for a woman who at some point held a special place in your life.
The questions likely running through your wife’s head are reasonable: Why our home? Does this woman not have relatives she can rely on? How did she end up being evicted? If she needed help, why did she not reach out before it came to this point? Why did this woman not come to me herself and see if it was okay to move in?
How do you think I feel taking on another mouth to feed that I have absolutely no responsibility for? How could you make a unilateral decision of this magnitude without even considering why I would say no? Do you care that much about this other woman that my feelings mean nothing? What does this woman staying in my house have to do with the child?
As to your reasoning. It is understandable that you would want your child to feel comfortable and have his mother. It is also understandable that you would not want to have his mother living on the street or separated from him. By that token it sounds like she may have had somewhere to go, but would leave your son with you and your wife. Your compassion and caring are not wrong. However, you could have gone about this another way. Instead of being dismissive and so reactive, how about sitting with your wife and understanding why she objects, and then working to overcome those objections?
Why not seek alternatives for where your ex and your son can stay together, possibly with other relatives? Or helping your ex pay the back rent. Your son moving into a hostile environment, will not be good for him either.
At this point, you have potentially allowed a temporary situation to cause permanent damage to your marriage. It may not seem permanent to you, but potentially, in your wife’s view, you have chosen another woman over her and disrespected her in the process. Your wife did not deny your child a safe and secure place to reside, so she was not being unreasonable. Co-parents and step-parents often step in the gap to provide security for the child when the custodial parent is unable to do so. Having your child in your home without his mother is really not as big a deal as you made it seem. Unless this is a permanent situation (and if it is…you are in even bigger trouble), it would have been simply an extended visitation.
Yes, moving your ex in could have been an option, but only if your wife was part of creating that option. Otherwise, you probably should have found other alternatives.
Your wife should never be made to feel that she has no voice in her own home. You have placed her in a secondary position to someone you are not responsible for, and that just will not fly.
Now that you have done this, what is your plan? Have you asked your ex how she got to this point? Evictions do not typically happen overnight. Is there an end game to this living arrangement? Do you plan on always sliding in to help your ex out no matter what your wife has to say about it? What do you plan to do to rectify this situation with your wife?
Readers: What are your thoughts? Is this mother and son a package deal for the father’s wife? Who was wrong in this situation, the husband, wife, or the child’s mother? What would be your advice?