Advicereality check

Reality Check

I left home and married my slightly older boyfriend when I was 16. I was abused in almost every way by almost everyone in my family, so even though I was young it seemed like the best chance of survival I had. Luckily, not only did I survive all that familial abuse but it turned out I married my soulmate. My husband and I were together for 11 years, until last year, when he was killed by a drunk driver. Obviously, I was devastated, and I’ve started to put my life back together. Luckily, I have the support of our friends and his amazing family, which has become my family. A few months ago, a woman came to me with her son claiming to be the ex-girlfriend of my husband and saying that the little boy was his. The boy is adorable and could possibly resemble my husband, but he had very soft features, so if there’s a resemblance it could be easily misinterpreted. The boy is also 14, meaning that if he was sired by my husband then it was a year before he and I even met. He would’ve been 16 at the time, and I could not fault him at all. I contacted my in-laws, asking if they knew about him, since this woman wanted me to give her money from my husband’s life insurance policy. They said that they did know about the child, but that my husband didn’t, and that they had been supporting the child and mother since his birth. Apparently, they agreed to pay for the child’s expenses in exchange for the child’s mother not mentioning the child to my husband. My husband is listed on the boy’s birth certificate, and I don’t think my husband knew of this child, because he always wanted children (we couldn’t conceive due to complications from the sexual abuse I suffered as a child, but were looking into adopting next year), and I feel like he would’ve definitely brought this child into our lives if he had known about him. On one hand, I’m angry with my in-laws for keeping this boy a secret from my husband, as he could’ve brought us all happiness. On the other hand, I’m angry at the child’s mother for coming to me for money (my in-laws have stopped giving her the amount of money that they used to and sent her my way) but I feel for her and her son. The truth is, there isn’t much money left, as I’ve just started school—one of my dreams—and between the tuition and books and the loss of my husband’s income, I’m living, but not lavishly. Do I owe the child and his mother the rest of the life insurance? Should I cut off contact with my in-laws? Should I reach out to the mother and child in a non-financial way? I’m lost. I just started living again, and I still miss my soulmate and just want to do what he would think is best so that I can honor his memory. 

Wondering Widow

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I can’t speak to whether or not you owe them money. You’ll have to talk to a lawyer about that. But you should definitely reach out to the mother and son. You are the only link this kid has to his biological father, and since you had nothing to do with the breakup of your late husband and the mother of his child, I don’t see why she would harbor any bad feelings about you. As for your in-laws, well, I think you should have a talk with them. You describe his family as “amazing” and say that they have become your family. That means you should have no trouble having an honest conversation about all of this. Keep in mind that they probably thought that by “protecting” their son from knowledge of this boy, they probably thought they were protecting you and your marriage as well. Don’t judge them too harshly until you have heard them out. You have all suffered a huge loss, and it would be nice if you could continue to take comfort in one another rather than starting a family feud.

My husband and I left Athens last year so he could go to grad school. We are living in a nice town that is sooooo far away. We didn’t know anyone when we got here, and for the first six months I had two jobs and worked 60 hours a week so we could afford everything we needed while he went to school full time. Needless to say I did not have a lot of time to socialize. Now I am down to one job, and there are only a few (okay, two) people out of over 100 that I work with that I really feel any connection with. One of them is a married guy around my age who is also a transplant. We hang out on lunches and occasionally see each other after work for a beer. I have met his wife and he has met my husband, but whenever they invite us to stuff—kid’s birthday, out for pizza, whatever—my husband can’t go. He is now working as well as going to school and we are literally on opposite schedules for the time being. So here’s the thing: my friend’s wife is cool. We actually have a lot in common and get along well. I think if we lived in the same town we would probably hang out, but she has two kids and lives 45 minutes away. Her female friends, on the other hand, all seem to hate me. They all practically ignore me when we’re together, and I sense some thinly veiled hostility. I feel like they think I am hitting on my friend, or in some way a threat to his marriage. Let me be clear: both of our marriages are very happy. There is not an ounce of sexual tension between us. Everything seems totally cool with his wife, and my husband has absolutely no problem with this situation. I think he is relieved that I actually have a friend. So should I just blow this off and ignore it? Or should I say something to my friend? His wife? The mean girls in question? I feel a little silly even asking, but it is bothering me a lot.

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There isn’t really anything you can do about the women in question. I’m sure that they feel justified in protecting their friend from some outsider woman who is suddenly in her husband’s life. As long as all of the people who are directly involved (meaning you and your husband and your friend and his wife) are okay, I think your best bet is just to ignore it and try to be as nice to them as possible. I know it sucks, but the direct approach in this case might just make them defensive and make the whole thing worse.