Originally published Friday, January 12, 2018 at 06:00a.m.
Dear Annie: My husband and a daughter he fathered 50 years ago recently found each other via an internet post from the two children we have together. Since they met, he has been hiding in a locked room and calling her several times a day. When I asked him to stop sneaking, she sent him a phone to use just to call her.
We live in Florida, and she has come here twice in the past six months and picked him up from several doors down the street. Now I find she has been sending him cards and asking him to hide them from me. I might also add that the first time she came here a year ago, he did not want any of us to interact with her, going so far as to throw our daughter out of the house when she was there with her daughter making a Mother’s Day gift.
My husband thinks this is normal behavior.
This behavior has caused many arguments and has me contemplating divorce after 49 years. What do you think? — Baffled and Hurting in Florida
Dear Baffled and Hurting: Are you positive this woman is actually his daughter, or is that just a cover story? Because he’s treating this more like an affair than a family reunion. Either way, the behavior is wildly inappropriate and disrespectful. He should want to integrate his newfound daughter with the rest of his family, not hide you from each other. If she’s going to be in his life, she needs to be in yours, too. That said, there are far too many layers than can be excavated in the space of a column. Before issuing any ultimatums involving divorce, try digging deeper with the help of marriage counseling to unearth the truth of the matter.
Dear Annie: Reading the news about sexual harassment, one might get the idea that only men are guilty of this. I know this is not true. I do believe men are more prone to do so, but women in power can and do some similar acts. I know for a fact, because it happened to me when I was an elementary teacher working with a female principal.
I’d like more stories like mine to be shared. It is still embarrassing after all these years. Recent events have brought up feelings that I thought I had left behind, not counting the damage that was done to my career. The damages of harassment can be long-lasting. — Bob
Dear Bob: Sexual harassment and abuse are never OK, regardless of gender. I am so sorry that happened to you. It wasn’t your fault, and you shouldn’t be embarrassed. But I know that’s easier said than internalized. For help processing your experience, I encourage you to consider counseling. You can also reach out to 1in6, an organization that supports men whose lives have been disrupted by unwanted or abusive sexual experiences. For more information and to chat with a trained advocate, visit https://1in6.org.
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