BrotherWord - Secrets

Dear BrotherWord,

I am at a complete lost and confused and at my breaking point.  I have been with my boyfriend for almost 2 years and today I found out he has a daughter!  A 3 year old daughter that he has never said anything about, I have never met, and did not know she even existed.  What am I supposed to do with that?  How am I supposed to accept this little girl, who may be innocent in the matter, but was kept a secret?  And when I asked him why he kept her a secret, all he could say was I didn’t know how to tell you.  Please help because as much as I love him, I am ready to walk!

Desperately,

The Secret is Out

Greetings The Secret is Out,

Thank you for reaching out to BrotherWord and trusting that you can find an answer to this dilemma.  Will not sugarcoat or pretend that there is a simple fix.  This is a delicate situation that obviously started on the wrong foot and when things start out backwards, it is more difficult to steer them in the right direction.  That does not mean there is not hope and if you truly desire to continue your relationship, that it cannot be salvaged and this hurdle can be overcome.

I believe one realization you made and I commend you for it is acknowledging the child is not the culprit or cause of the problem and that she is innocent in this matter.  As such, please do not penalize her for the faults of her father and his inability to be forthcoming.  with that said, it is decision time!  Are you willing to also accept the responsibility for being a parent to this child?  And before that, can you see yourself remaining in the relationship and working through this transgression?  Before you can move forward, you first have to decide do you want to move forward or move on.

Since you did reach out, I would dare to say that you are willing to remain, but trying to find out how to do so.  It is not a simple fix and will take more effort on your end than his.  Remember you are the one who is choosing to stay, if indeed you do, and by choosing to stay, you also choose to work through the issues, accept his daughter, and move past the problem without holding it over his head, constantly revisiting it, or allowing it to taint everything else, past or present.  That is a monumental task and one that will require a lot on your part.

First thing is to address the proverbial elephant, which is the child.  Try to figure out why he kept her a secret.  There really are no excuses because disclosure and open dialogue is a key component in any relationship, especially one of this magnitude, but give him an opportunity to at least explain his thoughts and why he chose to hide his daughter from you.  You may not understand and it definitely does not merit his actions, but it is a step in healing.  Communication opens the channels of growth, resolutions, and if continually practiced, can minimize future issues.  This is a conversation that should have taken place almost two years ago, but as the saying goes, better late than never.

Next I would be very honest with him and express how the deceit has affected you, tarnished the trust between you, and has now put you in a compromising position.  How his selfish act has now forced you to choose between the man you love and the child you never knew about or turn your back on the last two years of something you have built while also faulting an innocent child.  It is a precarious situation that no one should have to make, but here you are and now you are forced to decide.  If you need time, ask him to respect that and not push the situation.  If you need to know the back story of the child and mother, he should be willing to oblige.  If it means meeting the child and determining if you are willing to be a part of her life and vice versa, all of these are logical and practical approaches.

Finally, if your choice is to stay, to remain in the relationship, to ultimately be a part of the child’s life, the moment you make that decision is the moment you must let it go and work towards moving forward.  That by far will be the most difficult challenge to overcome, but also the most critical.  In order for the relationship with either him or her to have any chance, you must release the hurt and anger.  No resentment nor reminders of what happened or holding onto it and constantly bringing it up.  Again, this is a painstaking process, but very much doable if you so desire.

When it is all said and done, it is up to you to decide what you can live with and what you cannot and once you make that decision, to have the fortitude and the courage to see it through to the very end.  Just like we started out, I truly believe you want to work it out and stay.  Remember that it is your decision and no one else’s.  You have all the power and all the tools and even though there is work to be done and fences that need mending, if you are willing, it can be accomplished.

What do you think about the #secret that was kept?  Do you think she should stay or go?  If she stays, do you think the relationship will survive?  Send your thoughts and comments to @BrotherWord here, on twitter, and facebook.