Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
What would you do about DF's DP in thsi situation ?(26 Posts)
I was reading a thread earlier today on a similar theme to this ( AIBU not to invite my fathers partner to my wedding) and it struck a chord with me so I thought I would canvass opinions about my own family situation.
In the mid 1980s my DM was diagnosed with a chronic untreatable illness. My DF has never liked sick people and as their marriage was already faltering ( they had been married 20 years at this point) this was really the nail in the coffin for it. I remember both parties as being really unhappy from the age of about 12/13 onwards.
My DM's condition deteriorated and eventually she went into full time care in her late 50s about 8 years ago. At first my DF rattled around at home, visited my DM regularly but as she was starting to lose mental capacity too he started to see her less and less. After a couple of years he confided to my DH that he had started internet dating. He knew my DH would tell me which he did and I then told my siblings. Our general view was that we could understand his reasons ( like not having had sex for 15 years), and that as long as our DM was still provided for and cared for he was free to make his own choices. To start with he continued to visit DM weekly ( he was till working full time) and bought presents for her etc. He also paid her care home costs, bought her clothes and toiletries etc. etc. His visits tailed off more and more as my DM lost her capacity and then he started lying to us and saying he had been to visit when he hadnt ( we checked with the staff).
After about a year it became apparent that he was seeing one person and that a permanent relationship was developing. At this point (and even today) he has still never formally sat down with either me or any of my siblings and informed us of OW's existence or his relationship with her. He drops her name into conversation and he signs cards from both of them. He has shown me pictures of them on holiday together. He assumes that we all just know about OW now.
It has also transpired that OW believes my DF was separated from my DM when he met her and he has never told her the reality of the situation. When one of my siblings got married a couple of years ago apparently she made a comment about the fact that she was never invited to our family events ( my father had attended her own daughters wedding only a couple of weeks earlier). I asked my DF how she expected to be invited when my DM was going to the wedding WITH HIM ? But of course she didnt know that.
Since then my DM has died ( in blissful ignorance we could never have told her even if we thought it was the right thing to do because she didnt know who most of us were for the last couple of years and she wouldnt have had any understanding of my dads behaviour). My DF explained his presence at the funeral to OW by saying he wanted to support his children. Not sure how he explained paying for it all. She is now making noises about wanting to meet us; not surprising as they have been together about 6 years. I dont have a problem with meeting her but cannot bring myself to lie about the fact that my DF was still married for the first 2 or 3 years they were together. More importantly I cant expect my children to lie either. If the topic of how long they have been together comes into conversation ( which it will my daughter knows her GD has a girlfriend and has already asked me how long he has been with her; if I say 6 years then she will ask how that is possible because GM has only been dead for 3). I have told my DF this on several occasions. I have nothing against her. I am sure she is a nice person ( she makes sure my dad remembers everyones birthdays which he never used to, even when we were kids, and she spends time looking for suitable presents for all his GD on the internet etc he has told us this) but she has been lied to and I dont feel comfortable carrying on the pretence. If she comes to visit for example and looks at photos of my siblings wedding on display she will see pictures of my DM and DF together taken only a couple of months before her death so its obvious they were still together then. It was also noticeable that my DFs own photos of that same wedding contained not a single one of my DM presumably so he could show them to OW.
My DF has recently made one or two comments about the fact that she thinks we are "strange" for not wanting to meet her ( for "strange" read stubborn, rude, unaccepting and generally unpleasant). He has done nothing to disabuse her of these beliefs and just tells her that we decided to side with our DM when they separated. I have repeatedly told him that I am happy to meet OW but not to expect me to lie to her.
What would you do in this situation ? I dont even feel right including OW's name on Xmas cards as I have never met her but it also feels rude to leave her off ( they live together in her house).
To me, this is a problem of your father's making and he should be the one to try to fix it. It seems as if he'd rather allow his new partner to think badly of his children than admit the truth to her.
Would you be happy to meet her if you were invited?
You know alot about her and their conversations to say he has never formally discussed this with you.
I would include her name on cards, as she has sent to you one, and let you dad clean up his own mess.
and I would stop thinking of her as the OW. She isn't really, you knew he was dating and were ok with it. If you saw him dating as an affair I am sure you wouldn't have been.
Also technically he could (rightfully) claim they were separated. Its all about different points of view.
Meet her and see how it goes but warn your Dad that if she asks you direct questions you will not lie. If she doesn't ask don't volunteer information.
That seems fair to me.
It is hard because I think he was doing most of this 'for the best'. Your DM was in full time care and they didn't have a relationship really, not for years. he didn't want to hurt her but he wanted to move on with his life. His partner now didn't know anything different because in his eyes he and your DM were separated.
I think it's best to explain the complexities to your kids (if age appropriate) and meet your DF's partner. She has done nothing wrong, your DF has at most made some understandable errors of judgement and you and your children haven't done anything wrong at all. Time to move on.
Sorry about your DM.
Your dad must hope you don't meet and let on about timescales, hence telling you "what she said". Was that supposed to coax you into meeting her, or put you off? I'd take it all with a large pinch of salt. She may be puzzled as to why you aren't keen to meet or feel hurt but if she is generally a force for good, I'd call your dad's bluff, fix up to meet her with him. Your dad's put you both on the spot and would probably be happy to keep everyone separate and in the dark ever after. Fwiw it's always strange seeing a parent with a new partner, I hope you can sort this out.
I think it is a shame that honesty in all of this was not used at the start of their relationship. Nobody should have begrudged your Dad for wanting some companionship in his life when he effectively lost his wife at quite an early age.
He has done nothing to disabuse her of these beliefs and just tells her that we decided to side with our DM when they separated.
you also made reference to your DMs illness being the ail in the coffin for an unhappy relationship.
You don't need to lie - all you need to say is, if asked, "we (siblings) were not privvy to the dynamics of their emotional relationship" or "they cohabited but the relationship was dead as far as we could see" - well again by your own words, no sex for 15 years, and your Dm in a home for 8 years.
Your words again - it was down the drain when you were 12/13.
Your father has had a hard couple of years, still a young man, in a dead relationship with someone in a care home. He deserves a little happiness, broadly he did his duty by your mother. You dont have to lie to the new partner - and she is his new partner NOT an OW.
I think you should welcome your dad's partner into the family. There's no real reason why a conversation has to come up discussing the timescales involved. If she notices the photos, she may well just think the pair of them were being civil for the sake of the wedding party etc. You don't have to get into the nitty gritty with your dd either, you can just be vague.
I don't think your df did anything particularly wrong in setting up with this woman when your dm was no longer competent and their relationship had been poor for so long beforehand too.
You seem to resent the fact he hasn't formally sat you all down to tell you about his partner - but really, are the hoops you want him to go through so necessary? I do sympathise, and it cannot have been an easy time for any of you, but if you love him and want him to be part of your life and your dc's lives, I think taking the long view and accepting her into the family is the right thing to do.
It was quite crappy of him to invent reasons why you don't want to meet her - 'sided with DM' etc. He's dug himself a hole where he really didn't need to. And 'not liking sick people' is code for 'lazy coward'.
You could have a proper conversation with him about how to move forward. He can think about telling his DP the truth, or more of it and you and your siblings can go along with it as much as you feel able.
I think your dad has behaved in a very strange way. But you know what, this is exactly the kind of thing my dad would have done. Rather than be honest with everyone, he would have tried not to hurt people's feelings, leading to an increasing number of lies...until he dug himself into a pit where he found it hard to bring together two separate lives.
I think you should say to your dad that you want to meet his girlfriend. It sounds like she is important to him and this in no way betrays your mum's memory as nothing would ever replace her.
Don't let your dad put off the meeting. If anything awkward comes up, gloss over it. I don't think you need to lie for your dad, just be kind to his girlfriend who shares his life.
It sounds like the last few years of your mum's life must have been very difficult for all of you. Hope you are doing ok, OP.
Thanks very much for all your comments.
Just to clarify, ever since my DM died I have included DF's DP on every invite to visit us with my DF ( he lives about 100 miles away and visits 3-4 times a year). He always says DP is working even though I offer a range of dates and can be flexible as he likes about visits. We have never been invited to visit them and I have never seen their house. In fact I don't actually have an address or phone number for my DF. I have to send cards to his work address and call him on his work number. I have his mobile number but it always goes straight to voicemail. I have to leave a message and wait for him to call back. When my DM was taken into hospital for the final time it took me 5 hours to get hold of him. Turns out the care home didn't even have a current number for him even though he was next of kin.
He went on holiday for a week once and didn't tell them. DM was taken into hospital while he was away and kept asking for him. We thought she was going to die. The doctors kept asking where he was as they needed to make decisions about her treatment and the only person with authority was him. We had to lie and say he was away on "business". It took 2 days to get hold of him. He refused to come home. On that occasion she recovered but it was very distressing for everyone. My DM kept asking "Why doesn't he come?"
When we went to see the vicar to arrange DM's funeral DF told him that if he'd known she was going to be ill he would never have married her. Didn't stop him banking all the money my DGM left DM though after he died. He said he deserved it for "putting up with her" for all those years. Then he tried to get us to cut back on the wording on DM's gravestone to save money - even though it was all more than covered by what she had left. He wanted to use the shortened version of her first name and miss out her middle name altogether because her surname is long (the stonemasons charged by the letter - and yes the long surname is HIS name ). The whole thing cost about £400. My DM left him £13k plus her half of the house so more than enough to cover it.
If DP sees the photos of them at sibling's wedding she may wonder why DF is suddenly wearing his wedding ring depending on how observant she is.
He's also lied about his age to DP. She thinks he s 5 years younger than he is. It was his 70th birthday a couple of years ago and we were told specifically not to send cards with his age on. A celebration of any kind was out of the question. Dd. still asks now why we didn't do anything for his birthday as we had a big party for her other DGD recently. Not sure how he'll explain that one to her. Dd is 9 and knows the ages and dates of birth of every member of the family, it's kind of an obsession of hers. DF is still working full time. He told me he couldn't retire because that would "give the game away".
FTR I know very little about DP. I don't know her surname, age, occupation, number of children or grandchildren. She does not sign cards-DF signs them from himself and her.
Not sure why it matters so much to some people whether I refer to her as OW or DP. You all know who I mean. I didn't come on here to discuss semantics.
Thank you all again for the helpful and interesting comments. As I'm sure you will appreciate there is a HUGE back story to this so thanks or bearing with me.
Sorry you lost your mother and your mother suffered so badly in her latter years.
Sounds like your father hasn't behaved particularly well - not in terms of dating etc, but in terms of the lying, not giving you his home contact details etc. It sounds like the situation really isn't the OW's fault, from her point of view she isn't the OW, and it sounds like your father has angled to stop you all meeting. I would meet her, and answer questions honestly but kindly.
I feel that your father had every reason to try and build a life on his own, but he should have been honest. After all, you and your siblings have understanding of the situation he was in, surely any decent woman he met could empathize too.
He's stitched himself up by being less than honest, and I think you need to tell him that if he wants to develop a relationship with his new partner and his family, he needs to be upfront with her - she may understand that life was pretty complicated for him, and he perhaps didn't make the best decisions.
I am confused. You seem to have portrayed him in 2 very different lights.
Which is more accurate?
Life was pretty complicated for him or one could say,
"complicated by him".
I feel really sad for both women and also you his children. His actions have made you all tell lies to various people and I'd guess you're sick of that.
Unfortunately this web of lies he's told his partner means that after 6 years, some beliefs are probably stuck for her. She's been told that his children are antagonistic towards him and by association, probably towards her. Because that sounds like a plausible tale, she's been denied any means of corroborating the story he's told her. So when you invite her, either she makes excuses because she doesn't want to face any antagonism or more likely, he never passes on your invitations.
Personally I'd confront him and say you're not prepared to live a lie for him any longer. But hard as this will be to accept, if you do that I think he will choose his lies over a relationship with you. Can you face that?
At first we assumed that DF had told DP the situation with DM ; that basically he felt a duty towards her and maintained contact and financial responsiblity in the same way that one might with any sick relative such as a sibling but that their emotional relationship was over. As you say most decent women would empathize with his position and understand his feelings of responsibilty (they were married for 47 years in the end). It only became apparent much later on that he had in fact told her he was separated and having dug this hole was struggling to get out. The longer he left it the harder it became. He tolds me after DM died that he would come clean and tell her the real position ( and his real age) but that was 3 years ago and he hasn't done it so I can only assume now that one of the reasons he is trying to postpone us meeting her is because he is scared something will come out that he has been hiding. However, if that is the case then I don't understand why he keeps telling me that she thinks it strange she hasn't met us. As I've said I have suggested meetings on multiple occasions and it has always been him who gives excuses as to why she can't be there. Presumably this is also why none of us are allowed to have his phone number - in case we call, she answers and something comes out...
I have no intention of volunteering information but if asked a direct question would not want to lie.
He is coming to visit over the Xmas holidays. I have asked if she will be coming. He was vague in his response so as far as I know it's just him at the moment.
badinage Thank you for that. Yes there is no doubt in my mind that he would choose her over us. This has already happened to certain extent in the way that we are never invited to his house - he doesn't even have the pictures of us and his GCs on display that I have sent him over the years. After DM died we visited the family home to collect some of her belongings ( before he threw the out - we were already too late for some things) and found all the pictures in boxes in the garage. He was clearing the house so he could let it. He had already moved in with DP a year or so before. I asked why he hadn't taken any of the pictures with him and he said there was no room. That made me very sad. I was even more sad when I asked if I could have my DM's cookery books - some of which had come from DGM. He looked surprised and said he had already thrown them and then said " they weren't worth anything". He couldn't understand that I wanted them for sentimental value rather than monetary. I still cry about that even now. One of them was given to her on her wedding day by DGM and had a lovely message written in the front about how she hoped she would be very happy. And he threw it in a skip.
Sorry getting sidetracked now.
Your dad isn't very nice at all, you poor thing. This thread starts out that he was just worried about upsetting people and getting himself in a tizzy but the further info describes a selfish cowardly pig.
Has he been upsetting you and your siblings all your lives? Do you still want to see him at all? Perhaps this latest nonsense is the catalyst for leaving him to it. Your DM no longer ties you together so maybe you can break free.
The Stately Homes thread is a safe place for those with challenging parents.
I feel so sorry for you in all this. This must have been heartbreaking and it sounds like the pain keeps on giving.
I respect the fact that you don't blame his partner for any of this. You put the responsibility squarely on his shoulders.
Will you confront the situation at Christmas do you think?
Oh dear OP. It sounds like a very difficult situation. Your dad sounds like a far more complicated character than in your initial post. You have clearly had to deal with a lot. I'm not sure he is ready to be straight with anyone as he's created such a complex life of mistruths.
Hope Xmas goes well whatever happens.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.