Hi Alison and Tony: I met “Roger” online and we went out a few times. Then he told me that he had done some bad things in the past and they have caught up with him (he was dealing drugs and he assaulted someone — but he said it was self defense). A jury convicted him and he is now in jail for a year. I am a single mom of two boys and pregnant with his baby. Now I am working two jobs, trying to take care of him and the kids all at once. I’m exhausted and am barely making ends meet. I wouldn’t mind if Roger showed any appreciation, but he doesn’t. For example, last week I couldn’t visit because one of the kids got sick , and he wasn’t concerned about them, but he was angry and complained that I didn’t care about him because I didn’t show up for visiting hours. The commute to the prison is about two hours back and forth, and I have to get a baby sitter and pay for that, too. I feel like I am giving my all to keep our love alive. and I am getting nothing back in return. I try to tell Roger how this is all affecting me and all he says is “I can’t do anything baby, because I am in jail.” I know he is suffering, but so are we! Roger should be getting out in about six months so I have to make a decision. He’d like us to get married while he is still in jail, but I’m just not sure I should do that. And he hasn’t talked about what he might do to support us, or what his plans will be, when he gets out. If I walk away, I honestly feel like I’ll be losing someone I really love, but his attitude is such a disappointment. When he calls I think “Oh god, what verbal abuse is he going to sling at me now?” He has six months left and I need to know what to do about this awful situation.
Should I bail before Roger gets out of jail?
Alison’s Take: Marianne, I think you absolutely do know what to do about this situation. You haven’t been with Roger very long, and most of the time you have spent with him is as a guest of a prisoner. While prison is going to be difficult for everyone involved, as you have recounted it, Roger is only thinking of himself and actually, not doing a lot of thinking in the first place! He’s already disappointed you many times, in many ways.
Roger must have some good qualities that attracted you, but he’s obviously made a lot of mistakes and continues to make them. You don’t need any further proof than to look at him in his prison garb, every time you visit.
Interestingly, although you say you’re in love with Roger, you also told Alison and Tony that when you get a call from him your reaction is closer to panic, than pleasure. Why would you settle for this! From what I can tell, there’s not too much to look forward to when Roger comes home except to more misery.
And then there’s the children to consider. They deserve your attention and protection. If you’re spending all your time focusing on Roger, they’re being “shorted” on all fronts. The idea that Roger is trying to rope you into marriage right now when he has absolutely nothing to offer you, is bad enough, but he also hasn’t made any plans to support himself or you and the children, when he gets out of jail. Is this the kind of man you want as a husband, and around your children as father and role model?
I wish I could say that things will get better when Roger is “sprung” but it doesn’t sound like it. Roger sounds very much in control of you. Love doesn’t always conquer all. While I almost never tell my readers what to do, in this case, I feel I should: I’d urge you to walk away now while Roger is out of the immediate geographic picture and can’t harm you. There are other men out there and you will find them if you give yourself a chance. Roger may react with anger, but perhaps the time he has left in jail will give him some perspective and a chance to cool off. Roger already has shown that he has a violent streak. End the relationship now when he can’t physically harm you and move away, if you must. If you don’t, you will be the one “in prison” and your “sentence” might just last a lifetime!
Tony’s Take: Quite honestly it does not matter what you want and what you feel, you gave up that right when you had children. You must do what’s best for your two boys and your unborn child. If you let him, this man is going to be the father of your children. He will set the example on which they will build their lives. How does he treat your boys, is he their friend? Does he play with them? The lack of concern about your sick son is a worrying issue. Another issues is the assault charge, no matter what the reason. Is he going to have anger management issues with your sons? Is he going to have anger management issues or be abusive with you? With a record, literally every white collar job is now out of the question for him. Does this man know a trade or is he interested in one? He will get very tired, frustrated and angry if he is reduced to doing day labor. Also boys brought up by blue collar fathers (on average) either do not go to college or do poorly in college. Could your relationship to this man doom your sons’ future prospects?
You indicate that he is verbally abusive when he calls from prison. That’s anger, frustration and resentment that he cannot let out in jail, being redirected to you. This is very bad, because when he is angry, frustrated and resentful when his post prison plans do not work, it’s likely that he will redirect those feelings at you, making your life miserable.
There is another personal issue you are likely to have — men directly out of prison have a lot of pent up anger, and sex with them is often “rough” and possibly humiliating or painful for a number of months thereafter (until they again become “civilized”).
If you really love the guy and he really loves you and the kids, and your kids love him, you could make this work. However with what you included in your letter, it seems you are best off without him. If I may — I would find if there is a “Parents Without Partners” group near you and join. There is a lot of mutual help and a chance you might find a guy with a real future.