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Direct Answers - Column for the week of June 24, 2002

I suppose there are worse problems than having two men who want to share their life with me. However, it is a genuine problem. I do need advice on sorting this all out.

My former husband and I wanted a baby and soon had one. The problems in our marriage stemmed from two teenage daughters from his first marriage. Their mom jumped ship after 10 years to “find herself, " leaving him to raise the girls.

Suffice it to say the girls were extremely hard on me, and his family didn't accept that three years after his divorce, he moved on. We sought counseling, but it didn't resolve anything. I grew weary trying to raise two girls that hated me and dealing with his hostile family.

That was four years ago. For the next two years he was so bitter I left he wouldn't speak to me, and all communication was through third parties. Life has been difficult for me raising a son on my own. I had to sell the home I bought for the two of us and am still struggling financially.

After two years, I met a man with a son the same age as mine, and the boys rapidly became like brothers. His father and I also developed a close, intimate relationship, and he is financially successful. We've been together nearly two years and bought a home with the intention of getting married soon.

My current relationship never had the spark of *** and emotional intensity my former husband and I shared. Still, we were content until I talked to my former husband for the first time in almost two years.

Therein lies the catch. My former husband says now that his youngest daughter has moved out, he is free to live life as he wants. He gives me flowers, writes me love notes, and says he wants to devote the rest of his years to bringing up our son together.

I never fell out of love with him, I just left the marriage lonely and very hurt. He says he, too, spent a long time trying to heal and is now ready to try to put it together again. We are not having sex. I know better. But my former husband gives me the attention I crave in my current relationship and don't get.

It seems odd to me that if a man really wanted to share his life with his son and his son's mother, he could tolerate them living with another man. I also find it unusual that my boyfriend, as an adult man, is willing to tolerate the advances of any man toward the woman he hopes to marry.

My third option would be to tell each man, politely, that neither made a perfect mate for me. Unfortunately, I'm in no position to be without a helpmate. I'm not holding out for a perfect relationship anymore. I realize that just doesn't exist, at least not in my world.

Jenna

Jenna, your dilemma is like the automobile comparisons in Consumer Reports. Each vehicle offers different features, and what matters most is personal preference. Do you most value safety, styling, or fuel economy?

Your ex-husband didn't defend you against his family, and people who remarry usually rediscover the good reason they divorced in the first place. Your boyfriend is a good person with no passion, but there is companionship for your son.

In the old song “Torn Between Two Lovers, " a woman can't decide between two men, which means neither feels right. There is another song from the Hebrides, which contains the line “Thou art the music of my heart. " That's what it feels like when the connection is true.

What you decide will be largely driven by financial need, so the question you ask is not one we can answer. What do you most value-safety, styling, or fuel economy?

Wayne & Tamara

About The Author

Authors and columnists Wayne and Tamara Mitchell can be reached at www.WayneAndTamara.com .

Send letters to: Direct Answers, PO Box 964, Springfield, MO 65801 or email: DirectAnswers@WayneAndTamara.com .

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