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  • A tough one: child from a previous relationsip

    Dear all,
    I have a tough one and please forgive me if itfs too long. Ifm British (32) and my girlfriend is Japanese (30). Wefve been together for 11 months now and the relationship is really great. We have one problem: I have a son from a previous relationship. Hefs 4 years old and he lives with his mom.

    My son has come to visit me in the past while my girlfriend was living with me. She was very friendly to him. She played with him, cooked for him and was really kind to him. They got on very well. I remember one day my girlfriend was crying and I tried for an hour or so to find out why she was upset but she wouldnft tell me. Finally she told me that she was upset because my son had cried and she did not know how to comfort him. But there was more to it than that; she felt that she could not comfort him because he was not hers and therefore she did not know how to show him some real motherly love. I explained to her that she should not be worried because she was doing great with him. I also explained to her that itfs not easy for many people to love other peoplefs children like their own because at the best of times itfs impossible due to human nature. She seemed to agree with me and the matter was forgotten. Well, not for so long.

    Later on she had to tell her parents about our relationship. However, she was not sure if she should tell them because she was not sure herself if she would be happy in a relationship where there is a child who does not belong to her. Anyway she told them about us and they were very upset mainly because of my son. What added fuel to the fire was the fact that her brother was recently divorced. When he married his wife she had a daughter from a previous relationship. As you know Japanese people are not open about stuff. So no one in the family really knows why they divorced but parents assume that the daughter caused a problem.
    She told her parents that she wants to marry me and they objected. Wefve decided to give them time so that they can get over the initial shock. My girlfriend is living back in Japan with her parents for now because she needs to work. Recently I touched on the topic of my son and she was really upset. So I asked her to tell me frankly about how she really feels about the situation. She told me that she wishes that my son was not there. That was deep but at least she was telling me the truth and I respect her for that. However, my concern is her reason for wishing that my son was not present. Here is her main reason and I find it quite strangec

    Her argument is that with the money Ifm paying to my son our family (the family I hope to start with her one day) could be better off. As an example, she said we could go on holidays 3 times a year if I did not give money to my son. What do you think about that because I thought it was selfish? I explained to her that she needs to learn to share. I work hard and we will always have enough money to live on and to go on holiday.

    As Ifm originally from a very poor African background I told her that when I was growing up I did not even know what a holiday was. The only thing that made me happy was enough food and having people that loved me around me. My major point to her was that she never learnt the importance of sharing and she needs to start now because she will never be happy in our relationship if she refuses to accept that my son will always be there. As a father to my son itfs my duty to look after him and pay money to her mother so that she can raise him. A father who doesnft do that doesnft deserve to live.

    Ifve spoken to a few people about this and some have told me to forget about her now and start looking again. I donft want to do that because we have a really good relationship between us and I think that we can work on this problem together. She agrees too but, itfs hard for her and I understand. I understand because Ifm aware that she was raised in a fairly well off family in Japan and she has never known anything about being poor. I think she needs time and I think that itfs a good thing that she met my son while he was so young because imagine if he were a teenager! I hope age 30 is not too late to start teaching someone about the importance of sharing We both want to get married but before we do that I just need her to be sure that she can live with the situation we are in, otherwise we have to call it quits. For now my son lives with his mama full time and I see him at weekends but who knows what could happen tomorrow. So what do you think ya all?

  • #2
    need to re-evaluate

    Hi Op,

    First off, people get married/divorced and re-married again all the time. You aren't the first person to ever go through, and won't be the last. Having another child from another marriage is fairly common.

    The issue here is whether or not potential new wife will accept/want the child from the previous relationship. She has been honest with you, but sounds like deep down she doens't want to have your son around. The 'reason' she is ging is probably just superficial, as in she is trying to come up with something to make you agree with her. Bascially you need to figure out if you, and just as importantly, your son will be happy with 'new mom', and in the long run will 'new mom' be happy with you AND your son. Obviously she will never replace the real mom, but the kid should at least feel wanted. She may have cooked and served food etc. on weekend or for a week when your kid came to visit, but can she keep up the 'tatemae' for a longer period of time. Life is hard, kids demand patience, and at some point she is gonna have enough. The kid may be young, but they know exactly what is going on, and can probably read people better than you think.

    If she truly is a winner and you marry her and leave the kid with mama full time, make sure you send your kid some postcards from the vacations you go on, after new mama gets you to stop sending him money.

    Comment


    • #3
      Huge red flag here!
      She is resentful of your child and what she/and any future children will be missing out on. I believe there is no way that this can end well for your son. I have a friend who is in a relationship with a man who has a child. We have talked about it, and all our conversations are about what is best for the child. She encourages him to see his child as much as he can.
      Your G/F seems unwilling to accept that your son will be in your life. Your options are:
      a) to continue with her, with everyone (especially your son) knowing that she resents him,
      b) break off all contact with your son and stop paying child support (which unlike Japan I don`t think you can do anyway)
      or - well I am sure you know what C is.

      She is basically telling you to choose between her and your son. Part of it is cultural, as after divorce in Japan they basically just cut out the other parent completely - and start afresh. I`m sure her parents have been telling her things too.
      But, it doesn`t excuse it.

      I don`t think arguing with her or even discussing it is the way to go. Just tell her firmly and calmly that he is your son and he will always be in your life, and that is something that will never change and you will keep on giving him money as long as he needs it - and that is your bottom line.
      Just leave it with her for a while.
      if she is strong and courageous, and willing to look at things openly, then perhaps she will come to an understanding about it. However, considering the situation and the fact that she is back with her parents, I think she will be unable to accept your bottom line.
      Last edited by PurpleDaisies; 2009-09-07, 07:18 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Well, first, 11 months is not enough time to get married. Sorry to say it this way, but if you had waited longer with your last wife then you might not be in the situation that you are in, now.
        Second, your GF is selfish, but that is not unusual. I know many people in many countries that would not want to adopt- although we all want to pretend that we like the idea and it's good for the kids, very few people want to have a child that is does not have their own DNA. It is a really selfish idea, but it is very common.
        Last, she said that with the money that goes to your son, she (and you) could go on vacations and have a lot of fun. This woman sounds like she is in love with your money, not you. It is YOUR money, NOT HERS! Just because you have it doesn't mean that you MUST spend it on her. My personal rule with women is that they should pay for themselves in all situations. She can buy her own dinner, and she can pay for her own vacations.

        Comment


        • #5
          Her concerns are quite understandable - her commitment should be to her own family and I guess your son with another woman does not fit. But as you say, she will have to learn to deal with it as one of the sacrifices and compromises that we ALL make to be with someone in marriage. What would concern me is the way she put her point across. She isn't worried about paying for a home, about the cost of her future children's education, saving for retirement or health insurance. Her worry is about having three holidays a year. You'd better make sure your priorities are aligned before you contemplate getting married, because that is just ridiculous from a grown woman.

          And before anyone chimes in, there are plenty of Japanese women who are neither childish nor materialistic. This one may be fine, but not at the moment....

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by ben ali View Post
            Her concerns are quite understandable - her commitment should be to her own family and I guess your son with another woman does not fit. But as you say, she will have to learn to deal with it as one of the sacrifices and compromises that we ALL make to be with someone in marriage. What would concern me is the way she put her point across. She isn't worried about paying for a home, about the cost of her future children's education, saving for retirement or health insurance. Her worry is about having three holidays a year. You'd better make sure your priorities are aligned before you contemplate getting married, because that is just ridiculous from a grown woman.

            And before anyone chimes in, there are plenty of Japanese women who are neither childish nor materialistic. This one may be fine, but not at the moment....
            I agree with B. Ali

            It is understandable that you having a son from a previous relationship is one of her concerns, but like Ben said the way she made her point...."money could be spent on 3 vacations a year instead of your son"......wow!

            Comment


            • #7
              she would be happier in the long run if she

              finds someone without kids. One of my divorced friends has gone through this exact same scenario several times. He's funny, smart, & big-hearted but every time he meets a new SO and things get serious, the woman ultimately breaks it off because she doesnt want to be a step-mother (the kid is pretty well-behaved from what I know).

              Many people, but Asians especially, do not want to become step-parents.
              You'll have to find someone who can accept your past 100%

              Comment


              • #8
                [QUOTE=ernieboy;842621] As a father to my son itfs my duty to look after him and pay money to her mother so that she can raise him. A father who doesnft do that doesnft deserve to live.
                QUOTE]

                Hi, Ernieboy! First of all I want to commend you on your high level of responsibility towards your son! These two sentences make me want to cry. You are obviously a great dad and someone who has learned one of the hardest lessons of parenthood: the kids come first. My ex (Japanese) has never paid a dime in 9 years and may never.

                I hate to say it so straight but I think your gf is quite selfish and it seems the tremendous gap in your upbringing will always cause problems for you both. You learned to do without and appreciate everything in your life. She was raised in japan and given everything. Unless you really share the same basic beliefs and have shared goals, your relationship will not last.

                We all want the best for you!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by ernieboy View Post
                  Dear all,
                  I have a tough one and please forgive me if itfs too long. Ifm British (32) and my girlfriend is Japanese (30). Wefve been together for 11 months now and the relationship is really great. We have one problem: I have a son from a previous relationship. Hefs 4 years old and he lives with his mom.

                  My son has come to visit me in the past while my girlfriend was living with me. She was very friendly to him. She played with him, cooked for him and was really kind to him. They got on very well. I remember one day my girlfriend was crying and I tried for an hour or so to find out why she was upset but she wouldnft tell me. Finally she told me that she was upset because my son had cried and she did not know how to comfort him. But there was more to it than that; she felt that she could not comfort him because he was not hers and therefore she did not know how to show him some real motherly love. I explained to her that she should not be worried because she was doing great with him. I also explained to her that itfs not easy for many people to love other peoplefs children like their own because at the best of times itfs impossible due to human nature. She seemed to agree with me and the matter was forgotten. Well, not for so long.

                  Later on she had to tell her parents about our relationship. However, she was not sure if she should tell them because she was not sure herself if she would be happy in a relationship where there is a child who does not belong to her. Anyway she told them about us and they were very upset mainly because of my son. What added fuel to the fire was the fact that her brother was recently divorced. When he married his wife she had a daughter from a previous relationship. As you know Japanese people are not open about stuff. So no one in the family really knows why they divorced but parents assume that the daughter caused a problem.
                  She told her parents that she wants to marry me and they objected. Wefve decided to give them time so that they can get over the initial shock. My girlfriend is living back in Japan with her parents for now because she needs to work. Recently I touched on the topic of my son and she was really upset. So I asked her to tell me frankly about how she really feels about the situation. She told me that she wishes that my son was not there. That was deep but at least she was telling me the truth and I respect her for that. However, my concern is her reason for wishing that my son was not present. Here is her main reason and I find it quite strangec

                  Her argument is that with the money Ifm paying to my son our family (the family I hope to start with her one day) could be better off. As an example, she said we could go on holidays 3 times a year if I did not give money to my son. What do you think about that because I thought it was selfish? I explained to her that she needs to learn to share. I work hard and we will always have enough money to live on and to go on holiday.

                  As Ifm originally from a very poor African background I told her that when I was growing up I did not even know what a holiday was. The only thing that made me happy was enough food and having people that loved me around me. My major point to her was that she never learnt the importance of sharing and she needs to start now because she will never be happy in our relationship if she refuses to accept that my son will always be there. As a father to my son itfs my duty to look after him and pay money to her mother so that she can raise him. A father who doesnft do that doesnft deserve to live.

                  Ifve spoken to a few people about this and some have told me to forget about her now and start looking again. I donft want to do that because we have a really good relationship between us and I think that we can work on this problem together. She agrees too but, itfs hard for her and I understand. I understand because Ifm aware that she was raised in a fairly well off family in Japan and she has never known anything about being poor. I think she needs time and I think that itfs a good thing that she met my son while he was so young because imagine if he were a teenager! I hope age 30 is not too late to start teaching someone about the importance of sharing We both want to get married but before we do that I just need her to be sure that she can live with the situation we are in, otherwise we have to call it quits. For now my son lives with his mama full time and I see him at weekends but who knows what could happen tomorrow. So what do you think ya all?
                  First of all, let me applaud the courage it takes for the both of you to even consider marriage given the differences in background and current circumstances. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that your girlfriend is struggling between listening to her heart and listening to her mind. Her parents are likely contributing to the "thinking" component and your relationship is pulling her toward the "feeling" side.
                  Feel free to correct me, but I don't think that marriage is an independent decision from her cultural standpoint and I kind of got the vibe from your post that it was her decision and that you guys were going to go through with it whether or not you had her parents consent. If you are trying to tell her that money is not as important as she thinks it is, than you are actually imposing your own cultural values on to her! Also, if you are telling her that she should make an independent decision with or without her parents consent, you are again imposing a value that is not consistent with her beliefs. I hope age 32 is not too late for you to learn the importance of cultural differences because I'm convinced that her concerns are not strictly economical. Your situation is tough and I really hope it works out for you because it seems like you really do love each other. My only advice would be to tread lightly when it comes to minimizing, denying, or marginalizing her or her family's concerns.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Were you communicating in English or Japanese during the conversation? If English then her speaking ability may have caused her to give a poor example.

                    BUT, I think this is the question you need to think about...

                    You will be 46 by the time you will stop paying child support. What happens if you get remarried and your wife wants a child. Are you willing to have another child as you are already paying child support? Could you afford it?

                    A "no" answer is entirely acceptable but a future partner may not agree.
                    Last edited by PUNCHtoTHEguts; 2009-09-07, 03:51 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Thanks

                      Thank you all for your advice. There have been so many good points so let me try and address them:

                      Originally posted by nynapaj View Post
                      Well, first, 11 months is not enough time to get married. Sorry to say it this way, but if you had waited longer with your last wife then

                      you might not be in the situation that you are in, now. This woman sounds like she is in love with your money, not you.
                      I think you are jumping into conclusions without the full facts nynapaj about 11 months not being enough. I was with the mother of my son for 8 years but we never

                      got married. Why? I just knew that it would end in a divorce because she did not understand anything about maintaining peace in a relationship. She came from a

                      broken home and being the kind person I am I had foolisly thought that she would change but I guess I was wrong. At the end we had to part. She wanted to get

                      married and I kept on putting it off because I did not want a divorce in my life. Yes, we had a child and you might ask why? We wanted a child together and the

                      child did make our relationship stronger for a while but them it fell apart again.

                      With my current gf I just knew within the first 3 months into the relationship that I wanted to marry her. More on why coming later. By the way recently she

                      revealed to me that she's got quite a substantial amount of money saved in the bank. In fact, she has more money than I have because she worked really hard for

                      6 years in Japan before going on travels. All I can tell you is that she is a very independent woman. I'm a genleman and I always insist on paying but most of the

                      time she refuses because she wants to pay her own way. Sometimes it's frustrating because I feel that the gentleman should always take care of the lady. Ok, I've

                      just realised that some of the guys out there are going to crucify me for making that statement but please excuse me - I'm African

                      Originally posted by flipside View Post
                      Hi Op,

                      The issue here is whether or not potential new wife will accept/want the child from the previous relationship. She has been honest with you, but sounds like deep

                      down she doens't want to have your son around.

                      If she truly is a winner and you marry her and leave the kid with mama full time, make sure you send your kid some postcards from the vacations you go on, after

                      new mama gets you to stop sending him money.
                      You are totally right! I will not marry her unless she can find it in her heart to accept who I am. I love her very much but a child has to be protected at all times by

                      it's father since it's defenseless. However, let's all not forget that it's difficult for any of us to accept and raise someone else's child. Why should she find it easy? I

                      think her situation is made worse because of her Japanese culture i.e. the fact that when a divorce happens in Japan then one parent is stuck with the child and

                      the other one just vanishes. When we were discussing the matter she explained to me that in Japanese culture the man whom the ex wife marries is responsible for

                      raising the child from the other relationship. I find that bizzare and a bad start of a new marriage.

                      RE: If she truly is a winner and you marry her and leave the kid with mama full time, make sure you send your kid some postcards from the vacations you go on,

                      after new mama gets you to stop sending him money
                      >>> My gf is a very good person and she understands that my son needs me. So she would never do that to us because she always tells me that I need to go and

                      see him because he needs me.

                      Originally posted by PurpleDaisies View Post
                      Huge red flag here!
                      She is resentful of your child and what she/and any future children will be missing out on. I believe there is no way that this can end well for your son.
                      She is basically telling you to choose between her and your son. Part of it is cultural, as after divorce in Japan they basically just cut out the other parent

                      completely - and start afresh. I`m sure her parents have been telling her things too.
                      You are right, she needs time to decide what she thinks is best for her. Just to repeat that her parents were strongly against the idea of us together but after

                      they met me they understand me better now. Now they don't talk about us but I hope to visit them again next year to talk about it once my Japanese has

                      improved.

                      Originally posted by ben ali View Post
                      Her concerns are quite understandable - her commitment should be to her own family and I guess your son with another woman does not

                      fit. But as you say, she will have to learn to deal with it as one of the sacrifices and compromises that we ALL make to be with someone in marriage. What would

                      concern me is the way she put her point across. She isn't worried about paying for a home, about the cost of her future children's education, saving for retirement

                      or health insurance. Her worry is about having three holidays a year. You'd better make sure your priorities are aligned before you contemplate getting married,

                      because that is just ridiculous from a grown woman.

                      And before anyone chimes in, there are plenty of Japanese women who are neither childish nor materialistic. This one may be fine, but not at the moment....
                      I think she gave a poor example as PUNCHtoTHEGuts pointed out:

                      Originally posted by PUNCHtoTHEguts View Post
                      Were you communicating in English or Japanese during the conversation? If English then her speaking ability may have caused

                      her to give a poor example.
                      because she is still learning English. However, since she's got lots of mney saved she probably doesn't feel that she should spent it on my son too. I guess that's

                      something she needs to think about.

                      Originally posted by kaptain_krispy View Post
                      she would be happier in the long run if she finds someone without kids.
                      That is obvisously true and it would be easy for her to just walk away right now and tell me that she can't deal with me and my son. However, she has not done

                      that. Instead, she went and told her parents whom she knew that they would be greatly hurt when they heard the news. Her mom cried. She loves her parents but

                      she put them through that pain of telling them the really bad news. You have to ask yourself why? I hope you will get the answer so long as you read on.

                      Originally posted by Seattlegirl View Post

                      Hi, Ernieboy! First of all I want to commend you on your high level of responsibility towards your son! These two sentences make me want to cry. You are obviously

                      a great dad and someone who has learned one of the hardest lessons of parenthood: the kids come first. My ex (Japanese) has never paid a dime in 9 years and

                      may never.

                      I hate to say it so straight but I think your gf is quite selfish and it seems the tremendous gap in your upbringing will always cause problems for you both. You

                      learned to do without and appreciate everything in your life. She was raised in japan and given everything. Unless you really share the same basic beliefs and have

                      shared goals, your relationship will not last.

                      We all want the best for you!
                      Thanks for the kind words. It is the fathers's responsiblity to provide for his children. Full stop.

                      Originally posted by PUNCHtoTHEguts View Post
                      What happens if you get remarried and your wife wants a child. Are you willing to have another child as you are already paying child support? Could you afford it?
                      She wants two children and I'm excited about it. However, this time I want to do it right, get married first and then children! I earn a decent salary and I can easily support our new family.
                      ............................Please continue reading next post

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Continuation...

                        Originally posted by Seattlegirl View Post

                        First of all, let me applaud the courage it takes for the both of you to even consider marriage given the differences in background and current circumstances. I'm

                        going to go out on a limb here and say that your girlfriend is struggling between listening to her heart and listening to her mind. Her parents are likely contributing

                        to the "thinking" component and your relationship is pulling her toward the "feeling" side.
                        We both can't believe how well we get on considering the fact that we are from two completely different cultures. I was raised in a village in Swaziland and moved to London when I was turning 18. She was raised in Japan all her life. I experienced a great deal of poverty since my mom passed on when I was 6 months old and my dad

                        when I was 8. She does not even know the meaning of the word "poverty". So what connects us so well?

                        We share many fundamental basic values. Here is a list of some of the things that keep us happy:

                        1. We both understand the importance of respecting ourselves which means that we find it easier to respect other people too.
                        2. We value honesty and we are open about our feelings. She is learning to open up and remember she's Japanese
                        3. We value trust. She will be in Japan for the next 6 months working until March next year and I'm working here in London. However, neither of us worry about what the other one is up to because we know that we both act with great integrity at all times. So we don't worry about cheating and all that headache stuff.
                        4. We are both very kind. At the beginning she was worried because her English was not very good. She was scared that I would be impatient when I tried to tell her something and she did not understand. I told her that I would always repeat myself is she can't understand. All she has to do is ask. She thanked me and her English is now improving because of my patience.
                        5. We believe that when there are any problems in the relationship we have to address them urgently and in a civilised fashion.
                        6. We always help each other. We especially enjoy cooking together. Maybe I chop he vegetables and she cooks. Later on we enjoy a joint venture meal.

                        All the things I've mentioned above make our relationship very enjoyable and we are always happy together. We both understand this and we really value the happiness which we get out of it. I think this is why she told her parents about us. She knows that I can make her happy but all she has to do is try hard to find it in her heart to accept my son. I think in time she will learn how to do it in her own way. She just needs time.

                        As you can see I've defennded my gf heavliy in most of the statements I've made but that's beacuse I believe that what we have between us is really valuable and we should be able to find a solution. Am I wrong?

                        Originally posted by Seattlegirl View Post

                        Feel free to correct me, but I don't think that marriage is an independent decision from her cultural standpoint and I kind of got the vibe from your post that it was

                        her decision and that you guys were going to go through with it whether or not you had her parents consent.
                        Nope, I asked her if she would marry me and she agreed. However, she does no want to get married until her parents at least "understand" because right now they are not understanding She respects her parents' feelings and she does not want to see them upset. So right now we are just buying more time. Hopefully if a year or more passes by without her bringing home a Japanese bf they will finally give in and realise that we need o be together. You are right about in suggesting that I'm impossing my own cultural values on hers by telling her that money is not important. She thinks otherwise and when we discussed it she didn't budge And yes we do really love each other.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Nope, I asked her if she would marry me and she agreed. However, she does no want to get married until her parents at least "understand" because right now they are not understanding She respects her parents' feelings and she does not want to see them upset. So right now we are just buying more time. Hopefully if a year or more passes by without her bringing home a Japanese bf they will finally give in and realise that we need o be together. You are right about in suggesting that I'm impossing my own cultural values on hers by telling her that money is not important. She thinks otherwise and when we discussed it she didn't budge And yes we do really love each other.[/QUOTE]

                          It sounds like you are betting on them accepting you based on time and no other bf entering the picture. Other than these things, what else can you do to increase your chances of being accepted by her parents?
                          From their cultural standpoint, what does it mean for them to have a daughter married and living abroad? (I assume that was the plan)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ernieboy View Post
                            She thinks otherwise and when we discussed it she didn't budge And yes we do really love each other.
                            well that to me that sounds like conditional love and if thats the case its not 'real' love. Yes there may be affection and physical attraction but if she is laying conditions on you then its like tying one arm behind your back. 'choose between me and you son' and 'what my parents think is more important than what I think'. If she loves you anyway, its not like shes going to bring a J-boyfriend home unless she decides to give up on you and her relationship. Dont blame the parents for that.

                            You are not going to change the parents mind over this. You are still going to be the gaijin usurper who stole their daughter and took her to live overseas. Waiting them out is not a good idea IMO.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ernieboy View Post
                              I think you are jumping into conclusions without the full facts nynapaj about 11 months not being enough. I was with the mother of my son for 8 years but we never

                              got married. Why? I just knew that it would end in a divorce because she did not understand anything about maintaining peace in a relationship. She came from a

                              broken home and being the kind person I am I had foolisly thought that she would change but I guess I was wrong. At the end we had to part. She wanted to get

                              married and I kept on putting it off because I did not want a divorce in my life. Yes, we had a child and you might ask why? We wanted a child together and the

                              child did make our relationship stronger for a while but them it fell apart again.

                              With my current gf I just knew within the first 3 months into the relationship that I wanted to marry her.
                              There have been times that I had thought the same things too. I once thought I was with "the one" after 6 months; I was sure of it. Things slowly changed, and we broke up a few years later. From that experience, I am now very careful not to rush into anything. Relationships are often great in the beginning, but wait 2 years. If you think things are great after 2 years, maybe it is. Sometimes relationships can be great for 15 years and things can still go wrong.

                              Comment

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