Secret Marriage

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-26-2012
Secret Marriage
Sat, 12-07-2013 - 11:45am

Hi everyone.  I'd like to get your input on this one.  I have been with my significant other for almost 3 years now.  He has 2 kids from his previous marriage.  They are great kids.  We all get along.  He and I have tried to make things as easy as we can on them.  We were very careful in the beginning of the relationship.  I chose not to meet them until about 4 months in just to make sure that this was something that was going to last.  He and I got pregnant (not an accident) and we decided that we would wait a year total to move in together.  That way the kids could really have the chance to accept me as a new part of their lives and they wouldn't feel too rushed.  Half of my pregnancy (when he had the kids) I would stay at our house alone while he took the kids to stay his weekends, etc at his parents' house.  By the time we had our baby, the kids were excited to move into the house and "be a family" (their words).  We felt like we did the right thing by them.  However, my SO wants to get married.  I was married once before (in the same situation as now-he had an ex wife and 2 kids) and things were okay until we got married and as far as I could see it only complicated things.  The ex escalated her hateful behavior.  The kids had to officially deal with the fact that their parents weren't getting back together and I know that was hard on them.  I don't want that to happen this time around.  I love my SO.  He is a truly good person.  He is a good father.  A good provider.  Although I don't see the importance of going and registering our love with the state, I do want to be with him forever.  So here is my dilemma:  I told him that I would marry him if we could keep it between us...have a courthouse wedding possibly in another state... and then on down the road when we feel that the kids would handle it better and the ex...well, I don't see her ever changing her ways....but anyway, then we could have a wedding for all to come to and no one would be the wiser that we had already done it years earlier.  I mean, as I've told my SO, no one is making this commitment but him and I.  Yes, I know some will say the kids have a right to know but I don't find that to be true since we, for all intents and purposes, already are acting as a married couple.  We now have a child and all live together under the same roof when we have the other 2 kiddos.  The kids like referring to us as a family but the only time I have seen one of them bothered is when my SO talks about us getting married.  I can tell it's hard for her.  And I understand that.  I've asked him to stop talking about it in front of them and he tells me that it's something that needs to happen and they will get used to it.  To me, it would be something romantic that he and I could have, without causing all of the disruption and hurt that I know a big wedding would cause.

We are already having issues with his ex. She tries to act like she's the only one who cares about the kids' best interests.  She faults us for anything she *perceives us to be doing and we rarely fight back because we just don't want to let her rent space in our heads.  She absolutely thrives on drama.  Her latest shenanigan was saying that my SO was doing drugs and claiming to have pictures.  (This was all because he had the audacity to call her on it when she withheld the kids from us on our scheduled time).  So she thought she had to take the bullying up a notch with us I guess.  Well, my SO went and got drug tested that day and of course it came back clean.  In 2 1/2 years together I had never once had a cross word for her.  I let her and my SO hash everything out. But this time was enough.  I told her that she had made a huge mistake that she would regret and that she would learn not to wreak havoc on my family whenever she felt like it.  She admitted that she only said it because her lawyer told her to.  Another lie, as any idiot knows he could lose his license over that.  It was just a tantrum on her part.  Plain and simple.  This was a few months ago and since then we have gone to an attorney and are getting ready to take her to court.  We've scraped up the money to pay the retainer..just waiting for them to get their ducks in a row.  When this happens, she will lose it.  She has no control over her emotions and has always been spoiled by her parents (and previously by my SO) so believe me when I tell you that we are having to prepare for war basically.  However we don't want to put our life on hold in the meantime.  

Do we have a legal obligation to tell her that we are married?

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Sat, 12-07-2013 - 12:49pm

I just can't really see that a secret marriage is a good idea--you say that you want the kids to be ready, but you're already living together and already have a baby and it's been THREE YEARS!  I think the way to handle this is to discuss it with the kids--have a family discussion, we are thinking that we are going to get married.  You don't say how old the kids are so it's hard to know how they will deal with it--but you should deal with it out in the open.  How do you think they would deal with things if you got "married" 2 yrs from now and then somehow they found out that it was really earlier and they had been lied to?  I think they do have a right to know what their own father is doing, esp. such a major life event--and you know it's going to come up at some point.  And obviously if the kids know, the ex is going to know.  His kids should be figuring out already that their parents aren't going to get back together when their dad is living with and having a baby with someone else.  If they need therapy to deal with family issues, then get them therapy--don't lie to them.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-05-2010
Sat, 12-07-2013 - 5:47pm

I personally don't understand why many people nowadays are ready to have a baby together, but not get married. By sharing a child with the guy, you are already locked in with him. This is a more permanent tie than marrying someone and divorcing without kids!!!You also are well beyond hiding your association with him. How is getting married going to tie you down more? His kids with his ex must realize he isn't getting back with her after a baby with you. In the old days, if a couple got pregnant out of wedlock, there would be a rush to marry. I could understand if you have since discovered he has serious personality or character flaw, but that doesn't appear to be the case here. Just marry him and don't keep it a secret!!!

As to directly answering your question, unless his ex is paying him alimony or otherwise paying him until he remarries, as part of a divorce settlement, there's no legal obligation to tell his ex. However, with a baby together already, why be secretive about getting married?

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-26-2012
Mon, 12-09-2013 - 11:51am

Thank you both for your responses.  Trenner, I have no problem committing to this man.  I am committed to him.  I'm not going to leave him if the wedding turns into a disaster or his ex wife ups her "crazy" or even if we don't get legally married.  I'm not afraid of a commitment.  It's the fallout from having an actual wedding that bothers me.  To me, it seems unnecessary.  But being married is important to him.  As it is, I am a SAHM.  I am trying to start a home business to help my SO support us all.  Right now, he has almost all of the financial burden on him.  Add to that, in his original divorce process, he voluntarily offered to pay more child support than the state would have him pay.  He did this so that the kids wouldn't have to move out of their original home right away.  Then, on down the road, he and I met, dated, got pregnant and just as our daughter was born he was layed off from his job.  He got another job but it pays him just about 60% of what he used to make.  We have made a lot of sacrifices.  We sold our house and bought something less expensive.  We rarely have dinners out.  Anyway, I'm not complaining about that.  It was important to both of us that I leave my job and stay home.  It's worth it no matter what we need to give up.  My point being, we have some stressors in our does everyone.  But I'm trying to find a way to honor my commitment to him without adding unnecessary stress to the mix.

Some may see a wedding and then a baby as the good old fashioned way to do things.  However, if you take a look at the divorce rate these days that's not always the way it goes.  I think the most important thing in a relationship... no, the only thing in a relationship that determines whether or not you will make it is the commitment...between just two see it through.  Like I said, I could do without the wedding period.  But it's important to him.  we will stay together regardless of whether I wear white (or off-white for some of you sticklers ;)...hell, I may wear blue... but we'll stick together whether or not I walk down an aisle and wear it infron t of 200 people or whether I wear it in a courthouse in New Orleans with the just us two.  I'm just trying to make it as stress-free as I can.  Because we have the stressors of everyday married life already.  Is it too much to hope for a stress-free wedding day?

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Mon, 12-09-2013 - 2:55pm

My instinct says that there is no reason to keep it a secret. 

However, I have a friend who I believe got married without telling the kids.  The kids knew they were engaged, but they also have a demanding and inappropriate BM in the mix and did it this way for similar reasons as you. 

As far as the actual wedding, I don't think there is anything wrong with keeping it simple.  The friend above obvisously got M without the kids being there.  Me and my current DH had a destination wedding with just the two of us and I wouldn't change a thing!  It wasn't a secret though. 

There was a gal on iVillage that didn't tell the kids until the day before or the day of so the xW wouldn't have time to cause problems.   You are not alone in your concerns. 

Take care and I hope you keep us updated!

Serenity CL making a second marriage work

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Mon, 12-09-2013 - 3:15pm

If you want a stress free wedding day, then keep things simple.  My 2nd wedding was a lot of fun--we had a low key wedding reception at a waterfront restaurant with about 50 people I think but you could have a wedding in your house with just the family.  I don't see why a wedding would make things more stressful.  I also wonder--if you don't work then wouldn't it benefit you to get married so you could be on his health insurance?  And there are tons of legal rights that you give up when you don't get married--why do you think that gay people fought to be able to marry legally (of course that's not the only reason).  If his income went down that much, he could go back to court to get his child support reduced.  He could pay more when he makes more money again, but it doesn't make sense to be stuck with the big child support burden (more than he even had to pay before) when he can't afford it.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-26-2012
Mon, 12-09-2013 - 6:20pm

Thanks, Serenity.  I appreciate the best wishes!

Musiclover, It is less convenient purely from a practical standpoint to not be married.  I am currently without insurance but my daughter does have it, as well as the other 2 kids and while that's not ideal, it is workable since I rarely go to the doctor.  It's funny how much less you decide to be sick when you have no insurance..ha.  But if and when we do get married that will be taken care of.  As far as the child support, that is one of the things our attorney is working on.  When we sold the house (it was mine before we got together) we made a small amount of money which we've agreed to invest in a business for me to try and bring more money in.  We had decided that we wouldn't keep breaking into that account and drain it before we got the chance to make it work for us.  But when the ex pulled her latest stunt we decided to take a portion of it out to give to the attorney for him to file a motion to both revisit child support and to employ a family mediator for when she tries to withhold the kids from us, slanders my SO, me, etc.  We'll have to wait and see how much more of it she drains by the end of the process.

Us getting married, combined with her being served from the attorney just may make her head explode and this woman is not on a sane level all the time.  I can say that she loves her kids and that she tries to be a good mother but as an ex-wife she can be pretty nuts.  I just would like for him and I to have a wedding day/wedding period that's not punctuated with texts, phone calls, voice mails from a spoiled, angry woman who wants nothing more than to wreak havoc and make us as miserable as she is.  You don't get to go back and re-do that day/time.  My SO deserves better than that and so do I.. in my opinion.  I do care about the kids' feelings on this.  I know that he and I could keep it a secret, especially if done in another state (should the ex go searching the internet she wouldn't likely go through all 50 states to check!).  And later, down the road when we knew the kids were happy and comfortable with it happening, we could spend the money to do it for all to see.  I know it seems shady but I'm almost to the point of deciding that a little sneakiness is a-ok if it means we get to have something special and stress-free.  Lord knows we need it.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Tue, 12-10-2013 - 10:34am

I can understand that point of view of not having your special day ruined.  It's too bad that some people continue to engage in craziness after the divorce.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-20-2002
Wed, 12-11-2013 - 9:54pm

((((hugs))) to you AFR--

I know others have done that, I dont think its that weird in this day and age.....biggest concern would be if his kids felt slighted by how it was handled?  If not, then I dont think you have a problem.....

FWIW, my SO's exW was crazy like that also---and raged at him accusing him of secretly marrying me but we never did.  On 11 years now...........


keep us posted!

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-08-2006
Thu, 12-12-2013 - 9:34pm
I think you are linking 'married' with 'wedding'. I think it is perfectly reasonable for you to go off snd get married without telling anyone. This will give you tax benefits plus the right to make medical choices for each other, plus the insurance benefits. You do not have to have a 200 person wedding. You have both been married before. You could wait a year and then when everything 'settles' renew your vows and have a celebration with those you loved.
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-20-2002
Tue, 12-17-2013 - 10:13pm


you make a good point.

Somehow I think the original poster was also afraid the exW would go more ballistic re: ranting to the kids and alienating them from the poster/their dad, etc.........but maybe I'm reading more into it.

I think my biggest concern if it was really "secret" was how his kids might feel when learning "secret" kept from them?  Maybe dad needs to start talking with kids re: "someday" he will be marrying OP, etc---judge their reaction.

I forget, and cant see original post right now---is OP formally engaged that the kids know of?