I am twenty-five years old and have a five-year-old son. About four years ago I met a man who was wonderful to me. He treated me very well, and promised me that he would be the father that my son did not have.

Now everything has changed. He pays the utility bills and makes the payments on some appliances that he once bought for me on credit, claiming that he was doing it for my well-being. Now he throws up to me that he has stayed with me because he would feel sorry about leaving me with all those debts that I’d have no way to pay, since I don’t work.

With my son he is now completely different. So I can see that I made a mistake, and that he was not all that he seemed to be nor all that he promised me during our courtship. He has been unfaithful and, during the last two years, has done me a lot of harm.

I have even come to the point of being sorry for ever having given him my trust and my heart. Now I realize that the beautiful dream I had when I met him is history.

I don’t know what to do because I really wouldn’t have a way to pay those debts.

Dear Friend,

We are very sorry for the struggle that you are going through. And we feel especially badly for your son, who probably thought of this man as his father, and now has been betrayed.

Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. The man whom you thought was your knight in shining armor has turned out to be a chameleon. In many countries, when you choose to live with a man without the benefit of a marriage license, which is a legal agreement, you have no legal right to financial support from him. Sadly, that very thing happens to many other women (and sometimes men) every day.

Unless you have family who is willing to support you, you must get a job. Your son is old enough to be in school much of the day; so childcare is not a problem. You might need to give up your house and find an apartment with another single mother. In that case, the two of you could share expenses and childcare responsibilities.

By continuing to live in your current situation, you are postponing the inevitable. You have come to expect a certain standard of living that is no longer possible. Your belongings are tying you down and making you unhappy. Get rid of the man, give up the stuff, and find happiness and peace by providing for yourself and your son. Make the decision to never again have a sexual relationship until you are married, and don’t look to any man as an answer to your problems.

You need God’s help and strength. Ask Him to forgive you for your failures and sins, and to come into your life. Trust Him to give you the wisdom you need for the difficult decisions ahead. And finally, find a church where you can make friends with other single mothers and learn from their experiences.

We wish you well,