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Help, don't know how to cope anymore with partners' kids AlWAYS coming first!

(67 Posts)
SusannahHG Wed 27-Feb-13 23:32:08

Hello, I'm new I really need some friendly advice and I need to know what other people think about my situation, am so confused. Been divorced 4 years, 3 kids, youngest is 5, have been in a relationship with a man for 2 yrs 8 months. He is lovely and I thought to start with he was the soulmate I had been missing. However, it has been stormy all the way. He has been separated for 4 years, has always said he will divorce his wife eventually but this keeps getting put off as yet another 'boring chore'. They are still very good friends (unlike myself and my ex who I don't communicate with) and his goal he says is to keep the family unit as together as he possibly can without his wife and himself actually living together, he lives alone, his 3 kids are grown up/teenagers.

Basically I have had two and a half years of him spending Xmas Day, Easter Day, all the 3 kids birthdays in his wife's house, just the 5 of them. This has been tough but have got used to it, just about!

Tonight is the eve of my birthday. We both originally took annual leave to spend the day together, then 6 weeks ago his grown up daughter dropped the bombshell that she was going travelling alone for 10 weeks, departing on my birthday. He and his wife are taking her to the airport which although only a 90 minute drive away is going to take all day, he will be gone all afternoon and won't be coming home until late evening.

We are on the verge of ending things, he says we can't go on with me making him feel guilty and I feel I can't constantly feel at the bottom of the list. I think he has no empathy with how lonely and let down I feel and he just shouts at me about how his little girl is going away and he is worried about her. I do understand this, but just feel there is never a time for any compromise and I am going through life being second best constantly. My colleagues and family assume I am spending the day with him but I have to explain he will actually be at the airport with his wife and daughter all day/evening of my birthday. I feel things will always be the same and don't know whether to walk away. I keep things pretty equal between my kids and the time I spend with him, actually probably get them off to bed quickly sometimes just so I can spend time with him ... I feel like such an idiot. Have seen similar posts where women are attacked for not understanding that their other half is a good person for being a good dad, please don't get at me for this post, I just feel really low and confused....Every time he sees me when only convenient with his kids' arrangements I feel kicked in the stomach....

ClippedPhoenix Thu 28-Feb-13 23:41:28

Does he ever do things with just you and your children?

Does he ever cook a meal for you and muck in with the day to day running of your home?

What I'm trying to say is does he ever make you feel as if he's right there in it with you and yours?

If not, you are wasting your time.

Move on. He sure as heck never will.

He sounds like a dick.

ClippedPhoenix Thu 28-Feb-13 23:36:52

Oh dear OP, he's still far too attached isn't he.

The biggest flag for me here is his reluctance to divorce and move on.

It was your birthday, which is damn important really as opposed to another grown up, all be it his daughter going off somewhere.

Diagonally Thu 28-Feb-13 23:22:37

Do his children ever spend time with you + him and your children, OP?

And do he + his W have completely separate finances or is he running two households?

squeakytoy Thu 28-Feb-13 22:47:06

I wonder what her new partner thinks of this situation. It really is unnecessary and quite frankly, ridiculous.

My husbands children from his first marriage were in their early teens when we met. He was divorced, his ex had just remarried.

We never had problems like you have OP.. there is just no need when the kids are old enough to get on a bus, make their own way to see their Dad if they want to, or for him to meet up with them anywhere they choose. Their mother does not need to be involved in it.

As for the airport farce.. she is going away for 10 weeks, not years.. why on earth does it need a day trip to the airport?? He could say goodbye to her as she gets in her mothers car.. and they can skype or phone while she is away. He doesnt sound very committed to being in a relationship with you.

Corygal Thu 28-Feb-13 22:07:13

Love, he's not treating you very well. He's much more into his wife and kids, with the emphasis on wife, which is she very much is and remains.

The kids - ok, one can argue about the toss about overprotectiveness, but he's not going to change, even given they're growing up, to be honest. Some people do use their DCs as a way to get out of things they don't want to do, I'm afraid to say.

Of course, if you challenge his lack of commitment, he can shriek that you're selfish, which will allow him to maintain the status quo to his liking.

I know two teenagers who were bored rigid by their father's endless attentions and appearances, incidentally, which he maintained purely to try and get back with his wife.

I strongly suspect he's not divorced because he wants to stay married - married to his wife, who he sees a lot of.

He wants you as a lovely distraction. Bad news - slip away. He sounds rather a drain.

FarBetterNow Thu 28-Feb-13 18:51:27

When he spends the evenings at your house, do you cook?

Happy Birthday! thanks

merrymouse Thu 28-Feb-13 14:39:23

Happy birthday by the way!

Helltotheno Thu 28-Feb-13 14:31:57

I think they're all good options from merrymouse... I don't get the sense you're built for number 3 though. I honestly think you're trying to fit a square peg into a round hole here OP. I don't think you posted to have people tell you to ditch him but I don't think you have a lot of options either. He's making his own choices and you're probably lucky if you're in the top 5.

merrymouse Thu 28-Feb-13 14:22:00

I think you have 3 choices:

1) define your boundaries and explain to him what you want from the relationship. If, when you are both honest with each other, you are looking for different things, cut your losses.
2) continue to let him define the relationship. If he has to spend a whole day dropping his grown up daughter at the airport because she is going to be out of the country for 2.5 months, I don't think he is going to become less involved with the day to day lives of his children as they grow older. However you may think this is good enough for you.
3) continue the relationship, but concentrate on building your own life where you and your children come first and you are open to meeting somebody else. You may not be his priority, but he shouldnt then expect to be yours.

I think that as your children grow older, they will want to understand his role in your lives. What do you want that to be? They will also not be happy if their lives revolve around the activities of a mystery family.

Cherriesarelovely Thu 28-Feb-13 14:01:35

As someone else said, this is about more than just your birthday. I agree with scarlett. We had some friends where this was the case and it was very, very difficult for the woman in the relationship. However, they did eventually work it out, he divorced, still maintained great involvement with his kids but married our friend and they do things together. I think unless your DP is happy to work towards a similar solution then you will always end up feeling left out. He can't have it both ways. He is no longer a couple with his exw but his behaviour doesn't reflect that. I think the idea of you ALL doing things together sometimes could be a brilliant one but it doesn't sound as if he is prepared to do anything like this. I feel for you and don't think your expectations are unrealistic.

Whocansay Thu 28-Feb-13 14:01:12

This is not exactly the relationship of your dreams is it? I don't think he has moved on and after 2 years, I think its unlikely that he loves you or he would not treat you like this.

I can understand why you're upset. If he spends all major holidays with his family, your birthday is presumably the only important occasion when you could celebrate with him. This has now been hijacked to take his adult daughter to the airport. I would cut your losses and let him go. Your needs are never going to be important to him.

Incrediblemee Thu 28-Feb-13 13:17:51

Hi OP, am in similar relationship. It has taken years of cohabiting, marriage and many, many tears (mine mostly) to get to the state of reasonableness regarding priorities we have now. Am not happy but at least not as angry as I used to be. I think I also was tired of being alone (8 yrs as single mother), but if I'd known that lukewarm was as good as it would get, I don't think I'd do it again. Late 40s now and very tired. There is no way dh can make up to me all those years he let me down, and yes, he also cried when he wanted me to back off, give in, take the high road, you name it. Unless you really feel there is no one else out there for you, go for it. But if you have a shred of self esteem left, work on that first, build yourself up, and then take another look at this dreamboat. Good luck!

Sounds like he and his wife are carrying a large amount of guilt around because of splitting the family unit and so being unnecessarily protective of their dcs but this is their choice . If he gets on with her and her new partner, and you get on with her too, why not all join up on family days like christmas?

You could start off with Easter, say, and tell him you'd like to invite everyone over for a big slap-up meal and an easter egg hunt or whatever, and include EVERYONE. You and he could host it together, at your house. My dh and I have shared many celebrations with his children, mine and my xh and his second dw, not with dh's xw though, that is another story . Him saying the children would find it awkward is rubbish. The adults set the tone here. It would only be awkward if the adults didn't get on, which they do.

I think it is difficult to accept this situation with his family, but he has told you that this is how it will be. Basically, if you can't beat 'em, can you join 'em?

ignore this suggestion if it sounds unrealistic obviously

sassyandsixty Thu 28-Feb-13 12:11:28

Sorry - can't give you much advice as haven't been in this position - but I have got older travelling kids. If she is old enough to travel independently she can get to the airport by herself (just this once! as it's your birthday!). Does she really want/need all this parental fuss? The fact that he calls her his 'little girl' says it all. Everyone needs to feel valued - and you are the one he is supposed to be in a relationship with - not kids, not ex-wife.

What do you get out of this relationship now?.

Also the fact that this relationship has in your words always been stormy is a big red flag. He is only considering his own self here, he is all that matters to him.

I think you will always come a dim and distant second to his ex wife and his children; I note too that he lives now on his own. He clearly gets what he wants from both his ex wife (he sees his now grown up children) and yourself (companionship and sex). He has never managed to fully extricate himself emotionally from either his ex wife or family for all sorts of reasons and perhaps may never do so. Can you envisage his ex wife actually filing for divorce?.

A man who also cannot be bothered to divorce as it is a "boring chore" is a man I would also choose to avoid having a relationship with. He has not divorced for a reason; citing its a boring chore is a cop out frankly. If this too is what it is like after nearly three years I cannot see him changing his ways; what he has with you two at the moment is working for him. You are but of secondary concern to him.

AlfalfaMum Thu 28-Feb-13 10:40:41

I would be unhappy with this situation too Susannah.
I just can't see how it's ok to exclude you from things, fine and good that he wants to see his daughter off at the airport, but why can't you come too and then be taken out for a lovely birthday meal after she's flown?

I wouldn't be too quick to end things, but you sound like a nice reasonable woman who's been made to feel like second best all of the time, and I agree you deserve more. It's lovely that he's a good father and ex husband, but he should cherish you equally, it's not fair if you make all the compromises.
I hope that you work through this And find a happy outcome smile

Happy Birthday, by the way.

There is always a balance. Sometimes we can be TOO kid-centric. It is too easy to put children SO first that partners can feel rejected. When they are young then it is far more understandable and right. When they are older or, as in this case, grown-up, then it's time for the balance to swing the other way a bit more. She's going for ten weeks. She's not moving abroad never to be seen again.

fluffyraggies Thu 28-Feb-13 10:26:19

Coming to the thread late, but are there legitimate reasons why the airport trip has to take up the whole day OP? Is it distance?

As a parent of teens i'm not sure it would take me and XH all day to see one of our kids off. And i would want to see them off.

As for Xmas hmm I'm a bit on the fence about that one. I think now the wife has a partner and the kids are grown he could make some time in the day for you.

meditrina Thu 28-Feb-13 10:21:22

Your birthday is your high day and holiday - mucking up a day that will resonate onwards through future years is problematic.

I see the problem, not so much as something coming up that conflicted with your plan A (taking leave and having a day together), but in the fact that there was 6 weeks notice of this issue and neither of you seems to have come up with an alternative (eg you move your leave, he takes a second day and you have a grand "unBirthday" day together, and he is really keen on getting he best possible celebration within logistic constraints).

If he's not that bothered about your birthday, you're both not communicating well enough to tackle this in the weeks you knew about it, and neither of you is putting in the effort to find creative ways to do something else special, then perhaps those are the issues to tackle within your relationship.

squiddle Thu 28-Feb-13 10:16:44

Blimey, it is not selfish to want to be important to your partner AT ALL. I hate all this 'the children must come first always' stuff. In any relationship and family, all members should be seen as important. Often the children's needs do come first, but not always and to the exclusion of the parents or the dad and his new partner.

I would say your dp is not ready to move on, and you are indeed the secondary relationship as eccentrica says. And wanting to stick to plans to celebrate your birthday is really not an outrageous demand.

I am a SM, btw, and have been through this. I did get to a point of telling my dp that I didn't want him, for example, babysitting for his ex-wife in her house while I managed our dc alone, or dropping our plans at the last minute if she suddenly decided to go away for a weekend and wanted dss to come here. It was quite tough for us both to change the status quo that had developed of dss (and actually the exW) coming first, but we are much happier and that benefits all our dc.

By the same token, there are times when dss is struggling and we do change our plans to make extra time for him, or think of something that would cheer him up etc. If he has something on, we try and work round that too. The point is that it is a balance; your dp doesn't seem to get that and for me that would make the relationship untenable.

eccentrica Thu 28-Feb-13 10:04:38

I don't think you are being selfish. No adult needs both or indeed either of their parents to drive them to airport. Esp. not if they're separated and he had prior plans. It sounds like you are still the 'secondary' relationship.

Llareggub Thu 28-Feb-13 10:02:59

Maybe he isn't the man for you. I am on my own with two young children who are 6 and 3. My best advice to you is to get out and spend time developing a fantastic life for you and your children but also socialise without a man - nights out with friends, interest and rely less on a man who just isn't there for you. Who knows what might be ahead? I know it is hard, truly I do!

dippymother Thu 28-Feb-13 09:46:25

Susannah, I have been in a very similar situation to yours with an XDP so can understand your worries.

I did accept that my DP's children came first and didn't complain about it, though his DCs were 5 and 7 at the time . Christmas and Birthdays were spent with his children and ex. DP and his ex were "amicable enough" though I knew it was for the benefit of the DCs - he had no desire to return to the family unit. He wasn't divorced either, but that had more to do with finances. We did split up though. I also have children (20s), but I was making far too much effort timewise and financially, to the detriment of my family, to continue a healthy and happy relationship with him. Basically, he was a cocklodger. Your DP sounds a lot better than that so I hope you can both come to a compromise on what is acceptable. Best of luck, and happy birthday! Hope you get a nice birthday celebration tomorrow or at the weekend.

As an aside, I'm now very happy with a lovely man who has no children, but it's not without problems. He is having to learn in his late 40s what living with older kids is like and he had little knowledge before!!!!

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