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Partner's Grown-Up Children Come First

(73 Posts)
Blueskybluesky Sat 04-Jul-15 13:49:15

Have been with a lovely guy for two years (he's early 50s, I'm late 40s - both never married before), talking about marriage and getting a house together. He has two children in their 20s (I have no children and am happy with that) and he still has the family home - daughter has returned, son has moved out. I live in a flat in the same city. A number of situations are clearly telling me I am third in the pecking order. Are there any other women who are experiencing this? I have no children, but changed my whole life and moved city to be closer to my partner and put him first in my life. I understand the unique bond of a parent and child, though at the same time would like to feel that I might come first at some point. Any advice out there? Do I sit it out until we get our own place and hope it might change, or run for the hills now . . . Thanks for your help!

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WorldsBiggestGrotbag Sat 04-Jul-15 13:57:06

I haven't got any real advice as I'm not in this situation exactly but am struggling with it from the opposite side! I'm 30, my parents divorced when I was a teenager, my mum moved out leaving me and my brother with my dad, and my brother died when he was 27, 6 years ago. As a result of all this I've always been my dad's priority. He now has a new partner for the first time since him and my mum split. I'm very happy for him (honestly smile) but it is a massive adjustment for me. I'm adjusting to things like not letting myself into what was our family home as I don't want to intrude, him being away with her every weekend when I'm heavily pregnant with a toddler with a broken leg and he would normally be around to help. I know it's my problem though so am not acting like a brat! It's just a big change I guess. How are his 'kids' with it all? Do they expect to be put first or is the problem with your partner?

pocketsaviour Sat 04-Jul-15 14:07:34

Have you met his children? How do you get on with them?

It's hard to say if you're expecting too much, or he's unfairly prioritising their needs above yours.

As a parent I would say that my son (who is 20 in a couple of weeks) will ALWAYS be a higher priority to me than any romantic partner. However, this doesn't mean I would do things like change plans at the last minute with a date because my son had stubbed his toe. However if my son was having a mental health crisis (which does happen a fair amount) then I would be dealing with that before anything else.

Can you be specific about how you feel you are bottom of the priority list?

goddessofsmallthings Sat 04-Jul-15 14:17:14

Are you third in the pecking order after his son and daughter or after his dc and their mother?

Blueskybluesky Sat 04-Jul-15 14:27:33

Hello WorldsBiggest (am sure you are not a Grotbag). Thank you for writing Now yours is a different situation and it sounds like it's been very tough and your feelings very understandable. I wonder if the new girlfriend is supportive of you and if you would like her to be? Do you like her? In this situation, my partner's ex walked out when the kids were in their late teens, leaving them with him. Son has nothing to do with her, daughter sees her occasionally (though receives money from her, son does not). I've been very careful not to crash into a family unit which is also why I have retained my own place. Kids have said to partner and his family they are very happy for him. We do sometimes all go out as a family or in a bigger family group. Son gave me a very hard time at first, but am pleased to say we have turned a corner and we get on well, he asks for advice, texts me etc. Think he was testing me and making sure I was sound. It's positive. Daughter is high demand (always has been apparently, not a new thing) partner finances her. His house is covered in photos of her (not my house, no problem there being no photos of me, but a bit odd that there are lots of daughter - including in his bedroom which is why I won't stay there - not many of son). Don't most people just have a few? I took advice from friends who had parents split, to guide me early on in the relationship and this was very helpful in enabling me to be realistic about playing 'happy families' etc and giving adjustment time for all. I'm beginning to realise 2 years on that I will quite possibly always be third. Hard one for me to tackle as I sense the issue is centered around daughter . . . Daughter acts like she likes me so no one would think otherwise to my knowledge, and says so, but I don't think it's heartfelt. I think the expectation from the son is now that I am Dad's partner and that's all good, but daughter may want to come first and partner goes with this being the reality. Just realised it's a bit Diana - 'three of us in this relationship'!! Hope you are OK - sounds like a lot on your plate!

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Blueskybluesky Sat 04-Jul-15 14:28:50

Hello goddessofsmallthings - am after daughter (first) then son... (what's dc?)

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WorldsBiggestGrotbag Sat 04-Jul-15 14:33:51

I'm a grotbag at the moment, 40 weeks pregnant and grumpy!
Ok so it sounds like the problems revolve around his daughter then. When you say he finances her, to what extent? Does she have a job at all? Does she have friends/a partner/hobbies or is she always there? Do you have plans to move in together?

pocketsaviour Sat 04-Jul-15 14:33:56

DC = dear/darling children
Mumsnet acronyms

His house is covered in photos of her [...] including in his bedroom which is why I won't stay there

This sounds odd on your part, TBH... How many photos of her are there?!

Again - can you be specific about when he has prioritised his daughter's needs above you?

Blueskybluesky Sat 04-Jul-15 14:53:14

Hello WorldBiggest and pocketsavior, thank you. OK, daughter tries something (university, work, work experience, setting up a new business) - it lasts for 6 - 12 months or less and then it's high drama or a big falling out (friends, work colleagues) and starting all over again. Partner usually bails her out. She gets £250 a month from Dad and same from Mum, who also just gave £6k towards new venture. Daughter has boyfriend, a bit up and down. No plans for us all to move in together. Daughter moved out, had row with flatmate and now back. Photos - everywhere - 5 in bedroom (one of son), lots more around the sitting room, hallway, bathroom, loo... It's geographically tricky as currently partner works at home, then to mine for evening and stays over, so almost living a double life and can't sell home until daughter moves out for us to set up - totally understand this. I think issue is his handling and daughter knows he's a soft touch. On his birthday or special days for him etc, I don't see much in the way of giving back to him (I don't mean expensive gifts), it shocks me the way he is not shown more appreciation (I say nowt!). Hard to think of a specific instance that makes it look clearcut. I'm genuinely not high demand (have career, busy, independent) - my friend (shared with one other) thinks I'm being overly accommodating and warning bells should be clanging. His family (sisters) have told him the kids are grown up and to move on, that he's molly coddled for too long. Don't have friends of my age who have just met partners with older children to draw on. Ex had girlfriend before me. She told the children to grow up, respect Dad and they hated her for it, plus she had her own child...

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Pinkballoon Sat 04-Jul-15 15:05:21

I have photos of my daughters all around the house - I'm immensely proud of them. Perhaps he is?

springydaffs Sat 04-Jul-15 15:08:54

Hey blue, put in some paragraphs, easier to read.

Haven't quite got the gist (see above) but have you spoken to him about it? I know is awkward but you didn't make significant changes in your life to come way down in the pecking order. perhaps he taken you at your word? Re' don't mind me, i'm happy to stay in the background and play second fiddle' re having your own place and deferring to them. Two years is loooong enough for you to have a significant place.

I met a guy once who was completely taken with his 16yo daughter. His wife/her mother had died 3 years before and the relationship between him and his daughter just wasn't right. People can cling together in grief but it's important the parent holds to appropriate boundaries.

springydaffs Sat 04-Jul-15 15:11:02

Sorry about the long long!

Blueskybluesky Sat 04-Jul-15 15:12:59

Hello Pinkballoon - yes, proud of her, but not really any of son . . . a LOT of photos - never seen so many and I have family woth kids, friends with kids . . .

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CustardLover Sat 04-Jul-15 15:16:55

I wouldn't pay too much attention to the photos thing - my mother has literally hundreds of my siblings and I around the place and now that she has a digital camera and grandchildren, well, think fridge magnets, mousemats,mugs...

Blueskybluesky Sat 04-Jul-15 15:24:49

Hi Springydaff

New to here, can you tell?! Will paragraph! Thought it might 'send' if I hit return...

I did make significant changes to my life - moved city, away from my work, friends and family, so I travel now. Did this so we could be closer as he couldn't move given both kids at home at the time. Also we met later in life and felt we needed to know if it was a goer, hence I moved. Otherwise would have been once a week for donkeys. Condition was that we'd give it a year living the way we are. Now two years. It's long enough, but I can't be responsible for him asking daughter to leave.

Spoken about it, says will all change when we get a place together, though now can't see when that will be now. I don't really want to move into his family home with daughter as think nothing would ever change then. It's his old life, old house, not our future, I think we need to build a home together. Can't see it going down well if I moved in and said 'can I put my paintings up, take down the daughter pics' etc! It would look like I was dismantling the family home.

In writing all this I think another chat is in order, maybe this weekend is the right time... Thank you for listening. Advice welcome and grateful for comments thus far. I'll let you know how it goes...

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Blueskybluesky Sat 04-Jul-15 15:27:45

Custard Lover - that made me laugh! My mum has gone a bit photo mad now armed with camera phone - pics of meals, the works.

I think it's a little odd given it's mostly daughter and not much of anything or anyone else. Feels a bit like a shrine . . .

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Blueskybluesky Sat 04-Jul-15 15:29:24

Springydaffs - appropriate boundaries is right! Apols for typos, no idea how to spell check on here...

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Threefishys Sat 04-Jul-15 17:57:39

Whether it's right or it's wrong that's the dynamic he has with his family and that's the man you've chosen, so I think it's more a case of whether you can accept the reality of what being with someone who sounds like a pretty great dad actually means in practical terms to a partner.

Lovingfreedom Sat 04-Jul-15 18:09:00

It's up to him how much he supports his kids. So what if you're 3rd priority...they are his kids. You don't like pics of his kids?? Why are you so needy?

SugarOnTop Sat 04-Jul-15 18:17:10

given that he mollycoddles his grown up daughter now, what would be different if you did move in together in a place of your own? you might find that he moves his daughter into your new place when she has another one of her dramas and there won't be much you can do about it at that point. i think i'd be insisting on some definite rules if i were going to move in with him. i'd also want him to start changing the unhealthy dynamic BEFORE you start looking for a place together.

Blueskybluesky Sat 04-Jul-15 18:19:25

Thanks Threefishys and Lovingfreedom

I'm not actually needy at all - I was on here to ask advice if others going into or in a relationship with someone with grown-up kids felt like they came third, was that to be expected, normal, other folks' experience etc etc. I'm well aware it's coming onto a very formed faily unit.

I've never been in a relationship with anyone with children. It's great he loves his kids, I admire and support that. The photos thing is masses of photos of daughter, son doesn't really get a look in (I'm not the only one to notice this), hence I was asking if that was odd or not.

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TurnItIn Sat 04-Jul-15 18:19:38

YY Threefishys.

My children will be number one for me for the rest of my life. Apart from my DGC of course, they will be way up there too.

This is my truth, and that of lots of parents - right or wrong that's the way it is. If a lover was uncomfortable with that then 'Nice to know you, buh-bye!'

You have to decide whether this is a deal breaker for you. I think it's very interesting though, it's like you've bought into some fairy tale vision of how love should be - you being worshipped above all others - and it's unrealistic really at our age. I do understand that feeling and have struggled with it myself! (I'm aware I may be projecting somewhat! wink)

Blueskybluesky Sat 04-Jul-15 18:22:51

Thank you SugarOnTop, you have hit the nail on the head. I know none of this is easy, I know I don't have kids, but I am a child of parents and I have lots of friends who are parents, and I don't see this elsewhere. Time to do serious thinking and have a conversation. Many thanks

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Vivacia Sat 04-Jul-15 18:28:58

His children should come first, but it needn't be at the expense of having your needs met. I think that you're very wise not to move in to the old family home but start somewhere fresh.

Jen1610 Sat 04-Jul-15 18:32:41

Is it possible the boy doesn't really like picture's of himself being taken so there's not many different photos to put up.Young girls are often posers these days and I suppose you could have loads of different pics with different hairstyles, outfits etc.

Also, if they have lived the there a while themselves perhaps she has taken on the female role within the house and it's her that puts the pics up of herself? have you ever asked?

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