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Urgent perspective needed - DP, his kids and weekends(75 Posts)
My partner of 8 months spends every weekend with his 3 young boys.
He split up with their mum about 15 months ago. For a while they did the every other weekend arrangement which is obviously most common, then about 2 months into our relationship he pretty much went back to being with them every weekend, at her house -not staying over but there from morning til bedtime. This was because his ex partner got to a point where she apparently could not cope with the kids being away from her any more , it was making her very depressed, which I can imagine must be terribly hard. She lost her job at the time around that time (has a new one now) and think it all got a bit much.
It's been six months since I saw him at all on a weekend, except for maybe the odd Sat or Sun eve from 9pm til 8am next day - even these are rare as its kind of pointless to drive 2 hours literally just to go to bed together.
I haven't met his children as I don't feel it's right to so early on in our relationship and so soon after their mum and dad split. Also, his ex knows of me but has made it very clear to him he must not introduce them. She often makes threats about taking them away altogether, which although probably completely untrue, scare my partner to death.
I won't go into details but I have absolutely no concerns about the nature of his relationship with his ex, none at all. If anyone is good enough to respond, you can certainly question this but that really isn't the point of my post.
The point is I am completely torn - after 6 months and no real weekend time (we live about 2 hours drive from each other by the way, but see each other in the week) , I've basically said he needs to bring himself away from there even once a month say on a Sat afternoon so we can have a proper evening together. This reduces him to tears, saying he cannot bear to miss out on anything with the kids. He says he wants to, for our sake, but it kills him.
I feel like a cow for essentially demanding he be apart from his kids who are so precious to him.
As mentioned, his ex will not let him take the kids away from her at weekends - their split wasn't acrimonious (but was more him than her by all accounts) so she's quite happy to have him around if it means she doesn't have to be apart from them.
Am I being unreasonable to ask a devoted dad to give up a little bit of weekend time once in a whole for me? He claims he loves me, talks of a future etc, but he really cannot deal with being away at weekends without breaking down.
He sees them about 3 nights in the week for bedtime, seems fine on the other 2, no meltdowns then. But says that's because he isn't missing out like he would at weekends.
Does he need to man up, get some backbone and stand up to his ex, or should I just live with and applaud him for wanting to see them a lot and for him and his ex partner managing a good co parenting relationship?
What do I do?
It all sounds so difficult. I think it's understandable that he wants to be with his children as much as he can.
I think he should have snapped up your compromise of saturday afternoons once a month!
Do you see him during the week? If not then its not much of a relationship. It sounds like he wants to put his children first, which is right really, and he isn't ready for a relationship. Or isn't able to have one.
Sorry but are you absolutely, 100% sure they're not together at all?? If they didn't want to be together anymore then they have chosen to parent apart from each other, but from what you've described they're not are they? How can you be with him if you never spend a weekend with him?? Hmmm, a strange situation. Do you think it's something that will change long term?? If you stayed with him and things go well, would you see yourself having children with him? How would that work??
I think that you are being entirely reasonable.
It doesn't sound to me as though he's ready, or willing, to move on and have a serious relationship with you.
Does he envisage a time when he might be able to go back to every other weekend? He might talk of a future with you but I don't see how on earth that's going to work.
I think I'd give him up as a bad job, to be honest. I can't see it improving at all. You would be much better off with someone who's single, who can see you whenever you both want to. You'll carry on with this miserable state of affairs for years if you're not careful and his ex wife will continue to cry and say she can't bear to spend a night apart.
You'll probably find when she gets a boyfriend she discovers she doesn't mind as much.
By the way, what's happening with you both at Christmas?
Do you have children of your own? If so, you would understand his dilemma.
I've been in your shoes.
It is not about telling him to 'man up and get some backbone'. He loves his dc, wants to see them, and has a huge lifetime obligation to them. He is doing the best he can for all concerned. You cannot ask him to choose. You knew the situation when you got involved.
If what he can give is not enough for you, then you should find a partner who is more available. Fwiw, the relationship sounds untenable, purely due to obligations and logistics. It is virtually impossible for him to give you want you want/need/are asking for.
Hmmmm tricky, on the whole i don't think your being unreasonable. Sounds like the ex is just trying to control him, his life and relationship. If your going to have any future together something will have to give sooner or later. As he can't live his life forever like that (and neither can she). Sooner or later she's going to want a bit of life back rather than her ex hanging round all the time.
Maybe the way to play it is when he next talks about the future, just mention your wondering where and how it will fit in with her demands.
I think you are being very reasonable indeed but I can't see any way thus relationship can work out. He can't have the children to stay, he can't introduce you to them, their mother has effectively made him off limits to anyone else. Sorry.
Thanks for all your replies.
Early bird - the suggestion he should "man up" etc was probably a bad turn of phrase - I meant more, should he be seeking a tiny bit more control back from his ex when it comes to the kids. I totally understand he has a huge commitment to them, and I am glad he is living up to that for their sake, it obviously just means I miss out if I choose to stick around.
Ref Christmas - no idea, not been discussed in any depth yet.
But don't think we ll get that far to be honest.
He talks often about just needing time to adjust, that he ll get there in time and be able to cope with separate time, as will his ex he believes. But guess I can't wait forever.
I don't know how other parents manage the separation from their kids when they split - I don't have kids myself so can't even imagine how painful it is. Yet others seem to manage it, even if its very hard at first, but my partner and his ex don't want to do that, do they. And why should they put themselves through that pain I guess, if there's no need to.
The only reason he'd be doing it would be to make me and him work better, and I'd never suggest a relationship should take precedence over someone's kids.
So yep, looks like I'm on a hiding to nothing
Sometimes a fab man 'unattached' man simply isn't available at all - even if he is legally and/or morally available.
It is painful to realise, but at least you've 'only' invested 8 months. My advice would be not to waste more time or energy. You can make him a priority in your life, but he can't do the same. Look for someone who can give you what you want. You'll be much happier.
I think this kind of contact arrangement is confusing for the kids and will make it impossible for either parent to form any kind of successful relationship with anyone else, which is not good for the kids either.
Your DP needs to get a proper contact arrangement in place - through the court if necessary. He is their dad and it is completely unreasonable for his ex to dictate how and when he sees his children.
Unless there were very good reasons against it a court would more than likely do the standard every other weekend and perhaps a day/overnight during the week.
Why is it ok for the mum to say she can't bear to be apart from her kids at the expense of the dad? Presumably it is just as difficult for him to be apart from them as it is for her?
As far as the rest of it goes - only you know if you can accept a relationship where you will always come second because that is how it will be.
Why is it ok for the mum to say she can't bear to be apart from her kids at the expense of the dad?
Well it doesn't really matter why she feels like that. Or why he feels like that - because let's face it, he seems happy enough, at the moment, to fall in with her wishes. Not everyone does feel like that - but they both apparently do.
Three young children is quite a handful, and she probably didn't ever envisage she would have to be a mum, work outside the home, and have to do it alone apart from every other weekend when "fun dad" swoops in and then she doesn't see them at all for an entire weekend, having done all the hard work during the week. I suspect that's at the bottom of this.
Things will probably change as the children get older, but OP's choice is still to waste her young years hanging around waiting for that to happen, or find someone without children who can put her, and their life together, first.
I think if you were a parent yourself, you might question some of what you are being told more rigorously - and he knows it.
So in fact he knows that no mother can withdraw children's rights to spend time with their father unless there are serious threats to the children's wellbeing - and even then, family courts and social services have to be convinced of the threat. Other parents will also tell you that men who claim this as a reason for their decisions and actions are often using it as a smokescreen to hide choices that would not bear scrutiny by a new partner.
Secondly, all parents know that after separation it is healthier for children to accept that their parents' couple relationship is over and that the family dynamic has changed. The best way to do this is for children to spend time separately with both parents and to see the non-resident parent outside of the family home.
The most obvious reason for this situation is that both your partner and his ex wife are still attached to their couple relationship and the family life it created.
I would also add that alternate weekends are never enough for a committed parent of either sex - and they are rarely enough for children, whose rights are paramount in all this. So the original arrangement would never have been satisfactory for children who loved their father, or a father who loved his children.
Be careful about the picture your partner is painting about his wife's motivations. Instinctively and logically, it is obvious that these are obfuscatory and designed to conceal his own motivations. If you haven't spoken to his ex wife and heard her version of events, be very circumspect about what you are being told and why.
It doesn't sound like he is really ready to move onto a new relationship so you will always feel second best. He and his ex are both being unfair to the DC as it would be much better for them to spend weekends with their father in his home.
You would be much happier if you end this relationship and find a partner who can see you at weekends, even if they have children from a previous partner.
Why can't he take the children out in the day with you there at the weekends?
Why can't he be there all day with the children but leave at say 5pm on Saturday and spend the rest of that night with you and get back to the family home at say 7am on Sunday?
I don't actually think it's unreasonable for a parent to want to spend the weekend with their children and help with them. They are very hard work and no reason the poor mother should be lumbered when it's a joine enterprise whilst he hangs around with a lover. What is weird is that she cannot cope with him taking them out. THey could come and stay with him or at your place every other weekend and then the next weekend he goes to them at their mother's.
If you want to keep him I think you need to work around his preferences here though for now.
The XW can't bear to be apart from her DCs for an entire weekend? Weird!
I'd run like fuck. You have been entirely reasonable but in the end, you deserve a life and a real relationship too. Not twiddling your thumbs every weekend and holiday while he sits playing happy families with XW.
I don't think he's ready to move on yet either, sorry. I think you have to ask yourself if what you have now is enough, and if it's not, you need to end it.
The XW can't bear to be apart from her DCs for an entire weekend? Weird!
or possibly untrue.
I think you have to accept his choice because otherwise he will resent you. Up to you whether you wish to proceed on those terms tbh
Does your work pattern allow you to see each other during the week? I can't work out when you actually conduct your relationship?
I don't think he's ready for another relationship at all.
It's a hard one because on one hand it is unreasonable to ask him to take time away from his children when he doesn't want too but on other had I understand why you want him too.
Personally I think it's a case of put up and shut up or move on. He really doesn't sound like he is ready for a relationship but I do sympathise with your situation.
Do you only have his word about this whole set up? I'm sorry but I just wouldn't believe him.
So he's there 3 nights a week for bedtime (does he go there straight from work?) AND all day/evening Saturday and Sunday.
Slightly unhinged, threatening ex who "will not let him" take his own children away from her at weekends.
Nah, I'm not buying into that at all. Are you really sure they're even separated?
Anyway, it matters not. What matters is that weekends are out of bounds for you and him, as are three weeknights. Your relationship is never going to progress. I'd get out now because while you're wasting your time with him you're missing out on the opportunity of meeting someone with a much less dysfunctional set up.
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