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Move in together, or keep two houses?

(24 Posts)
Purpleroses Sun 02-Oct-11 13:16:48

Hi - new here but wondered if anyone could give me any advice on living with a partner vs keeping our separate homes - he has 4 kids (aged 8-14) who stay with him every weekend, and I have two - DS-11 and DD - 8 who live mainly with me. We've been together 18 months now and the kids are spending quite a bit of time together and generally seem to get on well. His house is larger so that's where we end up spending time a lot - I feel it's asking rather a lot of my two kids to come and go between three houses and would rather make the change to all living together. My partner however is reluctant to make any changes to his kids' routines, and it would mean two kids sharing a room, though seems otherwise really comitted to the relationship and wants it to work in the long run. Anyone have any views on how easy it would be to get 6 kids who are used to two different homes to adjust to one? Can a long term relationship work whist keeping two separate houses? If we moved in together once some of them have left home, would this be easier for them, or harder?

Atwaroverscrabble Sun 02-Oct-11 13:43:10

I personally would keep your houses seperate at least until the kids have left home...

Your partner not wanting to change his kids routines is a big red flag meaning basically you and and your kids will have it do it their way... That could cause problems and is not fair on your kids... They will not see it as their house if you move into his rather than get a completely fresh house...

QBEE Sun 02-Oct-11 14:17:35

I would keep both houses tbh.
What if it all goes tits up? He does not sound like he is commited to the idea.
Big difference between the kids enjoying spending time with each other and six pre-pubescent children living with each other all weekend.

Is it fair on your own children to expect them to move into his house?

Maybe you should wait a while and then get a house together?

What are your proposed sleeping arrangements? How many bedrooms are there?

Smum99 Sun 02-Oct-11 16:22:30

2 houses - certainly for the medium term. I don't think 18 months is long enough to determine if it's right for the long term. I think your dp is being protective to his dc's which is understandable and you are trying to find a way to make it less disruptive for your dc's. There may not be a solution yet as the logistics are complex which is bound to happen with 6 children.

My advice from experience is don't rush the situation - if your dc's want to stay at your home for a weekend then let it happen, you and your dp can work around it and see each other at other times. My DSS's mum has jumped into yet another new'ish relationship and rushed to combine all the children but they have very much reduced space and the dc's are resentful. The dc's go along with it but aren't happy and as they are teens I suspect they will rebel which will cause more issues in the long term.

There is so much to work out before combining families - redhen (who posts here) has a similar situation and maybe able to post her advice or you could search for her posts.

brdgrl Sun 02-Oct-11 17:50:20

Hi. I had a similar choice to make. I was living with my baby DD (DP was the father) and DP was living with his DD and DS, both teenagers (I've posted about this before so sorry if it is repetitive). I was very, very reluctant to move in together, mainly because I did not like the lack of any sort of house roles, boundaries, consequences for poor behaviour, etc, that I saw in DP's home. I was very uncomfortable spending time at his house, and it was not the environment I wanted for me or for my DD. Living separately may have seemed strange to some people, but it suited me very well.

However! It was financially difficult, of course. And as well, we decided we did want to live together as one family. So now we live together, in a different house (so a new home for everyone); we got married earlier this year, too. Things have been difficult, but it has been an upward climb, and I think on the whole it has been the right decision for us.

Before I would agree to move in together, though (because DP wanted it very much; I was the one with doubts), I insisted that things had to change. We spent a LOT of time and had a LOT of conversations, figuring out what the house rules would be, imagining various scenarios and how we'd handle them, and basically, setting up an entirely new set of routines and boundaries for the kids. I mean it - we worked hard at this, and sometimes it felt to me like another part-time job. We also started seeing a Relate counsellor, and reading up on step-parenting advice. We talked about big general things (our values and ideal home life) and small, particular things (what we'd do if the kids wanted to watch telly when I wanted to use the room to play with the baby, or to watch a film as a couple, e.g.). And we wrote things down, so that we'd be clear ourselves, and ready to discuss them with the kids.

Months before we moved in together, DP introduced some changes at their home. The kids had chores for the first time, for instance. It was only after I saw that he was really willing and wanted to make changes that I could see a way forward with it.

The critical thing, to me, is that both parties have to be in agreement about the kind of homelife that you want to have, and then be willing to work out strategies and compromises to get there. If your DP is reluctant to make changes, I think you will be in for a very, very hard time. Especially if you guys are moving into their space!!! You will find it incredibly difficult, I think, to feel like it is 'your' home. I think our own situatuion only worked because we went to a new space that was neutral, and because we were vigilant about defining the 'new home'.

Purpleroses Sun 02-Oct-11 18:09:52

Thanks v much for all this - yes I am aware it could be difficult if we move into his space - ideal from my part would be somewhere new, though this could be hard in a practical sense - his house does have 6 bedrooms, and though ideally we could do with 7, we're unlikely to find anything larger that would suit. He's also very fond of the house - something that does concern me a bit, as he's kind of used to seeing it as his house (he's been there 15 years and bought his ex out a few years back when she moved out)

So yes, it woud mean two kids sharing - most likely my DS(11) and his DS2(8). Mine are at their Dad's alternate weekends so that would mean them sharing only 2 nights a fortnight, though still a shared space with both boys' stuff, etc. DP does seem comitted to wanting the relationship to work out long term and talks about whether it would be easier to live together once his DD1 (14) has left home - though I'm a bit unsure that would really be easier on her, to find her home and rules have all changed whilst she's not there (and presumably have to share with her sister when she's back in the hols). Also guess I'm just quite keen to have some of my kids childhoods not as a single parent (split up with their Dad when youngest a baby). Maybe too optimistic?

incognitofornow Sun 02-Oct-11 19:34:10

Message withdrawn

theredhen Sun 02-Oct-11 20:17:39

I will try and give a proper reply tomorrow, but I will say that I was incredibly happy with my life when I was dating my dp and we lived apart. I felt I had the right balance. Now we live together in his house with his four kids I am certainly nowhere near as happy add I was then and am often downright miserable.

nenevomito Sun 02-Oct-11 20:25:39

Keep separate houses.

You'd be walking into a logistical and fraught nightmare.

theredhen Tue 04-Oct-11 08:04:45

My DP has 4 kids aged 8 - 15, I have one DS aged 13. So it's very similar. I would take the fact that your DP has said he doesn't want to upset his kids as a big red flag. I would also think about the relationship he has with his ex. Is it reasonable? My DP is terrified of upsetting his kids so they won't come and he goes out of his way to parent them in a "disney" way. This might be OK if there are no other kids in the family but when you are trying to bring up your own children to have high standards and expectations, it is incredibly frustrating.

My DP was keen for me to move in and I had agreed in principal, meaning DS and DSS would share a room. A few weeks later DP went out and bought a tin of paint in a colour DSS had chosen to paint the boys room. When I asked him if he planned on painting one wall in the colour DSS had chosen and DS could choose the other, he looked at me blankly. I think that was the biggest sign of what was to come and although it upset me and we argued about it and I refused to move in until DP sorted out a room of his own for DS, it still reminds me that his mindset was all wrong.

DP wants the best of everything. His kids all the time (he cannot accept less than 100% custody) and me here all the time often while he is out either working or driving one child around. Last weekend all the kids were here for example, we spent no more than 20 mins at a time together without doing something with/for the kids.

I understand you would like your kids to be brought up in a "family" but I still feel like a single parent but with none of the good points. I am still 100% responsible for DS and often feel torn between DS and DP as there seems to be very little bond between the two of them. When DP kids are here, I can often go a whole weekend (3pm Fr to 8am Mon) without being able to speak with DS alone as DSC use him as their entertainment provider and are always by his side. They literally sit outside his room waiting for him to get up despite having all the latest gadgets and stuff in their rooms.

It's not ideal having two seperate houses, but in my experience, neither is trying to play happy families in one home. We are living in his house, and although we have decorated etc.

We are currently waiting for counselling and I am hopeful but also realistic. I feel my life is on "hold" since I moved in and EVERYTHING is about him, his kids and his ex wife. DS and I don't cause any crises in our lives so our needs seem to go to the bottom of the list.

slimbo Tue 04-Oct-11 08:50:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

brdgrl Tue 04-Oct-11 10:02:19

Yes, definitely agree with much of what redhen and slimbo say above...sorry if this is a bit long, will try not to bang on...

"DPs children are very spoilt, he and his ex had a lot of money when they were together, and now he doesnt, but both him a skids cant really accept they are actually quite poor."

So true here! My DH also finds it hard to come to terms with his/our financial reality; they used to have more money...DH had a settlement from his first wife's death, which he spent rather quickly giving playing DisneyDad - so now there is no money but the kids are used to getting 'the best'. We have lots of conflict over money, because of this and because I don't believe anyway that kids should have (even if we could afford it which we can't) some of the things they'd like.

"You seem to find, as the woman, whether you want to or not, you somehow end up as primary carer."
And this is very true. In our house, we have a jobs rota, and also DH is very much a 'new man' and does quite a bit...but I still somehow manage to see more that needs doing than he does. We share dinners and washing up, but everything else falls to me first (if I ask DH for help he always does, but it doesn't occur to him). I do all the laundry. I also end up doing all the long-term planning and worrying for all the kids, and because DH is crap at keeping track of things, it is me that has to remember appointments, the names of the kids' friends,what they need to take to school...I am the primary caregiver for DD, just as when I was a single mum (which tbh is how I want it), but have also fallen into much of the parenting of the older kids. So now I feel like I am looking after a household of five, whereas when DD and I lived alone, everything was so much easier and I had so much more time to myself.

I also had more time with DH when we did not live together! Slimbo is right - much less effort is made to romance or 'date' me now that I'm in the same house. I know this would be true even without the kids (you certainly hear it from even childless married or cohabitating couples), but the SCs make for a really extreme situation! If you DO eventually decide to move in with your DP, you must plan for this and have real dates and also real time together without the kids, in the home. It's critical.

The bedrooms...yep. Just recently had a monster argument with DH (posted about it here so sorry again if repeating self). DSD is talking about taking a year off before university and staying at home. When we moved in here, it was stated that DSD would have the large bedroom until she left school, and the we'd move the other kids 'up', so that DD (just a toddler now) would have a decent sized room instead of the tiny box room she's in now. DH was astonished when I said that we were sticking to this - if DSD stays at home for a year, it will be in the tiny room. I was astonished that he just assumed DSD would keep the best room in the house and didn't even discuss any of it with me.

So even though I feel that moving in together was the right thing for us as a family, I don't always feel like it was a great deal for me. As I said above - I'd do it again, because the alternatives for us were not workable, and I am optimistic about it now because things are moving so much in the right direction. But it has never been easy and I have struggled with feelings of depression and loneliness...and resentment. I've had times of just longing for my single parent days! I knew it would be tough, and it has been.

Purpleroses Tue 04-Oct-11 12:13:44

Really interesting hearing from you all - most of the my friends I chat to normally have intact families or at most one kid from a previous relationship - so don't know much about the dynamics of so many children.

Redhen - fortunately DP does get on reasonablely well with his ex, and she seems keen to have her weekends to herself and her DP which I think puts him in a strong position with the kids, but he does worry that he can't just enforce things on them without fear of them not wanting to come to his any more. Not quite sure I'd call him a Disney Dad but there are certainly less rules about the amount of time spent on computers, etc than in my house! DP is also concerned that they see the house as "theirs" in a way that I feel rather excludes me and mine having any stake in it.

Yes bedrooms is a major difficulty - there is one very small room (currently free) which I've already indicated I think would be best used by a child who has their 5 day a week home somewhere else.... but we've not really resolved that one. Don't want any of them to feel chucked out to make space for my two, though that's kind of what would happen, unless we could make the small room attractive in some way (?) Other problem is course finding two kids to share - and possible jiggling some of the others so that they could share the largest room.

Talked about it together last night - seem to be agreed we do want to live together at some point in next few years, I favour sooner as young kids are possibly more flexible, and it's just a nuscience a lot of the time right now (waking up in the wrong house, stuck at mine and him at his when we both have the kids, neglecting my house and garden when I'm round at his all weekend, my kids feeling at a lose end when we're round at his without their own space, etc). He's still thinking it would be easier once his eldest has left home (4 years time). But seems from what you all say, that living together wouldn't be easy either.

theredhen Tue 04-Oct-11 13:08:48

purpleroses - although DP and his ex do not get on well at all, the issues it brings are mainly because she has the ultimate control over what goes on in our home. For example when she gets a new boyfriend, she will expect us to have the kids our allocated time and a whole lot more. When things arent' going so well in her relationship she will try and limit the contact by not allowing DP any "extra" time. This in turn causes very erratic parenting from my DP who too lets them play on computers for longer than I would allow and I have found I now let DS play as long as he wants because I can't impose a rule just for one child, this then carries on when DSC arent' around and I end up feeling manipulated and that I am not "allowed" to parent my own child how I want. Those sorts of little things didn't really offend me when we lived apart because when I was in my home, my rules utterly and completely went. Now I have to compromise all the time. Things like lack of manners and respectfulness didn't matter when I could walk away from their house at the end of the day and breathe a sigh of relief. People tend to now judge me on things like their manners because I live with them whereas people don't see you as a "proper" couple when you don't live together which can be hard but also has it's advantages.

I too felt that I didn't want DSC to feel pushed out but ultimately they all treat DS room as a communal room anyway, so DS could have had the biggest room with hindsight. DSC will sit in his room every waking hour and then proceed to tell him how much better their rooms are! hmm

Yes, young kids are more flexible but they soon grow into teenagers and if all the compromising has been coming from you and your kids for years, I think the resentment would have built by the time teendom really kicks in.

My DS does love having other kids around but also gets frustrated with their attitudes. He has questionned the different parenting (like when DSS was nearly excluded from school and neither parent disciplined him) and I have told him that I discipline him more firmly because I want him to grow into a lovely young man and that simply he is mine and the others are not. All my imagined parenting as a team has simply not happened. I couldn't trust DP to discipline DS fairly as he "reactionary" disciplines never imposing boundaries or expecting rules to be adhered to each and every time.

Yes, I remember what a pain it was having to pack bags, neglecting my house, always having to go to his when he has the kids because my house wasn't big enough, DS carting all his stuff around like a tramp. lol. But I still say that it was a lot easier than what I have now.

tokenwoman Tue 04-Oct-11 18:34:06

ok here's one from someone still living in seperate houses 7 years on allbeit only 5 mins away. I would have loved to have us buy a house together but now I am glad we didn't when I read some of the tales of woe. I have 2 boys now grown 18&19 and he has little princess 13 going on 21.

I have always been strict and poor he has always been rich and since his wife left him decided that his rights to parent little princess was taken from him and if he was to be strict she wouldn't visit him. AKA disney dad. The differences between the children are immense. Mine do chores (and used to at his as well) she is expected to do nothing I soon realised this and put a stop to them helping out at his. She gets a vast amount of 'pocket money' and everything she desires and if it gets broken it is immediately replaced mine are more carefull of their belongings. Xmas is a nightmare with her opening up loads of gifts and tossing them aside while mine have only a few and the reaction is one of love and gratitude. They have always bought her a gift she is yet to do the same. The world revolves around her and sadly he confirms this situation by his actions. I think he is scared of her or trying to raise someone just like her mother ie spoilt rich brat who will snare a rich man then financially castrate them in a divorce settlement he seems to think that this is an OK career move after all it worked for her mother

upside is that my children are free to come and go, have friends around and make as much noise as they want at my house I dread to think how much their freedom and growth would have been curtailed if we were to have lived with him and his daughter with different rules. She has friends around for sleepovers everytime she visits because it means he doesn't have to keep her entertained. He couldn't have faced living with teenage boys anyway in his or in a joint house

I also dread how much we would have argued, as it is we still have the occassional row about 'her' and his lack of parenting 'skills'. She ignores me most (all) of the time. I regularly get accused of making it difficult to spend his time with his daughter (I don't honestly as I make myself scarce when she is around as I HAVE MY OWN HOUSE TO ESCAPE TO SO HE CAN DO ANYTHING HE WANTS WITH HER WITHOUT ME IN THE WAY something he hasn't quite managed to grasp yet)

the downside? I work full time, keep my house in order (with real help from my boys) I get no actual assistance from DP where my house is concerned. I do the shopping for 2 houses, clean at 2 houses, cook at 2 houses wash and iron at 2 houses, garden at 2 houses and sometimes I catch myself doing things while DP and little princess are 'playing' at seperate activities ie surfing the internet and wonder WTF Im doing, at this point I tend to down tools and go home. I spend time at his, he spends no time at mine (ever) I do things for his daughter he does very little for my boys. Sometimes I don't know if Im coming or going

I love him very much but that doesn't mean I have to love his daughter (she is hard to love and Ive tried) his parenting skills are crap and if I treated him the way his daughter treats him I would be out on my ear in no time but rose coloured specs keep him in the dark about his 'real daughter' . And I can't expect him to love mine either

The only thing that keeps me sane is that I can escape to the peace and quiet of my house when things get too much usually about every three months when the moon if full and Im PMT mode and on access visits EOW, it gives me the chance to spend time with my boys. But be warned when we row I get sent home/storm off in a huff

We will live togther (the 2 of us) at some point but even that is fraught with complications, which I wont go into here, mine are almost ready to fly the nest she will take forever and I can see access visits going on for many a year yet (I do hope not)

how far away do you live from each other? it can work with seperate houses as long as you dont become the cleaner, skivvy, servant, slave, etc at his
and who cares what people think some of my friends have only just found out we dont actually live together. I always say my children come first and their well being is more important than him and his daughter and my needs.

Purpleroses Tue 04-Oct-11 22:22:35

tokanwoman - we live very near, luckily - or I don't know how we'd have made it work so far as he comutes and works long hours, so at least we can see each other without any travel issues. Do spend a lot of time round his - especially the weekends when my DCs are with their dad, help with the garden, etc but don't intend to take it any further than that - I'm bad enough at cleaning one house!

I am fond of the kids - well some of them.. the younger two are lovely and clearly keen to have both me and my kids around, his DD1 (14 year old) is very teenagery and out a lot of the time, but on friendly terms. His DS1 (12 year old) was very antagonistic to the whole thing at first and used to refuse to come out of his bedroom if I was in the house, (referring to me in my absense as an "evil witch" apparently!) which I found rather upsetting, but that seems to have got a lot better now. Still don't find him an easy child to be fond of, but at least he seems OK about me being around.

There are differences in how we parent, but I wouldn't say they're unbridgeable - don't sound as bad as the difficulties some of you are describing - though prehaps I'm just naive as we've only had a week together under the same roof on holiday and not really got the stage of pissing each other off! Like you, redhen, I kind of imagine we'd share parenting - but maybe we'd need to really think about what that would involve. My DD (8) adores DP by the way and makes no effort to hide her impatience about why we haven't got married yet! This does not make things any easier confused

HullEnzia Wed 05-Oct-11 15:29:54

I agree with the ones who say you would be mad to move in together.

babyheavingmassofmaggots Wed 05-Oct-11 17:35:23

Purpleroses it does sound like you've made up your mind that you want to move in. If the experiences of the others on here who have made that decision don't deter you then good luck, but at least take on the practical advice instead.

1. Consider renting out your current place rather than selling it. That way you always have something to go back to. Houses are selling badly at the moment so it makes sense in other ways as well.

2. Get the ground rules straight about discipline and the children before you move in. Then, as a couple, communicate them directly to the children. Your DP doing all the discipline on his children when you don't live together is one thing, but consider what will happen when its YOUR home too and you try to lay down the law and they ignore you. This will happen, so be clear from the outset.

3. Sharing a room isn't a problem. Sharing a room when one child sees it as HIS room in HIS house that an outsider is coming into is completely different. Work that one out clearly with both children - and your DP before you move in.

4. Consider how you will feel about DP disciplining your children. Consider how you will feel if he does it, but undermines you with his own children. This is a common and repeated theme. Be clear about what you will and won't accept beforehand.

5. Be realistic about the relationship you will all have in the first year. It will probably run smoothly the first two months and then get very difficult before it rights itself again. The difficult part can last a long time, especially when teenagers are involved.

6. Look closely at both selling and buying a house together. That way everyone starts off on an equal footing, even sharing rooms. If they've not belonged to someone else before it takes away that angst.

Good luck.

Purpleroses Wed 05-Oct-11 20:04:54

Thanks - yes useful advice - renting out my place is v possible and would burn less bridges. And you're very right about sharing - there's no reason why two kids can't share a room 2 nights a fortnight (pleanty kids share full time) but it's how we get from a to b that's the issue - lots to work on, if/when we decide to make the change. Still wonder how it is to change at the point when eldest leaves home - likely to go to university, but I remember home still being home at that age... but maybe a bed in a room with her sister would do.

theredhen Wed 05-Oct-11 20:16:44

Really great advice, babyheave. Very well put.

charlearose Tue 18-Oct-11 21:32:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

theredhen Wed 19-Oct-11 22:23:00

charlearose - what a wonderful post and just what I needed to read. I really think living apart gives you the best of both worlds. Control over your own life and your own parenting while having someone to share the emotional burden with whilst not having to deal with issues that don't belong to you.

I really admire you and your DH for making it work and not worrying about what other people think.

brdgrl Thu 20-Oct-11 01:43:23

thanks for posting that, charlearose.
my 'dream option', if we'd been able to afford it, and if it had not been for the visa issues (i'm a foreigner here!), was to get two houses next door to one another in a terrace. i could keep mine as tidy as i liked...our pets would have been able to go on living in their own houses...i could keep my own decor...peace and quiet whenever i wanted.
DP always acted as if i were joking, but it sounded perfect to me.

charlearose Fri 21-Oct-11 02:06:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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