Don't know what to do(29 Posts)
Hello, I have name changed for this.
I met my DP a year ago after coming out of an abusive relationship a few months earlier. DP is a lovely man and we get on very well together both in and out of the bedroom.
The problem is I am struggling to cope with his children. They are good kids and we all get on genuinely well; however having lived in small households all my life I am finding it really difficult sharing my living space with so many people (he has 4 children aged 8-14 who we have every week Thu-Sun). I have never been maternal and do not have/want children of my own and I am wondering whether I am really cut out for all this.
DP wants us to buy a house which is bringing things to a head, we can't delay it too much as he is older than me and needs to get a mortgage sorted quite soon. If I stay with him he will need to buy somewhere bigger than he would otherwise consider which would need my financial input.
DP points out that at our age very few people will be child and/or baggage free (I'm in my late 30s). I genuinely love him but also worry whether I am staying because this is the first healthy relationship I have ever had.
Is living with someone else's children something that gets easier over time? I am worried that once the honeymoon phase of our relationship is over it will drive us apart.
Any tips or advice gratefully received.
We are both amicable wth his ex. However if we didn't have the children every weekend then her own new relationship would be dead in the water so there is a strong element of staying flexible because she needs us as much as we need her. We've had a few niggles with his ex in the past which I am worried would escalte if she became single again.
Overall though I am very lucky really which is why I am struggling in feeling more negative than I ought to.
You're the second poster in a week that has a partner with four kids. I thought I was the only one! I too have a partner with four kids and we have the kids over a third of the time.
In some ways it's got easier since living together but I would say that generally I am a lot more unhappy, stressed and miserable too.
My dp's ex is very awkward and we are currently starting the court process which I know will bring more stress. Dp's ex parents the kids differently depending on her love life and I find it incredibly difficult to deal with feeling like an unpaid babysitter. The worst thing though isdp's Disney parenting and having to ignore bad behaviour from the kids knowing that dp won't pull kids up on it. he had a fear that his kids won't k like him, will ruin telling tales to mum and they won't come any more.
My advice would be to not move in based on my experiences.
Redhen, you're the first person who sprang to mind when I read this thread ....
I have to be honest, and say that 4 children every weekend is my idea of hell. I only have to contend with one step son on alternate weekends, and that's been hard enough. It's all very well that the ex wants all her weekends free to pursue her relationships, but that's rather at the expense of your DP - as you may well feel differently if he only had the children 50% of weekends.
I've never been maternal, although I work with teenagers, and thought that having grown up in step family (a very happy one) would prepare me for having a step child of my own, but in reality it hasn't.
I have NEVER regretted getting together with DH, but confess that life was easier when we each had our own house. We both lived at my house, unless it was an access weekend, when DH went back to his house, and I could pop in (or not) as and when I felt like it. Six years on, and it hasn't really got an easier. I've got used to access weekends, but it's been an unhappy acceptance, rather in the same way as you accept that someone's died - you don't like it, but you learn to live with it.
Is there any way your DP would be prepared to negotiate with the ex for 50% weekend contact? This would possibly ease the situation, and mean there might be a way forward?
Please read back through some of Redhen's threads, it's a reality check.
I have four children of my own, and tbh I'm not sure I could do it if they weren't mine!
I think you really need some weekend time without them regularly tbh
Reading your posts with interest as contemplating a similar move myself - got some useful advice on a similar post of mine earlier that you might want to look at (if I can post hyperlinks...) here
Personally would be sceptical of the suggestion above that you ask DP to have the kids less than he usually does - it would surely make them feel pushed out and would likely upset their mum - and tensions with ex wives seems to be the cause of a very large proportion of people's frustrations and difficulties on this forum. Also I'd have thought it would be best in your situation to try and look on all your week as being potentially fun - if you see the part when the kids are around as something to be endured rather than enjoyed you'd be missing half your life waiting for the other part of the week. Not to say that the odd weekend together without the kids isn't something you have every right to ask for though - but sounds like this isn't so much the issue as whether you think you can be happy spending a good chunk of your time living in a large household with kids, for the next 5-10 years at least.
Many thanks for all your replies.
My DP did suggest to his ex a few months ago that once a month we only have the kids till the Saturday night so that we get a lie-in and she gets more of the fun time with them, this however fell by the wayside very quickly as the exs own DP (also childless) is struggling to adapt to the situation as well.
The access is set up the way it is because a) my DP wants to spend equal time with his children and b) it fits in with both parents work patterns.
At the risk of outing myself, I find things even harder because the two eldest have Autism and Aspergers. The eldest child suffers greatly from anxiety so it is very difficult to take him out anywhere, which limits a lot of what we can do with the rest of the family. It also obviously means that they wont be independent till that much later.
The worst bit is feeling like a selfish cow for secretly wishing that DP was child-free. It makes me feel like a cold, uncaring person. I will read RedHens posts to gain a bit more insight. In the meantime my heart is breaking because I dont want to lose the only good relationship I have ever known.
DP and I get on brilliantly. However, when it comes to kids, access, ex wife, this is when we row, I get frustrated and annoyed and he digs his heels in and makes me feel unimportant. We are currently waiting for relationship counselling as I too feel as if DP and I are a good team but the kids (through no fault of their own) cause us a lot of stress.
Think about the practicalities. When I was on my own with my DS (i only have 1 child) we could go anywhere, I could plan weekends and do things that DS wanted to do and also things that I wanted to do. People would gladly invite us round as DS was not much trouble. Now people don't invite us round as having 5 kids visit is most peoples idea of hell, even DP's close friends don't invite us unless they're having a bbq for 50. lol. This inevitably means that if we want to see friends we have to invite them to ours and to be honest, when you are cooking for 7, it's hard work and I often feel I can't be bothered with all the extra work inviting people over will bring, so don't bother. Because all of the kids have things they want to do, the whole weekend is spent ferrying them around meaning that DP and I can't plan anything we want to do. I do take myself (and sometimes DS) off out but sometimes resent that DP can't come too. Also when DP is ferrying one child about, I am left with 4 kids at home. The last weekend we had them was a good weekend and I didn't feel left at home with them much at all, and I counted a total of 9 hours when DP wasn't around through ferrying about! Sometimes it is much worse than that especially when DP has to work. When we do get an invite to a wedding reception or something without kids, it's really hard trying to get a babysitter for 5 kids who seem to run riot the moment the door is shut. DP is on edge the whole evening and we will often leave at 9pm to get home to the kids.
DP and I generally get every other weekend off and I wouldn't be able to cope with not getting a break at all. If you work full time, the evenings don't last long and the weekends are supposed to be your rest time. With 4 kids (2 of which have special needs) you are NEVER going to get that time. It was great when I could have time with DP and kids and walk away to my own home and relax there. When they are with you all the time, it's very hard to find that peace and rest time and you start to feel resentful.
If you are going to give this ago, I really think you need to plan some time for yourselves. Relationships need time and nurturing just as children do and if DP can't give you this, then I really think you need to have a re-think.
I've posted a lot on here over the year or so I have been living with DP and if you do a search you can read a lot of my frustrations. Some have been resolved, some haven't and it might give you an idea of what to expect.
Thank you Redhen for your detailed reply. I feel so torn at the moment. My heart wants to stay but my head says run for the hills. I currently have my own place but am effectively living with my DP full time. Even when the kids aren't here much of the rest of the week is run around them e.g food shopping, catching up with all the washing etc. (as I am sure you well know!).
DP and I have never argued but any issues we do have are all child related. I kind of know in my head that our relationship probably won't work out but seeing these replies it is very helpful to know that it is not down to me being silly or unreasonable.
The ex's new relationship would be dead in the water, if you didn't have the kids EVERY WEEKEND?. This is too much!!!
And what about YOUR new relationship? It's very early days for you and your partner....and IMO its unlikely to survive if you don't get some weekend tome off yourselves.
We do every other weekend and a Wed night stop over. And frankly, that's all I can cope with. I'd sort some different, more reasonable visitation rights out, if I were you. His 4 kids every weekend is a very big ask.
Forgive me if this is U; I have no experience of step-parenting.
Would it ever be helpful to just have 2 of the children for the weekend? I know no one gets the weekend off, so it is not efficient, but it might be more possible to actually enjoy and get to know the kids. When you are with 4 children, it is overwhelming, but you might fall in love with them if they come in smaller batches.
LaDolceRyvita - that's an excellent post, and you're absolutely right.
The access arrangements are all geared up to suit the ex, and not your DP. I'm surprised you (and your DP) don't realise this. Your DP could still see the children half the time without it meaning every weekend. What happens if the ex suddenly decides that her new relationship would be dead in the water unless the kids spend 5 days per week (or more) with their father? Then what??
If your DP geniunely wants a 'full' relationship with a new partner, then he has to create time for that relationship.
I'm sure my DH's ex would glady despatch SS to us every weekend given half the chance, but my DH (thankfully) realises that our life/relationship also needs 'quality time' and so it's never been more than alternate weekends.
LaDolceRyvita I get what you are saying but my DP had his kids half the time because he wanted to (his ex was the one who ended their relationship and he didn't see why he should become a part time dad because of her decision). He never envisaged at the time that he would meet a new partner that he would want to live with, not for a few years at least. The kids are very close to both parents and I don't want to be the one who is responsible for them seeing less of their dad. To be fair we do get maybe one Saturday night off every couple of months, however this is counterbalanced by us returning the favour and keeping the kids for some extra time another week.
Sorry it is probably coming across that I am closed off to advice but I already know that the various suggestions would stir things up with the ex and/or the kids so I just needed to know whether all options were exhausted before I decide whether to give up on my relationship.
It doesn't bode well though does it :-(
I don't necessarily think you need to give up on your relationship - but in your position I wouldn't wish to set up home with your DP under the current circumstances.
Sorry if I've misread your posts, but would your DP be happy with an 'alternate weekend' arrangement plus a few mid-week nights to make up the time, or is hellbent on things staying as they are? What I'm trying to say is that he could still have exactly the same number of nights per week with his children, without this meaning every weekend.
It often seems to be the case that arrangements which are made at the time of the split, end up being set in stone, with no chance of review when life changes for either parent.
When my DH first split with his ex (a few years before he met me), he wanted 50/50 access, but it was actually his solicitor who advised him against it, saying "once the dust settles, you might find you want a life ......"
snailoon thank you for your suggestion, however I already get on very well with all of the kids. The two youngest always ask me to spend an hour or two with them before they go to bed when I would rather be doing my own thing. I am just so grateful that they like me when I read some of the horror stories on MN that I feel like a horrible cow for secretly begrudging doing this.
petal in do see what you are saying, I just wouldn't know how to approach us having the kids less without coming across that I was forcing do to choose between us.
Sorry petal, x-posts with your latest post.
The problem with midweek nights is that the the two eldest children have transport to their special schools. It was already a nightmare trying to get Transport to change the pick-up address for the Friday morning let alone adding another day into the mix.
You have given me an idea though - maybe I could suggest we have the kids Weds-Sat? Then there is not the to-ing and fro-ing that we were concerned about. I will float that past DP and see what he thinks.
Thanks for your replies.
I think you should definitely think twice about moving in if it is going to make you miserable.
I'm coming from the other side - my dad moved in with my stepmum, and although me and my sister only came over one weekend in 2, and she already had 2 kids of her own we could tell that she resented us, and it made us really miserable. She seems a nice enough woman now, and I can see why she might have resented us - kids/teenagers can be awkward and annoying even without trying to be - I think it put a lot of pressure on our relationship with our dad, and his relationship with her (because they argued about us). It's not a nice situation for anyone when that happens.
Theresa, you wouldnt be asking him to have the kids less, just that the time would be allocated differently. If you have them Thurs-Sun every week at present, thats three nights per week. You could do something down the lines of: week one = Thurs to Sun, week two = Weds night to Sat lunch time - so youd have a fortnightly roster, with no reduction in time spent with the kids, simply a different spread of days/nights.
Im never a big fan of strict arrangements that are set in stone (lots of my previous threads refer!) but would the roster Ive outlined above vaguely acceptable to your DP?????
I find things only deteriorate once you move in together. I have a DSS, also autistic, and my DD. DH and I moved in together last year, got married this year. Honestly, though, it's been so, so difficult and there have been many times when I really regret having set up home together. We have DH's son 50% of the time and it can be gruelling. I naïvely assumed that things would all work well once we all lived together and I was very wrong.
I don't know if our relationship will survive and in retrospect, I wouldn't have made the choices I did and would have remained living apart.
Actually in my excitement at the new proposal I was forgetting why it's unlikely to work. DP already works from home on the Friday so that he can do the school runs for the youngest and be at home when Transport pick up/drop off the eldest. He wouldn't be able to do another day per week/fortnight from home and when you have kids with issues it's not as simple as just getting a babysitter or picking them up late from an afterschool club. Mind you if I don't ask I don't get so I will raise it with DP just in case.
brownie, thank you for your observations. I can promise you the kids are not aware of any resentment etc (I know everyone says that but believe me I make a lot of time for them which is why they like me). But I do get your point, and even though resentment is not showing now it might do later down the line.
freckledLeopard, sorry that things are not working out like you'd hoped. I hope things improve for you.
I know all this seems to be away from my original issue of struggling to share space with so many people, however I think it's because I rarely have a full day with just me and DP that I feel so claustrophobic sometimes.
I understand your feelings of claustrophobia I dont think its a physical space issue, more an issue of having to share your home with people who you rather werent there.
My stepson is with us Thurs-Sun alternate weekends, theres only one of him, we have a fair amount of space, but I feel VERY claustrophobic when hes with us, almost trapped at times just because hes, well, HERE.
Multiply that by four, and have to do it every weekend, and I think Id need to live next door to, rather than under the same roof as, DH.
I find it really sad that a solicitor would advise an NRP not to go for 50/50 because "he might want a life" . You have a life when you have children. And who picks up the slack when an NRP doesn't want to do his fair share of the parenting?
I think there is a huge adjustment Theresa when you are childless and have to accommodate a step-child into your life. It's something you need to go into with your eyes wide open because it's not easy. But I have to say, to give a little balance, my dsd although really challenging at times, I wouldn't ever have not wanted her in my life, she's a great girl and I love her to bits.
I would tend to agree though, that while it is really dodgy ground to come along and start suggesting that a contact pattern changes - I think each of the parents having some relaxed, weekend time with the children is good, and if you could work out a way of not having them every weekend that may help.
I'm not suggesting you see less of them, if that's what you both want. Your DP has to take your wishes into accou tif you are to remain a couple. No, what I meant was it's an UNEVEN DISTRIBUTION of time. The 50:50 ration presumably is also accounted for in the maintenance given?
I say again, as much as your partner may want his kids every weekend....it's a very big ask of you. I wonder, would this man be with you if he, having no kids had a ready made family 4 days per week....taking over EVERY weekend?
I don't mean to be jugemental of your DP, he sounds like a good dad but, it's all unbalanced IMO.
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