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New to this - no one tells you about the emotional baggage!

(18 Posts)
uka888 Mon 30-Jan-17 11:35:54

First time I've posted on here, really not sure what to do so thought it was worth trying for advice!
I have been with my partner for coming up to 2.5 years, he has two sons who are 4 and 6. The crazy thing is I get on great with them, I have been really lucky with how they have accepted me and made me feel welcome. I didn't meet them until we had been together for about 10 months and then we eased into it. Me and my partner don't live together but I spend most of the week at his. He has them 2/3 times a week. Last year we took them away for a few days in the summer and all had a great time - it made me feel even closer to them and I was upset once the holiday was over. I met the ex last year and so far touch wood she hasn't caused any problems either, so you would think it would all be fine!
However at the beginning of last year we went through a hard month or so as my partner was finding it hard to juggle work, the children and me. Over time that just sort of sorted itself out, even though I really didn't think we'd get through it. In the last couple of weeks he has been stressed with work again and last night I started the conversation, said I was finding it hard, work seems to take over and sometimes if feels like he doesn't care if I'm there or not. He said he has a lot on his mind with the boys. I said I hate the word baggage and I don't see them as baggage at all but I really feel he has a lot of emotional baggage - they split up coming up to 3.5 years ago but he misses them so much and hates that they don't live with him. I completely understand it must be so hard but it makes me feel like he'll never be able to properly move on from it. I know I want to be with him & the boys long term I really do, but I hate how it makes me feel knowing deep down he can't properly be happy because of that situation. This morning he said I was right he has got emotional baggage but that he knows we'll be ok. I really try and understand how hard it must be for him but I don't think he sees it from my point of view! Will it get easier?!

uka888 Mon 30-Jan-17 12:51:42

Also I guess the hardest part I find it knowing how much time to give my partner and the boys to themselves without me involved. I really enjoy being involved and spending time with them but without realizing it I seem to be there a lot of the time meaning he doesn't get as much time by himself as he used to - do you think its important they still have that dad/son time together?

Magda72 Tue 31-Jan-17 01:00:10

Hi Uka,
I am in a somewhat similar situation & my head is melted.
I'm divorced with three kids all teenagers. My partner of two years is also divorced with three teenagers. We live in separate towns & he travels a lot for work so while he spends some week nights with me and my kids (who all love him) he travels home every weekend to his own kids.
I have not spent much time with his kids as I have my own guys some of most weekends & I was also trying to be respectful of his kids time with their dad.
Unprovoked, he tells me he wants to move in permanently with me as he wants us to have a proper home together - I agree of course, but nothing happens. We discuss his kids coming up to my town every second weekend, but nothing happens. I suggest clearing my spare room and sorting out beds for them & he has this weird freak out about the cost of beds!!!!
I know this man loves me & I know his kids are old enough to deal with any issues they may have - both he & I are reasonable people & very respectful of our kids - but HIS emotional baggage & guilt Is massive & although I firmly believe he wants to move on any time the actual possibility of it happening looms he starts panicking about his kids & fretting about the lack of time he has with them even though he sees them every weekend. I know it's not ideal but that is the reality of divorce.
My kids and I are being open & understanding of everything but frankly I'm exhausted by his inability to handle his emotions when it comes to his kids. I fully understand how hard it can be - I had to get my own kids through their dad moving on & starting another family - but they handled it & are doing great.
I love this man with all my heart but am on the verge of walking as it's impossible to move forward until he gets his head around changing the status quo. I told him this evening that if he wants to move in together he needs to do it as his inability to see the decision through is fair on no one.
I've no real advice for you but just wanted to let you know you're not alone!

swingofthings Tue 31-Jan-17 05:59:27

OP, have you had discussions about moving in together yet? I think you've hit on the nail, maybe he is getting stressed because he doesn't have enough time for himself, in addition to time with his boys.

I moved in with my partner after being together for 18 months and it was very different. Before, it did feel that we were always trying to find time to do things together but also separately. When we moved in together, things got much easier from that perspective.

My OH was very anxious that when we did move in together, he would lose his freedom as I was quite demanding of his time. As it was, it was the opposite. Knowing that we would always be together at night, I find myself much less needy of his time and ironically, he had much more time to do things of his own as I did.

After 2 1/2 years, if you haven't at least started to discuss a possible move together, something is a bit odd.

uka888 Tue 31-Jan-17 09:00:09

Hi Both!
Thank you for your replies :-) What you say swingofthings sound really familiar to me! Yes we have had several discussions about moving in together and he would like me to move into his when the time is right. Over Christmas I stayed there for 3 weeks and it was great, felt so normal and I felt much more relaxed being there everyday knowing we were together every night. I think as you say he also is anxious that when we move in together he will as you lose his freedom but I think it will be the opposite.
Him and the ex were not married and I don't think things were great for a long time, she had an affair in the end which was the final nail in the coffin. I just feel on paper we are so lucky - I get on really well with the boys, they are lovely to me, there's no issues with the ex she seems happy for me to look after them by myself occasionally if he's at work, I feel he's definitely the one for me, I stay at his 5/6 nights a week but occasionally I just freak out that his emotional baggage is going to not let us ever properly be completely settled because of how much he misses the boys.

Magda72 Tue 31-Jan-17 09:42:57

Hi Uka,
Have you spoken to him about your fears about never getting properly settled?
I spoke to my partner this morning and he feels like he's already moved in - but neither my kids nor I feel that way!
I think a lot of men compartmentalise their lives as their brains can't seem to cope with merging stuff & it would seem to me that in both our situations we should officially be living together at this stage. For my part I feel that as in most things in life there is never 'a right time' and sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith. Regarding my situation I can see that my partner is terrified of upsetting his kids. No one understands this better than me but kids do grow up & move on themselves.
I suppose you need to ask yourself how long are you prepared to wait for him to feel like it's the right time.
I'm at that point myself.

gingina Tue 31-Jan-17 09:50:49

I think the guilt is always there.
I get what you are saying about the baggage. I struggled for a long time with the fact that DP often seemed to regret that his marriage didn't work out. (She left him for someone else). It used to make me feel like the booby prize - after all if she hadn't left him he'd still be with her and the kids and they would all be happy .... I am a terrible overthinker so to me that meant that he was only with me because he couldn't have what he really wanted!!!
It took a good few years to get that idea out of my mind. Even now he sometimes goes all sad and wistful when his kids go home and it makes me feel like shit.

uka888 Tue 31-Jan-17 09:54:22

Hi Magda,
Yes I have spoken to my partner a few times about it and he has said I practically live there already!! When I'm there it is like I'm live there - I help with the food shop, housework, cooking/washing up etc. I own my own house and when I'm there I do enjoy being there by myself but when I'm at his I think I'm ready to officially be there if that makes sense! In my mind I would like us to properly live together by the end of this year. I have spoken about my concerns and he has promised me he wants us to live together and said if I don't but pressure on it, overthink or nag about it it will probably happen sooner than I think! In the past he has said that things change when you live together it can become routine and why rush into changing something that's working well at the moment when we have ages for that!

uka888 Tue 31-Jan-17 09:57:41

Hi Gingina - I am also a terrible overthinker as you can probably tell!! How do you deal with his when he feels upset when the children go home? How old are they? I wonder if it'll get easier when they are old enough for their own phones etc so can have more contact when they aren't there.

gingina Tue 31-Jan-17 10:15:28

They are 12 and 15 now and they do have their own phones (although they only ever call him when they want something!!). It was worse in the early days when his ex wife controlled all contact and tried to stop him seeing them whenever she could.
I get annoyed with him I'm afraid. He knows its irrational. I get that he misses seeing them every day, but its been that way for 9 years now and they are happy and secure in their lives. The insecurity is all his and he projects it on to me.
Recently they went home from us early because they had a family do at their Mums to go to. You would have thought they had both died the way he mooched about the place - so I told him to get over himself and went out without him!

Magda72 Tue 31-Jan-17 10:26:55

Hi Gingina,
I can so identify with that. I agree, the guilt seems to be always there. I myself felt it but have managed to shred it through a lot of counselling. When a relationship breaks down a lot of the sadness is tied in with realising you've lost the notion of a traditional happy family & I think a lot of parents struggle with this. The thing is - if the kids are treated respectfully by the adults in question they will be fine. A lot of parents don't realise this. My eldest has clear memory of my ex & I being together but my other two don't. Us being divorced is their normal. They are happy with me & they are happy when with their dad. OP you can be guaranteed that if your partners ex is sane & reasonable then his kids will be accepting this situation (inc. you) as their normal & aren't missing their dad when they're with their mum & vice versa. Your partners missing his kids are really his own 'stuff'. I missed my kids dreadfully when they were with their dad at first - but I accepted that this was my new normal & I set out to establish a different life with different routines for myself.
I love my partner to bits but his relationship with his ex was so awful that he is now totally conflict avoidant & sees any upset as the end of the world. I know he feels he's protecting his kids from any potential conflict with me or my kids - but conflict is part of family life & life in general & he is doing them no favours by locking them up in a little weekend bubble.
As adults we have an awful habit of projecting our own disappointments/fears/worries onto our kids who aren't feeling the at all!

uka888 Tue 31-Jan-17 10:28:01

I'm glad that I'm not the only one in this situation! I think I need to start to get a balance more of doing my own thing and being confident in myself and not letting his guilt/feeling down upset me so much!

gingina Tue 31-Jan-17 10:31:50

I felt the guilt too - being a single mum wasn't my choice, but the decision was out of my hands and my priority became making sure my kids were happy and making the best of the situation.
I miss them when they are away but I know they are happy and that makes me happy. DP sees it in a selfish way, even though they are happy with their mum, he isn't happy because they aren't with him.
Its all about your outlook.

uka888 Tue 31-Jan-17 10:31:51

Hi Magda,
Yes his ex seems completely ok about things touch wood. I have bumped into them a couple of times by myself and stopped and spoke to her and them and its all being completely fine. She's involved me in conversation and it hasn't actually felt too awkward. That's another reason really why I wish he would see how lucky he is in the situation, with everyone dealing with it ok, it could be a lot worse!

gingina Tue 31-Jan-17 10:33:44

Uka - yes definitely use it as an opportunity for some quality time. Meet some friends, join a gym or just go shopping and have a nice quiet coffee for a few hours.
It will do you all good.

jojo2916 Fri 10-Feb-17 12:10:51

He sees his boys 2/3 nights a week and it sounds like they are fine with their mum the rest of the time so I am struggling to see what his problem is, of course he misses them when they're not there but surely just having time for the two of you when his boys are with their mum should make him happy also, if he's being miserable in the time you and him have together it will spoil your relationship and if it was me I would tell him this.

snowpony Fri 10-Feb-17 15:51:42

Hi uka888. I know exactly what you're going through. My DH split up with his ex a year before I met him and he was still having a really hard time being away from DSC (5 when we met). We didn't live together for a long time (different cities) and he didn't introduce me to DSC for over 6 months. I felt like the outsider for such a long time, all plans were made around work and DSC (I had to continually remind him that it was my life too, and decisions should be made with me and not ex/DSC). I felt like I was a long way down the priority list and we would never work out. Nearly left him so many times. The reality was that he couldn't think about his own future, he felt guilty. Eventually, he began to realise that he had his own life to lead and that he needed to be happy, which would be good for DSC as well. We ended up getting married and having our own DCs. We have a fantastic relationship with my DSC, who we see regularly. TBH I love him more for how he put DSC and his responsibilities first (and he is a fantastic father to our DC). But the beginning was so hard, I really feel for you. If you can, hang in there xx

PollytheDolly Fri 10-Feb-17 16:01:51

Wow OP. Your situation sounds really good with your SC compared to how it could be!

Your DP does sounds like he's struggling sometimes but I wouldn't take it as a reflection on you.

Perhaps moving in permanently will settle things right down. You have a good basis to start on, especially with the ex as well. Your DP needs to understand the positives in all this but I do get him feeling that way on occasion.

Just keep talking. Good luck smile

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