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Would you have moved in together in retrospect?(31 Posts)
A query for those of you who have moved in with your dhs or dps when there's been teens involved on both sides. In retrospect would you have done it or tried Living Apart Together?
Dp & I have been trying to buy a house to suit all of us (his 18, 15 & 12 - all boys, mine 21, at uni, 16 & 12, only girl) for over a year now but every suitable property we've seen has either been too expensive & our offer rejected or the sale has fallen through. They're all too old to share (with steps) so we need about 5 bedrooms as my eldest has no space at his dads when he's back from uni & always stays with me. It's like the universe is conspiring against us.
We're now looking at having to live apart for the foreseeable future which isn't ideal as we're hoping to get married next year - we're together 4 years at this stage.
Has anyone tried this long term and had it work? Were the kids happier in the long run do you think or did it cause problems?
Alternatively, does anyone regret moving in together with teens? Did it destabilize a set up that was operating ok for the teens but hard on the adults?
Would love to hear others experiences as dp & I are not seeing the wood for the trees at this stage.
I’m not the best example, as it ultimately fell apart, but there were some positives about moving together. Like you, we had a pile of kids, his all girls which was trickier as with hindsight the older girls were very territorial and behaved like Mums, so weren’t keen on an actual Mum displacing them!
Although, I really do think the experience helped my DSDs. They got a stable family home, when they needed it. They may have been loyal to their Mum and not liked my ways, but I cared enough about their well-being to have some rules and they got parented. Older teens need that way more than they would admit! At their Mums they get more freedom but less of that nurture and the more vulnerable DSDs have got stuck in childhood at their Mums, who in turn has been asking DP to ‘sort them out’ but they chose her house and there’s a limit to what we can do. But honestly I think two of my DSDs gained massively. And now have dipped back a bit without our home around them. Even if no one will ever attribute that to our set up.
As your DP has boys this may be less sticky than the older female teen jealousies and ‘taking Daddy away’. Although there were problems if I remember about your DSSs general moodiness towards you? I hope they start off with a better attitude. The atmosphere in the house is key.
I’m really pleased that you are both now in a good place. You’ve worked hard to get there and must love each other and want to make it work. You aren’t going in blind.
I’m racking my brain for things:
Own rooms help massively, but be careful older ones don’t treat the house as a student pad. It may help the older ones to have the smaller less comfy rooms, as otherwise they’ll treat it like a personal den. The aim is for them to want to be independent, not see you as a comfy hotel. I’d say give the best rooms to the 12 year olds. They need more for longer.
Think about space. Is there room enough for a boy den so they can keep out of your hair in the evenings?
My son and his step sisters got a lot out of sharing and playing together, once we’d sorted some rudeness towards him. The initial years were more open, and the house had a lively feel. If the 12 year old and 15/16 can find common ground that could be a real benefit. We as adults made a lot more effort to do stuff together at first too.
It is hard to know how things develop until you try it of course.
After 2/3 years unfortunately my son, who was the youngest out of DSDs got a bit downtrodden really. He was very much wanting sisters and they grew very indifferent within that time and ignoring of me. My son was very aware of this and grew angry at how we were both being treated, so as an older teen now he just has his own mates and has nothing to do with DSDs. I defended the ignoring of my son to my DSDs and got them to stop, and they no longer visit. So I do feel guilty that I put my son through a year or so of feeling an outsider in a gang of step siblings.
So I guess even if you move in, have a few options about what you might do if things deteriorate between the kids.
I didn’t feel that it destabilized me and my older son, however I did have to respond to the home dynamics much more than if we were settled by ourselves. I started off putting most energy into the whole blended family. I tried to be very fair, and think of the whole. I ended up being a different parent to the single one I was. I then had to get quite tough skinned, and think of my own kids as number one as my steps just didn’t play fair tbh. So be flexible!
You’ve been together 4 years so you have a real idea of how both families work.
Also, some relationships are surprising. I did not think my son would get on so well with the youngest, who was shockingly rude but turned out to like us the most. I did not think my resident DSD would turn out to be so indifferent, as she started out the nicest. Relationships are surprising.
Don’t like I did move into the family home. Such a bad mistake.
Move well away from Ex.
Move nearest your support. And if possible where the kids are near facilities and not stuck home reliant on transport.
Talk through how the kids might be in 3/4 years from now. What would you do if his eldest son doesn’t leave home and never gets a job? It’s 18 and over that I found most tricky. My DSDs wanted to be equals especially as I was a SM.
Hi @Bananasinpyjamas11 - thanks soooooo much for your post & all your insights which I've been mulling over the last day or so.
Just had a very confusing session with a counsellor who has gone from telling us a relationship can't survive on separation to now saying we should keep the kids apart. This basically means dp & I living apart for the next 7 years!!!!
Honestly I never thought this would be so difficult & as a mother I can't believe that I was so naive.
A lot of thinking to do.
Its so hard, Magda - see my post on here about moving in.
The great thing is you are thinking about the realities and obstacles.
Your two sets of dc are really different, as are ours - mine are sociable and independent, his are neither.
What did your counsellor mean a relationship ‘can’t survive separation’ and why is she now saying keep apart?
One thing’s for sure, so much at stake. I wonder if it’s worth the risk of destabilising the dc.
But nowadays kids stay home til well in their twenties don’t they.
Hi Magda, I've been with DP for 6 years and we still don't live together, for many reasons. Our counsellor (only seen her once so far!) suggested that we need to 'blend' the families more, as keeping them separate isn't sustainable long term, but its so hard and actually I can't help thinking maybe our best bet is to just keep two completely separate camps, with him living with us part-time and his DCs part-time.
Everything I've read suggests that its easier when the DCs are smaller (especially with dads of girls) so that's another reason I'm wary - DP has 2 DDs aged 10 and 14 so they are prime time for hormonal upheaval - I remember having some humdingers of arguments with my own mum at that age, so I dread to think what it would be like with a step-mum!
The way we're thinking about it is for him to keep his house on for him to spend time with his DCs and then instead of this being MY house we find somewhere for US to buy, we can get married and be proper partners there, even if only part time. I'm not sure how doable that would be - he's a high earner, so financially it would be fine - its more the logistics of where he calls home that would still be tricky, but I guess it would be like someone working away from home for part of the week.
I dunno if a counsellor really ought to be making suggestions about your family?
Is your fiancé finding his counselling helpful? If I recall he is in a similar situation to mine in that there is some re-calibrating needed wrt what was motivating his parenting ethos? This seems to be a theme for single dads.
So incredibly hard to find something as simple as mum+dad+kids after divorce. Schools need to put ‘making the right relationship decision first time round’ on the national curriculum! Compulsory A-Level!
Schools need to put ‘making the right relationship decision first time round’ on the national curriculum! Compulsory A-Level! Absolutely! I foolishly thought that if I split with XH I could find a great relationship. I never for one moment thought it would be so tricky. I still wouldn't want to be back with XH but I do wish I'd made a better choice the first time.
It’s incredibly hard, you have my sympathies. Sorry about the long post!
I have a friend who is childless, and waited 8 years until her DPs daughters left home to move in. She has a very good job and works long hours so she felt it was fine to wait anyway.
Another who’s just got married and had her 20 yr old step son do a speech at the wedding, it was very moving he said what an amazing SM she was. He’d moved in 3 years ago in a troubled state, and my friend has two boys with husband 10 and 12. They all got on well, hard work but worth it.
My own DPs Exwife has a long term BF but they don’t live together. They live quite a way away. However I do think they’d never work if he moved in, my DSDs would not accept him as they didn’t with me, even with their Mum wanting it. So sometimes the kids just aren’t going to accept you.
Very true would be great to have got Mr Right first time! That boat has alas sailed for many of us. Would be so much easier!
Good luck. It’s so hard. If you move in you risk harmony for the kids. If you don’t you risk your relationship. And yet if it works everyone wins, including the kids.
One of my biggest regrets is that I moved In with my Dp. It has been a HUGE challenge. In retrospect I wish we'd kept our own houses but visited often. However, I know my Dp wouldn't have been happy with that long term.
I have felt undervalued, over looked and downtrodden. But despite that have found it difficult to leave despite my stress levels going through the roof.
I have supported him and his 4 kids through court cases, change of residency and a house full of people who are too scared to communicate with each other. Kids who rule the roost and call the shots.
And in all this I have brought my son up in the middle of it all.
Not everyone will have my experience and if you can talk and both compromise and have empathy and compassion for each other, it can work.
Hi all - again, thanks so much for the replies and insights.
@HipsterAssassin I actually don't know why the counsellor did a 180. Dp or I or both of us must have said something in the session which led her to advise living separately with the kids but we were out of time at that point so I couldn't ask her why.
Dp's own counselling has been suspended while we're in couples therapy & I'm really not sure that's a good idea. I feel most of our issues around moving & the kids are coming from his inability to accept the reality of his situation with regards to his kids, ie that he is a divorced parent who does not live with his kids ft (a choice made by him & his exw & has nothing to do with me). Imo they are parented in a bubble (by both him and their dm) where nothing is ever asked of them & nothing is ever spoken about. Their dm still calls herself Mrs dp's surname (not Ms), rings dp regularly and speaks to him like a husband - things like "when will you be home for the kids" & does things like coming in on their FaceTime chats to dp to say hi & chat to him. The fantasy that their parents are still a unit is very strong & dp will just not tackle this with them. They are perfectly nice & polite to me at this stage but they chat away to dp discussing family matters to do with dp, their dm & the old family unit as if myself & my kids are not there & don't matter. Like you I have navigated my own kids through a very difficult divorce & they are in good places & it's hard for me to risk that for the dscs who I feel are a ticking timebomb with issues. Dp tends to think I've had a lovely easy time of it all & my kids are fine but his need to be 'protected', but he didn't know me when my kids & I were stuck in the middle of a big pile of crap caused by my exh - he honestly has no concept of how hard it's been.
I can already sense that his middle guy will struggle to leave home & I honestly don't think I have it in me to have adult kids living with me ft unless it was exceptional circumstances.
Dp & I are really great together & that's why I'm still in this & trying so hard with it - it's the hope that the penny will drop & things will start clicking into place but as time goes on I get less & less hopeful & having read @thegreenhen's post maybe the relationship would survive better through maintaining separate houses.
@Bananasinpyjamas11- hope you're doing ok with the separation etc. It's so hard & so sad & you've been so good & sane with your advice throughout it all.
Wow Magda72 there are loads of parallels in our situation.
I have worked immensely hard to get me and my kids to a place where we live in a great location in the midst of their friends, their dad is up the road (we are miraculously co-parenting well with much respect) kids are thriving and on their way to being independent etc. There have been immense struggles along the way for everyone to get here. It’s a lot to give up only to go and immerse oneself in the old, unsolved problems which are still reverberating in their family unit. Effectively if DP and I move in, only one half of the blended unit has travelled the emotional distance. The other half is motivated by guilt, fantasy and, frankly, hoping the woman of the outfit will ‘make it alright’ (I do think that’s a secret hope of a lot of men, they struggle so much to shake the guilt). Well that’s some piece of Wifework right there. S*d that for a game of soldiers.
DP and I are also utterly fab together, so very much suited, so it’s a bit sad. But, if my ‘failed’ marriage taught me one thing, it’s that ‘love is not enough’ and I will never forget that.
If his dc have a strong fantasy about his parents reuniting, I think you are on dangerous ground.
Agree Bananasinpyjamas after what must have been a painful experience, you are very sane and level headed in your advice.
for you and
Obviously not all problems are insurmountable with the right dialogue. Magda72 can you tell your DP what you just said here, about how him hanging on to the old dynamic is a major factor?
I told my DP on Friday and he accepts it and understands it. And there lies the hope...
I was 18 and at uni when my mum and step dad moved in together. Two other teens on my mum’s side (16 and 17) and one of my step dad’s (19) with his other (18) unexpectedly moving in a year or so later when her mum moved without her. I got on well with my step dad and always have, but it was still hard. They didn’t rush into it at all, but at some point you have to be living together, and putting it on hold for teens (none of us were young kids...we had to be expected to grow up and be understanding at some point) wouldn’t have been fair.
For me, I hated that we were finally getting a bigger house but I’d still have to share a room. I didn’t like that my brother had to have a box room again, but new step brother got a bigger room. My brother didn’t care about this, and it did make sense since step brother was the outsider really at first. I didn’t want to live with him though. We weren’t raised together as step siblings so he was just this guy from my school who was in totally different circles to me, and now we had to live together. When his sister moved in, that was just awkward because my siblings and I barely knew her. We had nothing in common.
So yeah, basically a lot of awkwardness and it wasn’t what we wanted at the time, but we wouldn’t have expected our parents not to move in together just because of us. Looking back, the things everyone got annoyed at each other for don’t matter at all and my mum and step dad were absolutely right to want to live together. We are all one family now, and although I’ve never been really close to step siblings, oddly I do have a good relationship with their kids as an Aunty. Your older teens should understand that they’re either already adults or heading that way, and if they don’t like a living situation then moving out is a possibility in the near future. If you’re away at uni (as I was) then you have to understand that you don’t live there full time anymore anyway. Your younger teens would get used to it over time.
Of course my family were lucky enough to find a suitable house. As you’ve said, step siblings wouldn’t want to be sharing at those ages, so it can’t be easy.
This is such an interesting thread as my DP have been discussing the very same and have at this stage decided to put the conversation on ice as it was (very simply put) getting too stressful for me.
Like many of you on this thread, I have navigated my very painful divorce but am now co-parenting 95% of the time with minimal drama. My DP has the polar opposite situation.
For us it isn't logistics that is the problem, but it comes down to different parenting styles and differing set ups with the ex. And for that reason, I have said that at this stage, I do not us to move in together. It's left me feeling heartbroken. But for as much as I love him, the stresses I can see in the future are simply not going to add to the lives of my DC.
I do think a lot of the problem here is exactly what you have said @hipster. My DP certainly seems to think that I will make it better and has this fantasy of living a perfect family life. Because the first one has gone so horribly wrong. He's so fixated on that and his DC 'having a good time' that he sees nothing else.
My fundamental concern remains 'what do my DC gain?' through us living together? And what do I gain? I can clearly see what my DP and his DC gain truth be told. The answer I have right now (despite my loving him and him being a fantastic influence with my DC), is not enough.
I'm not prepared, yet, to sacrifice what my DC and I have built for my DP and his kids.
"Only one half of the blended unit has travelled the emotional distance" - @HipsterAssassin this is such a profound statement & puts words on exactly what I've been thinking. I have said to dp stuff I've said on here, & in the moment he gets it. But then he heads off to work or to see his kids & the same old patterns start repeating themselves. I think his head is just not there yet - for whatever reason.
@TooSassy - I too feel that my dp focuses too much on his dc having a good time, to the extent that at 12, 15 & 18 they are incapable of amusing themselves for even an hour when with us & no hard conversations are ever had. Like you I wonder what's in it for my dc, & for me as it feels like everything has to be structured around his dc whether they're here with us or with dp alone in his house & my kids just get sidelined. I too feel so stressed out & today I'm thinking that 2 entirely separate houses is the only way I'll get back any autonomy over my life.
It's so frustrating.
@Asuna - such an interesting perspective from you & I totally get how hard it is for kids who weren't rested as siblings to be thrown together. We would definitely not expect anyone to share bedrooms & honestly feel we'd also need two living rooms in order for all kids to be happy! I suppose I was of the generation who had to make do so even putting divorce aside I find it so frustrating that modern parenting seems to advocate kids never having to compromise at all & this then gets heightened by divorce.
Your update sounds even more familiar Magda, with the ex butting in on FaceTime calls (she was one of the first people I spoke to on my 40th birthday as DSD phoned DP first thing in the morning and then of course I have to wave and say hi, then his ex swoops in and starts chatting. He clearly feels I’ve levels of guilt that he’s not with her anymore and he’s a ‘Disney Dad’ to his DDs to try and make amends (even though it was his ex who cheated, so not his fault).
God save us from guilty dads!
Their dm still calls herself Mrs dp's surname (not Ms), rings dp regularly and speaks to him like a husband - things like "when will you be home for the kids" & does things like coming in on their FaceTime chats to dp to say hi & chat to him. The fantasy that their parents are still a unit is very strong & dp will just not tackle this with them.
I could have written that myself. If the Ex effectively calls the shots then this is unworkable. It affects the kids loyalties massively, and they get treated like Kings to facilitate your DP remaining close to his Ex. And yet your DP seemed to be opening his eyes to the situation in his counseling? He does seem to want to make it work?
@hipster that so true. There has to be enough of a separation from their Ex wives in order to ‘emotionally travel the distance’ to us - the new partner. Children follow their parents lead, and the fathers role is key.
Like Asuna I was the child who had to move in with step siblings that we barely knew, and had to go from having an adequate house size wise to everyone sharing. From my perspective it seemed that me and my siblings had to be the ones that suffered in order to accommodate the steps. It wasn't a horrendous experience and my DM and SF think it was a fairly positive experience (well it was for them as we were all good kids with minimal fuss) but I don't think any of the children would have chosen it. Based on this I would never attempt to blend my children into a new family. I don't think that children should be majorly upheaved in order to facilitate their parents' relationships.
it feels like the universe is conspiring against us
Take that as a sign OP. You don't seem to be able to adequately house the intended family on your budget. That is a big enough reason for me to live apart.
Hi @oldgimmer78 - as a child who moved in with step siblings what would you (& @Asuna) think of @MyRelationshipIsWeir
In my case this would have my dp with me 2 weekends a month (my kids would be with their dad on these weekends) & with me & my kids some, but not all, weeknights. The rest of the time he'd be away working or with his kids. His kids would come then up to us for occasions - Birthdays, a few days at Christmas etc. but they would live alone with their dm & alone with their dad on a day to day basis - in essence they will be visitors when with us. Counsellor seems to think this is the best that can be achieved given their ages & personalities.
The concern I have with this potential set up is that his kids are going to feel left out/resentful especially given the dynamics of the old family unit & how these are still fed & promoted by their dm. I think such a set up may well suit the 18 & 15 yr olds but I really worry about the 12 year old feeling left out.
@Bananasinpyjamas11 - it's so odd as dp really does get stuff & wants things to work (he organized the counselling) but there's obviously something very deep in him that gets triggered by his ex with regards to the kids & he reacts before he's even caught himself if that makes any sense. Personally I think she's emotionally abusive & has been for years & she just knows what buttons to push & like most nrp dads the kids are his weak spot & even though he has nothing to feel guilty over she really plays on the fact that he's trying to move on with his life.
Magda left out in what way? In honesty in theory we were a blended family but I didn't consider them to be my family until we all had dc which brought us closer. We lived together yet often did things separately ie my dm would take me and my siblings out and SF would take out my stepsiblings. This reinforced the feelings of 'two families living together' and I personally would have preferred if we'd lived apart and just visited.
@oldgimmer78 - thanks for that.
Dp's exw has a history of telling their kids that dp has abandoned them for my kids; that he does things for my kids he won't do for them; that he's supporting my kids etc. - none of which is true & dp has corrected this information with them but she's their dm & has a big influence. She has also told them I don't want them around. She just throws these statements out for no reason & often to dp in front of the kids.
I'm concerned that if he & I buy a place together that she will spin this even more. It might wash off the older guys but I'm very worried the 12 year old will feel left out &/or will feel like his 'alone' weekends with his dad aren't enough. I worry that he'll think his dad has this other life that he's not a part of.
I totally get what you're saying & I've always respected & promoted dp & his kids doing stuff alone. But in doing so his ex then uses it to tell the kids I obviously don't like them as I won't spend time with them! This then feeds into the fantasy of the old family unit being preserved.
I guess I'd feel happier about any future decisions whatever we decide, if I felt she would assist the kids in adjusting as I did when my exh moved in with his now wife & went on to have more kids.
Thanks again for your perspective & it solidifies my gut feeling on the whole matter.
To be honest and as hard as it is, your responsibility is to your kids until they are 18. It isnt fair to shoehorn kids into blended families just so you can live with a partner, i say that as a single mum.
You shouldnt need relationship counselling when you arent even living together. This shows it isnt working.
He hasnt even detached from his former life.
Why would you want to even be with someone who wont set boundaries? Why would you want to live with them?
Re the ex his kids will resent you. They will take it out on your kids who have already been through enough.
Either stay separate and continue as you are or leave and eventually find someobe more emotionally available. Im sorry but having to go to counselling really isnt normal in this kind of relationship which is quite new
@onetimeposter - we're not going to counselling for Us, we're going to try to sort issues out around us having 6 dependent kids between us. We want to do right by them but we are also allowed to be in love & have a relationship.
It's because we don't want to shoehorn the kids that we're talking to a third party & possibly living apart is the way to go. However I personally don't feel that my personal life should be put on hold until my kids leave home - I don't feel that's good for them either. It is actually ok for growing kids to realise that they can't always come first to the detriment of other people's needs & wishes - learning this is an important life lesson which all of us need to use in many aspects of our lives. It's about trying to hopefully achieve balance around a complex set of circumstances where everyone gets most (but not all as that's impossible) of their needs met.
Guilt ridden fathers are definitely an issue. However I think a lot of dads want to be & are emotionally available to their partners, but the living apart from their kids (which is the harsh reality of a lot of divorces) does cause a huge amount of emotional distress for these men.
I know in my dp's case he genuinely felt he was doing right by the kids in divorcing & that he felt the calm that would be achieved when he & his ex where no longer miserable together would be worth it. He was right to an extent & things were calm for a good while & his ex was also happy to divorce, but what he didn't realize is that she had no intention of mentally or emotionally or financially moving on & he couldn't have predicted her reaction to him meeting someone & moving on with his life & the subsequent fall out from that.
I wonder if the guilt these men feel could be solved by them actively parenting their dc instead of ‘having them over as guests to be amused’
I wonder whether this is why mums don’t feel the guilt, they are actively parenting, setting boundaries and not feeling like a spare part. And i wonder is this why the (false) solution for these guilty men seems to be to set up home with new partner.
Even my inadequate ex had managed to parent them in whatever way he knows how, he sets boundaries etc and there is no guilt, we therefore respect each other’s own family lives and new DP’s and get on with it. But it only happened (surprise surprise) once his new gf move in.....