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Admitting defeat(26 Posts)
Tonight I have just admitted defeat. After 5 years of trying, compromising & remaining optimistic that things get easier with time, I have accepted that blended families (for the most part) just do not work.
I think the most difficult set up is (like mine) where both adults have dependent kids but share no kids. There are no ties that bind so to speak & the kids (even if they're 'good') are just not conducive to the adults having a good/easy relationship. Throw exes into the mix & it's a recipe for emotional disaster. I think the set up where both (or one) of the adults have kids but there are also 'shared' kids or kid, is also very tough - but at least the shared kids link both families (for better or worse).
I never thought I'd hear myself say this but I have just come to the conclusion that 'intact' families function (again for the most part) best & in the absence of an intact family, single parenthood (albeit very difficult) is way preferable than trying to maintain a relationship with someone who has kids. Maybe one partner having no kids is the exception to this? - but I'm not sure.
I've always believed that post divorce/separation adults are entitled to move on & find happiness (within reason) but increasingly I've seen - on here & in my own experience - that the fall out from divorce is rarely handled well by both parties & that the emotional baggage for everyone (adults & kids) gets heavier & not lighter with the passage of time.
Sorry for such a negative post but I just had to get this out & here is possibly the only place people will get it. Over the next week or so I will need to start telling friends & family that I've ended my relationship with dp. None of them will understand that I truly love him & that I hate doing this - but that I just cannot go on. I'm so frickin exhausted from juggling everything & everyone, & from the horrendous toxicity in dp's life with his kids & ex. Dp thinks I'm giving up on him but I'm really not. I'm giving up trying to have a relationship with a man whose ex wife & kids refuse to let him have any life outside of them, & who punish him for daring to try. I'm giving up on trying to be there for dp while also juggling the needs & happiness of my own 3 kids. I'm giving up on constantly putting myself last because everyone else's demands are so overwhelming.
The advice I've received on here over the years has been invaluable & I honestly think I'd have lost my marbles if I'd had nowhere to vent.
If I ever get into a relationship again which feels very doubtful at the moment, it will have to be when my kids are not dependent & ideally he'd have no kids, because honestly I am sooooo done with nrp guilt on top of everything else.
Never, ever did I think it would be this difficult.
I'm sorry you find yourself in this situation. I hope that you can move forward and maybe still have a relationship with dp in some capacity.
My mother remarried twice after my father. Nether successfully. The second marriage was a blended family and this was very difficult for everyone. The third husband had no contact with his previous children and was also difficult for other reasons
Because of my experience growing up I have now been single for two years and in my head a blended family won't be happening. A relationship I can keep separate from the children would be ideal. I'm not ruling anything out moving forward I don't know what the future holds but feel that I'm pausing relationships for the time being.
Hope you can find away forward for you all.
I’m sure you’ve thought of this, but would this scenario work?
You have your house with your kids.
He has his house with his kids.
You see each other when the kids are with the other parents (if that’s the case).
I’m sorry, it must be so hard for you.
It doesn’t have to mean the end of your relationship. Detach from them with his blessing, could that work? You don’t have to see them, there is no rule book to say you do! I’m so sorry for you. And I understand completely the circumstances that has likely driven you to this extreme decision. Chin up
Op sorry you are going through this. It's really not easy... I agree that you should just move out and continue having a relationship with the man you love...
Thanks for all your messages .
Believe me we have discussed every option open to us to no avail.
The crux of the matter & what has become increasingly clear, especially over the course of the summer is that he believes his kids to be victims & my kids to be fine, & what I've observed is that while my kids are fine to an extent, his kids have begun to impact them.
I'm selling my house atm. Dp wants us to buy a place together & for him to keep his small place in the town where he lives which is where is mostly sees them. I have repeatedly said I don't expect this; that I will buy someplace smaller alone or if he wants to part buy with me that's fine. But it has now become clear that he wants to buy together because basically he wants to continue seeing his kids as he sees them but wants to keep open the option of having them move in with us if they don't want to live with their dm anymore. I've said no to this as after 5 years the kids just do not mix & I said I'm not putting our relationship under that strain. My kids already have to share their df with their sm & 2 half siblings & me with dp & I'm not going to ask them to also share their primary residence with hostile (worded it much better obv) kids. All kids are teens or young adults at this stage.
He sees this as rejection. I've never put demands on him regarding his kids - time wise or other - & I honestly cannot understand why he thinks I'm being so difficult. In many ways his kids have it way better than mine as although they see him less than mine see their dad (dp travels a lot for work so doesn't see them during the week - never did - nothing to do with having met me) when they do see him they have his undivided one on one attention & rarely have to 'share' him with me or my kids.
I think theses issues he has regarding him, his kids & their dm are never going to be resolved & so I just have to bow out as mentally he's just not free to be in a relationship.
Sorry town where they live.
Dp lives with me in my house (pays his way) but is away most of the week with work.
Sorry got interrupted writing my main post so also forgot to say that I have detached, but its increasingly clear that my detaching really doesn't have his blessing.
I am very surprised and saddened to read your post... you have been a rock for many also, so I would like to thank you for your advice and support you have shown over the years.
Of course I am not in your relationship and I feel sad to know that the children and his ex have won and have managed to break up your relationship ... this doesn't give me hope for my relationship but I will have to wait and see what happens with his feral children over the upcoming months.
Oh Magda, I opened this thread hoping this wouldn’t be you - but it is.
Am on holiday at present in my first ‘blended’ scenario and it is hard. Different reasons from yours but hard.
I know it’s cold comfort in the midst of all the emotions but you are a strong, fair, level-headed woman. Your kids are so lucky to have you in their corner. I know it mustn’t feel like it now but you’ve done all anyone can do and can bow out with your head held high. I know it’s futile -but I hope this makes your ex DP think. Really think.
Sending you love and wishing you strength for the coming weeks.
You’ve given it everything you could but you can’t fix an impossible situation by yourself and he’s not really listening to you or giving your feelings and wishes the value they, and you, deserve. You’re doing the right thing. Sometimes, sadly, love isn’t enough
Extricating from long term relationships is so tough but I wonder if within a shorter time frame than you expect you’ll feel a huge weight have lifted and life feels a million times easier when you can give your whole focus to your children and yourself.
You’re clearly made of strong stuff, the way you’ve always spoken about the dynamic you’ve created with your ex and his partner is testament to your grace and strength of character. Where you find yourself now is despite your years of effort and commitment, biting your tongue, trying to calm the waters, go above and beyond for everyone and it’s brave and right to know when to call time and go your own way.
Stick to your guns and look forward to easier brighter days ahead. Think of how much more energy you can give your children when you don’t have to worry about his!
Sending you a hug
I used to be a regular poster on this board and I often posted on your threads and vice versa, in the main to our fairly similar situations. I decided to leave mumsnet after the time some users ID's were possibly compromised. I have however popped back from time to time and read a few threads.
I opened this and my heart sunk for you. After everything you have poured into this, the non stop support you have given to your partner, I am so very sorry that it has come to this. Re. your opening sentence re blended families, I have to say that those couples who have the best chance of 'blending' somewhat successfully are those who do the following:
1) They each have supportive ex spouses/ partners who in no way aim to create conflict
2) The couples have a healthy emotional attitude towards their children, they are able to appropriately parent/ discipline their children. They equally are able to give their partners the time and attention a relationship needs
3) Whilst the children come first, their needs do not dominate nor take precedence over the adult relationship. All parties (both adults and respective children each learn to compromise after discussion). Give and take for all.
4) Neither adult puts the other under pressure to deliver against expectations that are both unfair and that also fail to take into the wider needs of everyone.
If, somehow, you can achieve the above, then I think a relationship (with children on both sides) can work.
I am in a very similar situation to you, and after a similar period of time (and a similar set up), I too have called time on my relationship. I'm absolutely devastated truth be told. I love my partner dearly and had hoped that we could find a path through the mess he has with his ex wife.
The truth is that the constant conflict is exhausting.
The conflict and subsequent unhealthy levels of attention on the children mean that he is unable to fully be available for any form of a fulfilling relationship. I kept waiting for this to change, and it just hasn't
My ex DP was the NRP and absolutely struggled with balancing the needs of me/ my children with those of his children. Expecting contact to be focussed completely around what his children needed and wanted. They were the absolute priority over and above my children.
Given those were his needs, I stepped back and detached. Which (per your post) also didn't go well.
We're damned if we do, we're damned if we don't it appears. I'm exhausted with being in a relationship with someone who is just completely absorbed in his world. Of dealing with the conflict he has. Of then fending off the expectations and fall out when those aren't met.
I just want to live without any of it and focus on me and my children.
I have shared my woes (for want of a better word) to let you know you aren't alone. These situations are intensely wearing. And, as much as our partners have been through, it is very difficult to live with an imbalance where one parties children are perceived to be 'victims' and the others 'ok'. Because with that statement alone, they constantly set up a two tier system of expectations/ rules. Which is unsustainable if you ever think about living together or 'blending'.
And as the parent to the children who are perceived to be 'ok', we can very easily feel that it is unfair for our children to feel 'less important' when the more entitled / spoilt children are around (and yes, if one set of children have a different set of rules, then they very quickly learn to be entitled). I could not stand by and let that happen either.
And as close as I was to considering living together, I too could not take the plunge. As in the end, I was not prepared that my children should have to compromise when my partner continually insinuated his get preference/ special treatment.
How are you doing? Has he accepted it? I am finding it intensely hard to come to terms with. As the love doesn't just stop. It's heartbreaking. Do let us know how you are getting on. Thoughts with you.
I know it’s cold comfort in the midst of all the emotions but you are a strong, fair, level-headed woman. Your kids are so lucky to have you in their corner. I know it mustn’t feel like it now but you’ve done all anyone can do and can bow out with your head held high.
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
You’ve always been a great support to people on here and I hope the future brings brighter and better things for you.
I'm sorry to hear it has come to this but it does sound like a necessary step to protect your carefully considered boundaries and your children's home environment. Maybe the same could be said for your DP; perhaps also your SCs? It may simply be that the home you each want, and what you feel able to do for each other are simply not compatible. Although from your posts it sounds like they aren't convinced your boundaries are true boundaries. And they've been testing how far they can push matters in their own favour. Perhaps breaking up is an essential step to showing them that you really do have boundaries (as you should). Maybe - just maybe - as a result, DP will be noticeably sad and his children will finally realise that they could have done more to be civilised to the person who made their dad happy?
Magda, I too am very sorry this is happening to you as it is obvious you've tried very hard to find ways to compromise and make your blended family work.
I don't think it is fair though to say that blended families can't work. I know many that do work incredibly well even better than non blended families, but there are so many circumstances that gets in the way, many out of everyone's control and no hard work, willingness to compromise, love and understanding can overcome.
What I've picked up from your trail is that your children and his might as well have come from another planet. Your children are well-balanced, well-adjusted, comfortable in their boots type of children. There are these children that separation of their parents don't hold them back. Of course it doesn't mean that they don't their issues, conflicts and uncertainties, but overall they are happy with who they are and evolve in their lives with directions they are happy to follow.
Your OH kids are those kids from séparation who end up lost in it, not clear where they stand, with years of having been fired with different messages, unsure as to who they are, where they belong, what they want to do. This of course will have come from a mixture of the personalities they were born with, but also more likely their upbringing and all that happened before you came in their lives. They are no less capable of making a goof future of their lives as your children, but they will do so in a much less linear route.
In my case, I've got two children who fit in both categories. In essence, they have experienced exactly the same upbringing, yet when looking deeper, they haven't for various small variations that all together built a different upbringing. Added to this is their very different personalities, DD very extroverted, DS introverted, her very confident by nature, him very weary, made a huge difference.
My DD is like your kids, my son more like your OH's. It was easy to be around DD, easy to bring her up and despite the stresses associated with her, she was a pleasure to love with. DS was full of conflicts, grumpiness, laziness, anger, lack of appreciation, neglecting of his hygiene etc... He was much harder to love and like.
Yet I've always known was that what he needed most was patience, love and continuing to believe in him whilst giving him a bit of a push to get him going. It's worked. He is now gradually getting out of that unpleasant, self absorbed stage. I am discovering a wheel grounded young man, one with an incredible emotional intelligence, who is naturally very observant with an ability to analyse situations with great maturity.
My kids were very close when younger but grew apart when teenagers and the reason is that my DD was exasperated by his lack of motivation and positive attitude to life, whilst he found being around her a constant reminder that he wasnt as good as her and that she was so much more likeable.
I think your SC felt this way around you and your DC and the harder you tried to intergrate them, the more the difference hit them and made them feel inadequate. Their dad understood that hence tried to smooth 5bings for them because it hurt him to see them feel this way, but it came out as him being soft and letting them get away with things that you wouldn't let your kids get away with.
It was always going to be mission impossible for you because of factors out of everyone's control. Your life were too different and the kids too old to recentre to find a common ground. It is very sad you couldn't hold it because in most likelihood, his kids would have grown up, build their own life finding contentment and they would have come around, but then again, some of these kids never get to that point and continue in life discontented and feeling that the world owes them.
It must be horrible to leave the person you love deeply because of disfunction with the kids but there comes a time when the pain of coping with the constant tension is more than that of being without them. I wish you good luck.
swingofthings makes some very good points.
We have 4 kids in our blended family. Three are Type 1, and one is Type 2, per swingofthings description. And the Type 2 child is very accepting of the step parent and step-siblings (their issues manifest in other ways) , and vice versa. So it makes blended family life relatively easy -- but it is still much harder than I expected! (I grew up watching The Brady Bunch! )
Oh no Magda! You've been a constant sensible voice on this board. But everyone has a limit. We are a blended family but my kids are half siblings to the older ones. I don't think I could have brought children from another man into it all. It's hard enough as it is. It does sound as if yours are all older. Is it worth finding a solution with this man for the next few years if they are all close to flying the nest?
Swing, you make some great points and I can agree with some of them. If children are vastly different in temperament and how they personally choose to adapt to situations, then that has an immense impact on blended situations and the wider family. And I think it’s super interesting.
What I don’t think your post takes into account is the fact that 9 times out of 10 (IME), the parents continue to be the problem. Every person in this world at some point will face adversity. Bad things happen to good people all the time.
The difference is in how people cope and view the situation. I could sit here and say I am a victim because of xyz. I’ve had rubbish things happen in my life. As have my children as a result of my divorce. But I don’t sit here and say that and at no point do my children get leniency because they are the children of two divorced parents. They are not victims any more than I am. They are being taught by me that sometimes really tough things happen. That you have a choice in how to deal with those things (glass half full, glass half empty), and move forward. Now you can either move forward with a victim mentality thinking ‘woe is me’ or you don’t.
Yes these situations are tough on children, but there are far too many parents not prepared to do just that, parent. If Magda’s partner himself is conveying that his children are victims, he is just as much (if not most) of the problem.
You can work in these situations if you are dealing with a partner who can compromise and see their children for who they are. When you are instead dealing with a partner whom insists their children are ‘victims’ and thereby need special/ different treatment, it sets up a perpetual dynamic that is fundamentally unhealthy.
Whereas what this father should be doing is the polar opposite. His children are not victims, nor is he. They’re in a difficult situation and yet he as the adult needs to do his level best to get a different view into them. That they have choices, those choices result in different mindsets, and different attitudes. And that everyone needs to adjust and compromise.
Now it could well be that the best scenario is that these families never attempt to blend, and I remember a historical post where Magda had completely accepted that. She has her house in order, she has her kids, can run her home and when her partner is available they see one another. She’s also (from recollection) thrown a lot of time and effort into her partners situation, at time allowing it to take away from her own children. (Apologies if my recollection is incorrect on this).
This partner has been absorbed in his battle. His needs. His children. And remains so. Doing very little to address the wider problem around the children. Now? Well now he wants his cake and he wants to eat it. Buy a larger place so if the children ever want to live with him, they can. So basically, he has a get out of jail free card.
If he has the children FT, he gets Magdas help and doesn’t have to do it alone. Where’s the win for Magda in this?
The problems with the children can be surmounted by the adults, but only if both are prepared to try and level the playing field. Too many NRP’s (in the main father’s) completely lack the ability to do this. And then wonder why their relationships implode. Because no parent worth their salt will allow their partner to set up an environment where their own children are (in effect) second best.
The my children are victims card is manipulative. And is code for my children deserve special treatment. We see much of it here. It’s a cop out of proper parenting and a sign of an insecure/ immature parent/ child relationship.
@sassbott, I totally agree with you too but I think the issue is when you say
You can work in these situations if you are dealing with a partner who can compromise and see their children for who they are
The problem is that both the parent and stepparent will consider that the other are not seeing the children for who they are and that is because they are indeed seeing the kids from different perspective.
Does a parent who has known their kids all their life know them better than someone who has been in their lives only half way and don't fully know what they've been through indeed sees them more accurately or does the person who isn't blinded by the past and can be a more unbiased observant is better judge of character.
This is where I expect conflict errupts. I expected in some cases it is the firmer, in others the latter and in most cases, the reality is somewhere in between.
I think the difference to is that however annoyed a parent is with their kids poor behaviour and would come and moan as much as a step parents, they can see beyond it and still believe in their kids that one day they will come out of whatever stage and become pleasant adults, whereas I think the SP is more likely to conclude that the current poor behaviour is the forefront of continuing degrading behaviour carrying on into adulthood.
My view is that the firmer is more likely but not always. Sadly we can't see in the future and can only raise our kids as we think is best for them.
It is just so difficult to find contentment all around when views differ vastly.
I can see that too. We are all biased and view situations based on our own lens which are very much personal to us/ our experiences. It’s a really valid point.
I don’t think I can even begin to disagree that a parent will be more likely to see past the behaviour of their children. It’s biology. We’re programmed to stand by them irrespective of how hideous they may behave. No such programming exists for SC. I’m not saying that someone cannot love and dearly care for their SC, but I do think there is a difference between how you view your own children/ your SC. And as you say, the reality sits somewhere in the middle.
The problem I have is when a parent uses the ‘my children are victims (or language similar to that).’
Why? Because as soon as I hear that I think you’re giving yourself and in fact your children a blank cheque that absolves both you and them of poor behaviour. Which is something that for me is completely different from my personal values.
My children are children of divorce. They can be rude, poorly behaved and deeply irritating. They can also be deeply lovable, funny and the best company. I am strict with them and do not tolerate any poor behaviour. If something at school upsets them (like not making captain of their sports team) and they come home and take that out on a sibling. They get disciplined, immediately. Then later we sit down and I discuss that in life there will be setbacks. But that those setbacks do not mean you can come home and take it out on people verbally/ physically. It’s unacceptable.
There are many situations like this. And the first people I bring these values to are my children. Because to me that is called parenting.
If however I have a partner (and I did), who excuses poor behaviour because..<<lay out reasons here>> and doesn’t parent the same way I would, then that’s where the rub comes in. Because if my children are rude /push boundaries with him, then I nip that in the bud. Immediately. I don’t wheel out a set of excuses that in essence says ‘I don’t hold my children to basic manners’.
And I don’t say to my partner, well my poor children have been through so much, cut them some slack. Of course we all cut slack in certain situations, but continually? Not a chance.
For me certainly, I don’t think I’ve ever been in a situation where my children have behaved in a certain way and I’ve allowed it. And then been with my partners children, seen the same behaviour and had problem with it. I’m pretty consistent in the view that manners, boundaries and respect are required. And no amount of ‘victim mentality’ absolves any parent of parenting. And any child of operating with respect.
Magda I don't remember the specifics of your situation as I came off the stepparenting board for a while but I do remember thinking lots of times "bloody hell that woman is a saint for putting up with what she does."
I'm so very sorry that you're hurting but once the dust has settled I think you and your children will be much happier. Just because someone isn't being intentionally nasty towards you doesn't mean they can't inflict lots of pain. Stay strong
You've always been well balanced and objective with your words on here.
From your previous posts, I would agree that his children and their personalities are a major factor. I recall your thread after returning from holidays... I mean such town up kids clinging to their dad!
If their personalities were more like your DC... this wouldn't have the negative impact it's having on your relationship.
Then you also have your DPs personality and him feeling his kids are hard done by. He seems to want to blame the way they are on circumstances....rather than accept that they have social development issues.
Then because your DC behave normal and well adjusted he struggles to deal with it and his response is to say yours are okay and his are victims. Like it's your fault. It's more likely that the personalities of him and his Ex contributed in making the DC what they are.
I think your proposal of having your own place was a good one. The fact that he thinks his DC living with you/your kids, given they're so antisocial and awkward, shows no consideration for you and yours.
I agree that blended families can be challenging...difficult Ex partners don't help, but the attitude, flexibility and understanding of your own partner is also a very important issue.
Swing Your post was very good.
Magda - I am late coming to your situation, and I am sorry it has come to this. My view is that parenting styles are difficult to get into sync between new bio parents - both will bring their own parenting styles, based on their childhoods, into the mix, and it takes time to get it right. When you have two people trying to blend parenting styles that have already been established outside the relationship, then the difficulties multiply. Coupled with the guilt factor of the previous break up, then couples who manage to negotiate this are to be commended.
It looks like you did your best, but your partner just couldn't move beyond the previously established parenting style that he developed with his ex.
Why does it have to be so hard 😞
I'm so sorry to hear this Magda - as others have said you've always been so kind and wise in your comments to others in a blended family, and it's so sad to see it not work out for someone I have no doubt did everything in their power to be fair.
I have to say I do think being in a blended family is almost invariably a huge amount of sacrifice for one person and I don't think it would be in the slightest bit worth it for anything less than the strongest love. If me and my partner were to split I can say with absolute certainty that I would never allow myself to develop feelings for someone with a child again. As far as I see it, if you come with the "baggage" of children you are asking a lot from your respective partner and if you're not respectful of that and are all take and no give (or gratitude for putting up with it if it's impossible for you to give), then you are not really emotionally available to be in a relationship and ought to take yourself out of the dating pool.
You have done the right thing backing away from someone who set so many expectations of you and punished you for expressing any dissent. So sorry it's come to this.