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velveteer posted 8/13/2013 16:37 PM

Things with SO are rocky again. It's the same thing again and again just in different guises.

She feels neglected. Feels on the periphery of my life. Feels like my kids dominate everything.

She has been gradually moving closer into our lives and has now been away on vacation with me and the kids, which went very well.

I have tried to explain the constraints under which you need to live when you have kids - where you need to live for schools, how little time you get to spend alone, where you go on vacation, how you spend your time etc. She feels like she as no say.

She often complains of how she doesn't like it where we live (ETA - we do not live together) and harks back to places she has lived before. If we were going to go to these place it would in an instant relegate me to weekend dad - at best. I would be increasingly peripheral in their lives. I do not want that and my clarity about that upset her. Felt that there was no negotiation.

She thinks I hide behind my kids and that this is instead about us. .

I feel that she is not that comfortable being with a man that has kids. She is not number one and I dont think she likes that. They are not her kids - why should she like it? She has no kids herself so knows little about what it really means.

I'm rambling a bit here but hope you get the picture. The conversations are difficult because she feels hurt and I get defensive.

I guess I am starting to feel that there are real issues here. Maybe I do hide behind the kids too much and maybe I am overcompensating a bit for what they have been through. Maybe I need the kids as much as they need me.

On the other hand she does not know how it is to walk in my shoes either.

I know that I am not wrong to make my kids my priority. Is it just that taking on a partner with kids is not for everyone, or am I handling things badly...?


[This message edited by velveteer at 4:38 PM, August 13th (Tuesday)]

Williesmom posted 8/13/2013 16:40 PM

I don't have kids, and I totally understand that the kids come first.

I don't want to be with a man that would put who he's sleeping with ahead of his children.

Kids or not, she's being selfish. Find someone that isn't selfish.

better4me posted 8/13/2013 16:44 PM

It's the same thing again and again just in different guises.
This will probably keep coming up in many different guises. There is some research that says that 69% of the things married couples fight about are perpetual issues...the same things over and over. So when you choose a partner you choose a particular set of perpetual issues. If this isn't something you want to keep discussing you may have to choose a different partner.
Or, realize you can negotiate this each time it comes up, but it will never be "solved".

GabyBaby posted 8/13/2013 16:44 PM

I agree with Williesmom.

My current husband does not have kids. He's always known that they come first. Instead of being a hindrance, he's always sought to help.

To be honest, the relationship that you describe with your SO sounds draining.

She wants what she wants.
This does not jive with where you currently are (with regard to caring for your kids, etc).
Square peg, round hole.
Right now you two just don't seem to fit.

cmego posted 8/13/2013 16:44 PM

Being a single Mom with kids almost full time...I only look to date single Dads. I really believe that only other single parents can really understand the shuffling/juggling/struggle.

Before I had kids, I really didn't understand. I thought I did...but I didn't.

There is nothing you can do. Either she accepts the situation you are in and goes with the flow, or she doesn't.

asurvivor posted 8/13/2013 16:45 PM

As they say, Mom always know best and Willie's hit it on the head. The kids my man...they come first...always.

velveteer posted 8/13/2013 17:07 PM

I'm not sure she just wants what she wants. She loves me, and she wants more of a say - to be involved in major decisions.

However I know that I am not going to move to another country of another city - I made it clear and she didn't like that there was no negotiation on it. Maybe I handled it badly but frankly there is no negotiation on this - I am staying fully involved in my kids lives.

She even said that I spend more time with my kids that any other separated dad that she knows - I don't know of any that she knows, but that's another matter. Am I supposed to feel bad about that?

One night I was at hers and I was tired and a bit upset - she asked me why and `i told her I was tired and upset because I had said goodbye to the kids after a great week together (part of which we spent with her). She was annoyed that this was impinging on the limited time that we have together. I found that very hard.

I dunno - she says that I don't understand how difficult it is for her and its all about me and my struggles - kids, ex wife etc. I think I do appreciate that its difficult for her, but feel like she doesn't fully appreciate the pressures and constraints of my life.

I dunno - it does feel draining sometimes. Its affecting how I feel about our future. It is causing me doubt.

GabyBaby posted 8/13/2013 17:10 PM

She's not your children's mother, so why WOULD she be included in major decisions?

It seems that her expectations are unrealistic.

Too_Trusting posted 8/13/2013 17:14 PM

I feel that she is not that comfortable being with a man that has kids. She is not number one and I dont think she likes that.

I think you hit the nail on the head here. I don't have kids either, but I think she's turned this into a power play. And, I have to wonder if her "talk" about moving to another county/area is designed to MAKE you a weekend only Dad so she doesn't have to share?

Whatever her reasons, you are doing the right thing putting your kids FIRST.

[This message edited by Too_Trusting at 5:15 PM, August 13th (Tuesday)]

lieshurt posted 8/13/2013 17:28 PM

Velveteer, you keep making excuses for this woman's piss poor, selfish behavior. The thing is she doesn't see you and your kids as a package deal. She wants you and tolerates your kids. That's why she gets so irritated when she has to share you. That's why she has no issue suggesting you relocate, so that you are only a part time dad. This has been evident since you first posted about your issues with her and it hasn't changed. Now, you need to really think about whether this is who your want your kids to form a relationship with. I don't believe it's fair to them, because she's not in it for the long haul with them and probably not with you either as long as you put your kids first. She can't handle being second.

cayc posted 8/13/2013 17:43 PM

Stepping in carefully here ...

I do not have children. Not by choice, it's just one of the many things xWH robbed me of. But I understand the obligations (both wanted and unwanted) that come with being a parent. My SO has a nephew who is part of his life and a daughter who isn't really. So this is a conversation we've have now and again. What would it look like. What could we offer, etc. And *I* know what that means in terms of how it would affect my life and my ability to manuever within it, which again informs our discussion. But who knows, it could be I'm more sensitive to the idea of a blended family due to my time here on SI, your SO may not have the luxury of 5 years of seeing people kill themselves over co-parenting, dealing with child support, dealing with emotionally affected children/teens/young adults. It's possible I wouldn't be as understanding as I am without that window. Further, the SO and I have had some pretty severe miscommunication about it for the very reasons you state: he sometimes interprets my statements of opinion as not understanding the issue when in fact, I'm merely stating an opinion as part of a discussion.

But here's what leapt out at me about what you said:

She is not number one

That's a pretty ugly slap in the face kind of thing to say to someone who is a long term partner and who is apparently invovled in your children's lives. And is someone you are considering a future with. You may think you are saying, "as a parent, I *always* have to consider my children's well-being before my own because they are vulnerable children." But if the words you both are using are "you aren't number one" or "the kids come first" or words that indicate that her opinion about anything doesn't count, then phrases like this are loaded with subtext and you might as well be telling her she's of no account at all.

I'm not saying your concerns aren't valid. But if you care for her at all, a little issue framing, word choice, and discussions about the topic might be helpful, i.e. address the subtext too. Of course, so too is being upfront: "honey, if you want to live there, then you'll have to go alone. I'm rooted here so being in a relationship with me means living here". And then she has a choice to make.

Idk, I guess I'm really sensitive to the word choice of "number one". That's been hurled at me often for having the temerity to care or want for things for myself and is invariably used in lieu of "not only are you not number one, but you are always dead last". It doesn't feel very "share-y" or "partner-y" to think in terms of who's first, especially when preceeded by an "always".

Crescita posted 8/13/2013 17:46 PM

I don't have kids either, but I think she's turned this into a power play. And, I have to wonder if her "talk" about moving to another county/area is designed to MAKE you a weekend only Dad so she doesn't have to share?


Relocating is kind of a big deal whether you have kids or not. I might like to move someday, but unless there is some fabulously compelling reason to do so, Iím not going to suggest, let alone insist, that my SO uproot his entire life. Even if you were married, status quo would reign triumphant.

5454real posted 8/13/2013 18:07 PM

Very, VERY gently.

She loves me

Really? By your own definition, you are a man who puts his kids first. She *knew* that going in, but really didn't understand. That is a heavy responsibility, yet light as a feather. I admire the fact that you are keeping your priorities straight. Your kids do need a stable influence in their lives. And yep, you need them also. No shame there.

I think you see the writing on the wall. You yourself said it best.

taking on a partner with kids is not for everyone

I'm sorry.


Pentup posted 8/13/2013 19:51 PM

I did not date people with children because I knew at a young age how much time and effort kids take/need. Did that make me selfish? Maybe. But it also kept me from being a bitch because my date/so had other obligations. My ex sil decided she wanted to be married to a guy with kids. Then she was a bitch afterwards to everyone making my brothers children sad and miserable in the process. Personally, I think that is worse.

You want to put your children first. They were there first. She does not. That is a pretty big difference of opinion. Jmho, I would let go now and save you, your kids and her a lot more hurt. Again, just my opinion. I just do not see her deciding at this point that your kids deserve first billing in your life.

torn2bits posted 8/13/2013 20:07 PM

Please do not make excuses for her. She is being selfish.

My current stepfather had no children. My mom had 5 under 16 yrs old when she met him. He actually told a previous prospective wife that she couldn't see her adult kids without discussing it with him. He tried that with my mom and she told him where the highway was.

Anyway, it seems that she is the same; wants to be the center of your world without interruption. Sharing your affections is hard for her, even if its your children. Some who don't have children do not understand the link.

It seems she wants to move you away from your children so she can have you to herself more.
Be careful. It will come up again and again.

I won't date a man who doesn't have kids.

gettherefromhere posted 8/13/2013 20:09 PM

Speaking as a stepmom here. When I married my husband I knew he had kids. I knew if ANYTHING came up with them they would come first.

What I didn't know is how that would truly affect me. I really did feel a distant second many times. One day his ex called him and asked him if he could take the kids overnight on an unscheduled Friday. He said of course. When I heard about it I said, "Oh, our first anniversary." He said, "oh, I forgot." Not a fun place to be as his wife. I sucked it up and we had the kids (I am still sure ex didn't really need us and that she remembered the date), but I remember and that was over 20 years ago.

Do extras for your SO to let her know you think of her. Be sure to let her know you really appreciate when she helps with things with the kids. DO NOT take advantage of her like volunteering her to make cookies for bake sales. Never assume she will take the kids to swim practice...ASK her and thank her. Don't let the kids be rude to her and get away with it.

So many times I felt like I had a ton of responsibility, but no rewards, no thank yous....just totally taken advantage of. As I look back now I can very easily see that wasn't ALWAYS true, but it was too often.

It's hard being the step. If you speak up in disagreement, you are the wicked stepmother who ruins time with dad. If you always go along with everything until you explode, you are told you should have said something.

tough times. You can get through it.

persevere posted 8/13/2013 22:29 PM

I was a single mom for quite a while and I would never date a man who didn't understand the priority of responsibility to children (either theirs or mine) or who trashed their ex.

Now that they are adults it's a little different, but flexibility in general is an important quality in a partner for me, and I reciprocate that.

I think someone else said it best - you just don't fit - square peg, round hole.

stillstrong posted 8/13/2013 23:22 PM

She even said that I spend more time with my kids that any other separated dad that she knows - I don't know of any that she knows, but that's another matter. Am I supposed to feel bad about that?

If that is true, it is something to be proud of! Your kids are so small, they need you. Mine are older, but as the ex of a man who puts dating, hobbies, etc before his children, I can tell you that it is absolutely damaging to them.

velveteer posted 8/14/2013 03:55 AM

Thanks folks.

Cayc - thank for this perspective. I should be clear that I have NOT said to her she is not number one and not would I. I understand how difficult that would be to hear.

My issue is that there is a reality here and that reality is that choices are constrained when you have kids. I am just not sure how much she gets that - really gets it. It's easy to say or even think that you do, but I know myself that the reality is different.

She is used to a life of making choices only for herself and has led a varied life in different places. I have been more settled and have stronger and deeper roots.

I understand her concerns. As for long term partner we have been together a year and a half and are really only now bringing things together more consistently. I felt the need to be careful with myself and the kids and give then space to adjust to the changes in their lives. Even quite early my need for caution and a slow pace raised issues. I tried as best I could to negotiate it and we progressed.

As some here will know she has also expressed a desire to adopt a child. Right from the start I told her that I wasn't keen on this and she insisted that this was something that she would do and I needn't be too involved - that to me simply doesn't add up. She also feels that i am being unfair in not supporting her to do this but how do i support it, and continue as her partner when it is not something i want for myself. It remains an unresolved issue and she has put it on a back burner.

So - she is basically asking about our future together. For me, her acceptance of my need (and I think my right) to make the decisions necessary for the best interests of my kids is crucial, and so is the
adoption issue. We are great together in many ways and she is a very sweet and caring woman and is great with the kids. But these are BIG issues and for me it's just not as simple and do you love me and do you want to be with me?

I am trying very hard to go soft and be understanding of her position and I don't underestimate how difficult it is for her. She thinks otherwise. But there are realities here. I don't know where to go.

Thelastknight posted 8/14/2013 04:07 AM

Find balance in your life. Keep the kids a priority but take some priority on yourself.

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