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"you knew what you were getting into when you married a man with kids" - Page 2

post #21 of 64
Step parent here with a baby with mom and a SS that lives with me.


And as for 'knowing what you were getting into' is a bunch of tripe.


PARENTS IN GENERAL DO NOT KNOW WHAT THEY ARE GETTING INTO. And just because you have a child does not make you an expert at anything short of insemination, and even then it could have been luck


Anyways, I hope you find a balance and I don't want to stroke any fires, but you are right. No one knows what they are getting into when they become responsible for a little person in their lives. But how we handle the situations makes all the difference.



I didn't get to experience my DSS until the age of 3, I love him to death, don't get me wrong, but after having my DD and experiencing all of the firsts in her life that I missed in his there is definately a different connection. I don't want DSS to feel like he is any less and I do my best to make sure he knows he is always on my mind, but you can't imagine the change that will happen until you experience it.


Anyways, remember your DH is experiencing these changes too and they are new to him too. His life changes in ways he didnt expect and as a partnership you get the chance to work together to fit the pieces together.


He DOES need to do what is best for all of his kids, that definately includes yoru DSD, but that includes your dear child too.


Good Luck.
post #22 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ginger_rodgers View Post
Daphne, then how would you expect anyone to avoid the OP's problem? Of course if you go in without any knowledge of common realities involved with marrying a man with children, you're going to get blindsided. I can understand saying "I didn't know", but not if the MO is for others to stand back and let them stay ignorant.

When women take up with alcoholics or drug addicts, if the women have friends, they get a chorus of "girl don't date him". Friends will even yell at their friends to get them away from a man who can mean real trouble. Same if the guy is involved in some very dangerous form of work -- you can count on a girlfriend to say, "Would you make him stop when you have kids?" and "I wouldn't be able to sleep at night," and that sort of thing. But with divorced parents, I don't hear anything like that, even though it's a whole different show than getting involved with someone who's childless.

That's a great point, thanks. I'm not sure what I would say other than "it can be really hard." I'm not sure how many universal obstacles there are to step-momming. I remember when i met him and told friends that he had a child, they asked what kind of a dad he was, and I said "great!" In fact, seeing his exemplary fathering was what, in part, inspired me to have a baby with him. I got along great with his daughter, so I had no reason to think that there would be major challenges.

Anyway I guess I would tell someone what I have experienced and let them deduce that maybe their experience would be the same and maybe not. Just like anything related to having a baby.
post #23 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigeyes View Post
ITA.

Nobody can tell you what to expect. Every situation is different.

Besides, who listens when they're in love?
Someone who's old enough to know she makes mistakes, and who understands that love, while important, is not enough on its own.

I really wish my friends had spoken up as I was getting involved with my ex. I didn't see his problems, but others did. Very clearly. They also understood better than I did the seriousness of the clues he dropped; I just had no experience with those things and was naive. My dd is amazing and a fantastic person, and without my ex there'd have been no dd, but it's very likely that had I not married xh, I'd have married someone else, and there'd have been other wonderful children.

I've done much to rebuild my life and my work over the past few years. But my marriage did serious damage to my life and career, and will continue to do damage for years to come. That's easier to brush off if you're 20; at 40, I see it as very expensive. (My friend is also in her 40s.)

So in answer to your question: I'd have listened.
post #24 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoshua View Post

Anyways, remember your DH is experiencing these changes too and they are new to him too. His life changes in ways he didnt expect and as a partnership you get the chance to work together to fit the pieces together.
So very true. I just wish that there was a general consensus that blending families is really hard for everyone, not just the kids, not just the bio mom, but everyone. I know one big struggle for my DP is comparing my parenting to DSD's moms and saying "I just feel so bad for her (DSD) because she doesn't have a mom like you. ( He didn't know that this would be such an issue with him- he feels like now that he has a baby with a great mom (yay!) he needs to to more with his DD to compensate for her crappy mom (in his opinion) so that she doesn't get a raw deal.

I think there is pressure on step-mom's to do everything right- accept the child as if it was their own, be a great parent without interfering too much, etc... When in reality the onus should be on everyone to try to make it work.


Thanks everyone for joining in this discussion, it's great food for thought.
post #25 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by ginger_rodgers View Post
Someone who's old enough to know she makes mistakes, and who understands that love, while important, is not enough on its own.

I really wish my friends had spoken up as I was getting involved with my ex. I didn't see his problems, but others did. Very clearly. They also understood better than I did the seriousness of the clues he dropped; I just had no experience with those things and was naive. My dd is amazing and a fantastic person, and without my ex there'd have been no dd, but it's very likely that had I not married xh, I'd have married someone else, and there'd have been other wonderful children.

I've done much to rebuild my life and my work over the past few years. But my marriage did serious damage to my life and career, and will continue to do damage for years to come. That's easier to brush off if you're 20; at 40, I see it as very expensive. (My friend is also in her 40s.)

So in answer to your question: I'd have listened.
Interesting post.

Coming out of lurkdom because I'm wondering how, if you (general you, ladies) DID know... how would you have changed things? Would you have found someone else? Would you have just felt better about having had "informed consent" for lack of better term? Would you have chosen not to have kids...?

I mean, I guess my point is, probably for many people "you knew what you were getting into marrying a dad" is probably moot (although, I have to believe that most pps are right that you NEVER can really know unless you're there). Whether or not you actually did know, what would you have done to change it had you known? I guess I'm expecting most people wouldn't have done much else different unless there's some issues with his parenting or your relationship or whatever, but considering the thread that I believe this one spun off of, if you knew about all the financial (and emotional) issues marrying a dad would have brought to your life, would you have just gone in anyway or would you have done things differently?
post #26 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by ginger_rodgers View Post
Daphne, then how would you expect anyone to avoid the OP's problem? Of course if you go in without any knowledge of common realities involved with marrying a man with children, you're going to get blindsided. I can understand saying "I didn't know", but not if the MO is for others to stand back and let them stay ignorant.

When women take up with alcoholics or drug addicts, if the women have friends, they get a chorus of "girl don't date him". Friends will even yell at their friends to get them away from a man who can mean real trouble. Same if the guy is involved in some very dangerous form of work -- you can count on a girlfriend to say, "Would you make him stop when you have kids?" and "I wouldn't be able to sleep at night," and that sort of thing. But with divorced parents, I don't hear anything like that, even though it's a whole different show than getting involved with someone who's childless.
Bold is mine. You do make some valid points, Ginger. That said, I don't know that there is anyway to avoid the feelings that eventually come up when a partner has kids from a previous relationship. And not everyone will have the same issues and feelings. I didn't resent that my dh provided cs to his kids, I can see why someone would, but I didnt. We had other issues of course, but what marriage doesnt have it's own set of unique challanges, step-kids or not?
I couldn't have been warned away from my dh, I would have resented anyone that tried and then later when issues did arise, pride would have prevented me from turning to those people that had originally predicted a bad outcome to the relationship. IMO, a drug addicts or abusive men are just not on the same plane as a divorced father.

I just wanted to add that I'm really sorry that you had such a bad experience. It's obvious that our personal experiences really shape our feelings about divorce, remarriage, first and second families, etc... My experience, as the child from a first family, was pretty bad. It really shaped my opinions and sympathies. Maybe if I had experienced the same difficulties that you have, then I would feel the way that you do, too.
post #27 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by fek&fuzz View Post
Can you imagine it being ok to say

<snip>

- You knew what you were getting into when you decided to have children with a man who had a drinking problem (to a mom who is suffering through a separation and custody battle)

<snip>

- you knew what you were getting into when you decided to get pregnant (to any mom posting here about crying, sleeping, breastfeeding, parenting issues, etc. etc. etc.)
I don't belong on this forum (well, sort of - but we're a "step" family, because dh isn't ds1's bio-dad - I'm not the step-parent), but clicked on the thread, without realizing which forum I was in.

While the above comments wouldn't be accepted here, the OP didn't actually specify that she was talking about comments made here. I've had both of the above comments directed at me (although the first was about my ex's pot smoking, not about alcohol) on multiple occasions. They're considered perfectly acceptable things to say.
post #28 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by ginger_rodgers View Post
Someone who's old enough to know she makes mistakes, and who understands that love, while important, is not enough on its own.

I really wish my friends had spoken up as I was getting involved with my ex. I didn't see his problems, but others did. Very clearly. They also understood better than I did the seriousness of the clues he dropped; I just had no experience with those things and was naive. My dd is amazing and a fantastic person, and without my ex there'd have been no dd, but it's very likely that had I not married xh, I'd have married someone else, and there'd have been other wonderful children.

I've done much to rebuild my life and my work over the past few years. But my marriage did serious damage to my life and career, and will continue to do damage for years to come. That's easier to brush off if you're 20; at 40, I see it as very expensive. (My friend is also in her 40s.)

So in answer to your question: I'd have listened.
You're a rarity. I talk to women every day who say they want to make changes in their lives, and they say they want the unvarnished truth.

The reality is, they want a fairy tale and they get pi$$ed if I don't give them one. Experience is free, but wisdom is something not everyone gains from their experience.

You also have to know the whole story. Nobody even told me what I would be dealing with.

I didn't know how sick my dsd's background was until I'd been with my dh for a couple of years. DSD and DH are good at pretending things are fine when they aren't.....they did that for years. I was very cautious about dating and I knew he was a good man, but I didn't know how wounded they were, or how awful things had been until dh told me all of it. Dsd still has false memories she's invented to cover up the reality of her early years. Can you even begin to imagine how awful your early childhood had to be for you to make up memories?

I came into a situation that wasn't quite what it seemed, and my dsd was playing a role she thought she had to play. She would switch back and forth between her public persona and her private persona once I was a permanent part of her life. At one point I was afraid she was a sociopath and there was nothing that could be done. I even had an expert tell me that was a possibility. Exactly how do you prepare yourself for that? I'd really like to know.

I had never even heard of attachment disorders until someone online pointed me in the right direction. If we had not found the right therapist, I'm certain we would be divorced now. But we did, and in the space of 1 school year we've seen major changes.I don't think anyone can be 100% prepared for life with another person. Everyone has things they hold back that can come out and blindside you. Some are just more difficult to deal with than others.
post #29 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoshua View Post
I didn't get to experience my DSS until the age of 3, I love him to death, don't get me wrong, but after having my DD and experiencing all of the firsts in her life that I missed in his there is definately a different connection. I don't want DSS to feel like he is any less and I do my best to make sure he knows he is always on my mind, but you can't imagine the change that will happen until you experience it.
I remember dh being really upset after we had dd. He's been in ds1's life for 3 years at that time (met him at age 7), and loved him a lot, and always treated him as his own son (as do my in-laws). The reason he was so upset is that my ex is an almost completely absentee parent, and dh realized that he was just not ever going to have the same bond with ds1 that he had with dd, because he wasn't part of ds1's life from infancy. He said he felt so awful for ds1 that he felt as though he was stealing something from him.

I'd never really thought about it from that side before, but I felt bad for both ds1 and dh. What a horrible place to be in.
post #30 of 64
WOW!!! It is SO refreshing to see points of view that are so eloquently conveyed.

THIS is why I have come to this forum in the past!

THESE types of thought-provoking, useful ideas and coping mechanisms as well as just plain support.

Really, honestly--you guys are great. :

I certainly did know what I was getting into: a wonderful relationship with a man who is my absolute best friend and supporter in the whole world; he gets on with my son (and my ex) splendidly; I'm a very supportive and loving step-mom to his 3 and I try my best (truly) with his ex. DH makes an incredible salary, and a portion of it does indeed go to support his kids when they are with their mom--I certainly knew about that when I got involved with him, that much I can say I knew with concrete surety.

What I didn't count on (and am forever grateful to be given this opportunity)was how much I would truly care about our expanded family and all that that entails (warts and all)! Sure, I have had some trying times with his ex and even his kids...but, in the end, all that he and I really care about is how deep we love each other and we show the kids that this is how a couple are supposed to behave with one another and that all our kids are happy and healthy and grow up to be fine, outstanding individuals.

Hugs to ALL the step-moms out here!
post #31 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post
I remember dh being really upset after we had dd. He's been in ds1's life for 3 years at that time (met him at age 7), and loved him a lot, and always treated him as his own son (as do my in-laws). The reason he was so upset is that my ex is an almost completely absentee parent, and dh realized that he was just not ever going to have the same bond with ds1 that he had with dd, because he wasn't part of ds1's life from infancy. He said he felt so awful for ds1 that he felt as though he was stealing something from him.

I'd never really thought about it from that side before, but I felt bad for both ds1 and dh. What a horrible place to be in.
It kills me that dsd's bio-mom didn't really do any of the things she 'remembers.' I always felt like ds got cheated by not having an involved father, but he was surrounded by people who doted on him and I believe it made a difference. Dsd didn't have that and there's no way to go back and fix it.

It's like you play catch-up for the rest of their lives, yk?
post #32 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigeyes View Post
It kills me that dsd's bio-mom didn't really do any of the things she 'remembers.' I always felt like ds got cheated by not having an involved father, but he was surrounded by people who doted on him and I believe it made a difference. Dsd didn't have that and there's no way to go back and fix it.

It's like you play catch-up for the rest of their lives, yk?
Oh, yeah - I know. DH is, to some extent, always trying to make up for the fact that ds1 basically doesn't have a dad. I end up doing the same, even though I know it's not something that can really be "made up". I can't give him what he wants - a dad who actually cares enough to...I don't know...call once in a while? I wish I could, but I can't. DH can't, either. It's hard.

I consider myself very fortunate that ds1 is, by nature, a very, very happy, healthy, emotionally resilient person. I have trouble imagining where he'd be at by now if he were more sensitive or more easily hurt, yk? It's been bad enough...
post #33 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by MeloMama08 View Post
Should my feelings and struggles be dismissed because I "knew what I was getting into?"
No, not in the least.

post #34 of 64
Had I known on DH's and my first date what I know now, it probably would have been our last. Did I know he had a daughter? Yes. Did I know what it would be like? No.

I didn't meet DSD until 6 months in (which I felt was the responsible way to do it - I didn't want to waltz into his child's life unless I was sure that there was marriage potential with the relationship). And even after that, he only had her every other week for about 3 days. I didn't really experience what it was like to live with DSD on a regular basis (and deal with her mom) until over a year after that, when DH decided to fight for 50/50 custody. By that time, I was 5 months pregnant. By the time I really knew what I was getting into, I was locked into some sort of relationship with this man for the rest of my life.

And this is just the child portion - I also was unaware of how financially entangled DH was with a woman he didn't even marry - 2 years after they had split up. I also wasn't aware of how much she depended on him for "favors." He didn't really bring these things up. They either came up as problems for him (trying to get her to move out of his house so he could sell it) or problems for me (her constant reliance on him to pick up one child or another - not just DSD - when she was in a "bind").

DH and I were married last September, and over the summer, I did a lot of soul-searching. If there is anyone on this planet that is my soul mate, it is DH. However, his ex-girlfriend and DSD are not. But I also had DS to think about. I had to make the decision to put up with the blended family issues in order to be with the person I loved and ensure that my son could be with both of his parents full-time. If we didn't have DS, I probably would not still be here. If it were just me, I could walk away. WOuld it have been sad? Yeah, break-ups are sad. But I would have learned my lesson about getting involved with a man with a child.

But, honestly, I didn't want DS passed back and forth like DSD is. And if DH and I hadn't gotten married, I would have had the same issues in reverse with any other man I became involved with. DH has actually said that if I die or leave him, he's done until the kids are adults. He says that he just could not deal with having to go through all of the blended family issues with another woman. Plus, he said that the combination of DSD's mom and I would probably scare off any potential new partners anyway.

Bottom-line -often you don't know what you are getting into until it is too late.
post #35 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by pinksprklybarefoot View Post
Bottom-line -often you don't know what you are getting into until it is too late.
Ain't that the truth? You're already in it by the time you know.


I vividly remember thinking about packing up to leave...and thinking sure, why not, it's not like everyone else hasn't just abandoned dsd.

Even when I couldn't stand to be around her, I knew nobody had ever been there for her. The differences in her first few years and ds's first few years are heartbreaking.
post #36 of 64
I had no idea how much "what SD's mom wants" would seep into our everyday life, sometimes in things at best tangentially related to SD.

She has criticized the "lack of furniture" in SD's room (it's a tiny city room and has a bed, dresser, desk and bookshelf...what else did she want?).

She has criticized our choice of laundry detergent (because it smells different from hers).

She is upset that SD enjoys a good relationship with my parents and sister, because *her* parents "suck and don't visit" and she cut them out of her life entirely because they don't visit, and it's not right that a girl should have a closer relationship with step-grandparents than with "real" grandparents.

She got upset once because my partner said "the party's at noon." She apparently asked "what time does the party start?" and what time the party was *at* was not answering the question and furthermore was not being respectful. She's also been upset because my partner answered "let me check" when she asked him if he'd be free to take SD on her day off from school. (She's very, very big on "respectful communication" but she seems to have a different definition than most people--she seems to think it means "not only polite but phrased exactly the way I think it should be phrased right now, which may be different from how I thought it should be phrased yesterday.")

She FREAKED OUT over the fact that we are getting married in October (which my partner had the decency to tell her in person, over coffee), because apparently she had a big traumatic thing happen in October 25 years ago, and my partner knew about it, and now she'll have the trauma of her ex getting remarried adding to it and he obviously chose October to mess with her on purpose.

She FREAKED OUT over the fact that my partner Twittered that we'd like to play a certain song at our wedding (why is she subscribed to his feeds? dunno)--because they saw this band once in concert together almost a decade ago. Never mind that this song didn't even come out until last year, long after they had broken up.

Most of the time, I can deal with it fine, but sometimes (especially when it brings my partner down) I just wish she'd go away and leave us alone. But, of course, that would be horrible for SD, so I don't *actually* wish it, but I'm sure most of you have been there too (either with your partner's ex or your own ex or your boss or whoever).
post #37 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigeyes View Post
Ain't that the truth? You're already in it by the time you know.


I vividly remember thinking about packing up to leave...and thinking[I] sure, why not, it's not like everyone else hasn't just abandoned dsd.
.

Amen to that.

But honestly- and I will put this on everything that I know and love- if my husband and I were ever to divorce, I would never, ever do this again.
post #38 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantaja View Post
Amen to that.

But honestly- and I will put this on everything that I know and love- if my husband and I were ever to divorce, I would never, ever do this again.
Me either. I'm glad I stuck it out, but it has been the most emotionally draining thing I've ever done. Being a single mom was a cakewalk compared to dealing with someone else's nuclear fallout.
post #39 of 64
DH doesn't have an ex, so I'm basically talking out of my butt, but I think a lot of it depends on the ex, too. If you're with someone whose ex hasn't let go of him, it's going to be a lot harder. It's one thing to be a "step" and have partial responsibility for raising/dealing with a child who isn't yours...and quite another to be dealing, on an ongoing basis, with someone who is still emotionally invested in your partner. I honestly can't relate to people l ike that, because I wouldn't have broken up with my ex if there'd been anything left to hold onto at all. (On the flip side, we have a "new" wife in our family who won't let go of the ex - she creates conflict and drama because she can't forget that the ex was first. It's seriously messed up and kind of scary to watch, because there is a child involved.)
post #40 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigeyes View Post
Me either. I'm glad I stuck it out, but it has been the most emotionally draining thing I've ever done. Being a single mom was a cakewalk compared to dealing with someone else's nuclear fallout.
I appreciate your candor on this. Lurking in this forum is what made me commit, a year or so ago, to NEVER dating a man with any "active ex." (Single dads of grown children YES, widower dads YES, sole-custody dads YES, shared-custody dads of minor children NO FRIGGIN' WAY!) They are nice as friends - but never would I want that/his drama in my home life.

And interestingly, I've found it almost as disruptive to date a man who "gets along super-well!" with his ex-wife, as a man in conflict with his. "Getting along" means jointly-hosted birthday parties for their kids, her calling him when she gets a flat tire or is filing her taxes, even sharing "Christmas as a family" - hey, if it works for them great, but that doesn't leave enough room for a new, full romantic partner, so I now say "nay."
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