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Why get involved with a divorced man with kids?

post #1 of 61
Thread Starter 
It seems so hard, so fraught with the requisite 'difficult' ex wife they all seem to have, the custody and money disputes.

I know everyone will say love conquers all, but if a guy has been divorced once then is that not a massive warning sign to you? Do you think you'll be the one to magically make it perfect and do/be what the former wife couldn't?
post #2 of 61
You never know about what went on in a prior relationship. You are putting the women higher than the guy saying he was all at fault. This is not true. Plus people change. I am glad my husband did not think of me as damaged and messed up because I had an ex. Nor did he take it as a warning sign.
post #3 of 61
I'll bite. Your question assumes every first marriage is a perfect person with a clean slate. That's far from so.

Everyone, single, married or divorced, has baggage. I've never married before DH, but I've got loads of baggage. Also I know plenty of people who are married to someone who's never been married before, but has plenty of ex stress. There is still possibility of being a first spouse and having stepkids and other parents.

Each person decides what they're able to live with in a relationship. Not every first marriage works out perfectly. Not every second marriage is doomed because of ex stress. Not every first marriage has no ex stress. Failed marriages are not neccesarily due to someone being an abusive jerk that all must run away from screaming. And people do learn from their mistakes.
post #4 of 61
Failed marriage = bad person to marry?

Not for me. People grow and change all the time. Should we assume the guy who got his g/f pregnant at 19, married her and tried his best to be a good husband, had 2 more kids and then realised she and he were really a poor match and makig one another miserable will also make ME miserable 15 years later? Not a very rational assumption.

If you believe that every single person that gets married (or seriously involved, i personally didn't marry XP and we have a daughter together) marries their soulmate and turns down a lifetime of happiness so they can leave them and cause misery all round then yeah, you would probably want to avoid having a relationsip with anyone who has been seriously involved with anyone else. That is going to significantly narrow the pool of choice as you leave your teens though!
post #5 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teenytoona View Post
Each person decides what they're able to live with in a relationship. Not every first marriage works out perfectly. Not every second marriage is doomed because of ex stress. Not every first marriage has no ex stress. Failed marriages are not neccesarily due to someone being an abusive jerk that all must run away from screaming. And people do learn from their mistakes.
An interesting statistic:

Second marriages with children (i.e. one or both parties bring children from a past relationship into the marriage) are more likely than first marriages to fail in the first 3 years.

That's not a surprise, right? We always hear that the divorce rate for second marriages is higher than the divorce rate for first marriages (which is also scary high).

Here's what you never hear, though:

If a second marriage with children makes it through the first 3 years intact, it is 40% more likely to succeed than any first marriage. I think this statistic truly speaks to the fact that people learn from their "mistakes."

The bottom line is: it's really, really hard to carve out a life with children you didn't create (or adopt as an infant). Regardless of how much you adore your stepchildren (or how much your own children are adored by your second husband), it's the very fact that second marriages frequently include children that makes them more likely to fail in the first 3 years. If you can persevere through the "forming" and "storming" stages (the three stages of blended families being Forming, Storming, and Norming), you're in really good shape to make it all the way!

Re: ex-wives - you're right, they can be challenging too. But consider this, if your new spouse didn't have children, he probably wouldn't even KNOW where his ex-wife was, let alone be speaking to and interacting with her on a regular basis.
post #6 of 61
Seriously? When a man reaches a certain age, I don't know what that is exactly so please don't ask me, if he hasn't been in a serious relationship ever in his life before me, then that right there is the warning sign. Not that he is some sort of failure who should be doomed to single parenthood his entire life.
post #7 of 61
artgoddess, my DH is such a man (a few light hearted relationships in his early 20's and then nothing until me, in his late 30's) and he's not a monster i promise!
post #8 of 61
Well, it takes two people to create and to maintain a relationship, right? Naturally, if I choose to be with DP, I think he was a great guy and a woman didn't behave as a true partner should. Is it that impossible to imagine that a guy is not always at fault? and why would a great guy not deserve a loving relationship afterwards?

I think DP is a superman.

The fact that he's been married before means that I had to work through my insecurities, find my role in DSD's life, and readjust my expectations of our life together, it meant our finances are taking a hit from the get-go.

BUT, it also meant that I knew how he handled conflict (without yelling or taking cheap shots at his ex, even when they disagreed and she wasn't nice). It also meant that I knew what kind of father he is (and believe me when I tell you, he is of the highest quality).


I'm not saying it's easy. Just saying it's worth it for me. We've been together three times longer than the faithful part of his marriage, and twice as long than his marriage from start to the final signature in divorce papers. Honestly, I can't get enough of him.
post #9 of 61
Yep, the whole getting hit by a drunk driver, spending two months in the hospital and several more in rehab, shifting from husband-wife to patient-caregiver overnight, personality changes due to blunt force head trauma, learning how to walk, eat, work again, sticking it out for a few more years out of sheer stubbornness and then finally, mutually, relatively amicably calling it quits after realizing that stubbornness isn't enough thing is totally a red flag to me.

I have also been divorced once--never mind we never had kids, grew up together and grew apart, and are still good friends even though we made terrible spouses to one another and had the sense to figure that out before bringing two kids and 10 years of misery into the picture--and I'm sure it's a total red flag to my partner.

Oh well.
post #10 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by bits and bobs View Post
It seems so hard, so fraught with the requisite 'psycho' ex wife they all seem to have, the custody and money disputes.

I know everyone will say love conquers all, but if a guy has been divorced once then is that not a massive warning sign to you? Do you think you'll be the one to magically make it perfect and do/be what the former wife couldn't?
That's pretty harsh-not all marriages fail because the guy is a jerk. Many marriages fail because the wife strays rather than the husband-no one is immune from infidelity, abuse, etc. Relationships and marriages are two way streets-both sides have to work at it. Marriages don't fail simply because "the former wife couldn't do or be" what a guy wanted.

Not all ex-wives are psycho either. I've had plenty of friends where the "psycho" portion of the equation is the guy.
post #11 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by mild_adventurer View Post
An interesting statistic:

Second marriages with children (i.e. one or both parties bring children from a past relationship into the marriage) are more likely than first marriages to fail in the first 3 years.

That's not a surprise, right? We always hear that the divorce rate for second marriages is higher than the divorce rate for first marriages (which is also scary high).

Here's what you never hear, though:

If a second marriage with children makes it through the first 3 years intact, it is 40% more likely to succeed than any first marriage. I think this statistic truly speaks to the fact that people learn from their "mistakes."

The bottom line is: it's really, really hard to carve out a life with children you didn't create (or adopt as an infant). Regardless of how much you adore your stepchildren (or how much your own children are adored by your second husband), it's the very fact that second marriages frequently include children that makes them more likely to fail in the first 3 years. If you can persevere through the "forming" and "storming" stages (the three stages of blended families being Forming, Storming, and Norming), you're in really good shape to make it all the way!

Re: psychotic ex-wives - you're right, they don't help either. But consider this, if your new spouse didn't have children, he probably wouldn't even KNOW where his psychotic ex-wife was, let alone be speaking to and interacting with her on a regular basis.

Amazing quote. Very interesting!
post #12 of 61
Thread Starter 
Look I don't know if I even really believe it myself but to me it just seems soooo hard to be in a relationship when there are kids and exes and custody issues. You start on a back foot. You have to blend things that maybe weren't meant to be or aren't ready to be blended.

Why not foucs on raising the children, away from the distractions of a new relationship? Instead of the kids having to figure out new daddy, new step-sibs, new abode, new everything...why not grow them up a bit first?

I focused here on marriage to men, as this board is called 'Mothering' so most failed relationships talked about on this board will be from the woman's perspective.

If you read here, so many women talk of the difficult ex-spouse. No one talks about how lovely and wise and fab that ex is. It just adds another level of hassle for your kids to be exposed to another man's issues whether he be at fault or not.
post #13 of 61
Thread Starter 
PS That stat is interesting but where does it come from?
post #14 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by bits and bobs View Post
Look I don't know if I even really believe it myself but to me it just seems soooo hard to be in a relationship when there are kids and exes and custody issues. You start on a back foot. You have to blend things that maybe weren't meant to be or aren't ready to be blended.
I think that's a lot of assumptions. This means no one who was cheated on deserves to build a new relationship now because that would be "starting on the back foot", and they are damaged in some way? Who is to say the things are not meant to blend? I believe we were very much meant to blend, or I woudln't be here 9 years later. DP always referres to that song that mentions "a broken road that led me straight to you".

Quote:
Why not foucs on raising the children, away from the distractions of a new relationship? Instead of the kids having to figure out new daddy, new step-sibs, new abode, new everything...why not grow them up a bit first?
Who is to say that this child would be better off without me? Or that it would easier to raise a child without me? I know it's a bit too confident, but I don't think of myself as a "distraction". I am very much a helping hand, and a loving member of the family.

Without me her dad would have the stress of commuting to and from pick ups and drop offs, 1.5 hrs each trip. Twice a weekend. It is a very big deal when your daily work commute adds up to 3-4 hours a day.

Without me DSD would have still be in braces, as her mom never took her to appointments.

Without me she would have zero healthy loving relationships to observe.
Everyone else in the familiy either divorced, or live in a nasty partnerships that I woudln't wish on anyone.

Because I am here, her dad is happy.

Because I am here, her dad can offer her a nice place to live - a great townhouse where she's had her own room for the past 6 years, vs. renting a studio apartment.

Because I am here, she had a woman role model, and someone to talk to when her mom wasn't calling or picking her up.

Because I am here, she had a shoudler to cry on during her first break up.

Because I am here, she has her first job.

Because I am here, she has another person that loves and supports her.

Why is it that I shoudln't have entered her life again?..
post #15 of 61
Bits and Bobs, I understand the good nature of your question, but I have some problems with this way of thinking / living:

1) it makes it sound like raising children is something you do void of emotion and life, something you can "concentrate" on for a while or a few years. It's not like that. Life is a whole and raising children is part of it. My parents were and are amazing together, but you would not believe the drama we had for other reasons (illness, alcoholism, unfulfillment, etc.) You wouldn't want to and you wouldn't be able to raise children in a vacuum as if waiting for your life to happen. You will never be able to only expose your children to a perfect world; and it would be such a counterproductive proposition. Learning about life (the good and bad and how to handle things with grace and love) is an amazing lesson.

2) My second point is that if you are going to go through the trouble of dealing with those ex's and the money problems, etc, most of the times it means that the new relationship is a really wonderful one and that you are much happier than you were alone. To me, this is the most important part: people are for sure better parents if they are happy, if they feel supported, and if they have affection!

This self sacrifice theory doesn't work. It never does. What works is to be real.

And just one more thing: I can assure you that I add a lot of value to my dsd's life. There's a lot I have to offer that she wouldn't have if her dad and I were not together. On top of that, she also now benefits from a new sibling. Her parents were never going to get back together to give her a sibling, and with your theory of staying alone, that would've never happened with anyone else either.
post #16 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oriole View Post
I think that's a lot of assumptions. This means no one who was cheated on deserves to build a new relationship now because that would be "starting on the back foot", and they are damaged in some way? Who is to say the things are not meant to blend? I believe we were very much meant to blend, or I woudln't be here 9 years later. DP always referres to that song that mentions "a broken road that led me straight to you".



Who is to say that this child would be better off without me? Or that it would easier to raise a child without me? I know it's a bit too confident, but I don't think of myself as a "distraction". I am very much a helping hand, and a loving member of the family.

Without me her dad would have the stress of commuting to and from pick ups and drop offs, 1.5 hrs each trip. Twice a weekend. It is a very big deal when your daily work commute adds up to 3-4 hours a day.

Without me DSD would have still be in braces, as her mom never took her to appointments.

Without me she would have zero healthy loving relationships to observe.
Everyone else in the familiy either divorced, or live in a nasty partnerships that I woudln't wish on anyone.

Because I am here, her dad is happy.

Because I am here, her dad can offer her a nice place to live - a great townhouse where she's had her own room for the past 6 years, vs. renting a studio apartment.

Because I am here, she had a woman role model, and someone to talk to when her mom wasn't calling or picking her up.

Because I am here, she had a shoudler to cry on during her first break up.

Because I am here, she has her first job.

Because I am here, she has another person that loves and supports her.

Why is it that I shoudln't have entered her life again?..
Well said Oriole! You are an amazing Stepmom and your DSD is very blessed to have you!


I was going to steer away from this thread, but Oriole's post spoke to me.

At first I was down when I saw this thread because my own DSD is going through some hard times right now with adjustment. And I couldn't help feeling a little guilty about that, as surely my involvement of entering her life, marrying her Dad, and bringing a half sibling into her life has been some very big changes that she is trying to cope with.

But I thought some more... and my being here may end up being the best thing in the world for her.

Her Dad and I have had some very rocky moments lately... but amazingly his eyes are opening, especially with the troubles his DD is going through. He is listenting and striving to be more gentle and loving all around.

My DH is reading gentle discipline books! I know he is trying and striving to be an even better Dad because I am in his life.

For those who know my story, know how big this is, and how big of a good change this is for DSD.

So while, we went through a storm for awhile... I think us weathering it and learning to work through it together is also going to be a really awesome thing for DSD.

Everything happens for a reason...
post #17 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by bits and bobs View Post
Look I don't know if I even really believe it myself but to me it just seems soooo hard to be in a relationship when there are kids and exes and custody issues. You start on a back foot. You have to blend things that maybe weren't meant to be or aren't ready to be blended.

Why not foucs on raising the children, away from the distractions of a new relationship? Instead of the kids having to figure out new daddy, new step-sibs, new abode, new everything...why not grow them up a bit first?
It is so hard to be in a relationship with exes and custody issues (boy do I know it!). Likewise it is also soo hard to be in a relationship with someone who may have no exes, but have mental illness (boy does DH know it!). This doesn't mean that the hard work isn't worth it. It means it will be hard work. But exes aren't the only reason there could be troubles in a relationship. There could be many reasons for difficulties, we're all human, none of us perfect.

For the second paragraph, well sure parents could benefit from such a thing. But it doesn't mean it's the standard for all parents. Sometimes people don't find the things they need to work on until there's another person in their lives. Each situation is so different that it's hard to make a blanket statement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bits and bobs View Post
I focused here on marriage to men, as this board is called 'Mothering' so most failed relationships talked about on this board will be from the woman's perspective.

If you read here, so many women talk of the difficult ex-spouse. No one talks about how lovely and wise and fab that ex is. It just adds another level of hassle for your kids to be exposed to another man's issues whether he be at fault or not.
Umm, well actually I have. DH has 3 exes. 1 and 3 are well beyond difficult with substance issues and abusive tendencies. #2 is the self titled "good witch." She's one of the reasons I decided to stay with DH because she can see what I see and not just the hassles of the exes and custody battles, she reminds me that digging through all the hassles, this relationship is worth it. We get along very well, and I've said a few times how if she lived closer we'd do coffee dates all the time, I'm sure.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Oriole View Post
I think that's a lot of assumptions. This means no one who was cheated on deserves to build a new relationship now because that would be "starting on the back foot", and they are damaged in some way? Who is to say the things are not meant to blend? I believe we were very much meant to blend, or I woudln't be here 9 years later. DP always referres to that song that mentions "a broken road that led me straight to you".



Who is to say that this child would be better off without me? Or that it would easier to raise a child without me? I know it's a bit too confident, but I don't think of myself as a "distraction". I am very much a helping hand, and a loving member of the family.

Without me her dad would have the stress of commuting to and from pick ups and drop offs, 1.5 hrs each trip. Twice a weekend. It is a very big deal when your daily work commute adds up to 3-4 hours a day.

Without me DSD would have still be in braces, as her mom never took her to appointments.

Without me she would have zero healthy loving relationships to observe.
Everyone else in the familiy either divorced, or live in a nasty partnerships that I woudln't wish on anyone.

Because I am here, her dad is happy.

Because I am here, her dad can offer her a nice place to live - a great townhouse where she's had her own room for the past 6 years, vs. renting a studio apartment.

Because I am here, she had a woman role model, and someone to talk to when her mom wasn't calling or picking her up.

Because I am here, she had a shoudler to cry on during her first break up.

Because I am here, she has her first job.

Because I am here, she has another person that loves and supports her.

Why is it that I shoudln't have entered her life again?..
Amazing post. Yes I've been a parent for 4 children that I never birthed. My oldest DSD has seen that not every woman has to rely on sex and men for her self esteem. DSD #2 has a stepmom that she calls "the coolest adult in the world" (that's no mere title coming from a teenager). My DSS has a stepmom who challenges him to be more than just the token boy. My youngest DSD tells people how lucky she is to have so many parents.

Life isn't ever neat. Not everyone meets in high school, has perfectly ok lives and stay sweethearts forever. In fact without the life I've led since my teen years I don't think life would have led me to DH, and same with him.
post #18 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by bits and bobs View Post
Look I don't know if I even really believe it myself but to me it just seems soooo hard to be in a relationship when there are kids and exes and custody issues. You start on a back foot. You have to blend things that maybe weren't meant to be or aren't ready to be blended.

Why not foucs on raising the children, away from the distractions of a new relationship? Instead of the kids having to figure out new daddy, new step-sibs, new abode, new everything...why not grow them up a bit first?
It IS hard. Very hard. And it's true; you do start aways behind the starting line. There are handicaps. My DH and I were parenting from the moment we met. We never had those years in the beginning to form our relationship before we were mom and dad. We had to forge our relationship with each other, and simultaneously become step-parents, he to my DD and DS, me to his DS. Every step-family is built on a loss, either a break-up or a divorce, and occasionally a death.

I was single for almost 3 years when I met my DH. I had a good life that I had built for me and my children. I worked hard at a tolerable job and went to school on the days when my kids were with their dad. I had a good social life - close friends, a wonderful church, my parents close by. And I occasionally had a dream at night when I was screaming my face off to people in the library, "Won't anybody ever touch me?" I had friends, sure, plenty of good relationships, no shortage of people to talk to, but I needed a primary companion, a partner. I was so achingly lonely I found it hard to breathe sometimes. It would have been very wrong of me to try to fill that void with my children.

As difficult as it was in those early years, my DH and I have been married for over 9 years. I believe that our marriage is a gift to them. My ex-husband has been married and divorced twice more since our divorce. SS's mom moves out of her husband's house in a fit of anger at least twice a year. For all our struggles, my husband and I have shown our kids the meaning of real devotion and love. Plus, of course, we've met our own needs, and when our children are grown and gone (in just a few years the eldest will graduate from HS), we'll get those "just us" years we've never had.

So why? The same reason I had kids, even though they're expensive, messy, noisy, and often seriously annoying: for love. Because as awful as parenting can be sometimes, love is deeper than the awfulness most of the time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bits and bobs View Post
If you read here, so many women talk of the difficult ex-spouse. No one talks about how lovely and wise and fab that ex is. It just adds another level of hassle for your kids to be exposed to another man's issues whether he be at fault or not.
I'll answer this, because I'm one of those people who complains bitterly about my DH's ex-spouse. It's no big secret that I can't stand her. First, most of the misery there happened in the first 2-3 years. She finally learned that I wasn't going anywhere, and I finally learned how to avoid setting her off. My kids (incl. SS) have been pretty unaware of the craziness that has gone on over their heads. They're old enough now (almost 16, almost 14, and 12) to tell us what they remember, and they didn't know about the fighting and such. They do remember when my ex and DH's ex dated because they took them all places together (serious lapse of judgment on their part, but what could we do?), and they knew that there was something very not right about that, but they never heard the fighting or any of the rest. DH and I had our conversations about all of it behind closed doors.

As for whether or not people who have been divorced are somehow faulty models or "broken", my first marriage brought out the worst in my AND my ex. We're both better people now than we were when we were together. Ditto DH. The man that SS's mom describes to me as her ex-husband bears little resemblance to the man I know and love. FTR, nobody in either of those former marriages cheated, was addicted to drugs, or abused anybody. We were just miserable and wrong for each other.
post #19 of 61
Thread Starter 
I am truly thrilled for those relationships that make the distance. No-one wants the heartache of marriage and family breakups, so job bloody well done.

The gritty reality though seems to be in the figures I found, that around 67% of second marriages fail, then around 74% of third marriages. If you guys are breaking the mold, then that is wonderful for you, your kids and your step-kids. You are the exception though. Of course no one wants to go into a second marriage thinking 'well 67% of these fail'. We all want to be the exception, the one that makes a difference. Some of you are but most will not be in a sustainable relationship.

Given that, I wonder if the 67% of those who don't make it would've been better to focus just on themselves and their own stability, rather than adding the major possibility of more despair and upheaval. Who will be the 67% is unknown and everyone will claim they'd rather try and maybe they'll be the lucky 33%-maybe you will be! I sincerely hope you are.

I appreciate all your responses-your stories are heartfelt. May you go on being the ones that bring joy.
post #20 of 61
You may be getting a biased sample, here, OP. This board is different than other step parenting boards I have seen - it seems to be more problem-solving and less complaining about the other house. For the most part, people want to know how to make it better. So this particular group of people may be more determined to make it work than the average.
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