Pre-marital woes... Please Help!

moxie39August 9, 2010

I am in my early 40's and about to become engaged to a man that I have been dating for a little over 3 years. I love him dearly and look forward to a life with him but I have some very real issues with his relationship with his ex-wife.

First off, I must be very honest about myself and my history. I have never been married. I have never been in a healthy long term relationship, nor have I had many examples of healthy relationships. I was a single mom

and after a few attempts at dating when my child was very young, I threw in the towel and focused on being mom. Needless to say, after 8+ years of celibacy blues, I feel very blessed to have found such a great guy.

Now for the problem... He was married for 13 years and they share 3

children( 2 grammar school aged and one pretty irresponsible high-schooler.) They are respectful of me and we get along well. He is a great dad. He has a ton of guilt concerning his divorce and says that he and the ex vowed that the kids would not suffer because of their decision to split. Admirable, right? Well, in order to do this he is at her house EVERY day. He goes their directly after work most days to help out with homework, drop kids at practice, etc. He claims that she isn't there and once she arrives, he leaves. On average it's 3-4 hours per day. Sometimes until 2 in the morning if she goes out and it's a school night ( he has to do dinner and get them in bed...yeah, right). To make matters worse he has keys to her house and until recently, she had keys to his. He claims that it's necessary since the kids are back and forth and always forgetting item

that might be needed when one or the other of them is not home.

During a recent discussion I calmly expressed to him how uncomfortable I was with his current arrangement ( he's been blessed out countless times), especially him having keys to her house. He damn near blew a gasket and told me that I was being very petty and immature about the situation... It's about his kids and nothing else. I then responded that I

could not...WOULD NOT be in a marriage where he and the ex is so cozy. Am I being unreasonable or petty in this situation? Is this what co-parenting looks like in 2010?

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"Am I being unreasonable or petty in this situation?"

No. You're deciding what you, personally, want for your life -- what's OK and not OK for your own proposed living situation. His describing your personal concerns -- which are reasonable and rather substantial deal breakers -- as "petty" and "immature" tells you a lot about what your life with him will be like.

"Is this what co-parenting looks like in 2010?"

This is what it looks like for YOUR guy and his ex. Really doesn't matter what other people do.

"...look forward to a life with him..."

Don't be silly. Your life with him will be frustrating and ridiculous. You'll hate each other in no time.

"It's about his kids and nothing else."

By saying this, he told you more than he intended to. Listen to him. If you choose to marry this guy, the competition will never cease....and you'll be the loser of every single contest. Every day, every day, every day.

Suggest you separate your wishes from your reality. The reality you described would be intolerable for me, too. He's probably a fine fellow. However he's really not available for husband duty and won't be for many years -- maybe never. HIs money and his love will always be divided. Suggest you not pretend that he's going to be different from what he's shown you in the last three years.

You've described three years during which, I suspect, you've seen how his life runs and how it will continue to run with or without you. If that's OK with you, go for it. From what you described, unless you're an exceptionally tolerant person, I can't imagine such a marriage working.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 9:09AM
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"If you choose to marry this guy, the competition will never cease....and you'll be the loser of every single contest. Every day, every day, every day."

Every day for the rest of your life until you die.

unless at some point you become more of a liability than you are an asset for this group, & the family (he *& his children*) will dump you.

You're an outsider, & you'll never ever be "family".

Anything, including continued celibacy for the rest of your life, is better than this.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 1:02PM
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I believe that there is truth in both previous responses, but I am also hesitant to make stict demands regarding kids because we are not married and when I've dated in the past I wouldnt allow anyone to make demands regarding mine, but none of the relationships were as serious as this.

I dont want a contest between his children and me
or the ex- and me. What I had envisioned was a blended family. Sylvia Texas hit it on the head, I often feel like the outsider. As if the ex still has the best part of him. She controls his time...his money and clearly his heart since my feelings dont make a difference. He is still the man of her house and I get what's left and I am not prepared to live like this. Of course, I'm in a better place financially than he. Not to suggest that he doesnt pull his weight but lets just say he has nothing to lose and I risk losing everything that I struggled for so long as a single mom to attain.

Trouble is that I love him and cant imagine life without him, but for the life of me I cant see what's in this marriage for me. I'm pretty old fashioned so shacking up is out. I still have a teen and would feel like such a hypocrite.He does'nt want that either and tells me that he's not going to wait around until his kids are older. I struggle with a the possibility that I could live the rest of my life alone. I keep asking myself " have you been alone so long that you don't know how to be with someone else?"

When my kid was younger I really NEEDED a husband. Now i dont,but I want one. According to my mother, there are only 2 reasons to marry after 40. One reason is if the guy loves you more than you love them and the other is money. She confided in me that my dad wad not her first choice,but she was his, and that made him the right choice. I thought shr was awful when she told me that over 20 years ago... Now Im starting to understand.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 2:51PM
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I agree 100% with asolo (wow - the walls didn't fall in - - - lol!).

You have already identified that that is not the life you want. And he's identified that that is the life you'll get. 'Nuff said?

As to him saying that it is all about his kids and nothing else, I interpret that as him saying that going over to his ex's house is only about the kids and not about her and nothing else is happening there. Is that right? I would tend to think that nothing is happening between them and that it IS all about the kids. But even so, I think it's extreme and a deal breaker to another relationship. It would be for me, anyway.

I am not at all saying that he shouldn't be with the kids or do what he can to make the divorce easier for them. However, I don't think he's doing them any favors by taking it to the extreme he is. To me, that sounds like a mixed message. Is there any reason that he has to go there? Could the kids come to his house, instead? Sometimes? I'm not sure that'd resolve anything, though, because his entire time while they're there would probably be taken up with them and you would, even in what would become your own home, be alone.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 5:01PM
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"Trouble is that I love him and cant imagine life without him..."

Oh, come now! What kind of little-girl nonsense is this? This isn't a romance comic-book, kiddo. This is your life. You're comparing a fantasy of life with him to a fantasy of life without him. In your early 40's, I'm sure you've accumulated enough experience and observation to avoid allowing that kind of thing to govern your actual behavior. In a sentence, you're smarter than this.

Sounds to me like he's got everything he needs as long as he can keep you thinking this way. If that's what you want, know what I'll say next.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 5:31PM
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And you are sure he really is at her house until 2 in the morning? Those kids must be honor students by now. If he's that wonderful you should be inquiring why they got a divorce since they seem to get along and cooperate so well.
People who are married don't work things out that amicably.
If you think he is so wonderful when he is very unavailable and emotionally attached elsewhere --I cannot imagine what your previous boyfriends were like, but it suggests that your time would be better spent in counseling.
Sometimes if your life is a roadmap of bad choices, its time to stop, evaluate and change course.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 6:43PM
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Perhaps you could just "date" the guy. Just have fun together without all the other hassles.

You said you have worked hard to have what you have now. I say you keep that for yourself and your child.

The children won't be young forever, they will grow up and fly the coop. Then if your "date" has lasted perhaps a more permanent union will seem more appealing.

How does your boyfriend really expect ANY woman to be married to him under the circumstances he describes !

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 7:07PM
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"According to my mother, there are only 2 reasons to marry after 40. One reason is if the guy loves you more than you love them and the other is money."

She was wrong about that. (You don't want to hear the male version.)

And....I would suggest that if you believe it you should not consider marriage.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 8:10PM
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Thank you all for the support and sharing your wisdom. Like i said I was just mom for so long that I've not had any dating issues in quite some time.

suzieque- you're right in your interpretation. He assures me that nothing is going on and I don't necessarily believe that there is. However, I get the impression that this is his way of keeping his foot in the door with her. Of course, he denies it.

As you mentioned, I have also told him that they are sending the kids mixed messages about marriage and relationships. They do come to his place on weekends but because of the distance between them I could see how week night visits would be disruptive. Pardon me for saying so, but I don't see why he needs to see them every single day. I don't mind at all when they're around and my daughter and I visit. It's a madhouse, but
what do you expect with 4 kids, right?

asolo- Although you're a bit harsh, I get what you're saying. No, I'm not
living in a romance comic book. but I am a romantic at heart. I'm very
grounded in reality. I've been on my own for a long time and I've been
around the block a time or two so believe me when I tell you that I will come out of this ok. Right now my heart and my head are not in agreement, but I'm a very practical woman.

marge- Yes, I'm sure he,s there. We talk on the phone and at times I even speak with the children. The 2 in the morning thing doesn't happen very often. It's usually until 8 or 9, but that's just as frustrating. As a working person it's pretty much lights out for me after the news.

You mentioned that divorced people don't get along that well but what is she losing? I wish I could have cut a deal like that with my ex. She gets to do her thing, have Mr. Mom, and not put up with the relationship crap. They divorced due to infidelity on both parts ( you know I'll never get the entire story on that) and he claims that they should have remained friends and never married.You also mentioned that you couldnt imagine my other boyfriends if I think he's such a great guy and that I could benefit from counseling? If you read my original post I mentioned that after my short
lived marriage I dated a few duds and gave it up because I was raising a child solo and it was too much to deal with, so I DID NOT make several
bad life choices, but from your bitter and judgmental tone it sounds like you have...We could all benefit from a few therapy sessions.

Popi- As you suggested, I think I will just date him. After all I don't hate the man. We have a great time together and to be totally honest Im a bit of a homebody and simply terrified at the thou.ght of being out there at my age. Its not that im unattractive. Guys do still hit on me but my girlfriends tell me such awful stories about the men they meet. Unless I'm missing something dating over 40 doesn't seem like much fun.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 8:51PM
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"romance" is good....except that your honey is counting on it to carry the day....the way he wants HIS day carried.

Need to learn to say that better. Hopefully the meaning is apparent.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 10:32PM
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The Golden Rule of relationships: "Never take up with someone who has more problems than you do."

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 2:35AM
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are you sure he is divorced? 3-4 hours at ex's house daily is ridiculous. he goes there and comes home at 8-9PM every day? do not get engaged and do not get married, it is a disaster. kind of sick, he is not over his ex. even nothing is going on, still it is creepy

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 12:35PM
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