Finally going to counseling.. this is long

andreac_2009December 10, 2009

I met a wonderful man and father about four years ago. Our relationship started on four months of long distance and we decided to take the leap and move across the country together. When we first met he had been separated from his wife and children for a year and then finally divorced two weeks prior to us getting together. His divorce/separation was really painful to him and I don't think he has ever gotten over it. His ex-wife was having a relationship with another man for three months during their marriage and she decided to take the kids and move to another state while they were still married. She filed for separation/divorce without discussing it with him and settled herself and the kids in another area far away from him. He has always felt as if his kids were snatched away from him.

Now to explain my situation, I was a single mom going to school and working full time. I wasn't in the market at the time to meet anyone. It just happened. When we met he was a very charismatic, romantic, loving person. He spent time with me and eventually started spending time with my son. As distance became an issue we decided that we both loved each other and couldn't live without each other. His job moved him across the country and he wanted my son and I to be with him. So we moved.

We have faced many issues with our relationship over the last four years and we are finally getting counseling. Both of us have issues with our past that we haven't moved on from and is causing issues with our marriage. We have been together for four years and only married for one. I agree these issues should have been resolved before the marriage commitment but we can't go back in time now. It's time to move forward. Now to the major issues...

One, I can't trust my husband around his ex-wife because they had an affair with each other at the beginning of our relationship (after the divorce was finalized) while my son and I were living in his home. I didn't find out the entire truth about the affair until the following summer when his children mentioned some shocking news while he was away on a business trip.

Second, my husband admitted that he has never built a relationship with my son (2 years old when we moved and now 6) because he felt guilty for not having that time with his own son. This issue has been going on for quite some time and it is hurtful to know that my husband can't love my son. I know he won't ever have the love that he has for his own son but I would at least like for him to love him as a wonderful gift to his life. My husband gets annoyed by my son when he is around his own kids. He sees him as a bother. My son doesn't get the interaction from my husband that he needs and deserves.

Three, I feel as my son and I are on the back burner in his life. First priority is his job, second is his children, and then we come after everything else. Neglected is a strong word to use but maybe lonely should take it's place. I feel like I do everything I can to show my appreciation for the things my husband has given us but I don't get anything in return. One of my husbands complaints is that he doesn't feel loved by me. I have gotten to the point in our relationship where I can't get through to him unless I point our his mistakes. I'm tired of attacking him. I'm tired of trying to prove to him what he is doing wrong. I just want to be loved by him again. I want him to want to build a relationship with my son. My son has called him daddy since he was two years old. That is the only man he has known to be daddy in his life but yet he doesn't get that fatherly interaction from him. My husband still resents him.

Now, I'm pregnant with his child and I'm scared to death that this relationship with end terribly if we don't get these issues fixed. I'm scared that I will not only have one child that is pushed aside but two.

My relationship with his children has it's flaws at times but never the less is a great relationship. The kids and I have a great time together and things go wonderful when my husband isn't around. When he is around sides are taken by the kids and I'm invisible to my husband and his kids. My son wants to be included in the fun but always feels like he isn't loved as much as my husbands son. It hurt when my son first told me that. My son is a very articulate young man and lets his emotions known. He will tell you when he is hurt, happy, excited, sad, or lonely. He just wants that equal opportunity like my step-children have had.

I'm just lost in my life right now! We have been to one session of counseling and hoping to go to another one soon. My husband just needs to find time away from work to pencil it in his schedule. I'm just tired of feeling like last string.

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Pardon the "step" pun. :)

It doesn't make it any easier when it's you going through it, but the issues you are experiencing are very common in blended families! Almost a textbook case. It's great that you are going to bring in a "consultant." Does the person have experience with stepfamilies? Some of the issues are so unique!

The one thing in your case that would be a HUGE challenge for me would be the cheating with BM. That would be a deal breaker UNLESS my DH was totally willing to do EVERYTHING possible to make it right. It has only been a few years since he betrayed you, and I assume his affair partner is still very present in your life. Ouch! Did you say your SKs were the ones who told you?

The other main issue is that you feel that your child is getting a raw deal. Now, a lot of us get pretty "Mama Bear" about our biokids, but that's what we are supposed to do. The cliche is that it takes seven years for a family to totally blend. Those first years can be rough! I feel like my own family is very tight now, but a few weeks ago DH and I were looking at some videos from when we had been married about a year, and it was so glaringly obvious that we were each favoring our own kids. We just looked at each other and said "wow." We have come a long way. And a good stepfamily savvy counselor helped tremendously.

Let us know how it goes, Andreac.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 3:17PM
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I'm so sorry.

The truth is...
you *are* last string.

Nearly every sentence in your thread mentions something that is a classic element of a narcissistic or abusive personaltiy.

He was smarting from the separation from his wife (a slap in the face, a blow to the ego but not the emotions) met you (charming, pretty, receptive), charmed you to prove to himself that he still can get somebody wonderful.

had an affair with his ex to prove he can still get her.

moved across the country, doesn't know anybody, once again needs propping up, calls you, & you come running.

He has everything he needs.

He doesn't need your son, & he's got you hooked, in that you're about to have 2 children to look after, & he has ownership rights to the baby & can use the baby to pull your strings for the rest of your life.

All that stuff about how "hurt" he is was bait for the hook, all the charm was bait, & now the hook is well & truly imbedded in your mouth.

My expert advice (really, it is expert advice, I've been through a similar experience) is to pack up & leave.

Go home, move in with your mother, do whatever you have to do to get away from this guy;
he'll destroy your son's childhood & ruin your son's future, he'll destroy whatever is left of your life & your self-esteem, & he'll never bat an eye.

& when you're completely used up, he'll find a pretty, young, naive girl to charm.

I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 3:21PM
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"Second, my husband admitted that he has never built a relationship with my son (2 years old when we moved and now 6) because he felt guilty for not having that time with his own son"

This isn't just "being Mama or Papa Bear".

He hasn't "built" a relationship with his wife's son, a child with whom he has lived for the past *4 years*.

That's no accident, that's deliberate.

He isn't interested.

Not having time with his own son is his own fault & if anybody is punished for it, it should be the father/husband, not a little boy.

& whaddya bet he tells his ex that he can't give more time/money/love to his own son because of OP's son? hmmmmm?

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 4:29PM
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To explain the entire relationship would take hours but let's start with one of the first comments you made. I'm not saying you are wrong. I do appreciate any advise that an experienced person can give but I do still want to form my own opinion.
To my understanding (via his parents point of view) he was very content and loved his family before me. He loved his lifestyle and thought everything was going fine until he found out about his wife cheating on him.
Before he met me he had briefly dated another girl that was trying to use him to get her out of town (exact words from a mutual friend).
The affair with his ex started because she had promised him his kids would be back in his life permanently. He is a great father to his kids and I've seen this first hand for the last four years. I know what kind of father he can be. He just hasn't shown that to my son.
The only reason he doesn't have the time he wants with his own son is because we live in two different states and my husbands job doesn't allow him to take off when he chooses. He has a commitment to a career that can't be broken. It was a commitment that was made before his daughter was even born that he and his ex-wife agreed would be the best solution to the family. No I don't believe my son should be punished for my husbands guilt! I completely agree with you on that issue (nor should his son). Our situation and lifestyle is completely uncontrollable until the year 2012.
As for his ex-wife, she gets $900 a month for child support and also we send school supplies annually and new clothes every four months. His visitations with his children do not revolve around my schedule or my son's schedule. He goes to visit them by himself at times and many times we all go together or they come visit us. She has always been the issue when it comes to visitation rights. December of 2007 she changed the parenting plan so he would get less visits with his children. We lost alternating holidays, birthdays, and other school breaks. We now only get Alternating Christmas, alternating Spring breaks, and 8 weeks in the summer. Before that we were getting them at least every four months for a week or so with alternating holidays and school breaks and long visits during summer. She even let his parents visit with the kids once or twice a month on the weekends.

Like a said earlier.. the depth of our relationship and my husbands past would take hours to explain and can't be assumed on just a few paragraphs. I do love my husband and I just want that wonderful person that I have occasionally when he isn't focused so much on his own kids. Our relationship has been ran by his interactions with his kids and the next visit with his kids. His mind is not here with me or my son when he is around the few weeks we do get with him monthly. If it isn't on work it's on his kids.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 6:58PM
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First of all, thank you for reading my long posting and taking the time to give some feedback! I appreciate anything I can get these days.
As for the counselor, he does have experience with blended families and step families.
His affair was with his ex-wife which I have to look at almost every time we pick them from their home town. I was watching his kids the summer after all of this happened and they were sitting at the table mentioning things. The comment, "Do you remember when daddy came to visit us and he wouldn't sleep with us in the living room because he wanted to sleep with mommy in her bed" was made from his daughter. It was heart crushing because that was not something he had told me. It was just another lie that he had given me during that chaotic moment. The fact that I heard it from his kids was even more hurtful. He had lied about so many things one weekend that he went to visit his kids that it is still hard for me to trust him around his ex.
I truly do home that time and counseling will help us through all of this. I don't feel as if I'm favoring my son at all when we are all together unless I feel like my husband has separated himself from us physically. One issue that I stress so much to him is that he doesn't know how to stretch his love out to all of us when everyone is together. He agrees with that statement and says that he does need to work harder on that and many other issues we are having. So I have another three years of this you are telling me?! WOW and I thought I was at a breaking point when I got the help! LOL!

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 7:25PM
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You must do what you must do.

but a "wonderful" person doesn't make a toddler miserable.

I wish you, & your son, the best.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 8:47PM
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I know when you're right in the midst of it, every day must seem like an eternity, but really, the fact that your DH is willing to go to counseling with you suggests that he wants your family to work out and be happy. Yes, I got that the affair was with his ex. Ouch and ouch again! But, I will say (and not to excuse it AT ALL, I would have been a BANSHEE if my DH did that!!) that when people are in the divorce process, things are messy, messy, messy. And despite all the best advice to not get involved with a recently divorced person, and to not get involved with a new romance when you are recently divorced...the heart sometimes makes these choices for us!

And even when the new partners are head over heels, there are sometimes these tendrils from the old relationship that cling...especially when there are kids. I would ask--does your DH seem like he knows that what he did was hurtful to you? Has he learned by the outcome of the lies? Again, not to excuse his deceitfulness, but sometimes people panic and say what they WISH was true, hoping not to hurt the person they love.

I think when you guys go to the counselor, that you should lay it on the line really early that you are worried about how the relationship between your son and your husband will affect your little boy. You said your husband admitted that he never built a relationship with your son. The fact that he admits it is good--he is capable of looking at the problem. The sad fact is, that happens! Especially when the bioparent is racked with guilt. The question is, does your DH feel bad about that? Is he motivated to improve the environment that your little boy lives in? Can the counselor help him see the effect his closed-off heart is having on a little person who looks up to him?

I've seen a lot of families where things don't "jell" until an "ours" baby comes along. That might make a huge difference...all of a sudden, your DH will be related by blood connection to your son through his new child. Of course, you will want to make it clear that your son will NOT be the odd man out in the family! That this will not be acceptable in any shape, size or form. Hopefully the counselor can help you get some communication going on that. And hopefully you have a good sense of your own power in the dynamic...that you can compromise, but that doesn't equal sucking up treatment that you think is wrong. Eggshells belong in the compost heap.

I really am a strong believer in stepfamilies...but the birth pains can be intense. To an extent I experienced some of what you are going through; it broke my heart at first that my DH didn't love my kids as much as he loved his own. Even though if I was honest with myself, I was the same way! But through the years of us consciously trying to do what was best for the kids, barriers of genetics fell, and like a broken bone, our family is stronger for the growing. Gradually, my DH became the "softy" with my kids, and they are all very devoted to each other now.

Wishing the best for you and your little guy and SKs and the new little family member on the way.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 10:15PM
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You made me cry!
Thank you!
I need hope and I need faith right now.
Thank you so much!

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 10:42PM
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Gee, I hate to be a "Debbie Downer" but just be cautious about your little son.

I say this because my Dh could not/ would not accept my DS into his life in a emtionallly significant way. Granted he was a young teen when we got together, but with a toddler it should be easier to develope a relationship with him. Unfortunately my Dh is incapable of loving or having a realtionship with anyones kids but his. His kids are perfect, everyone elses are just not.

I was expected to always be there & be a friend too my Steps and I did so for a lot of years. Even when my son was treated like a outcast, not included in card games or video games or other father/son type stuff he would have loved. He can never do enough or give enough when it comes to his kids but anything he was asked to help with, include my DS on, was always such a big hairy deal. As you can probably feel in my post I am still resentful to this day (though my son is grown and doesn't harbor any ill feelings about it). Those are bad feelings in our marriage I will just never ever get past.

Now after ten years together boy do I regret making any effort towards his kids when my son received so little even in basic affection/respect. My Dh would literally grunt at my son when he was trying to speak to him, or was constantly riding his butt for any perceived slight. It sucked. And my step kids couldn't give two ***ts about me. that's nothing new. After all the poor treatment my son & I put up with all it got me was nothing but resentment towards them all. Hopefully since your younger going in there is still a good chance your DH may be willing to actually make an effort.

Please don't fall under the illusion that the new baby will make things better. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Have a fall back plan, but please don't tolerate him treating your young son this way any longer at all. It's not worth it, nothing is worth that.

Your post really brough up some hard memories for me. I hope your pregnancy is good and comfortable but I also hope your DH really makes the effort with your little boy, but if he doesn't I hope you have a plan B. Don't keep hoping he'll change for the next ten years like I have, it won't happen.


    Bookmark   December 11, 2009 at 4:13PM
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