Questions before the marriage occurs

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Questions before the marriage occurs
Fri, 04-11-2003 - 7:44pm
I am not married yet to my new partner, but we plan to be in the next year. I am absolutely in love with this man and cannot imagine living a day of my life without him. I have concerns, though, that occupy my mind often lately. First of all, let me say that he is wonderful to me and my boys. I truly believe he loves us to the highest degree. What I need help with is dealing with the rejection when it comes to his kids. I have made plans 3 times to go out with friends or my church dinner group and something has come up that he has to cancel on me. They are legitimate reasons, hockey tournament, sports party where they get their trophies, etc., but I can't help but feel disappointed in being rejected again. To be honest, I am tired of making excuses for his absences and I am tired of going alone. I don't want to compete with his kids, I truly love them as my own, but my feelings are hurt. I feel that if it doesn't involve his kids, it isn't worthy of his time. He could tell I was upset, and I tried to hide it. He got angry with me for not saying how I felt and not being honest. I was actually surprised at my own reaction. I didn't know I would get so upset this last time. It was our first disagreement. I know I should have been honest, but for some reason I was trying to keep it in. He always acts interested in my kids and is really good to them, but he has yet to attend one sporting event of theirs because of his kids. I try my best to attend a practice or game here and there of his kids. Is it just the difference between men and women? I can't even plan a weekend away for his 40th birthday because he refuses to miss any of their activities. I know this is very common and I want to know how to deal with it before we get married. I was warned that this was common in men because of the guilt they feel not being with them all the time. They also have a mother that doesn't care about what they do and never attends their events, so I think it adds to his guilt. Another thing that hurt my feelings is that he did a wonderful thing in getting me tickets to an Elton John concert, but he won't tell his son why he is missing his game. He doesn't want to tell them he is taking me to this concert for fear his son will be upset. I feel worthless. Please help. I know I have probably made him sound like some freak, but he is a loving, generous, wonderful man. This is our only point of contention ( actually mine) and I am not sure how to deal with this. My background: My husband (high-school sweetheart) of 16 years left me and the kids for another woman 2 years ago. His background: His wife of 13 years left him and the kids for another man about the same time. Thanks in advance for any advice.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-30-2003
Sat, 04-12-2003 - 7:47am
I think that there are several issues here. First of all, I really think these things have a higher level of importance to men. Secondly, men tend also to try to overcompensate to their children when there has been a divorce. Now, there is nothing wrong, in fact, it is good that your partner cares enough to go his his children's events. We have custody of SS(18) and DS(11). Both boys are involved in sports. There is almost never a time, except for work, that DH will do something other then attend his son's sporting event. DS is involved in sports also, and I feel the same way, except that at times the events are so nonstop that I get worn out. DH attends my sons events too. I used to go to ALL of them, but now don't attend all of SS's and rarely miss one of DS. There are times I go to SS's when DH can't go. But sometimes I just enjoy staying home when SS has an event and having the time to myself.

Don't be hard on yourself that this makes you feel a little upset. Unfortunately, we sometimes feel jealousy of our SK's. I often feel that DH thinks it's more important to let SS know he cares, then to let me know (he takes it for granted I already know that). But I think it is that guilt that makes him think that he should let SS think the world revolves around him. (At 18 SS needs to understand that it doesn't, but that is another issue not related just to sports.) Then again, I think the sports are more important to DH because he is a man, and he is reliving his younger days of sports.

That said. You will have a very hectic schedule when you marry your partner because you have several children on both sides. One of the most important things (so we read in all the books) is making your marriage a priority. I think you definitely need to have these feelings worked out before your marriage, because this stepfamily thing is definitely much tougher than most of us realize. At some point you need to feel comfortable enough to discuss these things with your partner. You need to be honest with him about your needs now, because it won't be fair to wait until you are married to approach these things.

Making a second marriage work, especially when there are children involved, is a lot of hard work, with lots of frustrations. If you feel that something is an issue right now, work it out right now. Believe me, there will be more issues which arise after the marriage.

good luck.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Sun, 04-13-2003 - 10:43am
It's called compromise and setting priorities. When I first started dating my husband, he made it clear that his kids would always come first. Now, his kids live far away so I didn't have constant "competition" from them, but when they were here, I felt like an outsider. As our relationship went on, he realized that the kids don't necessarily come first. I will never forget the first time he told his ex no, he could not take the kids for the weekend even if she paid the airfare, because we had made plans to go out of town. That was a real turning point for both of us - he realized that he could not just shove me and our plans aside, even though he dearly wanted to see his children. But I don't always have to come first - it is a matter of priorities. Seeing the girls is important, too, and if I have to rearrange things to make that happen, then I will do that. I promised him from the start that he would never have to choose between me and the girls - we all love him, he loves us all, and we are equally important to him.

I think some sort of compromise is in order with the sporting events. Certain things should be given priority - tournaments, championships, awards ceremonies, etc. However, practices and games should be attended when possible - but not made a priority over arrangements with a spouse/fiance. One lesson that all children - but particularly children of divorce - need to accept is that Life Is Not Fair. Stuff happens, we have to make choices in life all the time, every day. We can't please everyone all the time, and we can't be pleased with everything all the time. Life just does not happen that way, whether you're a child or an adult. I tell my kids that all the time, and they are fairly accepting of things and adaptable to options. I think your fiance is wrong for not telling his son about the concert - he needs to know the truth and be given an opportunity to understand and/or get over it. He says honesty is important to him - he needs to show that be being honest with his kids. They need to understand that you are important to him - that does not mean they are less important, just that they are sharing their spot with you. (Just like child #1 did not become less important when child #2 came along.) The step relationship is less strained when the children accept the fact that their parent is allowed to have an adult relationship and still be a good parent. They will not accept that unless the parent helps them understand that - children are not innately empathetic. I think maybe your fiance needs a little help understanding that, as well.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-09-2003
Fri, 04-18-2003 - 10:51am
Ahhh yes, the guilt trip syndrome. I went through that with my DH before we were married. He ALWAYS had to be involved in EVERYTHING with them. To the point where we had to tell them where we were going ALL THE TIME and he had to leave his cell phone on, even if we were going out to dinner for 2 hours. Mind you, they were teenagers at the time. I have to say it was EXTREMELY hard for me to deal with it, but somehow I made it through it! My DH (then he was my boyfriend) INSISTED on this. I think it had to do with the fact that he felt guilty for the break up with their mother and secondly, he wasn't ready to commit to marriage. We lived together, but I think it was his way of letting me know that he just wasn't ready without saying it.

I can remember at first when we talked about marriage, that he told me that he would have to ask for his childrens' permission first. WHAT??!!?!

Well, one day he proposed and I accepted. I asked him that same day, "So what about the kids? What if they don't "approve?" ?" He said "They will just have to deal with it." That's when I knew he was ready to marry me.

That's my experience with the guilt trip situation.