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Dating or marrying a divorced man with kids

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Is it possible to feel included as a girlfriend or second wife to a divorced man with kids?

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As a little girl... and even as a teenager... I dreamed that I would meet the man of my dreams. At some point in my mid-20s, I'd marry him, buy a cute little home, and have a couple of his kids. We would be great parents together and raise happy, successful children. They would look like a perfect combination of my love and me, and every time we looked into those children's eyes, we would be reminded that our love created them.

INSTEAD...

I didn't find my dream man in my 20s. I found a lot of duds. I started getting a little older... I hit 30. Suddenly, finding a single, never married, childless man was less likely than buying the winning Powerball ticket. So, I conceded to date divorced men, but still childless. Still... no dream man. Just bitter I-don't-want-to-marry-again types. *sigh*.

At the beginning of this last year, I reconnected with an old classmate from high school through a social networking website. After a few messages sent, we met for dinner one night. A month of "just friends" went by before I learned he had spent months "watching" me on this social site before having the nerve to ask me to this dinner. He admitted to a little crush on me 17 years ago in high school. I was flattered and became smitten. He treated me like I deserved to be treated. He was sweet. We became very close very quickly. The catch: He was married to his ex-wife (and high school/college on-and-off flame) for nearly 11 years. And he has two young sons. But, this is the man I've waited for all my life. He truly loves me. He tells me how much he loves me. He tells me I'm beautiful. He makes me FEEL beautiful. The current "man of my dreams" has all the baggage I never wanted. Life is so ironic.

Three months ago, my love moved into my house with me. My guest room became his sons' bedroom, and suddenly I had an instant family that not only included my love and his children, but his ex-wife and her family as well. While it made me incredibly happy to come home to my love every night, there were adjustments to be made... not only in my house, but in my head and in my heart.

I am hoping that those who read my Hub and can relate to my woes will leave advice for me and other readers in similar situations.

Pack Order All my life I'd wanted a man with whom I came in first. Now, I'd have to "settle" for 4th. The ex-wife already snatched up the first feeling of forever that he'd have, and the children actually are forever. 4th is not a position I can ever move up from. This makes for awkward situations. The ex-wife holds the power in my relationship. And she knows it. How does one handle the jealousy of knowing that if this man proposes, he will have already done this with someone else? When he says "I do" or sees the birth of a new child (fingers crossed), will it even mean as much having already gone through it? Will all of my "firsts" be ruined because none of them are his "firsts"?

Child(ren) of my own?? My love has two children already. He had a vasectomy in his former marriage. That is all the children they wanted together. But, now that their marriage has dissolved... now that he has a new life partner... what is to become of the wants and needs of his new love? Will I be able to convince him that he wants to take the necessary steps to make my dream of having a child of my own come true? Will he look forward to fathering that beautiful child I always wanted? Or will he adamantly declare that he wishes to have no more children? Will I be able to handle that? Or will I consider that so much of a deal breaker that I will have to leave the man I have loved more than any others?

I asked a very good, and slightly older, guy friend of mine for some advice on this topic. He suggested that going into the holidays with a man I'm deeply in love with is not the greatest time to bring up this topic. My friend suggested I wait until my love and I were at our one-year mark to discuss such a serious matter. He said my love (or most men) would not consider necessary medical steps to reverse or go around a vasectomy for a woman they hadn't spent at least a year with and decided to spend the rest of their life with. But, that a man who was deeply in love and sure of the relationship would give it serious consideration. What do you think?

Step-parenting His Children The advice I've been given in this area has been so restricting. I'm supposed to become a part of the family of these children without being a "parent". I'm supposed to be with their father, but not too affectionate in front of them. I'm supposed to have them live part time in my home, but am expected to only let their father discipline. I am supposed to become a major part of their lives, but also to step back and out of the way. I am supposed to help guide them, but only if I follow the parenting plan established by their mother, who is the primary custody parent. Every part of this relationship with these children contradicts itself. It shouldn't even be called "step-parent". It should be called "that other person". Because that's how it makes you feel. This certainly wasn't the life of which I dreamed.

I suggested once that my love and I meet quarterly with his ex-wife and her new love to discuss the children and what is new in their lives. I thought we could all come to agreement on how to discipline, what to work on, etc. so that we might keep the transition between households as smooth as possible for the kids of a broken home. He says that while it's a good idea in theory, that his ex-wife would probably not be keen on the idea. Really? This role is incredibly hard.