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Prior to meeting my husband I had knowingly formulated a tawdry stereotype of the divorced father. He was a man who wore high priced clothes, drove fancy cars, and lived in a lavish home, with his new wife and their children. His main objective was avoiding child support payments, and he didn’t have an ounce of paternal feeling in his entire body. Having lived through my own experience with my ex, my stereotype had been confirmed.
 
After being exposed to my husband, and his anguish as a result of being unwillingly separated from his son, I was forced to look at the topic of divorced fathers a bit more objectively. I soon realized that not every divorced father was like my ex, and just maybe some of these men were or could be truly great fathers – if given the chance. I had never contemplated the devastating consequences of losing the right to live with your child that some men might feel. After all, I have personally witnessed my husband’s agony after missing important moments in his son’s life that has left him feeling more like a visitor than a parent.
 
Contrary to popular opinion, failed relationships don’t necessarily equal bad parenting. It seems as if some men, including my husband, are punished for their marital break up. Even though it is often in everyone’s, including the child’s, best interest for a bad marriage to end in divorce, it doesn’t mean that the importance of either parent should be overshadowed by feelings of bitterness.
 
The bitterness of my husband’s ex- wife forced him to endure an arduous divorce which has essentially stripped him of his fatherhood. Court battles have left him not only heartbroken, but with both an unfair visitation and child support payment schedule to match. Despite many failed attempts to remain the involved parent that he was prior to the divorce, my husband’s love for his son is continuous. Although he is mentally drained by the constant court battles regarding visitation with his son, he remains optimistic about the day when he will be able to have a relationship with him that doesn’t include his mother and her bitterness.
 
And so, I am glad that I took a moment to delve into the topic of divorced fathers. If I hadn’t done so, I would have been left with a narrow minded view of this caricature who I had clearly envisioned before reconnecting with my husband. Additionally, I might not have ended up with this wonderful husband and father.
 

As a person who has experienced blended family issues for nearly a decade I would have to utter a resounding NO! I love my husband with all of my heart, but it has been and still is a challenge to put up with all of the dynamics of our blended family. We not only have to deal with the unique (that’s my nice way of putting it) personalities of our respective children’s other parents, but we have to deal with their new spouses as well. In addition to that, we have to deal with trying to maintain a relationship with our own children; trying to integrate both of our children into our household; and oh yeah, at some point we actually have to try to work on building our marriage.

I must admit that I was so naive prior to dating and eventually marrying my husband. I thought that as long as we loved each other everything else would be okay – NOT! Love, life or marriage just does not work that way. The fact of the matter is that it takes a whole lot more than love to make a relationship of any type work.  As a matter of fact, most “traditional” marriages, meaning those who come together to form a union and don’t have kids, end in divorce. This alone should prove that love definitely does not conquer all. So, if it is difficult to make a relationship with just two people invovled work, how do you expect it to get any easier when you involve 6 other people? And, at some point, you might even want to have your own children!!!

Having said that, I am already engrossed in my own blended family, and after 7 years there is a lot more binding my husband and I together than tearing us apart. Although our blended family issues still exist they are not an issue for our marriage any longer. We have finally formed a bond that can not be broken by ex-wives and ex-lives.  Now, every time his ex attacks it only makes us that much closer. But, we went through many ups and way more downs in order for us to get to this point.

I know I must sound like a hypocrite because I had a child entering into my current marriage, but this is why I can offer the best advice for people considering the blended family. I will end by saying the best advice I can give is to: 1) Don’t have children prior to marriage – it complicates things. 2) Don’t marry someone that you can’t see yourself being divorced from! Check out your potential mate prior to marrying him or her. How does he or she deal with conflict or disagreements between you two? What are his or her views on parenting? If they have children, how do they get along with their ex-spouse? You need to ask yourself these questions and many more before seriously dating, marrying or having kids with anyone.

What about you? Would you date or marry someone with children? I want to know. Vote now on the left-hand side of this page.

I get the opportunity to speak with so many ex-wives, second wives, divorced dads, divorced adult children, etc. on a regular basis.  The conversation below is one of my interviews with a remarried dad that allows you to tap directly into the mind of a frustrated father, frustrated ex-husband and frustrated current husband.

Blending In: What was your relationship like with your ex-wife prior to you getting remarried?

Remarried Dad: It was pretty cool. We didn’t argue because there was nothing to argue about. She had her freedom, and i had the child (most of the time).

Blending In: When did you start having problems?

RD: As soon as my current wife and her child came into the picture. Well, as soon as my ex saw my current wife we started having problems. I had never seen my ex act that way before. But, none of my other relationships were serious either. My current wife started coming with me to pick up/drop off my son; she attended birthday parties; and overall, became a permanent fixture in my life. My ex didn’t like that for whatever reason.

BI: Didn’t you have some idea that you’d have problems?

RD: I knew there would be problems just because I knew what type of person she was. But, I underestimated the extent of the problems. I had always been an outstanding father (BI side note: I could see the sadness in his eyes as he spoke and hear the frustration in his voice), and I never thought she would purposely harm our relationship out of bitterness or competition.

BI: What was your relationship like with your current wife?

RD: In the beginning, before we even married, we fought all of the time about my ex-wife. My current wife felt as if I was allowing my ex-wife to control our family.

BI: How did you feel?

RD: I didn’t understand why my ex couldn’t see that I had moved on, and that my current wife would have a problem with some of the things she did when I was single. At the same time, I thought my current wife was just trying to make me adopt her way of thinking because she didn’t agree with my ex’s way of thinking. I thought this was just something that she was going to have to understand because she knew my situation before I got married.

BI: But, you knew your current wife’s situation before she got married. Did you attempt to understand her?

RD: I attempted, but couldn’t.

BI: How do you know that she didn’t attempt, but just couldn’t either? You seem as if you thought that she wasn’t even trying to do so.

RD: I didn’t feel like she was.

BI: Why?

RD: I just didn’t feel as if her feelings were justified because they were pulling me away from my son.

BI: Are you sure it was your current wife pulling you away from your son; or, was it your ex-wife that was keeping you away from your son because of your current wife?

RD: At the time I thought it was my current wife.

BI: Then why would you marry such a woman? Are there any good qualities about this woman? Was she caring or loving?

RD: At the time I didn’t feel like she was.

BI: Let me ask you this: who took care of your son when he was in your home?

RD: My current wife.

BI: Who fed him? Cleaned up after him? Transported him to necessary and sometimes unneccessary activities, etc.?

RD: My current wife.

BI: Do you think she would’ve done that if she wasn’t loving and caring?

RD: No…I guess not.

BI: If you felt as if your current wife was doing all of these things to keep you away from your son, then why’d you marry or stay married to her?

RD: Because I loved…I love my wife more than anything.

BI: Are you sure you weren’t just using her to care for your son?

RD: No way.

BI: Then why did you give her the privilege (I’m being sarcastic here) of taking care of your son, but basically take away her right to be respected as the mother figure in his life?

RD: I didn’t do that.

BI: You did exactly that – every time you dismissed her feelings when your ex got involved. You made her feel insecure…like she had no say so regarding what went on in her house.

RD: I thought I was making her feel secure.

BI: How?

RD: I was there with her.

BI: So was the trash. How’s that any different? She was there too. Yet, that wasn’t enough for you. You still didn’t feel as if she was attempting to understand.

RD: I just felt that my ex would always do what was in our son’s best interest.

BI: And you didn’t feel as if your current wife would?

RD: I didn’t know.

BI: Again, why did you marry her then? Better yet, why did you get divorced from your ex? You seemingly had more trust in her than you did your current wife.

RD: Ok, Oprah. Why are you being so hard on me?

BI: I’m not trying to be. I’m just trying to give you some insight as to what your second wife might have been thinking at the time. Many times men think that their ex is going to always do what’s in the child’s best interest, and she might even try to convince you that her actions are doing just that. However, many times it’s just that ex-wife’s need to control the situation for a number of different reasons that I won’t go into now (read some of my articles for more details). Often times it has nothing to directly do with the child at all. In your case, I have to wonder why you and your ex had no trouble raising your son in the beginning. You stated that you didn’t argue because she had her freedom and you had the child (most of the time), but all of a sudden (when your current wife comes into the picture) serious problems began.

RD: Well, we didn’t have to have a routine prior to my current wife coming into the picture. We basically played it by ear.

BI: What do you mean?

RD: For example, my ex could stop by at 10:30 at night to see our son if she wanted to. But, when my current wife entered she had a problem with that. She didn’t think it was appropriate.

BI: Did you think it was?

RD: I guess I was indifferent. I mean she always did things like that?

BI: So, did you drop by your ex’s in the middle of the night for visitation?

RD: No

BI: Why wasn’t there a set visitation schedule in place?

RD: We just never saw a need for one.

BI: You honestly didn’t see why your current wife would have a problem with these types of things? There was no order. Your ex-wife had no boundaries, while your current wife was just trying to maintain her family. She also had her own children and herself to consider.

RD: I didn’t see that then, but I do now. I made a lot of mistakes. And, had I known then what I know now, I would’ve done things much differently. Now, I wish I had heard, not just listened to my current wife. We wasted so much time fighting over something that should’ve been easy, but it just wasn’t.  I should’ve respected, trusted and protected my marriage from the very beginning.

BI: Is there anything that you want to say to your current wife now?

RD: I’m sorry. I’m sorry for making you feel like you had to choose between my son and yourself. I’m sorry I didn’t undertand where you were coming from in the very beginning of our relationship. But honestly, I don’t think I would’ve . I think this is something that we had to go through. And although it almost tore us apart, it made us stronger.

I promised all of my readers that you will get nothing but open honesty from me regarding my blended family issues. Additionally, you will get my honest feedback about what has worked and what has not. Furthermore, you will get honest content regarding what I believe my issues are/were that may have contributed to some of my blended family issues. This post will be no different – honest!

My ex and I were together for almost 6 years, and at one point we actually had a pretty good relationship. If nothing else, after all of those years and a child, I feel as though we should be able to move past all of the bickering about who did what and why. At this point, I’m all about solutions. We have an 11 year old son who I don’t want to be affected by our mistakes, and I told my ex that today.

Without going into too much detail, today is the first day I decided to be completely open and honest with my ex. Although we don’t have as many heated discussions as we did before regarding our son, we still have them from time to time. But, I feel as if those discussions are/were unproductive. As such, today wasn’t about trying to persuade him to adopt my way of thinking. It was more about attempting to truly understand him and him understand me. Usually, although I’ve learned a little bit of tact over the years, I am ready to rebuttal any and everything he has to say. This time, however, I honestly spoke my piece and actually listened (hoping to understand) to him. What I learned is this – I don’t know why he has made the decisions that he has made in the past, but I do know that I don’t believe that he possessed any malicious intent when making those decisions. I honestly believe that he is pulled in a number of different directions, and he just doesn’t know what to do. Now, while this isn’t acceptable for my son, I sort of understand where he is coming from.  I hope one day that he can gain some clarity regarding his own life – figure out his priorities, learn how to balance his relationships and still work on being a better father and person.

It’s amazing how certain decisions will follow you for the rest of your life! I hope that those after me will learn how important it is to be careful, maybe even strategic, when choosing a mate. Additionally, I hope that those same individuals will think carefully about when to have a child and who to have that child with. Certain decisions can not be undone, and often times you will spend the rest of your life trying to correct those decisions. Like me, for example, me and my ex will forever be connected because we share a child. We MUST learn to communicate effectively, trust each other and continually attempt to provide our child a life that he deserves. A part of that deserving life are parents that get along and will also do what’s in his best interest.

A relationship of any sort takes time and lots of work. But, the blended family needs a lot more so make sure you’re willing to devote that type of energy before entering into this type of family. Ideally, we would all like to think that love conquers all, but this just isn’t true so try not to get caught up in the fairytale of love. Instead, carefully examine your potential mate before deciding to enter into something that will take a lifetime to get out of.

When newlyweds without children get married they often spend the first few months, if not years, bulding their relationship.  However, couples who enter into a ready-made blended family are often more concerned with their children than we each other during the first several years of marriage. Don’t get caught in this trap! Blended family newlyweds need to spend time together building strong marital bonds just like any other traditonal couple. Schedule regular date nights with your spouse; take vacations without the children; and take every moment to remember why YOU TWO fell in love in the first place. Taking these actions will ultimately benefit your children because you are building a strong stable home environment in the process.

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