You are here

New to all this!! Advice about moving in greatly appreciated!

NewbieTryHard's picture

I have been seeing my partner for 15 months now. He has 2 grown up children from his first marriage, whom I have met and get on well with. He shares 1 daughter with his second wife, who is 10 going on 11 this year and is struggling to accept that ‘Dad has a new girlfriend’. He has been separated for 2 ½ years and the divorce has been final for 18 months. Before me, he dated a couple of ladies very briefly.
We are at the stage now where we have commenced talking about moving in together. However I am concerned about the impact on his daughter, and on our relationship as a result.
He has access one night a week from after school to drop off the next morning and every second weekend from Friday 5pm to Sunday 5pm. I don’t usually spend time with them on the week night and on one of the nights and sometimes the days, they have their alone time together. Sometimes we organise activities to do as a unit over the weekend.
He and he ex-wife are in contact about the daughter’s care and visits etc but it is only usually via email or text message as the separation was acrimonious and the relationship unfortunately continues to be. She is very aggressive in her approaches and has said that she is ‘neutral’ about me to her daughter. I don’t get involved in any of that and I continue to show care and friendship to the daughter, despite being treated with disdain and rudeness. He pulls her up on that and both of us are pretty clear with her that she doesn’t have to like me, she doesn’t even have to be happy that dad has a girlfriend, but she does need to respect my place in his life as his partner and to that end, rudeness is not tolerated. But it’s pretty repeated. He is very patient and takes the time to speak with her about how she’s feeling about things. He tries hard to empathise with how I may feel disappointed from time to time but I equally try just as hard not to take it personally and just work through it myself. The times that I have said something as I have been very upset has caused conflict between us as his natural instinct is to stick up for his daughter. I understand this loyalty, however at times it can make me feel awfully isolated.
I don’t have children and I am a natural nurturer. I am not pushy by nature, preferring to allow people to be themselves and take their own time about things. I have a very balanced view. I genuinely wish that my partner and his ex could have a healthier relationship, if not for themselves but for the well-being of their child. I tell myself that time will improve things. But the interesting thing is that the daughter and I in the beginning had a brilliant relationship. She was almost infatuated with me. I was new and we did lots of things together. She pushed me to meet her mum one day about 6 months in, so I told her I was happy to meet her mum if mum knew I was going to be there at drop off. I met mum and from that day forward there’s been the behavioural issues towards me. I realise it’s a loyalty bind and perhaps she feels that by liking me she is betraying mum in some way. Her mum hasn’t moved on with any one new, as far as we know.
Anyway, any advice or assistance would be appreciated from those of you who have experienced this already, about the best and healthiest way to consider everyone as we think about moving in together and sharing all of our lives.

Amcc13's picture

Okay could you clarify a few things
1) you say he pulls her up but is there an actual consequence or just told don't do that? Does she get electronics taken away, etc?
2) are you engaged with this girl? Do you do anything for her? You say your a natural nurturer so I would feel you would want to jump right on in there
3) has she ever had any counselling about divorce?
4) have you discussed expectations of behaviour , what he would expect you to do if you were there full time, etc?
This list would be my starting point if I were thinking about it .
I think unless there our consequences she will just keep doing it. You can say don't do that don't do that like a parrot. Means nothing. Actions mean something.
I don't know if I would move in yet. You could maybe tell him you feel upset by her being rude and you think this would get worse if you moved in. You could also say that while he does a great job to pull her up when you express feeling upset he backs her up and that makes you feel alone and sad. You don't want to be alone and sad in your home.
I would suggest that you would need to see at least six months of good behaviour - her being respectful and if disrespectful there are consequences and he listens when you speak and express feelings. I think a habit of good behaviour must be built before you move in or you will just end up miserable and unhappy.

SecondGeneration's picture

How would you feel about maintaining separate households? What are your expectations and wants from this relationship? Do you want marriage and children with this man? Do you plan to remain childless? If you want children of your own, roughly when? In 2 years? 5 years? What time frame are you looking at?

You first need to decide what YOU want from this relationship without thinking about SD. I know that may be twisted because the guy comes as a package with the kid, but at this stage, no, focus on figuring out how you see this progressing.

Next, suss out why this man is twice divorced. Now, I know nothing about the circumstances there but its always a good idea to look at past serious relationships. What motivated him to have children with these women? What motivated him to marry them? And why did he divorce them?
Now I dont want to sound like I am attacking your partner because I dont know a single thing about him other than what you've stated here. A marriage takes two people, both have to be committed to that relationship, now if he was committed enough to marry twice, what changed? What made two marriages that both involved children go tits up? You might find the guys not so squeaky clean after all.

Then you need to figure out what your partner wants, you've been together for over a year, he wants to move in together, ok sounds lovely in principle but what does that mean for you both in practice?
You mention that generally speaking you have been absent from the majority of his visitation with his daughter, what are his intentions when you move in?
Is he happy with the current visitation schedule? Does he want more time with his daughter? etc?

Basically sit and figure out what you want, then go over this forum with a fine comb and discuss it with him.
How would he hypothetically deal with scenario X Y Z?
How much involvement is he wanting you to take on? And if he wants kids with you too then how is that going to work.

I try to always be a rational person, thats just me, and the above are all things that I talked about with my fiance. (He has never been married, split with BM when SD was newborn and I wasnt there till 2 years later but still)
Did my fiance think it was really necessary to talk so much about hypothetical scenarios about ten years down the line when SD would be 15 years old and we have a child around 5 and how he would deal with stealing, smoking, sex, drugs or whatever? Not to the in-depth details that I take things to no, but he did so and he took it seriously too because he knew it was important to me.
We were able to identify things way back then that we have massively different opinions about; pocket money, for example. We are on totally different view points, which I found really surprising just how strongly he felt about it, given how similar we are in other aspects. But I tell you what, its alot better to discover those things back then when its not actually an issue so you can work on HOUSEHOLD standards rather than it becoming a "MY" kid scenario.

Thats the other thing too, household rules. I am all for bio parents taking the lead with parenting, its better all round (so long as its done) but household rules are for everyone, guests and visitors included, no one gets a free pass to disregard those and both adults in the relationship ruling the house should enforce them.

Rags's picture

Wow. You and your dad are/were very fortunate to have this lady in your lives and she and SDad^2 are fortunate to have you.

Thanks for that. It helps melt a bit of my blended family Grinch heart.

ESMOD's picture

If more people (like my DH's BM) would see the steps as another resource and place of support for the kids life would be a lot happier.

I mean, I tell my MIL that her grandkids are lucky they don't have just two parents that care.. they have both parents plus both BM's boyfriend and I care and have made sure those kids were housed, fed and clothed even when the Bios struggled at times.

The BM nasty attitude is irritating in that I never tried to be MOM but I did have a custodial and vested interest in the girls growing up happy and well adjusted.. for the most part they are. Sure, we have our issues and the kids have learned to manipulate a bit (mostly from BM) because the authority figures are not together.. but overall we haven't had really horrible things happen. No drugs.. no trouble with the law.. and the kids were generally respectful or at least kept any bad feelings mostly to themselves. Right now the issues with the older SD are probably more related to the issues of trying to assert her independence that ALL kids go through at that age.. She also wouldn't be the first self centered and half lazy (only at times) kid at that age either.. bio or step, I think it sort of comes with the territory.

ESMOD's picture

To me, it doesn't sound like he has custody on a full enough time basis to really negatively impact your life. I mean, you could always sign up for some class on the weeknight he has his daughter.. or decide that's your girls night out or visit a family member. Then you are down to a couple weekends a month that again, you can manage the amount of time you need to interact with the child. It sounds like DH is interested in managing his dd's behavior so I think this could work with managed expectations.

Of course, there is no harm in holding off a little longer to see whether things improve and settle in a little more. The guy's daughter probably does hear some snide remarks from mom. When my husband's girls spend a long period of time with mom between seeing him.. they were always "worse" and more distant towards me. By the end of the visits, i was their best friend and no problems but initially I think mom was poisoning the well a little bit. Kids aren't completely stupid though and while they will be loyal to mom, they will also see her being unfair and likely at some point not punish you for it.

Rags's picture

The first recommendation I would give is do not move in. Ever.

However, if you choose to move in then you have to abandon or at lease significantly modify your "I am not pushy by nature, preferring to allow people to be themselves and take their own time about things. I have a very balanced view." perspective and adopt a zero tolerance perspective.

You and your BF are equity life partners (for now) and that makes you an equity parent to any children in your joint home regardless of kid biology and regardless of who moves in with who. This little girl and her obviously toxic and manipulative BM will own you, your SO, and your relationship if you tolerate any of the crap you are seeing now.

Set the rules and expectations of kid behavior in your relationship home, establish boundaries for BM, ensure that your SO is clear even if he is not in agreement, and enforce consequences for any instance of non-compliance from either the Skid, BM, or your SO.

This is critical if you are going to be happy in this situation and if the relationship has much chance of survival.

IMHO of course.

Good luck.

blayze's picture

Yes! This whole thread is full of great advice...and what Rags wrote is phenomenally on point as usual. Love it!

NewbieTryHard's picture

Hi everyone,

Thanks so much for the feedback and advice! Wow, I'm overwhelmed. You've given me heaps to think about, including the importance of waiting it out more. I don't need to decide now or anytime soon, there's no pressure so I'll think I will sit on it.

You've also helped me think about clarifying my role. I am engaged with the daughter and when it's just been the two of us, we get along way better than the three of us dynamic. I have been so conscious of making sure they have their time together without me, I have probably held back too much - so that's something to think about a little too. Participate and engage more now and see how that goes.

The daughter has refused to speak to anyone about the divorce. Dad has suggested it, BM says 'it's up to you'. She's 10, but anyway..

Rags, you're very spot on. Regardless of wherever or not I move in, it is super important to adapt my approach.

So, I think more time, lean in a bit more and then sit down and figure out whether the pratcicalities will suit me and my life and what I want from it.

You're all fantastic to share your thoughts - thanks so much! I'm glad I found this site Smile