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HELP! Made big mistakes, but want to make it better

nlbart64's picture

Hello all, here is my story . . .
I have four BDs (14, 16, 18, 18yrs old) that have lived with me since my divorce in 2001. Right after my divorce my parents moved in to help with the chidren. After two or so years of getting my life together I met someone that I am deeply in love with. We did everything wrong. The kids were 9, 11, 12, and 12 at the time. My parents left and my partner moved in the very next day. My partner came on really strong with the kids. The kids acted out. I was horrible at disciplining them blaming everyone but myself for the situation. We expected immediate Brady-Bunch bliss. Instead it was problem after problem. I tried to compensate with my partner by showering them with love, attention, and effection while not taking care of the real problems of parenting. I never stood up and really took charge feeling guilty and caught in the middle. My partner became increasingly frustrated with the children and my parental paralysis and eventually began marginalizing me. There is resentment and anger on all sides. It has been a very very difficult five years for all of us.
A week ago, my partner moved out. Despite everything we still deeply love each other and want a life togther. We are talking and want to come back togther, but we both are scared of continuing the hell we knew. My partner isn't sure if I can be the parent I need to be after five years of failing. Im scared of that too, but want to give it my all. I want to make it right for all of us. At some point we want to come back together. The question is how can we start over?

GoldenTiger's picture

From the flip side of your situation, I'm the wife of a similar situation & actually kicked DH out for 2 weeks for poor parenting (using that to sum up a lot).

I did give him another chance, again. Here's what's helped.

I have only an analogy to give. If you get pneumonia, you cough painfully, usually have all the other cold/flu symptoms too. How many people would still die if all the doctors did was treat the symptoms? Sniffles - decongestants. Cough - expectorant. Headache - aspirin. etc. You'd feel a little better, but the pneumonia would get worse. To get better, you need the cause fixed, not the symptoms. Treat the disease, not just the symptoms. Antibiotics would knock out the pneumonia so you don't have to deal with the symptoms anymore.

Find the disease that's corrupting your relationship. Sometimes ignoring the symptoms to treat the underlying reason can help clarify things for a very emotionally confusing situation. Focus on you & her 1st. Nothing else should be more important.

My personal experience:
I lost a lot of respect, faith, and admiration for my husband when I saw how he parented his kids. When my SKs & BM run all over him & he gets paralyzed with guilt & caves, it's hard not see him as anything but a wuss. When we married, he promised to be my knight in shining armor, protecting me from any threat with his life. Where was this strong, protective man when $hit hit the fan? NOT at my side protecting me or my sanity or the sanctity of our home, but cowering & protecting them from me & my apparently unreasonable request to be the priority in our marriage. Hard to keep a marriage together like that.

We've been working on it too. Regaining respect for each other & almost forcibly refocusing all energy towards us has helped. The kids have suffered some by not being the center of the universe anymore. But we are working on firmly believing that setting a good example of a good marriage IS actually putting the children first. It gives the boys a role model of how to keep your wife happy (which makes hubby happy! Wink ) and the girls get a role model of what they deserve to receive from their husbands.

If one of your daughters was in your wife's position right now, what would you expect her husband to do? Value her enough to put her 1st no matter what, or to choose his BDs over her? Don't you give your daughter over to her husband with the fatherly warning that he better'd treat her right?

Your wife is someone's daughter too.

Please don't think that I'm bashing you or saying that your wife is without fault. I'm not. Your question was how to start over again. So maybe by figuring out what's not working between you, & to value your wife & do for her what you'd want your future son-in-law to do for your daughter. A different point of view. Hope you can take something from this.

I cheer you for looking for another point of view! Great step.

unbelieveable's picture

your kids are older now right? time to do you...make yourself happy. They are all old enough to cook some ramen for themselves. have some nice dates with you and your man - makes things work. even if it means living in separate households. life is too short - you need to make yourself happy!

nlbart64's picture

Kumleam, Thank you for the analogy and the advice.
I've wept bitter tears over this and honestly don't feel I deserve a second chance. My self esteem is about a -10 at the moment.
Funny thing is I worship the ground my partner walks on. I would never dream of doing anything to harm him in any way and all along I have been useless.
I know your husband let you down, but can I ask? Is he a good man? Can you say without a doubt that he loves you?
Has he seen the light? Cause let me tell you sister I am seeing it brightly?
Has he told you what was going on in his head?

GoldenTiger's picture

Wow. I can just feel your angst coming off those words! I hardly have everything under control or figured out in my life, but I'll give you my hard earned advise learned from experience (still under construction,LOL).

This is going to look lot a dot to dot picture, but hang with me here...

Love is a VERB - it's WHAT YOU DO, not how you feel.
You need to love yourself before you can love anyone else.
If you're at a neg 10, you're basically bankrupt.
You need to get above zero with your own self worth & self respect.
Once you're above zero, THEN AND ONLY THEN will you have something give to some one else.
How can you do for someone else something you can't do for yourself - LOVE.

Why don't you think u deserve a 2nd chance? or 3rd? Because you screwed up??? Who HASN'T?

My situation also includes alcoholism & physical violence in addition to a lot of what's posted on this site. I still gave him YET ANOTHER chance. Is there something you left out?

I'm not being stupid by any stretch of the imagination. I just choose not to focus on the screw ups too much. It's so much more important to me & healing to look at now & tomorrow instead of yesterday.

What he did was awful. He's still paying the price with his kids & our relationship. BUT! Instead of beating him over the brow with HOW he screwed up, I look for WHAT he's doing NOW.

We all mess up. Character is what we do about it. How we handle it. Do we crumple into an ineffective paralyzed ball? or do we figure out what went wrong & try our damnest to not repeat it & fix it. That's what is important.

Is he a good man? He royally screwed up, but has taken time to honestly evaluate what & how it went wrong, what his culpability is, & decide a course of action to repair & improve. Is that a good man in your opinion? It is to me.

I can say without a doubt that he does love me. He took time to reflect internally & even went to a therapist to work through his own issues from childhood on, without me involved at all. He took some time to focus on 'fixing' himself first. Once he felt he had a better handle on his own issues, that's when he started tackling 'us' issues & repairing & improving us. Once we were on better footing, he then focused on repairing his relationship with his kids.

Love is a VERB. This is what he DID. This is how he LOVES me.

Has he seen the light? I think he's found the path to get there, sees the flickering, & he keeps on that path knowing the light is there. Is it fair for me to ask for more than that? Do we ever get it perfect? lol. not this girl!

So to sum up... You say you screwed up pretty bad. Do you know HOW & WHY? Why did you do the things you did? Figure out the WHY at the core level. Once you know why, then you can work on stopping the HOW stuff happened.

I'm sure getting your SO back & willing to try working on the relationship is a BIG motivating factor. But I'd suggest using the time apart to work on yourself so that when you do get back together, there's more of you & a stronger you to share with SO.

Suggestion - Maybe it would help if you choose to SHOW your SO how you've seen the light & changed instead of telling them or talking about it too much. Simple things.

DON'T: "I'm going to be a better parent, less permissive & I will put your needs 1st."

DO: "(BD), honey, I'm on the phone right now with (SO). Would you please go into the other room for 20 minutes so I can concentrate on what he/she's saying?"

#1 Being courteous to someone on the phone is basic manners & is something kids need to learn anyway so you're being a good parent
#2 It shows SO that hearing what he/she has to say IS important to you & you will not allow kids to interfere with your focus on him, allowing them to steal it away with poor manners.

Does this make sense? Show or Do like the example.

And yes, yes, yes! DH keeps trying to tell me what's going on in his head & how he's changing things. Drives me nuts. Drives him nuts because I keep shutting those conversations down with SHOW me & refusing to talk about it. He ends up having to demonstrate/show me & I'm much happier & HE'S much happier because it usually ends up with a smile or hug or kiss or *** for his efforts.

Why talk about it ad nauseum when you can just start doing it?

peacemaker87's picture

Here is just another way to look at it. He may be dating you..but he is in a sense, "courting" your daughters as well. Now, all five of you LADIES want to be treated like ladies. If you and him had just started dating, you wouldnt want him to move too fast would you? You would want him to wine and dine you and treat you with respect. In essence demonstrate the kind of man he is in order to win your heart. Well, its the same thing with your daughters. You and the BF need to go back to square one. The two of you need to have your date nights, where it is just the two of you. He needs to be a gentleman to your daughters and respect that even after 5 years, they are still needing to get to know him on a healthy level. Then after some time, you can do a family date night. Where all of you go out together. Again, with the same respect and gentleman like qualities. If he is himself and doesnt push so hard and you relax and just let things happen then the results should be better. Its a matter of allowing space. Let them warm up to him first. Then everything will flow better. In the meantime enjoy your time with him. This will make both of you better and stronger people in the end. Good luck.