lifeisgood's picture

New here - in need of serious advice

Hi! I just joined this site today with the hopes of finding some support. I feel very alone in my situation and like if I even express my feelings to anyone it doesn't go over very well. Forgive the long post - I am really hoping to get advice from those with more experience.

First, i'm a 33 year old single woman and have never wanted kids. I have a successful career as a touring musician and i'm a teacher as well. I love kids, but I never wanted the stress, the financial responsibility, the 24 hour duty...the list goes on. I have dated a lot and been in many relationships and it has been very difficult finding a man I'm compatible with (the amount that I travel, among being different than most women in the goals I have make it tough).

I finally found the man of my dreams a year and a half ago. He's also a musician (that's how we met). He's giving, understands me very well, we have everything in common, etc. The only problem is that he's divorced with 2 young kids (ages 3 and 5) and his ex sounds a bit over the top (very into attachment parenting, never says no to the kids, thinks nobody can care for the kids well but her, etc.).

His ex left him. She is very successful and rich (a doctor) and basically has the kids most of the time. They have no set visitation schedule and because he travels so much he tends to just drop by to see the kids whenever he wants (and she always lets him - she has a hard time with anyone taking her kids out of the house away from's way over the top). He spends a lot of time hanging with his kids in her house. She's there a lot of the time (other times it's his night to watch the kids and she's at work, but he still goes to her house). He lives a fair distance from them so that's one of the reasons he says this is easier. I do not believe he is interested in her or is cheating or anything like that (I know this description could sound that way).

So, we are now engaged (for 4 months now). His ex does not know I exist and I have never met his children. I live about 1.5 hours from his kids and I travel a lot so it's not the easiest thing to make happen, and honestly I have not pushed to meet the kids at all (really had no desire to and was just enjoying my time with him and my life that I love).

We had a big fight yesterday because we made plans for his birthday and he insisted he see his kids. His ex was late getting the kids home and it cut into my plans I made for him completely. He sees his kids a LOT (I know that's good) and sometimes it bothers me he can't just take one day to let it be me and him if it's a special day. He gets very overwhelmed with guilt if he doesn't see his kids at least 3-4 times a week. I think being at their house that much seems excessive. He can be running on no sleep, sick and tired, and if he gets a free hour he has to go running off to see his kids or he will feel guilty.

It's a unique situation and the fact that I've been a secret this long is bothering me. I tell him I think if he's at her house all the time she should know I exist (which will definitely make her go nuts) and he says "if you insist I tell her, I will." Or if I bring up the fact that we are planning on getting married (and looking for a house together at the moment!) that maybe I should get my feet wet with meeting his kids and seeing how that part of his life fits he says "If you want to meet them, you tell me and I'll arrange it." It makes me feel like if he tells his ex about me and she makes his life difficult that it'll be my fault because he's making it my decision for him to tell her.

I feel like he's making me have to demand that his ex knows about me or he will never tell her. Or I have to ask or beg to meet his kids (which is hard for me to do because I don't have some burning desire to be involved in the lives of two small kids I've never met). I love kids and maybe if I met them all of my fears would go away - but then I read forums like this and think I'm doomed for a horrible life if I marry this man.

I tell him I'm afraid....worried about his ex drama polluting our marriage (she totally pushes his buttons and then I have to deal with the bad attitude), worried the way she raises the kids will make them completely hate me, worried about the financial implications having stepchildren will have on me (I've worked so hard and avoided having kids so I would not have these problems).

I love this man more than anything and I'm really scared and upset right now. I would love some advice.....right now I feel selfish and like I'm making his life more difficult than it already is by complaining. He told me today that I'm wrong and I don't trust him to make the situation work. I feel like I should be allowed to be worried about the situation as I've never been through it before and have no idea what it will be like. Thanks so much for your time and advice!!

TASHA1983's picture


RUN...RUN LIKE THE DICKENS!!! I'm sorry if that sounds harsh BUT trust and believe and absorb what you read on here...90% of the women on here are in their own personal hell ALL because of horrible skids & bms & spineless, doormat dh/so who put their skids FIRST and dont consider, care about, or respect the feelings of their partners!!! If you are OK with being SECOND to skids (and bm) then by all means go for it!!!

You have the perfect situation!!! You are young, successful, and kidless!!! The world is your oyster!!! I promise you will be SOOO MUCH happier with a man that has no baby momma and kid drama...because that is EXACTLY what you are in for once bm finds out about you!!!

You have been warned..... Eye-wink

NOT my kid....NOT my problem!!!

Seriously...just GO AWAY!!!'s picture



ybarra357's picture

I would be suspicious as to

I would be suspicious as to why your relationship with your SO is such a big 'secret' from his ex. Maybe it's because they're still together??

Find yourself a nice childless man - this relationship just gushes drama.

That's no moon, it's a space station!

Sue de Nym's picture

This x 1000. Also- how does a

This x 1000. Also- how does a successful doctor maintain a career without being willing to have anyone else watch the children? They are young so its not as if they can fend for themselves during working hours. this excuse about her not wanting him to see the kids outside of the home seems really shady given the circumstances. Sounds to me like a convient excuse for your fh to resume as husband to this household and boyfriend to you.

pookochan's picture

I agree! Run away. Don't put

I agree! Run away. Don't put yourself into our shoes. A lot of problems and hectic will follow. There are millions man in the world, don't put yourself into hot frying pan when your life is good without them. You'd rather be with yourself than being with the whole baggage like this. Those 2 kids are still too young and imagine you have to deal with them, if not physically but mentally for almost next 20 years. I have 15 years old step kid and I can't wait for her to get on her own feet. What about those little ones who about to be your step kids? Forget about that.

DeeDeeTX's picture

Sounds like he lets his ex

Sounds like he lets his ex call all the shots and he likes it that way. You'll either have to live with that, or drag him kicking and screaming into making boundaries....after which he'll be bitter and resentful and blame very bad thing that results from that on you.

Good luck.

Disneyfan's picture

If a man wants to keep his

If a man wants to keep his relationship under wraps, he's up to no good.

His ex left him. He may not be over her. It's possible he's hoping she'll take him back.

"Some of you nonstepparents should have disclaimers in your signature lines. Disney isn't a SM any more, but her's could read, "Was a SM. That shit is for the birds! I don't hate all SMs, though. I'm cool."" LadyFace

smartone's picture

Think about it this way...if

Think about it this way...if it's already an issue and you haven't even met the kids yet, and THEY aren't even old enough to start making demands on your will ONLY get worse after you meet them and/or become involved in their lives. I just spent 18 months being second and it finally got to be too much. And I have my own kids, did not WANT to spend time with bf and his kids, but no matter what I tried to do, there was an issue because *I* would not put HIS kids first, before me, before my kids, before our relationship...


LizzieA's picture

There are a lot of red flags

There are a lot of red flags here. First is that BM has so much control, to the point where SO can't take the kids to his own place. (does he have a place? or is he shacking with you?) Second is that he wants to keep you a secret. If she left him, why is he afraid to tell her that he has a GF? Surely it's unreasonable to think he would be celibate forever. Are they even divorced?
Also don't let him make you set the boundaries. That's a formula for you to get blamed for what should be his responsibility.

You can do better than this mess.

hereiam's picture

He is letting his ex-wife run

He is letting his ex-wife run his life.

A year and a half, you are now engaged and she still doesn't know? I can see it at first, when he didn't know where the relationship was going, but....

Engaged and haven't even met the kids? That's weird.

It sounds like he has some things to resolve before he even thinks about having a serious relationship. Seriously, he has not moved on. Hell, he's barely moved out!

I most certainly would not be buying a house with him or marrying him.
Guilt and fear are controlling him (if he's telling the truth) and those are tough ones for these men to get past, especially once they have been on that road awhile.

I suggest you continue to just date him until he really is ready to take control of his own life (which may never happen) or if you don't want to wait, move on.

Jsmom's picture

Run like hell!!! You have

Run like hell!!! You have huge red flags here and you are ignoring them...

lifeisgood's picture

Thanks everyone. This is

Thanks everyone. This is what I need to hear to get the courage to really be firm about these issues. To answer some questions, he does have his own house. He lives a decent drive from the kids, and I live even farther, so distance has factored in to this situation (or at least excuses as to why he hangs out there rather than drive the kids that far, etc.).

He really uses my lack of enthusiasm to be involved with the kids against me. He doesn't encourage me to be involved, and since I don't ask to be (because I never wanted to be!) it just didnt' happen. Now when I bring these issues up he says he will tell her, I can meet the kids, and he will do the right thing and do whatever will make me happy, but it feels like I'm having to TELL him I want things a certain way and I think since it's his baggage it should be his responsibility to try to handle the situation correctly.

You are all absolutely right that if he tells her because I complained about the situation, that any negative reaction she has is going to feel like it's my fault.

I hate the whole thing. I think he wants to do what's right but he is afraid and guilty and just has all relationships working smoothly right now and won't rock the boat until pushed. I am convinced if I push him he will "fix it", but it feels awful.

I see the red flags, and I do see that I am single and drama free and could run and be better off for it. The tough part is that I've dated lots of people, had many boyfriends, etc. and this guy is the only one that makes me happy. It's not easy to just let him go.

hereiam's picture

Then at least don't marry him

Then at least don't marry him until all this gets worked out. There is no rush.

TASHA1983's picture

If you see the red flags

If you see the red flags please dont ignore love with him or not, trust me you will be in for a life of misery and being second all the time if you stay...

I pray you find the courage and strength to realize that YOU deserve better and CAN find better out there!!!

NOT my kid....NOT my problem!!!

Seriously...just GO AWAY!!!

lifeisgood's picture

Oh, and yes, they are

Oh, and yes, they are divorced and were when I met him.

stepmisery's picture

He has a long way to go with

He has a long way to go with this parenting thing. BM is the responsible adult parent, she provides the stable home. BD is the not-responsible, living for himself parent by always being on the road. It's unusual but they are doing a form of custody called nesting where the kids stay in the same place all the time but the parents swap out. I have actually known this to work with a family IRL but after a few years that nesting ended.

BEFORE you and he go one step further, he has to get better control of his life. For starters, how does he plan to parent and manage young children? Does he want to continue traveling and visiting his children at their mother's? If she gets married again, that is going to drastically change.

Also, if he is going to make some kind of living where he does not travel and can provide a stable home for the kids, you need to give him time to establish it and be a parent on his own. You do not want to step in and him expect you to do all the parenting work like cooking, cleaning, laundry, driving around. He needs to be able to take care of his children's needs on his own.

Sounds like BM is going to be hostile to BD separating the parenting. It would really be better for you in the long run to let this situation work out, and it may take a year or two, before you try to jump right in and change their lives so drastically.

Even if you do not have anything to do with the kids yet, BM should know of your existence. There are many changes ahead for these parents when they actually separate.

lifeisgood's picture

Really good advice. The only

Really good advice. The only thing I should clarify..I know when I say he is a musician it's assumed he's irresponsible and all about himself. He makes a really good living, has plenty of money, owns his own home that he manages alone, etc. His ex never wants the kids out of the home (or out of her sight besides her having to work), and it's been easier for him to go to the kids rather than put the kids through 3 hours of driving in the car a few times a week. I think she should know my existence, and his kids should too so they can adjust to things (and they are at a better age now for this than waiting a few years). It's also out of respect for me that he stops keeping me a secret.

I told him I have decided I don't want to be the one to tell him how he should handle this situation because I will no doubt feel guilty and blamed for the complications that come out of that. I said if he wants to encourage the important people in his life to mesh together that is up to him, but I'm not pushing. I am also taking a break from being with him.

stepmisery's picture

Oh no please don't

Oh no please don't misunderstand me, sorry if I worded it badly.

Just because he travels this does not make him an irresponsible person. He is able, as a parent, to do this because someone else is actually taking care of the kids.

It's quite one thing to manage a household of one, when that one is traveling most of the time. Managing a household of a 3yo and 5yo who are there day in and day out is a lot more work.

BM should know of your existence. Absolutely. That's he afraid to tell her now tells you that he is probably always going to pick what upsets her over what upsets you.

Maybe a long-term committed dating relationship is more realistic with this guy, rather than marrying and buying a house. Please don't buy that house with him until he gets his life where he has his kids on his own.

Attachment parenting is not forever. It is babywearing, breastfeeding and sleep sharing. Children outgrow these needs. At some point BD can start taking the kids on his own and separate himself from BM. That time needs to start now. Heck see if he will take them for an overnight to his house.

TASHA1983's picture

THAT'S GREAT!!!! I for one am

THAT'S GREAT!!!! I for one am VERY PROUD OF YOU!!!


(I secretly hope you meet an amazing kidless man in the meantime Eye-wink )

NOT my kid....NOT my problem!!!

Seriously...just GO AWAY!!!

ybarra357's picture

"His ex never wants the kids

"His ex never wants the kids out of the home (or out of her sight besides her having to work)"

WTF? Sorry, but this sounds complete crazy. If he's feeding you this line he full of $hit.

That's no moon, it's a space station!

lifeisgood's picture

He just copied me on an email

He just copied me on an email to his ex telling her about me and us being engaged. He said he hates her so much he can't stand talking to her about his life at all but did it because "it was important to me." I told him I wanted it to be important to HIM because it's what is right. he said he doesn't care what she does or doesn't know about his personal life and was never going to force me to be a stepmom or be involved with his kids unless I said I wanted it. I think he should encourage it, but whatever....we don't see eye to eye here. he said give her a week to freak out and then I want meet the kids anytime. Ick. Still haven't spoken to him on the phone or see him, but wanted to update my new friends here . xx

luchay's picture

Well, that's a good start,

Well, that's a good start, baby steps Smiling

The thing about meeting the kids is that while this situation is working for them all while they are still so young it WILL change in a year or so when they start school etc.

And if you and he are living together you NEED to have met them - you absolutely cannot move in and marry this man without that. Things are going to change dramatically over the next 15 years, these kids are going to grow up, the attachment parenting should be just about at an end now anyway (never a practice I have been able to understand to be honest - but whatever) The kids are going to start spending time with dad away from mum, and that means at his house (alarms bells ringing here!!) YOUR house too. You need to have a relationship with them and an input in what is going to be acceptable in YOUR house. If they are attachment parented I am guessing it's also a fairly permissive parent/child relationship? (you don't know yet do you?) Are you going to be ok when his feral little brats turn your house upside down and disrespect you?

I think your fiance is being very shortsighted. as I said, the children are going to grow up and their needs are going to change, and the access/visitation is going to change, and if you and he are married that is going to have a MAJOR impact on YOU as well as him.

You need to discuss with him what is going to happen when they start school, when he starts having visitation away from BM (maybe only day visits at first as they sound very over-protected and may not cope with o/nights) Do a LOT of research about parenting skids. Go into this conversation armed to the hilt with as much knowledge as you can.

Read - "Stepmonster" by Wednesday Martin (will tell you the realities of step life)
and "Step-Parenting - Everything You Need to Know to Make it Work" by Jeanette Lofas - great info on what you need to work out BEFORE taking the living together step.

Good luck.

stepmisery's picture

He is kinda sounding like a

He is kinda sounding like a guy who is ordered around by whichever female is closest. This can cause grave problems for you if he lets BM continue to make all the decisions.

Was his plan, all on his own, ever to have his kids in his home for EOW, overnights, holidays, summers?

How did he plan to implement this?

Latisem's picture

RUN!RUN!RUN! If your busy

If your busy enough on your own then just make it a REALLY REALLY LONGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG engagement!

#<3 that they don't live with me

jiji1215's picture

i been through this with an

i been through this with an ex bf....come to find out he was sleeping with her i ended up leaving him.....he kept me the secret and did the same exact things hes doing to u.....get away from there cuz u will be shocked if it comes out anything other than him just spending time with his kids


lifeisgood's picture

Well, time for another

Well, time for another update. My fiance e-mails his ex today (copied me on his email and her response). He has told me for some time that they never talk to each other beyond logistics with seeing the kids (no small-talk, etc.). He wrote her that he had been with someone for over a year and was now engaged and thought she should know, if she hadn't heard about it already. He said he hopes it won't change things between him and her and the way they are parents to their kids.

He then copied me on her response which was "I didn't know because I don't follow your personal life but i'm sure you picked a nice person. As long as she is great with the kids I have no problem"

That was it. He still seems to expect some horrible blowout or that she's angry about it, but I really don't think she cares!! Thoughts?

stepmisery's picture

Off to a promising start. Now

Off to a promising start. Now see how things go when her life, as she knows it and organizes and orders it, starts to change. If you fall in line when she barks an order, then maybe there will never be problems. Somehow I think you don't want the ex running you and BF's new life together.

Does, or did he ever, plan to start the kids to his home? Is he planning to just visit them in their mother's home always? And can he manage his children without you, or another woman there, to take care of the wifey things?

He said he hopes it does not change how they parent their children. Is he indicating he will continue to visit the children in her home? If so, how do you feel about that?

Starla's picture

Hmm you must really have a

Hmm you must really have a special connection with him as I just read all of the replies telling you to run. Well what does your inner voice tell you? Do you suspect something fishy going on? He could have made up the email using her name & all right? Guess its time that you meet them to know for sure. Have you told your fiance your feelings the same way you told us? Suppose he may be that blind to you but what else would he be blind about when it comes to you both sometime down the road? I'm trying to use nice words & you seem like a good person with a decent head on your shoulders. Its just worrying all of us that we don't know if you are seeing the red flags like we all are. Heck you could copy & print this page from the top & have your fiance read it out loud. If he does not know already that your feelings matter & you should not be quilted for wanting to meet your possible future family, its time for you to give him a wake up call. I swear I do mean this in a positive manor but you need to look out for yourself here too.

All guys are pigs. It just depends on how you like your bacon.

Mrsbmckee's picture

I don't want to say to run

I don't want to say to run but you need to know what we have all been through and make the decision if you can handle it.

1. Your relationship with this man will always be his 2nd priority..that means you will always be his 2nd priority.
2. The kids may be well behaved and you may like children....Unless you are seriously ok with spending any free time you and your SO have, money because it will be both of yours, and being told what to do when and where based on these childrens will grow to dislike them.
3. With DH that have such an intense relationship with their ex's that means you will come after her too. Because he has allowed her to call the shots for so long he probably will not push her buttons or change anything for fear of not seeing his kids, so that means you not only have children running your life but another woman too.

In my situation I had no problem dating a man with children because it seemed like everyone has kids now a days but now that I am here I wish so badly that I would have walked away. I hate being the sequel...the second choice...the second everything. I hate running my life around childrens schedules because DH doesn't make waves with ex. It has gotten so bad that we fight all the time about it and so I blame them for all of our problems. Emotionally, Financially, anything. If they were not around then I could be happy..I mean completely happy with my DH. Love is just not enough. I didn't have kids prior to getting with my DH and now that I see our family being put on hold and my sons chance at having both parents raise him in one roof decline every day...I cant stand them even more.

You got a small taste of being 2nd on his birthday. It doesn't matter what you have planned they will always listen to the children or the ex. If you can't deal with this I would get out. I would find someone else that does not have children. You need to take the time to seriously consider if you can handle these situations. I was so naive that I thought I could because we loved each other. Well when you lose love because of all the fighting there is nothing left.

lifeisgood's picture

I really appreciate

I really appreciate everyone's comments and concerns (and strong advice coming from experience). I DO see the red flags and I'm terrified. That's why I found this forum and posted and have come back to read the responses. Buying a house together has been put on hold. I do love him, but I also am old enough to know that isn't enough and I will have no problem ending things if I am not treated how I deserve to be treated. I was ready to end things over his ex not knowing about me and thought this was the end. He then told her and wants to arrange for me to be in this kids' lives. He will do anything he can to fix things because he doesn't want to lose me.

My gut tells me he is a good man, wants nothing to do with his ex, and deep inside I think he wishes he never had children because of how hard it makes things (now he hasn't SAID that and never would...he speaks of his kids in only positive ways and really loves them). I don't want kids and he thinks I'm very smart for many reasons for not wanting them (not putting down anyone that has them).

I think because she took the kids and left him he really feels he deserves to move on and have someone who loves him and have a happy life. He has told me that his kids are not my problem and I can have as much or as little contact with them as I want. He is fine alone with his kids and does not expect or desire me to be in a mother role to the kids - they have a mother, and he knows I have never even wanted my own kids. I have asked what would happen when they eventually are in our home when we live together and he said he'd love nothing more than me to be their friend and hang out with them, but if I had no desire and wanted to go off on my own when they were around he would not be bothered (and I really believe him).

As far as taking the kids into our potential future home, I know it would happen but my job and life is a fair enough distance from his ex/kids home that it wouldn't be possible for them to be there constantly (we would move in between my job and his kids.....a good hour away). One of the reasons I didn't mind him seeing the kids in her home is because not only do I trust him, but also it meant I didn't have to deal with his kids. I know this sounds awful and maybe I would grow to like them...but I don't know that yet and I have not been in a hurry to hang out with his kids.

I am being brutally honest here to get the best possible feedback. But yes, I appreciate the advice and see red flags and am very worried and taking things slow. I am very logical about how this could end up and also happy my desire to not have my own kids would make it easier to leave if I did make a very poor decision.

Right now he went ahead and is doing all he can to make me comfortable with the situation. He can't change that the kids are here and he is a good dad to after he told his ex and gave me and open invitation to meet/see the kids on whatever terms I want it's hard for me to break up with him...what more can I demand of him at this point? I think our fight on his birthday taught us both a lot.....

ctnmom's picture

He is still with her, that's

He is still with her, that's my gut feeling. If your a secret, that's almost always the case. And he's not your dream man if he can't even spend birthdays with you. This whole thing stinks like rotten food.