Married back in 1996. We were young, me 19, her 17. We have 2 kids, my daughter 11, and my step son 13. We split over 8 years ago. Only here this past August have I finalized our divorce. During these 8 years I have not moved on with my life.. I always stayed within close distance to her both physically and mentally. Up until last year, she lived in Houston and me in New Orleans. I would make frequent trips to visit the kids and also pick them up to spend time with them. On top of this we maintained an unusual relationship in that when I would be in town, we stayed in the same house, spent the holidays together as well as birthdays and such. Almost as if we were still married. Through all of this, we for the most part, did not get along. We can NEVER compromise or agree on anything. I always felt it was best for the kids to maintain this relationship of ours as the kids never saw the issues me and their mom had between us, at least not early on.
About a year ago, I moved to Houston to be closer to the kids and to help out their mom as she was in a financial situation. I lived with them for almost 8 months on the agreement that we were doing this as friends and nothing more. This was a nightmare. A big mistake. Things quickly turned south. Why on earth did I ever think we could live under the same roof is beyond me. During this time frame I came to realize a lot about my situation and how this was totally unhealthy for myself and my kids. That I needed to establish a life of my own for me and more importantly, my kids. I finalized my divorce soon after and moved out and got a place of my own. We sat down with the kids and explained to them what was happening. They always knew we were not together, but that we were still married. With the divorce I explained to them that things would be different. By different I was intending on separating myself from her family, family events, and the time that I spent with her AND the kids. By this I was basically making my time with the kids just that, with them and them only. The ex was under the impression that nothing was changing, that things were to stay the same between me and her even though I explained to her they were going to change. She took it as water under the bridgeÖ that I wasnít serious.
My ex always believed that we should have this "family" environment for them.. to continue to "act" like a unit. Even when she had relationships with other people. She would go as far as to make them stay away when I was in town visiting and during the holidays. Part of me felt this was wrong, but a part of me was also very confused. My kids always seemed happy to have me around during these times. For me, I could never move on.. Partly because I still loved her, and also because I always felt guilty if I were to ever meet anyone.. some of this was stemming from the ex.. she always uses the kids against me to instill guilt when she wanted things to go her way. I felt like it was unfair to bring someone into my life and expect them to understand why I was spending so much time with my kids AND ex.. so i've been single for 8 years, and for the most part miserable.
a few months ago I told the kids that I would not be at the Christmas get together that their mom's family always has. I have attended most of these (about 3 or 4) over the years when I could. At times when I lived out of town work would not permit. They were ok with this. I talked to them and explained to them that this was part of the "change" that was a result of me and their mom divorcing. Here this week they started questioning why I wasn't going.. the questions were with their mom and not me. With the questioning they were asking if I still loved them and why would I not come. At this point in my opinion, I would expect my ex at the time to try and explain to them the situation until I can get to them and speak on my behalf. But being that she doesn't agree with me not being there, she allowed them to think basically whatever they wanted to. And things got ugly. My daughter confronted me like she never has before.. asking me why I was ruining Christmas for them? And why is it that I never come around anymore and that how their mom always invites me over and I never come. Their mom is allowing them to question all of these things without any input from her because she believes Iím wrong. I totally disagree here. I donít think their mom should be openly having these discussion around the kids, to allow them to know that she invites me over and how I wonít come.. the kids will see this as me not wanting to spend time with THEM, but itís not, I donít want to come over and fix the sink when itís broken, or help paint the walls when they need it, things that I should not be doing anyway. The ex seeís these types of things as stuff I should want to do because it affects the kids since they live here.. itís expected of me.
At this point Iím second guessing my decisions. My instinct tells me that I am doing the right thing by standing my ground... that given the situation itís understandable that the kids are upset, but that itís the right thing to do. That they will understand in time even though they don't comprehend things now. The ex has gone full on crazy with me.. saying that Iím destroying the kids. That itís not ďnormalĒ for me to want the things I want. That we can have a family ďunitĒ and me still have a ďlifeĒ.. I donít agree.. I feel like we could have these things IF we got along, IF we didnít fight, IF we could be around each other without having feelings for one another (we both still do, to the point of physcial contact unseen to the kids). Itís not healthy.. for me or the kids.
I reflect back on the things weíve done with our kids.. and I see the choices we made were not healthy at all for them. I need some advice and hand holding now to know that I am making the right decisions moving forward. My family has been there for me, but I canít help the felling that there is a level of bias there because they are my family. I plan on seeking a family counselor here in the coming weeks after the holiday, but for now maybe some of you can shed some opinions on my situation.. any and all advice is greatly appreciated.
i forgot to add that my kids want me to do christmas as a family at their mom's house. This is not what I wanted. I wanted them to spend Christmas at their mom's for as long as they wanted, and then to come to my house for my gifts.. to have a Christmas with me as well.
I know this is a change for them.. from what they are accustomed to in the past. But i'm afraid if I go to their mom's that they will expect it again.. and that this will only prolong what is going to happen anyway...
sorry, had to chime in these details as I feel its relevant.
This is a very tough one, and your kids are directly in the middle. You are right in that you do need to separate from the family "unit" for the sake of the kids and for yourself and your ex. You may never be able to have a healthy long-term relationship if you don't. However, as far as doing things with the kids, that is more personal. Some families are able to maintain that type of a relationship; however, they need to put aside differences and get along. And be able to involve new people (if you or your ex were to remarry, for instance) in a healthy manner. The dynamic that you are describing is not healthy for you, your ex or the kids. Family counseling would be a very, very good idea in this situation. You and your ex need to be working for the healthy upbringing of these two children, and instead they are being pulled apart. Their emotional health is at stake, as well as their physical health.
For this holiday season you might try telling your children that you are thinking things through and until you come to some sort of peace with your ex, that you want to try something different for Christmas. Assure them that you love them very much and that you really want to develop a special tradition that they can share with you and that you need their help with it. Tell them that you want to spend time with them so that you can get to know them and what they like to do better, without distractions of other family members. Include them in planning how the Christmas with you will go - do they want to go to a restaurant? Do they want to help you cook a meal? I'm sure it will be very difficult, especially if your ex persists in using this as a wedge to or as a guilt trip to force you to accept her wishes. But until you can get family counseling started, you are on your own. Not an easy situation and things may not go as you hope.
I really hope that counseling will make things easier in your family situation. You deserve to have a happy life, and until things with your ex and kids settle down you won't feel free to find a good woman to share your life with. Plus, you'll likely feel guilty just trying to seriously date someone. Life is constantly changing and your ex and kids need to learn to go with the flow. Good luck!!!
Well, you can't really expect the kids to have any clarity in this situation when the adults don't have any idea what they're doing or what's going on. That's th efirst thing you and your ex have to do - get it straight what's going on between the two of you. I understand that will be very hard, as your ex seems to be refusing to see your point of view. But I must say, I can't TOTALLY blame her. She can't quite believe you because you have been giving her mixed signals. You tell her you don't want to be with her anymore, and then you engage in physical contact with her, I'm assuming of a sexual nature, that the kids can't see. She will never fully accept the split until there actually is one.
She seems to have no interest in moving on at all. You don't send someone away for the holidays and say "My ex is coming over and we're going to be a happy little family now, so you have to go away until he leaves" if you are serious about moving on.
I think family counseling is a very good idea, and would probably be very beneficial in this situation. For now, if you do go to your ex's family's for the holidays, tell your kids this will be the last time it will be like this. Your kids are 11 and 13, that's old enough for them to understand that mom and dad aren't going to be married anymore, that the marriage didn't work, as some just don't, but you both love them as much as ever and that's never going to change. But you are lonely and uhappy and you want to meet a nice lady to love and share your life with, to build a life and a home with, and you hope they will want to be a part of that life and home and come over to visit you sometimes and not always expect you to come to them, as that's not really fair.
Is custody a part of the divorce proceedings? A lot of couples work it out so the kids spend Thanksgiving with one parent, and then Christmas with the other one year, and the opposite the next year, alternate holidays, etc.
You may have to get just a little tough with your ex. You need to make it clear to her that although she may want to choose to be alone and send nice men away in order to pretend she's still married to you, but you don't want to end up alone. You want to move on with your life and find a nice woman to fall in love with and build a life with, and she has no right to make that harder for you by using the kids like this. By telling the kids that your moving on means ruining the family. You need to make it clear to her that by doing that, she's putting herself above the kids. She says it's "not normal" for you to want a life, but really, her pretending you're still married when you're not, that's what's not normal. She needs to get a grip on reality and start putting her kids first. And YOU need to make up your mind. If you don't want to be married to her anymore, if you're certain a marriage, a life together as lovers and partners cannot work, then you need to STOP blurring the lines with inappropriate physical contact or by acting like her husband or lover. Make up your mind what you want and then follow through with it. Next time she gives you a "honey-do" list, if she says "the room needs painting, the toilet's broken, the sink is clogged" whatever, offer to take the kids until she can get it fixed. Tell her those are things the owner of the home deals with and she needs to stop treating you like you're her husband. Honey-do lists are for husbands, and you are not her husband anymore. And also making it very clear to the kids whenever you can, as often as you can, that you still are and will always be their father, you just aren't their mom's husband anymore, adn you have to stop acting like you are her husband.
First I would like to know why you fight so much with your ex. Why do you disagree with her and she with you? What kind of friction is there between the two of you? This is not clear to me.
If the gap between you and her is really "unbridgeable," then all you really have go to do is to move on with your life. Counselling might help you, but dating again would be the best solution. Find someone for yourself, please. Not that you are desperate - I am not saying that, but this is your life, and you are not enjoying it.
Find someone you like and then bring her into the equation. You are way too concentrated on this family. Not telling you to forsake them, but you must find a balance.
stand your ground.....
one of the good things about divorce is......you don't have to go along with her wishes, you don't have to give her her way, you don't have to bend according to her every whim......
put your foot down and tell her no you're not doing this anymore....
make some new traditions with your kids.