Posted by fxckfeelings on April 6, 2016Share This Post
Surviving a bad break-up of a worse marriage to the worst partner can certainly makes a new, reasonably decent partnership candidate look like a good choice. A better idea than jumping into something new, however, is taking the chance to evaluate the possible pleasures of single life and shortcomings of your new situation. So don’t let well-intentioned advice or social convention convince you to ignore your fears and reservations; weigh your alternatives carefully and choose the path that is really best for you.
After a long, messy divorce, I have been dating a man who has primary custody of his primary school-aged kids (my own kids are almost out of school and great despite the messy divorce). Dating in midlife stinks, to put it mildly, but he is a great, independent, financially OK guy. We have dated over a year and he wants to relocate to my town so we can marry and I can help with kids— his constant compliment is how great a mother I am/my kids are. Bottom line, however, is that I have very mixed feelings how I feel about him, and when I have doubts or change my mind, it’s frustrating for him and me. I just would like a guarantee that life will be perfect if I decide to go forward, or at least that there will be no problems from addict crazy exes and I can still accomplish my independent dreams…that I can do that even if I become a hands-on mom to my step kids (coach one of their teams, chaperone their school dances, etc.) and have fun doing all that stuff AGAIN. It will be fun, right? Come on, give me the guarantee, because single life is really boring, I still can’t work the damn remote by myself, and I loved the family mom thing first round. My goal is to decide what is right for me.
Just because an opportunity that looks perfectly reasonable to everyone else doesn’t feel quite right to you doesn’t mean you’re only hesitating because of a fear of recommitment. “Everybody” doesn’t understand the decision the same way you do, nor do they have the greatest track record when it comes to decision-making (see: various haircuts they’ve approved over the ages, presidents they elected, Hitler, etc.). So it’s up to you to examine your doubts seriously and figure out whether they’re legitimate or not.
Like the opinion of others, time is also unlikely to help straighten your feelings themselves out. You’ve taken time to get to know him and the kids and you’re comfortable with his values, finances, etc. You know what it takes to raise kids in general and you’re confident in your abilities. So, if your feelings haven’t fallen into place by this time, even after all this intelligence gathering, it’s probably not because of anxiety alone.
Try re-examining the factors that are most troubling to you, like whether doing another fifteen-year tour of parenting duty will interfere with your other high-priority plans, and whether you like his kids enough to really invest as much time and energy as you did in your own. Ask yourself, too, whether, if you wished, you could negotiate a less demanding partnering job description that leaves more of the parenting to him. That way you could serve as consort, parenting assistant, and companion while still having time for your own interests. It’s nice of him to compliment your parenting skills, but that doesn’t mean you have to do the entire mom-thing as part of your package unless that’s what you want.
You should also give yourself enough time to decide whether your life together will be worthwhile without kids, i.e., if he’ll be a good roommate once the kids are grown and gone and if he’ll be able to strike a reasonable balance between his needs, those of his kids, and yours. It’s good that he’s devoted to his kids, but you need to be sure that there’s also room for his commitment to you and a life together once they’re out of the house.
Don’t go ahead unless you can really imagine a life with him, with or without kids, that is better than the one you have now. Deep down, you know there is no perfect life, especially where kids are concerned, so it’s more important to consider whether a life with him is your best option, or at least better than a life alone.
Once you give your decision a fair assessment, you can go forward with confidence; you can’t be sure that everything will go perfectly from this point on, but you can be sure that what you’re doing is best for all those involved, especially you. And if “everybody” disagrees, then “everybody” can shove it.
“I hate thinking I’m passing up on a deal that everyone says is good for me, but I won’t enter into a new partnership unless I really think it will offer me a better life than I have right now as a single mother of great, almost-grown kids.”
More advice from Dr. Lastname