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How to draw the line with your boyfriend's kids

By Faeza
12 August 2016

Lonely Hearted writes:

I am a 26-year-old woman who is dating a 43-year-old man. He is still technically married, but is in the process of divorce. He has even moved out of his marital home and is living in an apartment.

I know that this is far from ideal, but our hearts connected from day one. He is the perfect

gentleman. Such a refreshing change from the typical guy. He treats me like a lady, is

considerate and is even civil towards his soon to be ex-wife.

He has three children, the eldest being a 20-year-old girl. This gets a bit awkward, since she is almost my age, but he handles it very well. Now the children and I all get along very well.

They seem to have accepted me and are even buddies with me. My worry is: won’t the mother feel like I am trying to replace her? How do I draw the line and make sure that I don’t overstep my boundaries?

He has even suggested a little getaway for all five of us, next school holidays. Am I not invading her territory? Another thing, I worry about is, if he is so great, does it mean that the ex-wife was the problem? How sure can I be, that whatever caused them to divorce won’t come up and be a problem in our life as well?

Linda Yende answers: 

I’D like to start by addressing your last question, since it is the easiest to get out of the way.

The last thing you want to do is to be sitting there, constantly asking yourself if your new man is a bad person or a bad husband and if he is the reason that his marriage ended.

Equally bad is to start looking at his ex-wife as this evil witch who ruined

their marriage. Always remember the common phrase, “one man’s (or woman’s) trash

is another man’s treasure.” There could be any number of reasons why their marriage broke up.

YOUR RELATIONSHIP

Linda Yende warns a woman who dates a divorced man that any relationship has the potential to end. It could just be that they realised that they were just not in love any more,

or were not compatible as a couple. There doesn’t have to be anything that anybody did wrong.

GETTING ALONG FINE

And there certainly doesn’t have to be a good guy or bad guy in this situation. Sometimes marriages just don’t work out. You say that he still gets along fine with his ex, so clearly there is no animosity and there is no drama.

Think about it like this; you also have exes, don’t you? Imagine being judged because of those break ups. Any relationship has the potential to end. It is just great, when it ends amicably.

NEED TO HEAL

Divorced men do come with a certain wisdom about them. Yes, they come with baggage, but you are quite likely to find somebody who now knows exactly what he wants from his life partner and as such will not just flippantly go into another relationship and certainly not another marriage until he is absolutely certain that this time it is for keeps.

Society views divorce as failure, whereas, in truth, it is a chance to try again and do it right, this time. A reboot of sorts. Should you guys get married, you will be wife number

two, the improved version!

Needless to say, you must be willing to take things slowly. He might not be ready quite yet, to get married again. Evidently he is ready to settle down already, which is great. But just know that he might need to heal a bit, before he goes down the aisle again.

But him already wanting to do family things with his children is a great sign. Surely, he doesn’t intend to keep introducing a new woman into his children’s lives every year.

COOLING OFF

Always remember that with amicable divorces, those people probably had a lengthy cooling off period where they saw that their marriage was over, held on and tried to make things work for a while, before finally calling it quits. This is not like a sudden, angry or

bitter divorce like when somebody was caught cheating.

BEST CASE SCENARIO

If ever there was a best case scenario for a divorce, an amicable one is it. I seriously doubt that you will even have any issues with the ex-wife, because from the sound of it, there is

no anger or bitterness.

So, your part is just to make sure you don’t have issues with her, either. Do not vilify her or assume that she is the enemy, because she isn’t. As for the children, I would have advised that you don’t build a friendship with them too fast, until you know where this is going.

But, once again, I will trust his judgement here and make the assumption that he allowed that to happen, simply because he knew that you are there for keeps. No parent wants to introduce somebody into their child’s life if it is not a serious thing, and certainly no parent wants to go on family holidays with a woman whom he considers a passing fling.

CHILDREN FIRST

You are very fortunate that the children like you, because consider the alternative; they could have totally resented you and felt as if you were trying to replace their mother. Lastly, any good parent will want to put their children first.

Accept and in fact appreciate it if he puts his children first. That is a good quality.

The last thing you want in your life is a man who neglects his children,

because of a new woman in his life.

That is a bad man and not the kind of man you want to marry. You have a great situation, here. Appreciate it and enjoy it. It really could have been so much worse, under the circumstances.