Who Do You Love?

If there is one thing that can break up a couple, it’s the kids. You know what I mean if you are in a blended family situation: parental rights, parenting styles, and variant personalities all play a ginormous role in the dynamic of a couple where each of those adults has their own kids. Hell, it can be the elephant in the room when a couple ISN’T working on blending!

We had our first argument a few weeks ago, and I think it upset me more than it did him. It started because, as usual, the ex was being bitchy about not getting her way and I felt like M. was giving in to her. Which I feel happens a lot. I THOUGHT some boundaries had been set. We had just made a rule that, unless an emergency arose, we were not going to keep the kids on each others’ weeks– if for nothing else but consistency’s sake. (The boys are already with M a week, their mom a week, which most judges don’t like to begin with).

I’m not an expert, but I have five years on M and the ex and trying to make things work with kid time. And I guess I come off as bossy and wanting my own way a little more than I’d like, because M and I finally got into it– the “parenting style” argument that is so often the Beginning of the End for many couples.

I am a drill sergeant; I freely admit to it. I am the oldest child, a teacher, and OCD. I THRIVE on order and routine (so this whole situation with M and the kids and the chaos of their lives has already been hard on me). The kids don’t have a set bedtime. They are constantly asking for things and take FOREVER to actually go to bed. M is far more permissive (read: a big softie) than I would be, or was, with my own daughter. I’m not saying divorce has left her unscathed, but I know routine and rules have been helpful for her. I tried to share my experiences, but I guess I sounded like a bossypants.

I got mad because the ex was trying to get her way and I just feel as though she takes advantage of M. He’s a wonderful father and his priorities are always about the boys, and I don’t fault him for that. But just because SHE doesn’t want to keep them during her time and is constantly trying to make dates and pawn them off doesn’t mean HE is a bad father. I think he needs to tell her no– not because he doesn’t want to keep the boys, but because she needs to learn to do her job as a mother. That’s my position and I’m sticking to it.

Well, I came off as harsh and a know-it-all and not wanting to be around the kids. While M admitted that the things I said about consistency and order made sense on one level, the truth is that he is just a different parent than I am. Not better or worse– just decidedly different. I have a hard time swallowing the fact that no matter who I am to him, I am never going to have the final say in how the kids are handled. No matter how crappy a job she does sometimes, ultimately I will probably always have to defer to her. With her bipolar antics and track record of flipping her shit every other day, I told M that I wasn’t sure I could do this for another 15 years. I have enough chaos in my own life to deal with Drama Queen for the rest of it.

To my surprise, M didn’t really fight me there. He simply told me that while he loved me and wanted to be with me, if I couldn’t handle it, it was better to part ways.

Well, I don’t WANT to “part ways”– do I? I love him, I love the boys. It is definitely an adjustment and not one that’s completely comfortable for me, but at the end of the day, I DO want to be with him.

Luckily, just two days after this argument, the oldest had a soccer game. M is the coach, the ex came to the game, and she and I talked about a few things. I might not be able to change her mind about much, but I planted some seeds. I hope that things calm down. I hope that, as all the kids get older, this all gets easier to manage and there isn’t so much damn drama all the time.

Stepmoms out there, tell me it gets better!

 

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3 thoughts on “Who Do You Love?

  1. I’m not gonna lie to you, you will come across obstacles like this for the rest of your life as a step mom. It’s how we handle the situation. Realizing the things we can and cannot change. I personally have the same parenting style as you. I thrive on order and routine, but I realized that so do kids. All you and your husband can control is what goes on at YOUR house. You both just have to show the boys structure, routine, and order and enforce it. As for your husband being soft with his ex, I have the same issue. I use to get so upset over her asking him to do more for them then what was set up. He is paying an ungodly amount of child support with 50/50 custody, because in his eyes he wants to make sure the kids are taken care of and his mind will feel at peace knowing that he has done all that he can do. I gave up on that argument. Whatever brings him peace right now is what I will go with. It’s hard for me to keep my mouth shut, don’t get me wrong, but I made a vow for the good times and the bad. Maybe things will change when the kids get older, who knows, but I take it one day at a time. Sorry for the long response! I clearly can resonate with what you are feeling 🙂

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    1. Thanks girl! We aren’t married yet and their divorce is still pretty new, so I keep trying to tell myself that this is a learning curve for all of us. It’s hard though. I feel like the rules that are put in place now are things that I should have some input in, as our marriage is a foregone conclusion. I want input if I’m going to be with them half the time! But she pitches fits about everything, and it’s hard to keep quiet. Some days I can’t.
      Please tell me it gets easier and better.

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      1. Well, it does get easier. Just pray for a man to enter her life so the focus will be taken off you guys! The second my husband’s ex got remarried things got easier, then she had a kid right away so that helped too. Her focus was else where. You should have a say, at first maybe not as much but don’t give up hope and put your foot down!

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