Prior to our high school reunion, a fellow classmate (who is also dating another fellow classmate) called me to talk about dating post-divorce.
Both she and her boyfriend have children from previous marriages. As a matter of fact, they have a lot more in common with Gentleman Jack and me than just being fellow classmates. The difference is that their children haven't met each other yet.
She and her beau haven't experienced the challenges of blending families yet. She isn't aware of trying to co-parent with exes who are remarried or remarrying or dating. She doesn't yet realize that, after the fantasy of dating after divorce, there is the reality that you're dating, betrothed to or marrying not only your new love... but his (or her) ex and their new love and their exes with their new love and so on and so on...
As an example, I offer you this, the most recent challenge of being in love and in a serious relationship with someone else with children.
Gentleman Jack and I have 4 children. I have my two and he has his. Our children love spending time with each other and with us. We love having all 4 children together as much as we can, within the limitations of a long distance relationship.
This means that we have to line up weekends of custody of our children. It's difficult enough to try to get weekends without children as well. We too need downtime to be a couple. Often times, we'll go 3 or more weeks apart so that we can plan to have our children at the same time. Then we'll have to do the same to get a weekend alone. It's quite a challenge but one we've managed to work through for nearly 3 1/2 years.
How, you might ask?
Well, he doesn't say "no" to his ex and my ex never says, "no".
GJ's ex-wife's work schedule changed so she asked him to switch weekends going forward. She's done this nearly every year that we've been together. Thankfully, my ex-husband has been lenient enough to comply with this switch.
Now, however, my ex-husband is about to marry and take the children for a few weeks for the summer. He is planning a schedule with his new wife and her children. As well he should. So, this time, when the request came through GJ that his ex-wife would like to switch, my ex-husband said no. And I'm fine with that.
I'm NOT fine with the changes to our schedule. I'm NOT fine with our children never seeing each other. I'm NOT fine with NEVER having a weekend alone with my man. But I'm also NOT fine with GJ never pushing back on his ex-wife. Why does SHE get a say in so many other people's lives?
GJ actually said to me that I have no way of being in his shoes or understanding how difficult it is to say "no" to her. He said that on the weekends she has custody, she will ask HIM to keep the child. Basically this would mean he has no weekends off at all. I don't think that should be the case. She should be responsible for getting a sitter during her custodial time, not calling in dad and playing on his guilt because he SHOULD watch his son.
I'm sorry to rant and CAPITALIZE everything but this is one challenge where I'm standing MY ground and my ex-husband's ground too... with the potential to hurt both our children and our time together.
So.... to my friend who is in dating bliss with your new beau who has children? Good luck. You have no idea what you're in for.