My husband and I separated three years ago. We live in the same town. I have custody of our four children, ages eight to 16.
Our lives are returning to a new sense of "normal," but with one exception:
No one among my family or close friends feels I should enter into a new relationship or even date!!
My parents and siblings feel I should be focused on my children, and wait until my youngest is much older or has left home.
I HAVE been focused solely on my children for the past three years.
Close friends feel similarly, or advise that I don't need a man in my life to be happy. Or, they ask why I’d consider a new relationship, since my marriage ended so badly.
This even comes from divorced friends in new relationships!!
Recently, I met a lovely man. I enjoyed spending time with him. After four months of secretly dating, I introduced him to my children, three times.
They refused to speak or interact with him, and were extremely disruptive.
After that final encounter, this man felt it suggested we remain just friends.
I’m very frustrated with everyone including my children.
I love my children very much, but I do miss having a partner, or even another adult around to share conversation.
My parents, supportive of me in every other realm but traditional in their views, feel that since my marriage wasn’t successful, I’m not entitled to that type of relationship again.
Although my older children haven’t started dating, I encourage them to consider how they’d feel if I forbade them from being friends with, or dating someone, they liked.
I explained to them that spending time with friends and partners is an important and enjoyable part of life.
Unfortunately, they agree with me in principle, but ultimately don't want to see me with anyone.
I’ve started dating another gentleman whom I like very much. I don’t want to have to hide him from my family and friends. But I don't want a repeat of the last time either. Any suggestions?
It seems that your family and friends are too busy instructing you how to live, and that it’s caused more frustration and rebellion in you than sober thought.
Four children - young ones and teens – do all need time and feelings of security living in the “new normal.”
But that doesn’t mean they rule the roost. You’re entitled to, and need to, have adult company, including male company.
However, dating “secretly” for months builds a visible relationship rapport, which is hard to suddenly bring home without the kids feeling a threat.
Your fear that if you don’t start dating seriously right away, you never will, is misguided by loneliness and overreaction.
Talk to your children gently about your needing time with adult friends.
Periodically invite over some friends they already know – platonic male friends, couples, etc.
With this new man you like, take it slow, but not secret. Don’t introduce him until you’ve talked about him a little, telling the children what’s interesting about him, but not about any feelings for him.
Get to know him long enough to be certain you trust he’s someone you can bring into their lives.
As for advice to never date until the children are all out of school, shut down those conversations with family and friends. You already know what they think.
Stop reacting to opinions and fear. Then date wisely and patiently.
FEEDBACK Regarding the partner who developed Premature Ejaculation (PE) a year after a relationship started (Jan16):
Reader – “Since it’s apparently a pattern in his relationships, the PE might be passive-aggressive behaviour from a woman-hating man. His affectionate displays and gifts may be keeping her trapped in an abusive relationship.
“His refusal to seek a solution can mean he wants this situation to continue – disrespecting her wants and needs.
“She might ask herself whether the low self-esteem she sees in him reflects her own low self-esteem.
“Also, whether it’s behind her excuses for his hurtful behaviour and her staying with him.”
Ellie – Yours is a different perspective from mine. Only the writer knows whether you’ve struck a nerve, based on his other behaviour.
However, the only gift mentioned, once, was flowers. So you’ve brought a preconceived notion to this situation.
I stand by my advice that she seeks counselling… which should satisfy both our views.
Tip of the day:
Introducing a new partner to your children should be done slowly, based on a period of certain trust.