I've been with the love of my life for four years. We’re both 40-ish and bring multiple children to the table, ranging from four to 14.
My partner and I met through non-traditional means. We both felt trapped in unhappy marriages, and in an attempt to make things work with our partners, we tried polyamory. It worked for a while, was above board, and our respective ex's approved of the relationship we had.
As is probably clear, it only lasted a couple of years like that before our other relationships fell apart, and we came together as a monogamous couple.
Now our difficulties revolve around the children, particularly his kids who are now my stepchildren. I've been painted as a home wrecker, despite the fact that we didn't have an affair. My 14-year-old stepdaughter gives me the death glare, and it constantly feels like there's an elephant in the room. I used to be their dad’s "special friend," and that was acceptable. But once we got married, it changed for the worse.
I don't know how to approach the relationship with my stepdaughter, whom I want to love, support and help care for.
Not a Home wrecker
Assuming the children were unaware of the polyamorous relationship between their two sets of parents, their truth is what they see and hear, rightly or wrongly.
Fourteen is a very tough time. It’s usually the beginning of high school, with shifts in friendships and major hormone changes. Most 14-year-olds I know, including when I was that age, are very self-involved. In fact, I was exactly that age when my own parents split up. It wasn’t fun, and I wasn’t that easy.
Your stepdaughter may find directing all her confusion and anger at you to be her best coping mechanism. You need to be the adult, the strong one. You and your husband probably need to sit down and talk with her. Find out what she thinks went down between everyone. Tell her your side, but with age-appropriate information.
If you understand why she’s blaming you, then you can respond accordingly. Show her love and respect, and support her through this tough period. It’s not about you.
My fiancé and I are trying to save money to buy a house. We’ve agreed to put half our paycheques into a savings account and live more frugally for a while to see how far we get. I put my gym membership on hold and found a free online fitness program that I’m enjoying in the interim. I’ve also stopped buying books (one of my vices) and have started borrowing from the library.
But my fiancé isn’t changing his habits. He goes to the coffee shop near his office twice daily and purchases his lunch from a café close by. I know that in his office there is both a Nespresso and a Keurig so there’s no need for him to buy coffee.
I’ve offered to make him lunch to take to the office, which he agrees is a great cost-saving idea, but then never follows through.
I’m getting annoyed at his lack of trying and wastefulness. How can I get him to see the bigger picture?
Short term pain
I suggest you find a financial advisor who can sit down with both of you and look at your finances together. Your fiancé needs to see the numbers in front of him. He needs to see how saving $10 (at least!) every day on two coffees and lunch quickly adds up to $200 a month. That could help pay your monthly utilities in your new home. Maybe he just needs to see the correlation between what he’s spending and what he could use it for instead.
FEEDBACK Regarding the feedbacks shaming the mom walking her baby, at naptime, while she does her own thing (original column Oct. 21; feedback Nov. 18):
Reader – “As a mother of two young children I am disturbed by some of the self-righteous comments being published by older individuals regarding this question. Did these people not read, watch the news, read the newspaper, respond to mail, talk to friends and family on the phone when they were raising children? Is it really so offensive that I do all of the above on my phone in front of my children?
“Are they seriously assuming that all of these moms are on social media? There’s nothing wrong with that either; modern motherhood is extremely isolating in Canada.
“These people have rose-coloured glasses about their time as parents to young kids. I highly doubt they were engaged 24/7. Everyone needs a mental break.”