*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Being in love with a partner who is also a parent is about so much more than compatibility in a relationship and having the same goals. You will need to consider if you can get along with their kids and also if you're comfortable with your partner being in touch with someone else for parenting purposes.
How hard is it to deal with communication between divorced spouses, and could that make you change your mind about being close?
My friend Delia has been dating her boyfriend Angelo for two years. He's been married before and has one daughter and one son from his previous relationship. He usually spends half the weekend with them and the rest of his time with Delia in Phoenix, Arizona.
"I wasn't married, and I don't have kids, so it's still a big change for me; becoming a stepmom before you're even married is a bit much, but he keeps insisting on having me on some trips with his kids. It's not that I don't like them; they're always polite and like to play a lot. It's about what him being a dad means," Delia said.
Angelo only let her know about his kids after they'd been seeing each other for three months. In the beginning, he didn't want to add too much responsibility and just enjoyed their dates and had fun as often as possible.
As things got more permanent and he felt like their relationship would last, he decided to tell her about his first marriage and that he had two kids.
"I realize his kids don't live with him; he just goes to see them three times a week and has them for sleepovers during the weekend and the holidays. So that wouldn't affect us living together that much. The problem is he keeps talking to his ex to schedule his visits, or she lets him know when he has to pick up his kids from school activities if she has to run errands,' Delia said.
She didn't mind that much at first and simply assumed Angelo had to talk to his ex to stay on track with his visits, but when she saw there were at least two calls and several texts every day, Delia began doubting if she could handle that for several years.
"This can't change for at least six years. The kids have just started school, so Angelo and his ex will be talking to each other for a long time to come. And that connection is different from what we have. I can't take it away. Even if he doesn't love her, he can't forget about her completely. And that's so upsetting," Delia said.
She told her boyfriend how she felt, but he didn't think this was such a big deal. More than anything, Angelo is convinced she will understand it in time and will approve of him being friendly with his ex once they have kids, and Delia understands that they come before anything else.
"I know it's not easy for her to see me as a dad, particularly since we don't have our own family yet. But I'm going to be patient; I know she will be a great stepmom, " Angelo said.
In the meantime, Delia is considering if she can go on this way and for how long. She's talked to her parents, and they're also not that excited about looking after Angelo's kids. They would rather Delia finds someone single, with no other family to always check on.
"I can't be with him; he has kids and is close to their mom. It's more than just me feeling sad about it; it won't go away, and it's worse each time it happens. I can't have a husband who keeps talking to his ex, even if it is for their kids. And I'm not sure I want anything to do with them. Why can't he just let them stay with their mom and visit less often? Like once a month, maybe," Delia said.
What do you think about this situation? Is it fair for Delia to mind so much that her boyfriend is a dad and must keep talking to his ex to schedule visits and sleepovers for his son and daughter? Should she stop seeing him if she can't handle being a stepmom, or is it better to wait and hope she will get used to seeing Angelo's kids and hearing him call his ex daily?
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