I recently opened up a college saving's account for our 2 year old son and emailed all three sets (yes, divorce) of grandparents his college savings account info and let them know that if they ever wanted to give to his 529 account in lieu of a birthday or Christmas gift to feel free. They could even claim it on their taxes!
I put no pressure to do so, just let them know. My in-laws pulled my husband aside and let him know how rude they thought my email was.
I didn't think it was rude. My mom has since given 529 money instead of gifts and thinks it's a great idea.
Do you think it was rude?
Dear Fantastic Mother!
NO, I unequivocally DO NOT think it was rude :)
I’m sorry that happened to you. In this day and age, saving for college is the mark of responsible parenting and it’s a shame that your in-laws took offense. That being said, I’d suggest two things. 1) Either you or your husband let them know that you did not intend to offend them, but that your child’s education is important to you and you wanted to give them another option for meaningful giving. And 2) own your decision and your communication. You can’t always keep people from taking offense at the things you do and say, but in this case, I don’t believe you’ve done anything wrong. Bravo to you and your husband for being proactive about your children’s education. Give your in-laws lots of love and it’ll blow over before you know.
My girlfriend and I met in November 2013. Around about January 2014 she and her daughter had moved in with my son and I (although, at the time I had my son 33% custody as he spent the remainder living with his mum.) The first 6 months of our relationship went well and we often talked about having a child together. Around August she quit her bar job and started her Masters degree at a University. She had warned me how busy she would be and also that her main two priorities were her school and her daughter of which I accepted. Our relationship suffered a lot and I did feel very neglected but continued to support her through the end of her first semester. I also felt her personality had changed from easy going to non-stop complaining and criticizing me.
I loved her and wanted us to stay together but I could feel the relationship starting to fall apart so a few weeks before Christmas I decided to buy an expensive engagement ring and I proposed hoping it would keep us together. She accepted and things went well between us for about a week then the arguments started up again. She threw the ring at me several times and after the 3rd time I kept it but later gave it back as we found out that she is pregnant. Throughout our relationship I had learned rather quickly that my girlfriend and her daughter seemed very much attached to one another, very often when we would argue she often slept with her daughter and even when we didn't argue she would encourage her daughter to sleep in the same bed as us which I found very annoying. After several months of arguing about this situation I gave in to her daughter sleeping with us. Our sex lives were going down hill pretty fast by the time December came around. Another thing that hurt my feelings was my girlfriend would often want to have a one on one time with her daughter instead of the four of us. As I mentioned earlier I only had my son part of the time and I work 12 hour shifts night and days where neither my son or I was at home. So I did feel that her actions divided us up of what I thought was family. Furthermore, I realized she treated her daughter much nicer than my son and was a lot harsher toward him. This happened on a daily basis. This was getting out of hand that even my girlfriends daughter was recognizing she could bully or torment my son knowing her mum would side with her. My son would cry over the littlest things.
Suddenly, in December my son's mum was taken to hospital and for the next 6 weeks I had full-time custody of my son. This is when I noticed how much my girlfriend disliked my son. She was constantly mad at him and also me finding faults with both of us. When he was sick and I was at work she called me to say that she was put out and had enough she eventually moved out as she couldn't or rather wouldn't mind my son whilst I went to work even though I was paying for all the rent, utilities, the majority of the groceries and spending money on meals out and clothes for her child as well as mine. When she moved out I have to pay for a child minder now as she let me know that she wasn't a nanny. She has moved back home to her parents and says she will move back in if I get a bigger and better place for us to live as a family. We have found out that she is 12 weeks pregnant. She says she still wants us to be together but we only see each other maybe once or twice a week. We do not have any real romance/intimacy between us although I wish we did. I do find her to be very selfish, uninterested or liking me much let alone loving me...I don't know what to make of it all. She now wants me to join a budget website to see what my income is so she can see what I can afford for a nicer place for our family she says...until now we aren't even friends on Facebook as she still has me blocked from 6 weeks ago. She does not work as yet but mentions she would contribute from her child support or her school allowance.
I would let her go if I knew she wasn't pregnant but she is so I want us to work. If we do try to move in again I fear she will continue to resent my son (even though she denies this...but admits she can never love him like her own which I understand this. I just don't like her ignoring him or treating him unkind or indifferent) She also says she doesn't want to live back home but I feel she doesn't want to be with me or left with my son whilst I am at work...she recommended that I continue to pay for a child minder. I'm thinking she will probably move out in the New Year when she has her own income but I'm not certain...I just don't feel any love from her. Shall I continue with this dysfunctional relationship or surrender to child support payments...Your advice is greatly appreciated.
Blending families is a difficult process and it sounds like there have been a lot of complicating stressors in your relationship. You moved in together very quickly and you each had children of your own. Integrating two families like that is always a challenge and having your son only part of the time created an imbalance. It’s understandable that she wants to focus on her daughter, but being part of a blended family requires a lot of work on making everyone feel welcome and included. It sounds like that’s been a problem.
I could comment on a lot of the specifics of your question individually but I think it all comes down to the same thing. If you guys are going to be a family and live together, you’re going to need to get some help. And I would suggest getting the help before you move back in together. It’s hard bringing two families together and its okay to throw up your hands and say “what we’re doing isn’t working” and seek help in finding a healthier way to live. You now have a vested interest in making this relationship work, even if you don’t end up together because you’ll be sharing a child. And that’s not just about child support. That child will need you in his or her life just as much as your son does.
But here’s the bottom line, your first priority right now is to provide a stable and healthy home for your son. None of this is his fault, and he shouldn’t have to live in a home where he feels he is less important. If you get back together with your girlfriend, she HAS to understand that, for his sake. It’s one thing to have different feelings for your biological child vs. your step child. It’s another thing entirely to act on those feelings. As the adults in the situation, you both have a responsibility to provide safety and security to all your children and protect their emotional well-being as best you can.
I empathize with your girlfriend in that being a mom and a student at the same time can be maddening, and being pregnant on top of that has got to be hard. BUT, those were choices that she (and you) made and you need to figure out how to deal with those choices without being mean or disrespectful to one another or to the children you care for. I also understand where you’re coming from. You’ve got a new child on the way and you love your girlfriend so you want to make it work. But that’s just it…it has to work. And the way things are going, its not working. Find a family counselor who can help you deal with all the complexities of this relationship (and there are many) and maybe you’ll find that being a family is possible without all the dysfunction.
I married a man 11 years younger than myself. We were friends since he was 18. I went to his wedding to his 1st wife and through his divorce 4 years/ 2 kids after. We became friends with perks after that but nothing serious. He went on to have a 3rd child with a different woman with no intention of having a life with but ended up in a battle for the baby girl. During that time the lawyer told us we needed to get married if he wanted a sure win in the custody. So not even thinking we did. Now married 6 years. Myself never been married nor could have children myself thought this at the time was a great arrangement. I figure I loved him as a friend how hard would it be to move to the next level. We did for a while too but his started his old habits and started to be unfaithful and not even lying about it rather saying well you know how I am. I have grown very attached to the 3 kids. I'm not sure to either just accept this and be happy with how things are or to cut my ties. This would be easy if my love for the kids wasn't as they were my own. We look like we're the picture perfect family to everyone and everyone is happy but I feel at a loss. With my parent passed on these last couple of years I think too much on that til death do us part. I fear once the kids are out of the house so will my husband.
I’m not entirely sure where to start. Getting married for the sake of winning a custody battle is a rocky foundation for a loving marriage. Not that you didn’t have history and a relationship, but it sounds like you weren’t in total agreement about how this marriage would work. You assumed that if he married you, that he’d be a good husband…that he’d actually try. And that’s a fair assumption. But he’s clearly not on the same page. And that’s really unfair and unfortunate, both for you and for the family you share.
Let me say, quite plainly, that no, you should not accept being treated badly. I know you love those kids, but consider what they’ll be learning over the years about relationships by seeing the way he treats you. Kids are not oblivious. They’re little sponges and they know far more about what’s going on the lives of their parents that we’d like them to.
And the fact that your husband is younger is no excuse for his disrespectful behavior. He’s lucky to have you in his life and he’s repaying your kindness to him and his children with a lack of respect and compassion. Maybe he really doesn’t know how to be faithful, but writing off your concerns because “it’s the way he is” is a weak and cowardly way of shirking his responsibilities, some of which include you. You don’t have to accept it and quite frankly, given that you’ve been a parent to his children, you might just have rights to visitation even if you leave.
I know this sounds pretty harsh, and I’m sorry for that. I really do wish you well and I hope you’ll believe me when I say that you deserve a marriage where your husband shows up and gives you 100% (just like you give him). I know that the kids make this really complicated, so you might think about consulting a lawyer to see what your options are, just in case.
It’s okay for you to expect that your husband be faithful. You don’t have to let him get away with the “way that I am” excuse. And if that means having to break up, know that his behavior is really unhealthy for your whole family and there may just be more good in being apart than in being together.
My girlfriend of a year and I are at odds because her daughters father came for xmas and I told my girl that it seems that she is acting different around me. So I asked her if she still has any feelings for him. She tells me that I am insecure and that is why she was single for a long time because she didn’t want to deal with those issues. Now I want to say that months ago I questioned her about some texts she got on her phone from 3 other guys. She tells me they are just friends and that she is with me all the time so there is no way anything there. I tell her that I feel that there may be more to it because my ex wife said the same thing and was sleeping with those so called "friends". Am I off on this? We live together and I love her I just want her to be real with me. Even her mom tells her yesterday in joking hey how come you cant sit closer to Rob, me.
Trust is a big issue here. You’re carrying some major baggage from your previous marriage into this relationship and that’s bound to cause some problems. Sometimes things trigger responses from us that are tied to something else. Your girlfriend’s texts are triggering jealousy and insecurity tied to your previous relationship but recognizing those feelings is the first step toward working through them. You’re going to have to learn to trust your current girlfriend. In love, there’s always the possibility of getting hurt but you can’t have a lasting relationship without trust and communication so try to recognize your feelings as what they are…leftovers from things that happened between you and your ex. Take your girlfriend at her word unless she gives you a reason not to.
Now, let’s talk about Christmas and blended families. Holidays can be a real mess when you’re trying to include everyone. I can tell you from personal experience that having your old life and your new life all in one room can be extremely stressful and can cause you to act all kinds of weird. There’s a lot of juggling being done. Your girlfriend is including her ex presumably to allow her daughter to celebrate with both her parents. That’s very admirable but it comes with its own set of issues and her behavior is one of them. Imagine being in the most awkward possible situation where you want to show affection to your current partner but feel the need to keep things very even keel for the sake of sanity. It’s easy to imagine your girlfriend keeping things cool and professional in order to keep the peace in a somewhat precarious situation. Is it fair? Maybe not. But you have to consider that this is a new experience for you all and that it may take a few tries before you all start to feel calm and normal.
And, of course, since Christmas only comes once a year you don’t get a lot of chances for practice.
My suggestion for you is to try and stay calm. You and your girlfriend should be able to debrief about the holidays. She can tell you how the situation made her feel. And you should be able to do the same. Remember, you’re on the same team even when things are tense. Keep the conversation about how things made you feel. And remember that feelings are not fact. Give them the proper perspective. No personal attacks.
Your feelings are real and they are understandable. This is a tricky situation and if you stay together, its one you’re going to have to deal with again next year so make sure you’re communicating with one another. And I’m going to ask you right now to just come to terms with the fact that your girlfriend is always going to have weird feelings about her ex. She doesn’t ever have to want to be with him again…but he’s still the father of her child. That gives him a strange and permanent place in her life. Get over it (and I mean that with all kindness). Once you accept that he’s going to be in and out of your lives, you take away the power he has to affect your feelings.
Don’t let the stress of the holidays come between you and the girl you love.
My husband of 9 years has 2 children from a previous marriage (ages 15 &17). They wanted us to go to his ex-wife's house on Christmas morning to watch them open their gifts from her last year, for the first time since we've been married. (they never asked when they were little). We reluctantly obliged, drove almost an hour, then sat there while she threw presents to them and they ungratefully tore into them and bickered amongst themselves. It was awkward and uncomfortable for everyone. Well, even though they will be celebrating with us on Christmas Eve, they have demanded him to be there Christmas morning again this year, but I feel that this crosses too many boundaries. I just don't understand it after all this time... Why now? My therapist thinks it's absolutely ridiculous and believes it to be a control tactic by the teenagers. He's a good father, although most times he tries to be more like a friend with inappropriate comments, jokes, language, and actions. As well as letting them do and say whatever they want without any consequences, sometimes even encouraging them by laughing and joining in. I have always been good to them, without trying to over-shadow their mother, who still calls my husband (her ex) to fix problems in her home. Whenever any of them say JUMP... he almost always says HOW HIGH! Do I have the right to be pissed?... because I am.
Dear Giving In,
You absolutely, unequivocally have the right to be pissed. But being pissed doesn’t really help much right? So let’s talk about the issues at hand. First and foremost, blended families are all kinds of complicated. It sounds like your husband has trouble with boundaries and I can completely understand why you’re feeling frustrated. You’ve got a husband who’s making things up to his kids by allowing them to get away with being disrespectful and demanding. You’ve got an ex-wife in the equation who is intruding into your relationship by asking your husband to attend to her despite being divorced. And you’ve got two teenagers who are probably dealing with a whole heap of emotions that they don’t really understand how to handle. Have you guys considered family counseling?
It seems like there are a few things that need to happen. First, you and your husband need to have a talk about boundaries. He needs to understand how these things make you feel and how they affect your relationship. You need to understand how he’s feeling as well. I’m sure he’s conflicted about how to be the best father to his kids and it may simply not have occurred to him that there are any other options. The kids also need to understand the consequences of their actions and behavior. For whatever reason, they’re struggling for power over him. It could stem from any number of things including that they are both in that overwhelming, emotion-driven world of adolescence and they’re testing you. They will learn something from the results they get…whether they are able to manipulate the situation or not, so it would be a good idea for you and your husband to talk about what the implications of giving in to their demands are.
Now, I would like to say that, under the right circumstances, it’s not a horrible thing to consider spending Christmas with your hubby’s ex if it means having the family together. But the situation you described at last year’s celebration sounds less than ideal. I would say that the whole family…kids especially…need a good dose of boundaries and appropriate behavior. Have you sat down with the kids and explained why the situation makes you uncomfortable? You and your husband need to be on the same page first, but maybe this is a good time to start having some really honest family discussions. The kids are old enough to understand how their actions affect the people around them and you’ve been a part of their lives for a long time. You deserve their respect and they deserve yours. This is a good time to bring them into the conversation as valuable partners in the family dynamic.
Last point. Model the behavior you want them to learn…your husband and your kids. Be open and honest. Be kind but assertive. Be willing to hear what they have to say despite feeling frustrated with them and try to involve them in the solution as much as you can. You may need to be firm with the kids and just tell them that you will not be doing Christmas with their mom, but maybe there’s something else that will appease their need for closeness and your need for respect and boundaries.
Wishing you luck.
Don't be shy! Say what's on your mind and get a good dose of perspective in return.