A divorced dad with custody of his three sons discovers his partner may have different priorities

Torn Between My Lover & My Kids

For almost 5 years, I have been divorced, and have full parental custody of my three sons; 17, 13, 11. During that time, I have tried to find someone to invest in a meaningful, long term reltionship. During the first 4 years, I was unsuccessful at finding that one special man to share being a father with me. Men looked at me as a guy with a handicap, because I slept with a woman and had children, and because I am bringing up by myself, my 3 boys. They looked at me as damaged goods. Because of that, I decided to concentrate solely on bringing up my sons, and having nothing to with guys. About 7 months ago, I met a man who told me he wanted a family, and we fell in love. He was brouht up as a single child, and he has never had kids. We both gave up our apartments, and found ourselves a nice house to move into with my sons. Unfortunately, at times, my lover prioritizes other things before the kids’ needs. He is a clean freak for one and finds it difficult when the boys, leave at times their clothes on the floor, or dishes not in the dishwasher. He looks at them as adults who should be independant, not growing kids. Secondly, his needs always have to come before my boys. Even though I love him, I feel that I cannot, just drop the kids for him. We are to be married in May of 2008, but I a beginning to question that, because he does not put the kids as a priority. I need advice, and hope that someone here, who is also a gay parent, can help me, or help us get over this obsticle.

6 thoughts on “A divorced dad with custody of his three sons discovers his partner may have different priorities

  • December 10, 2007 at 4:50 am

    stick in there

  • November 23, 2007 at 11:50 pm

    I hear what you are saying. I was “the other partner”. My spouse has two children and we recently had her nephew move in with us. It was difficult for me to adjust to going from “single” to family, although I really wanted kids. We have been together for 6 years now and married for one. The children were 4 and 6 when we met. We now live together, but did not for the first 5 years as we needed this time to “adjust”. My partner and I still have some conflict, but at the same time, it is about the kids as number one. From the “other” side, as much as I wanted kids, it was hard to transition into my new life. Birth parents have the advantage of “growing” with their kids. Us step-parents sometimes take some time to adjust. However, I wouldn’t have my life any other way.
    Loving my life,
    Tami F

  • January 1, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    I posted this comment before I joined the site. I like it around here and I think I might stay awhile.

    I hope all works out with you and your partner and I am here to chat.

  • January 1, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    I am going to try and not be judgmental with my post.

    4 years ago when I met my partner, I put it straight to him before a first date, kiss, first anything. If it came down to my kids versus him, he would lose every time. He understood and still wanted to get to know me.

    Just 2 months after we start living together, my ex-wife brings the boys to stay with me for what was supposed to be just a few weeks for the summer. They have not left. My partner, with whom I was blessed, never skipped a beat!

    From day one when my boys, 3 and 5 at the time, came to stay with us, he treated them as they were his own. In fact, I have issues of jealousy sometimes because I get the short end of the stick at times.

    All that to say, I lucked out and found a man that said he wanted a family and really meant it. This is not to imply that your partner does not want a family. But from what I know about only children, my ex-wife and my mother were only children, it is hard for them to refocus. They were used to having everything to their selves and did not have the competition of siblings for time and attention. Take it easy on him and help him to work through this process. It is hard to go from being single to “insta-family”. He is stuck in his ways, so to speak. But just the fact that he has moved into a home with you and your boys, speaks volumes. That was a huge step for a single man, let alone a single gay man that was an only child.

    So talk it out. Write it out. But communicate with each other and keep those lines open. Have special times for each other during the day, week, or month, when the kids are not around and make them regular. When in your special time, focus solely on each other and your needs of and for each other. This does take work, but in time you two can find a happy medium where all are adjusted and both adults can let the kids be kids and appreciate them for that.

  • March 26, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    I hear you. I am in a similar situation right now. I have known this guy since 7 months, totally and madly in love with him. He has 2 kids aged 5 and 7, their mother passed away 3 years ago. We are totally in love but he is not out to anyone. He decided to come out to his mother in law who takes care of the kids when he is at work, she was supportive but concerned for the kids. To my surprise 2 days ago he ended the relationship because he feels he is not giving the children 100%, and says I am the reason why he is not doing that. I know he loves me a lot. I have been very accomodating and I will still support him if he chooses to continue on his path. I love the kids dearly too and I am willing to do whatever it takes to make things work.

    I am sorry I was supposed to tell you something to solve your problem and ended up telling you about mine…

    For what it’s worth, I think the kids come first for sure, but that does not mean there is no room for a partner. I think the key is finding someone who is understanding, stable, and willing to go through thick and thin because there will be ups and downs in any relationship. I think constant communication and sharing of fears and concerns is a must for things to work. Taking rash decisions doesn’t help anyone in such a situation. My advice to you is to assess how much you love this guy, and if the answer is you love him with all your heart, then ask yourself, how good is he to your kids, have a conversation with him on the topic, tell him your concerns and see if he can address them or see if you can come to common grounds, if not, then you can think about other options and make up your mind.

    If you are truely in love, do not have doubts, work it through, I hope you won’t shut him off like the guy i love dearly did to me. Work it out, talk, consult, cry, but communicate and keep an open mind.

    Not sure if that helps, I hope it does.


  • June 4, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    I see it’s been over 6 months since the post. I am a gay dad, but I do not have my kids with me as it was difficult having them go between two homes. So, I visit often.

    My perspective comes from thoughts I’ve had, and my experience in marriage. When you are both the natural parents, the kids thrive when mom and dad have a great relationship. If the kids become the focus, the relationship suffers and so do the kids.

    In any family, the adults learn to put the needs of the kids first, but also teach the kids that mom and dad’s relationship is key to the family staying together. Security for kids is so important.

    When a step parent is involved it can be good or bad. The natural parent has a responsibility to the kids. The step parent may not always see this, but can often feel threatened by the kids.

    I say that the natural parent must be sensitive to the step parent, and find the balance to put the kids needs first, but still meet the partner’s need. The step parent has to learn how to meet the need of the partner, and assist in parenting. A lot of communication and patience is needed on both sides.

    For me, I cannot provide any emotional support for my boys when my emotional needs aren’t being met, so I couldn’t be single and still parent. This may not be true for everyone. Others simply can’t deal with having to choose between the needs of their partner and their kids.

    For you, you have to decide what you need. And if you need a partner in your life, then you have to figure out how to meet his needs while not compromising those of your kids. Yes, the kids must be your priority, but if you fail to meet his needs, you could lose him. No easy answers, but he is an adult while your kids are not. He can choose to be selfish and leave, you can not. The kids must come first if it ever comes to a choice.

    Good luck, and I hope things are working out.


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