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Dating at Midlife/dating a divorced man with adult kids & ex


Hi Dr. B. I cannot get this issue off of my mind so here it is.. My guy has been divorced for 10 yrs.  He & I met on the job and have been dating for the last 5 yrs.  Our relationship is great except that his 3 adult children have been distant towards him and especially me.  He has stated that he never cheated on his ex-wife, and that she was difficult,combative & physically abusive at times and that he stayed till the youngest was a teen, and had to leave so that he would not end up in jail. The children have selective memory, I guess, and are "Pro Mom", especially the oldest(33),who is his ex's biological but not his. Since we have been together the kids, who still live with  mom, and have no transportation,have had Fathers day, some Birthdays events and even a request for X-mas that have not included me.  He has since decided that his home is to be used for that now.  This year the kids gave mom a birthday party and each child asked him individually to attend and he declined, but his siblings attended. Next up, the oldest child had a life threatening medical issue that is still not resolved, and as expected his family surrounded her with love & support. The latest Birthday party was given by his sister, and yes she invited his ex. It was tension between his ex & me due to the fact that we had met only once before, and she quietly made a unfriendly remark to me. She was overly social with family that  she did not like while they were married, according to him. I explained to him what she said and her obvious intentions, to humiliate me.  Well my guy & I decided that we had socialized enough and could hear the band from the front porch of the house and with outdoor candles we actually created a cozy atmosphere for ourselves at the peak of the party. His ex and his children found us eventually.  When the party started to break up we returned to the back yard and had a nice time, but I was FURIOUS inside! I am still furious at his family, who have been nothing but inclusive & supportive to me. After his ex left, another sister said to me that his ex has no shame and should have come with a date of her own. I hope most of his family feels this way, but with the pending operation of their oldest child I do not want to appear selfish. My guy says that it does not matter what anyone does, as long as he continues to be with me-all will see.  I love him for that, but I still think he underestimates his ex & kids, and I feel he should stress to them that even if I am not in the picture he and his ex are done.  I feel he should explain to his family that his ex is not wanted at family events due to her disrespect for the both of us, I want them to know all the tricks her & the kids have pulled over the years, and I am dreading the next event the kids have in store!  


Hi Lady B

We might have to have a conversation here. The requirements are subtle and more info is needed.
I will tell you that this particular triangle:  parent, children, parent's new partner
is especially troublesome and challenging.There is a lot of scapegoating that goes on.

Also, since you are on the outside, the denied leg of the triangle (your relationship with him)
I'd need to hear from him as well. We're talking about strategies here.
A divorce resolves nothing and usually is based on "unreconcilable differences."
Post divorce, it's a new scheme and sometimes those differences can be sufficiently resolved
so the kids are relieved. But that's some high level negotiating and it takes self-awareness
some serious self-forgiveness and often some support.

What's happening now is just more of the same, except the parties are divorced.
the divorce needs to be further developed.

Often in divorce families the children take sides, or are invited to take sides, and these
tendencies are often denied but exist none the less and the more they are denied, the more
powerful  they are often.

So please know that your challenge is known, difficult, and common

I have some questions:

"had to leave so that he would not end up in jail"   I'd need to know more about that.
there are clues here about the dynamics and what needs to be done.

I'm  not sure about his decision to not attend the birthday parties.  I'm sure it was principled
but not very strategic in terms of longer term goals.  I'd need to hear his thinking.

you said ' I am still furious at his family, who have been nothing but inclusive & supportive to me"
IS that what you meant to say? Are you saying you are furious at people who have included you and supported you?
I can't understand.

Finally, I would want to hear more about why you have taken it upon yourself to have them
"know all the tricks her & the kids have pulled over the years,"

I'm sure you have your reasons, and I m sure you know that insisting on this particular outcome
you affect the course of the divorce.  That's probably your intention and maybe you are right but
it's a choice and there are other options.  I'd want to know what's at stake for you and for your partner.

Usually it's some very important principle.  

So that's about the best I can do for openers.

Let me know if you want arrange a conversation.

If not, perhaps at least this response will have given you some ways to think more systematically
about your situation.
It's a start.

Philip Alan Belove, Ed.D.  

Dating at Midlife

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Philip Belove, Ed.D.


Hi. I`m Philip Belove (that is my name, really). I`m 71 and I`ve been a psychologist all my midlife, the past 35 years. My specialty has been counseling and coaching other midlife adults.  I think we all figure things out as we go along, but even more so at midlife. Being between 40-ish and 60-ish and single is like being a stranger in a strange land. I`ve learned which questions help people find their own way. I created this category, I publish a blog at and I write articles for various web sites. My commitment is to help people 1) understand and improve how they deal with others, 2) understand the forces that rule the relationships they are in, and 3) make the decisions which will shape, or create, or end those relationships  so they achieve the goal of midlife development  to finally live with personal satisfaction. I`ve been divorced twice myself. I`m in a satisfying relationship with a fine person. I`m very interested in learning about your challenges and in offering what I can.


Professionally: Licensed Psychologist. Marriage and Family Therapist. Coach.Author. University Lecturer. Personally: I'm 71. I've probably made all the big mistakes, er, learned the big lessons.I've forgiven myself and made many apologies and I've made it into a good, stable, sweet relationship. I now have a perspective on midlife.

Please check out my book, Rabbis in Love, at Also my blog at The Rabbi book was done as part of a research project. My collaborator, Marilyn Bronstein, and I wanted to interview couples with very successful marriage and also we wanted to talk to people who cared as much about their spirituality as love. Maybe being able to love and be spiritual were one and same, we thought. So we found a rabbi couple and the interview was so astounding that we interviewed nine more rabbi couples. One dropped. They'd revealed too much. It's a fascinating book and, Jewish or not, religious or not, these couples do a lot of things right and there is a lot to learn from them.

Masters in Counseling Psychology, Alfred Adler Institute Doctorate in Consulting Psychology, focus on family therapy, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

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