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Remarriage/Is my relationship doomed to fail?


I've been with my boyfriend for 3 years now. I've been married 3 times and he's been married once. My marriages failed for a variety of reasons: right out of college and too far in to call it off, 2nd was womanizer and cheated on me, 3rd one was controlling calling me names and wasn't interested in me sexually except to have kids. I now have 2 little kids and my boyfriend has 3 teens. My kids loved him from the beginning whereas his 2 oldest kids wanted nothing to do with me. With time though, they seemed to accept me and we even did family vacations together.

Two years after we met, we got engaged and I moved into his house with my kids. The next 2 months were pure chaos...his ex wife wanted him back (that's a whole other on-going issue), his mother wouldn't even acknowledge our engagement, his kids threatened to move out if I stayed, etc. With all that, he asked me to move out and he ended the engagement. He told me his kids came first and he didn't want to lose them. A few weeks later he came back telling me he loved me, wanted me in his life but his kids weren't ready for me and with time we would merge once more. We now live apart again (45 mins away) and we see each other every other week - 5 days no kids and weekends with either his kids or mine.

9 months have now passed and I see no real progress. His mother still hates me and I'm not allowed at family functions. His kids seem okay with me most of the time but I can see them trying to sabatoge our relationship in hopes he will get back with their mom. His oldest daughter knows smoking is a deal breaker for me and my boyfriend has been trying to quit for the past 3 years. But just last week his daughter "let it slip" that he was smoking again. I think she told me knowing it might cause a breakup. Now it seems that smoking is another issue for us. I've told him since day one I have no tollerance for smoking (he was a smoker when I met him but he already had plans to quit) but now he says he's an adult and he's capable of smoking once in a while without getting hooked (he was a smoker for 20+ years). That my smoking deal breaker is stupid and I should just accept him. However, when it comes to his issues (I'm not allowed to wear certain dresses to work, shouldn't have lunch with male co-workers, etc.) I must accept them or he will leave me. His first marriage ended with her cheating on him so I understand his issues and don't cross them. But why should my smoking issue be disregarded?

There is so much baggage between us. I know he's scared of my past marriages (the main reason his mother hates me and it trying to break us up) and I'm having a hard time moving past his breaking off our engagement and not asking me again. He said he has no intetions of asking me any time soon but that I need to trust him when he says he will stay with me forever. With his kids not liking me, his parents hating me, his never ending attempts to quit smoking, are we destined to fail? Is my smoking deal breaker stupid? Should I accept the fact that his kids are in control of when we get engaged and when I get to move back in? How should he be dealing with his parents hating me? I wasn't allowed over for Thanksgiving so instead I had to sit in the car for 90 minutes while he was inside with his kids. For Christmas, he took me to his sister's house even though I wasn't invited. His mother ignored me and gave me her shoulder when I attempted to hug her and wish her a Merry Christmas. I'm now not invited to their annual summer vacation. Should he still go with his kids and continue allowing her to set conditions on who he can be with? Or should only his kids go and he go a vacation with me and my kids instead?

Believe me when I say when we're alone, we are amazing together. My friends tell me he must be something special for me to still be with him. He is. We both feel a love that we've never felt before with someone else. But with so much tearing us apart, can love be enough?

Dear Jennifer,
There are a lot of things that are obstacles to this relationship.  When you are alone, I understand that things may be amazing.  Anything that exists in a bubble has a tendency to be more peaceful and joyful because there are no outside problems, no responsibility etc.  However, this relationship does not and will not exist in that bubble and to think it will is participating in fantasy.  He has children, they will always be a part of the picture.  He also has extended family and they will be around for quite some time.

You need to pay attention to how you are being treated here.  Although children should be considered in any blended family, they aren't the only consideration.  However if you cannot forge a relationship with his children, you will always have a problem in that area of your lives.  The same with his parents.  I can't quite wrap my head around why you would sit in the car for 90 minutes while he is with his family on Thanksgiving.  How he could let that happen speaks to his respect for you as well as some of the other things that you mentioned. The more appropriate thing would have been to have you come in or for you to have stayed at home and he met you there for plans after the family get together.  

You are not being treated well at all because his family does not want to or is not able to move on, to include you as part of the family.  If that continues, there really is not a lot of hope for a happy relationship with this man.  These problems will be in the relationship because they are attached to him.  Your life in the bubble is not the real life, your life in the midst of family and the rest of the world is what is real.  If that isn't working, either take steps to solve the issues by going to counseling or realize that the obstacles may be too much for this relationship to handle.  Sometimes that is the case.  Love sometimes is not enough.  Either way, I would strongly suggest that you go to counseling to address the issues of why you sacrifice yourself in these ways on the altar of "love".

I wish you all the best and if there is anything more I can do for you, please feel free to contact me again.  


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Kriss Mitchell, M.Ed, CRC, CNHP


I am able to answer questions with regard to the emotional considerations that arise from divorce and remarriage as well as questions about blended families and the unique issues that spring from these relationships. Questions that I am unable to answer have anything to do with legal matters. I am not a lawyer, so these questions are outside of my scope of practice.


I have been in a blended family situation for 30 years and understand the mistakes that can be made, the good intentions that fail and the unique situations that can arise having ex-spouses as part of the family unit. I am also a professional counselor.

American Mental Health Counselors Assn American Association of Christian Counselors International Association of Prayer Counselors

I currently maintain a blog at I also have links and currently written articles on my website at You can also follow me on TWITTER @livingwellcc, or on facebook at Living Well Counseling and Consulting. My writings have appeared in The Good News Northwest and the North Idaho Business Journal

Licensed Professional Counselor Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Certified Natural Health Professional

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Board Certified Christian Counselor

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