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Remarriage/Dating a man with 5 children

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Question
Hi. I have been dating a wonderful Christian man for 6 months. He has 5 small children (ages 13, 11, 9, 7, and 6- four girls and one boy). I have two grown daughters (22 and 23 years old). We have been talking about marriage and I cant seem to get past the fear of him having 5 children. I know how difficult it is to blend families and the challenges involved. The question I'm struggling with is, am I wanting to start over by being with someone who has those kind of responsibilities? There's a possibility that some of them may want to live with him one day. He has them every other weekend and on Thursdays the weeks he doesn't have them. He has everything that I've wanted and looked for in a man except the baggage. I have been around his children and they are very good children who have been raised well. However, I couldn't be there longer than an hour because of all the playing and yelling. I want to get to know them more, but I just cant bring myself to it out of fear. I am fine with my time and his time and then his time with them. In my heart, I don't want to raise children again. I have called it off many times with him and he keeps telling me we are worth fighting for. There is a part of me that believes that and another part tells me I'm just not cut out for all the challenges involved. I don't want to sound selfish, but I have to be truthful with myself. Do I need to spend more time with them and give them a chance? Do I move on and not settle for less than I'm looking for? There's no drama with his ex and he is crazy about me and I am crazy about him as well. But for some reason I can't get past the fear and feel peace.  I just need input so I can make the best decision for myself. I know no one can make it for me but me, but someone's opinion really helps. Thank you so much and I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

Answer
Dear Amanda,
I believe your heart is telling you that you aren't ready for this.  If you can't find peace, I would listen to that.  You have raised your children.  You didn't say how old you are, but I can say that as we age, we enter that time in our lives when we have the time, energy and mental ability to deal with small children.  We raise them and move out of that time in our lives.  We then become grandparents and although we love our grandchildren, we are very much able to deal with them for short periods of time and not carry the major responsibility for them.  In this situation, you are being asked to go backwards and take on the responsibility for raising young children once again and that doesn't feel good to you.

It is never a good idea to make a lifelong commitment thinking that you love the man and will eventually get used to his children. That doesn't work.  He is asking you to take on a very large responsibility as you are not the mother of these children.  The step-parent is not their parent and when push comes to shove....unless their father requires them to respect and obey you, they will not give you the authority in their lives that you are used to from your own children.  I speak from experience.

Listen to your heart. It is telling you to run the other way. It is telling you there are red flags here and you need to pay attention.  Just because this man may seem to be what you want doesn't mean there isn't someone else who can fill your heart just as much and have a better situation in which to spend your life.  If you believe you are settling for less than you want, you are.  It is not good to settle and there are 5 children who could be caught in the midst of another broken marriage if this doesn't work out...and it would most likely be because of them in some way.  That would not be fair to them.

You said, "He has everything that I've wanted and looked for in a man except the baggage."  In truth, he has many things that you appreciate but he has baggage that you don't want to take on so he is not everything that you have wanted and looked for.  You said, "In my heart, I don't want to raise children again."  That is a true statement, probably the most true statement out of all of your statements.  You are not selfish by being true to your own needs and desires.  5 children are a lot of responsibility, 5 complicated relationships and whether the ex is not an issue now or not, if you marry him, you marry her.  That is just the truth of it.  

He says that the relationship is worth fighting for but I don't see where he is making any sacrifices here.  He isn't saying he will see the children less, he isn't saying that he is willing to tell them they can't live with him down the road and I don't know that he has told you that if you don't desire to take on his children and be a parent to them that he won't require you to do so.  Not many women would step into that situation, just for the reasons that you are stating.

The truth is that you don't want to marry a man with small children.  You have learned that from this situation.  You want a man like him, without children or with grown children.  So, if that is what you want, then don't settle for less.  That does not mean that he isn't a great guy and a wonderful person.  It simply means that this situation is not right for you and it will never be.  

I wish you the very best as you sort through all of this.  If I can be of any further assistance, please feel free to contact me again.

Remarriage

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Kriss Mitchell, M.Ed, CRC, CNHP

Expertise

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.

Experience

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.

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

Publications
I currently maintain a blog at www.livingwellcc.blogspot.com. I also have links and currently written articles on my website at www.livingwellcc.com. 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

Education/Credentials
Licensed Professional Counselor Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Certified Natural Health Professional

Awards and Honors
Board Certified Christian Counselor

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