“Myself [30F] and my partner [32M] have been romantically entangled on and off for the last 15 years. We have been together for nearly 5 years and he has lived in my house for the last 2 years or so with my 2 kids- 9 & 6 who adore him.
We have had a lot of stuff happen over the last year or so, I lost a whole bunch of friends, developed an allergy to something we still haven’t figured out what, broke out in full head to toe psoriasis over night for the first time ever, got bullied at work, lost my dream job due to said bullying, his parents went mental at me on Facebook over a meme, its been a heck of a year. At the same time his band is up and coming and he’s trying to find out what he wants to do for a career. I suffer anxiety and depression and have a whole abused childhood thing going on which creates issues itself.
We’ve been rowing a lot recently but there has been a general problem with communication as a whole. We do love each other very much and want to make it work – I do anyway, I just have to take him at his word really.
My mum, who is crazy BTW, asked him if he just moved in with me cause he had nowhere else to go, and now he’s decided he wants to move out instead of break up after a recent argument, and has gotten himself a flat nearby. I am trying to be optimistic and hope maybe it will work cause I really do love him but I really just feel like it’s just a long drawn-out break up
I don’t want to tell my kids it will work out and then have to deal with the fall out if it doesn’t. Cause when their dad (not my current partner) was asked to leave for our best interests (he was an alcoholic, quite nasty) my eldest blamed me, hated me for ages and it took me so long to build up that trust with him again. I don’t want to tell them it will be fine when I don’t believe it myself and what happens if it isn’t? It’s only temporary right?
So basically my question is – Am I doing the right thing? And wtf do I tell my kids?”
Dear Trixy Treat,
I am so sorry to hear that this year has been so filled with incredible inter- and intrapersonal challenges this year. I really feel for all the difficulties you’ve faced and overcome in such a short amount of time, while managing your resources that were already stretched incredibly thin.
There is a lot going on in your story.
Your relationship with your ex. Your relationship with your mother. Your relationship with his parents. Your relationship with your kids. His relationship with your kids. Your relationship with yourself. Your relationship with your past. And your relationship with him. All these connections are interwoven and reveal something very deep and complex about the way you generally manage your personal relationships. In this advice column, I will focus on two of those: the relationship you have with your partner then the relationships you have with your kids.
Let’s first consider the relationship you have with your partner.
You mentioned that you’ve been having an on-and-off relationship with your partner for fifteen years, predating your children. In that time, you’ve gone through a lot of changes. Even in the five year relationship that you developed with him following the end of the relationship you had with the father of your children had a lot of growth and challenges baked into the very fabric of your connection. You’ve always reconnected after difficult times, as evidenced by your experience from the past fifteen years. So it might be a good time for you accept that this is just the nature of your relationship. The constant push and pull, the general sense of ambivalence, and the inevitable reconnect. You say that you aren’t sure yourself whether things will work out. And that’s fair. But I think you might be asking the wrong question. The question to be asking isn’t if you have trust in him to reconnect with you. The right question to be asking is if you have the faith in your relationship with him for that inevitable reconnect to come.
He has been there for you through the thick and thin. So if the communication is being challenged, we often look to our past history to connect the dots to figure out what the future might reveal. Give him an opportunity to figure out his professional life out for himself as well, and see what kind of room you can make for each other thereafter.
Let’s now discuss the relationship you want to have with your kids.
You mentioned that your eldest had a lot of difficulty with accepting the departure of his father. Since you’ve been seeing your current partner for five years, your eldest must’ve been four or five when his father left. At that age, he was probably aware of his surroundings and the kind of relationship his biological father had with alcohol. But he might not have fully understood why that was the best decision for you, for his brother, and for himself. That kind of radical awareness and acceptance will come with time, as he understands and accepts that his parents are imperfect. They will also have to come to accept that your relationship with your current partner is also imperfect.
In the past five years of your relationship together, they’ve developed a pretty good idea of the kind of father figure he can be in their lives. I am not of belief that your kids need to know every little intimate detail about their parents’ relationships. It is almost a privilege for them to know only what they need to hear. So you’ll have to consider what you want to disclose. And come up with a convenient explanation for why your partner has moved out. Your kids will learn to adjust. We all want our kids to live that idyllic childhood, but we all have to face the reality that the world is often what it is: imperfect and flawed. Kids are surprisingly resilient and they’ll get through this with you one way or another.
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