should I marry a man with 3 children?

Devon - posted on 06/08/2011 ( 29 moms have responded )

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Hello All, I'm new to the group so I look forward to hearing some of your answers...my question is this: I have been dating a wonderful man for over a year now and we are considering getting married. He has full custody of his 3 children from a previous marriage, ages 12,15 and 20. The mother is out of the picture and he gets no support at all for the kids, so he and I would be the only parents. I am excited about this extended family situation however, my intended is on a limited budget and has a difficult time affording his children's daily needs. There have been many times that we go out and I end up paying for the outing. I sometimes feel like he has his hands in my pockets and he even asks me for things like the spare bed from my bedroom so his 15 year old can have a new mattress. Things like this make me very nervous to move forward with him. There is more, but I don't want to bore you with the details. Long story short is, I have more money than he does. He is a wonderful person and I am very much in love with him, but the fear is getting in the way. Any advice is helpful!! Regards, Devon

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Gwen - posted on 06/08/2011

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These are major issues that need to be addressed before considering marriage. Blending a family is hard enough. Throw in money and trust issues and you have a recipe for disaster. I suggest finding a good pastor or counselor and spending some serious time in premarital counseling. The two of you need to share your thoughts on these issues and come to a mutual understanding. That being said, raising kids is expensive. If you are prepared to raise these kids, you also have to be prepared to pool your resources. Kids require huge sacrifices. The "Mine" and "Yours" attitude won't work. Marriage is something you should be entering into with optimism, not doubt. Best of luck!

[deleted account]

His impatience, crying w/ the 'woe is me' attitude, etc... are all red flags to me, so tread VERY carefully.

Elfrieda - posted on 06/09/2011

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It's hard to know how to look at this situation. I mean, from one perspective, maybe he just sees you as his wife already, and so just assumes that you are just as interested in paying for outings, kid stuff, etc as he is. On the other hand, the whining really puts out a bad manipulative vibe. What kind of man begs for money from his girlfriend? If the family outing to the bowling alley is too expensive, take a picnic to the park instead, don't spring it on you that YOU are the one to pay once you're already there.



Maybe he's a good guy with just this issue, in which case I think it might be a good idea to put a little distance in your relationship (don't see each other every day, etc) while going for marriage counselling. Maybe he just doesn't realize what he's doing, and once he does realize that his behaviour is not right he'll change. But I think you're wise not to marry him when you have a bad feeling about it.

Terralyn - posted on 06/08/2011

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sounds to me like he really is using you for money so please be very careful before you make a decision.

Vikki - posted on 06/11/2011

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Hi Devon,

I saw my sister marry someone "to help out with the bills" and it didn't turn out very well. I understand your concern 100%. Is there any way of finding out his motives? Does he ever offer to pay for you or is it a thing of if you don't pay the entire bill you split it? If his motives are the same as my sisters and he thinks it will just be easier on him, it is a recipe for disaster. I am a huge believer in listening to your intuition and if it is sending you these uneasy feelings, it may not be the best thing to do. You said that he is impatient but if he truly loves you, he will give you the time that you need. I also had a friend that disappeared when it was time to pay for dinner or a movie, even when he asked me out. It just became too easy to stick me with the check and when this became a habit and saw that he really didn't have any concern on whether or not I could afford it, I quit seeing him. I felt very disrespected by his behavior and lack of concern. He NEVER asked about my financial burdens just whined about his own. There are sharks out there that will continue to take without ever giving back. I wish you the best of luck.

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Devon - posted on 06/12/2011

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wow! I am overwhelmed by all the thoughtful comments, whether they were kind or just direct and to the point. Some even hit me over the head, but I thank you all so much. I feel that relationships most often require a 3rd party to bounce things off of and to vent etc...we as women need this in our lives because we are not so clear cut and dry as men seem to be. Anyway, bottom line is that I do love this man very deeply. (he was not just filling a void as someone suggested) There are issues in every relationship and this one definitely needs more time to grow and communication needs to be better about money issues. He came on very strong in the beginning, told me he loved me by our 3rd or 4th date and started talking marriage shortly thereafter. This was a huge red flag to me but I hung in because he seemed to be a kind, loving, giving person along with being an incredible father. He has life long friends (over 30yrs), a steady job for 23yrs and most everyone who knows him tells me the same thing "he's a great guy". I know he's a keeper and perhaps we should have a few serious sit downs. The biggest problem I have with him IS a lack of communication on the large issues. He tends to get very emotional, cries, leaves if he's staying with me or hangs up if we're talking on the phone. He even broke up with me once because things were not going HIS way. (I was going to let him go, but he groveled and got me back).

Anyway, as of Saturday,he left on a vacation with the kids and I'm driving up on Wednesday to spend the rest of the week them. I chose to not go the entire week because I saw it as a opportunity to take a little break along with the fact that he was asking me for money to help with the hotel expense and I was having some awkward feelings about that as well. Will keep you all posted. Thank you to my new friends! Devon

Kathleen - posted on 06/11/2011

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Sounds to me as if you see the red flags and you are trying to be convinced to ignore them.
I've been alone with children too, to raise, but never took them anywhere I could not afford, nor did I expect anyone else to pay for them either. IF he is having a tough time, he should have taken them somewhere free, such as the beach. If you research the paper there are a lot of freebie's to do. You did not say how long you have been a widow, I suspect you were lonely and went out with him to fill in your time. You have also not mentioned if you have children and what their ages are? Are you older than the man you are dating? I feel you need to search yourself for truthful answers. And, by all means talk to a professional. Any man who starts acting like a child and crying and not handling an adult conversation, definitely has some issues. Please tread carefully and goodluck. I forget who gave the advise, but a prenup and living on the income you both currently make and putting all assets in a protected account seems very wise. If you were to see a Financial advisor, he or she could give suggestions and set up accounts. I disagree with some for saying you are not ready. I feel you are being manipulated into feeling guilty and that is wrong. There is nothing wrong with proceeding with caution and seeking advise. Also, a year is not very long to know somebody. God Bless.

Val - posted on 06/11/2011

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if you got involved with a man that have children and he and the chrildren respect you as amom and wife why are you complaining about material things you need to put GOD frist in the relationship and leave the rest to him stop griping

Marjorie - posted on 06/11/2011

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Devon, I respectfully suggest you do not enter into a marriage with this man. I did with someone who does not totally resemble this man, but his family baggage, money issues, ex-wife, all resulted in our marriage failing and me having to provide him with a settlement to end the marriage. We did have (adopted) two children who he loves but does not support, and I do fear for his financial future has he has a hard time holding a job and has used all the money I gave him during his periods of unemployment. His saving grace is he is a good Father and our children love him. Taking on all that baggage and the way he leans on you financially is a big step. Make sure you are ready, as I hear too many red flags and think you should probably walk away before the kids get too attached to you and you to them. Not fair to them.

Jennifer - posted on 06/10/2011

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get out now he is clearly using you...you a financial crutch for him....If you are having any doubt then get out....go with your gut instinct...something is already telling you this isn't gonna work if you are asking for advice..

Linda - posted on 06/09/2011

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You are not going to have a successful relationship is you lie to one another. Even if it is as simple as how much money you have in your pocket, you are undermining the relationship. If you don't want to lend him money, then tell him. If you can't go bowling because you don't have the money, then go to the playground. Does he know this bothers you? You need to be honest with him. Since you are not married, nor engaged, you should tell him you are not comfortable with constantly giving him things. Also, I think I would spend some time by yourself really considering your feelings for this man. Why don't you want to help him more? Do you really love him? He is a nice guy, but do you really want to spend the rest of your life with him? Could you live without him? Marriage requires enormous self-sacrifice, and it doesn't really sound like you are prepared for that yet. You both may be wonderful people, but maybe are not ready for the next step. My sister dated the same man for 4 years in college--and was thinking about marrying him. He was a wonderful guy. I asked her if she could live without him--she thought she could! So I told her not to marry him as I could never live (happily) without my husband. I would really spend time and prayer on this subject.

Alexandria - posted on 06/09/2011

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From what i can see it seems that maybe he thinks it is ok for him to ask you for money, so you must have given him the opinion that it is ok. Have you ever told him that it bothers you that he is always relying on 'you' for money. I think that it is very hard for a man to ask for money as they always like to be the provider, so he must be pretty comfortable with you in order to just ask like that. So in some way it is kinda nice that he thinks highly enough of you to let you try and help him out a little bit. However that being said i can totally understand what you are going through .... i have also been put in the same position at one time in my life and at times it got a little rediculous. I think you should sit down with him and just discuss that you love him and his children and you dont mind helping out .... but explain that you are starting to feel like you are being use. Maybe explain to him that it just seems like it is now expected of you to just dish out monday for all kind of random reasons. I am sure he will understand and i know that it may take a few times to get it through to him. Try and set some kind of limit and tell him that you dont mind helping out with certain planned things. Try setting some ground rules, good luck!!

Alison - posted on 06/09/2011

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Devon, I am very sorry to hear you are a widow. :(
My greatest concern is about your relationship with the children (although I think you got some good advice on working out your financial issues with your boyfriend). My husband had a horrible experience with his father's second wife. And some very close friends are in a similar situation, where he remarried with a wife who wasn't ready to be a mom to his children and it has been pretty ugly for all parties concerned.

If you are not ready to marry the whole family, I don't think you should do it at all.

I do wish you all the best, whatever you decide to do.

Gwen - posted on 06/09/2011

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Well, based on the bowling alley incident, I'd say you aren't even CLOSE to being ready to marry this guy. He is manipulating you and you are lying to him. This is not a healthy relationship.

Amy - posted on 06/08/2011

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Maybe before you go out you should clarify that he has money to pay his own way and that of his kids, rather then getting there and then trying to figure it out. The kids are part of the package, if you have your own children you would be saying the same thing! I wonder what the responses would be if the shoe was on the other foot. Raising kids is expensive, especially as a single parent, my husband and I work full time and make decent money and we have struggled at times. I personally would be more concerned if he hasn't had a job in 6 months or switched employers every year but it sounds like he's doing the best he can. If you want someone who can treat you to dinners and outings it doesn't sound like this is the relationship for you. If I were you I'd figure it out pretty quickly because not only will this affect him you are now going to be walking away from 3 kids who probably have heard you discuss marriage!

Laura - posted on 06/08/2011

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Well the fact that your questioning it is scary. My husband and I both had 2 kids each when we got married and now have 2 together. If u guys r already planning on getting married I dont think its a big deal 4 him to ask u for stuff. When u marry someone with children u can not think of his kids as his kids they have to become our kids u become a family unit. And trust me being with someone with children is VERY hard. You have to decide if your realationship means enough for u to keep it going knowing that it is not gonna be easy and alot more work for both of u. You r the only person who can decide that I can also tell u that once you r married to someone with children alot of thier reasponsabilities become yours also u have to be willing to give alot and so does he. My husband and I have been married for 4 years and we still have hard times trying to deal with eachothers children but we love each other and we always work it out. GOOD LUCK to u

Devon - posted on 06/08/2011

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okay, we just got back from bowling with his youngest 12 year old. we must have passed about 4 banks between his house and the bowling alley. We get to the bowling alley and he asks o borrow $20.00 because he was not able to get to the bank. I told him I only had $3.00 on me (I really had about $70) He then said, well, there's an ATM machine but I really don't know how to use it to withdraw money and it they service charge you to use it...I told him, I had to go to the bathroom and that I was sure he'd figure out how to use the machine. When I came back from the lady's room, all the kids were in the game area and he had gotten money from the ATM. I knew that if I lent him a $20 that I would never see it again. What is your take on this please....I'm having a really difficult time deciding what to do with this guy....

Devon - posted on 06/08/2011

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Thank you Terralyn, all things being considered at this point...you sound like a wonderful person

Terralyn - posted on 06/08/2011

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I am going to go from a different view point. I have 3 children and 2 of them have special needs, my kids father said our youngest wasn't even his ( i was a church going person at the time and I was and always will be a person who would NOT consider cheating) so I left him. I was on my own for 11.5 years with those 3 and struggled many times to make ends meet. I work hard and am very careful with my purchases as well. When i met the guy i am with now he liked to go out for dinner etc and i am not the sort to believe because he is the guy he has to pay but reality being what it is, i was not able to afford to go out as often as he wanted to so he carried a lot of the financial responsibillity for those outings. If you don't have children of your own you can't completely understand that but if you are wanting to be in a relationship with him then you have to decide if you are willing to share financial responsibility. This man and his kids area package deal, just like i am with my children and you take the bad with the good, there is no other option. Anything less makes a relationship like i had with my ex who wanted the benefits without the responsibility, I also understand what it is to go through financial hardship because i lost all my life savings etc when i was with my kdis dad but i had to decide to either take the chance and trust the man i am with now or move on without him, if your chief concern is that you shouldn't or don't want to be financially responsible for his children then you shouldn't marry him because you will come to resent him and his children and that will end the relationship anyway.

Devon - posted on 06/08/2011

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I've considered that Theresa, thank you...the jury's still out on that one. My parents think I'm crazy so I'm waiting as long as possible. He's very impatient but I don't care

Devon - posted on 06/08/2011

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thanks Christy...you really seem to understand relationships more than just saying to dump the guy or he's a mooch etc...he really is a wonderful person. We met at church and he's very prayful, happy and a wonderful father (who has no money) he's had a steady full time job for over 23 years with the same company and he earns steady money, but it's all accounted for by the end on the month. I'm going to look up the books you suggested! Thanks so much!!

Christy - posted on 06/08/2011

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A down payment on a new car? That's stretching it. Fix the old one! I just found somebody online local to me to fix up a clunker for my teenagers to drive. Remember necessities, not frivolities. It's one thing if you decide together to sell a truck that is a gas guzzler and go for a smaller car that gets great gas mileage. When you discuss your money concerns, tell him the goal is to work out a plan, not make him feel bad about his circumstances. He will benefit in the end because you together will be a two income household.

In my opinion, set aside your inheritance and have a prenup signed that he can't touch it. You don't touch it either, so that when the day comes that you need it, it's there for you. It would be sad for it to be squandered.

I highly recommend some books by an amazing Marriage Counselor. His program saved my marriage! Dr. Willard Harley wrote, "Fall in Love, Stay in Love" for people dating, and "His Needs, Her Needs" for married couples. If you take the time to read them together, you'll be able to strengthen your relationship with him, work through these difficult issues, and have an amazing marriage! If you work through them and discover he's not willing to work on these hard things, you'll know you really shouldn't marry him. We bought our books used off amazon.com to save some money!

The difficult part now is that you aren't working together to have a family budget. If he sees that you are willing to contribute to the household and that together you'll make sure all the bases and needs are covered, it won't be such a big deal.

JuLeah - posted on 06/08/2011

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Listen to your gut.

A year is not a ery long time.

Have an honest conversation with him about this issue. Set limits if you wish and see how he honors them, but if you marry this guy, you are taking on the kids and all that go with that. You will be a step mom, never a mom mom, given their ages, but all the grunt work will still be expected.

Devon - posted on 06/08/2011

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thank you Christy. If I weren't such a kind giving person I would have never gone out with him in the first place. I would have seen the situation a run the other way. The way that HE is handling the money aspect of our relationship is making me fearful. He is a hard worker, he thinks before making purchases, he doesn't spend wastefully, he doesn't even give to the kids all the time, but he's got ME lined up as the "helper" to his financial crisis and I'm fearful and having all my money spent to raise his kids. Being previously married and having to go bankrupt with my deceased husband, I know that love and money go hand in hand. Thanks for your advice. I think boyfriend and I will need to have some serious heart to hearts

Devon - posted on 06/08/2011

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thank you Gwen, the talks about money seem to leave him very upset and he actually cries. He say's I guess I'm not allowed to be in love and get married until my kids grow up etc...I don't make enough money for you so I guess I'm out...he cries, I feel bad and we drop the subject...get the picture??

Devon - posted on 06/08/2011

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Thank you Alison, but it's more than just a mattress. I was married before and my previous passed away. I was left with a moderate life insurance and a house full of furniture. I have no problem giving my mattress and maybe that was a poor example to start off with. My boyfriend has helped himself to many items from my garage, never replacing any of them. He has the kids borrow money from me or ask me to pick something up from the grocery store when I come over, never getting paid back. The oldest has a dog that got sick and when no one took him to the vet, I ended up paying $200, and haven't gotten paid back yet. When we go out on dates, I either pay for the entire night or we split. He pays on occasion but again, funds are limited. I know marriage is give and take but there seems to be more taking on his end and I'm fearful. The mattress seemed to be the largest item he's asked me for besides asking me for a downpayment so he could buy a new car. We haven't even married yet! What's going to be after we get married? I definitely like Christy's suggestion of having serious financial talks and I'm even considering a pre-nup laying out exactly what our financial obligations are to each other. The ex-wife is around, she's just a lousy mother and provides nothing to these children

Christy - posted on 06/08/2011

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Devon, which is more important to you? Money? or loving him? Marrying him means that you're willing to contribute to a family, to be a part of his family. It is difficult to support a family on one income these days.

Here's my thought. If you truly love him, marry him! But before the wedding, sit down and discuss the money. My husband and I have rules with our budget. Things like neither one of us buys anything that costs more than $50 without the other person's consent. And we both get an "allowance" each payday for personal spending without needing the other's consent. I can save up my allowance for a higher priced item or hobby and spend it without my husband getting upset with me. We plan things out and are very frugal and careful. You may also want to do some decision making for how to deal with $$ with the teenagers. I have two teenagers and they get expensive. Most things they have to save up for and buy on their own. They do a lot of chores, contributing to the household, so they also get an allowance. They know how to be careful with their money and they know we're not going to buy them whatever they want. We do make sure their basic needs are taken care of, but that does not include designer jeans and expensive shoes. I'm very frugal. They can buy those things with their own money. I buy them what I find on sale.

Marrying him and combining households sounds like it will fill in some of the gaps he has and then it won't be an issue for you since it's both your home. Being married would mean his stuff is yours and your stuff is his. I can understand that you haven't had to share your income with anyone for awhile, but saying yes at the altar changes all that, in my opinion, for the better!

Alison - posted on 06/08/2011

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I'm not sure you are ready for marriage with anyone and it really does not sound like you are ready to be a mom to these children. If you are griping about passing on your used mattress... I would advise him not to marry you.

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