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Dr. G.
Dr. G., Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1467
Experience:  Licensed Psychologist.
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I am in a relationship with a man who is recently divorced.

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I am in a relationship with a man who is recently divorced. We have dated for 3 years. The first year was during the separation. The last two were during the divorce process. He has three children - two in college and one in HS. The children are having a hard time with the new changes - living arrangements etc. I have been patient throughout the entire process and hopeful that we will have a loving union soon. He has expressed his desire to marry and to start a family with me. The divorce process has taken a year longer than even he anticipated. It was difficult - and hurtful many times due to the lack of feeling like a 'normal relationship'. I have never dated a divorced man before and with children it adds an extra dimension. I am beginning to learn this. He did not introduce me to his children until the latter part of the third year due to not wanting to get me involved in the divorce and I am sure to be sensitive to his children as well. I tried to understand this and to see it from his point of view. But - I think in reality it was unfortunate because here I was dating a man and getting to know only a few of his roles - and to not see his interactions as a father. I am younger than him and wanted to start my own family. I have waited for him 3 years of my early 30s and am now 34. I wanted to have children. I feel that my desires/goals are put on the back burner as he sifts through his life. I am resentful at times for this and have attempted to end the relationship numerous times - by telling him that it would be best for him to contact me after all is settled. We would take 1-2 months apart and he would return ... and we would be faced with a new set of issues. From the death of one of his parents to two separate occasions when two separate children had to seek psych help due to depression and such. It seems that there is always something. But - in the same breath he will assure me that we will be together and all will be better then, - but that he needs to address these things. I feel very over whelmed and tired. I have always been a very upbeat person and very optimistic; however, feel that many times during this experience I feel really down. It seems that when I look at other people - they are so settled and are pursuing their goals in life. I find that it hurts my heart and my soul to not be in the same place. I feel that I want to end it - but - what if? What if this would be the perfect situation - just that I need to wait a little more. I have never been like this before and secretly - I find it quite embarrassing. I have never had any trouble attracting guys or having a relationship. I know that I could be in a new relationship without much trouble at all if this one were to end. I think I have trouble letting go and I am not sure what to do about it. I know that if I stay in the relationship that I will be presented with many obstacles that even I can not foresee now - due to my lack of experience with dating a divorced father. My parents often comment on the fact that they do not think that I am happy - as do my friends. I do not find that I have a lack of confidence in my life and have a very nice life - with a wonderful professional career. I can't help but feel like a fool at times for dealing with all of this. The last time we took time apart - I asked him - if he was interested in continuing the relationship down the road when his life was settled - to give me a call then. We separated for about 2 months and when he corresponded with me again - spoke of how he was ready. Only to find out that there was actually two more months before a last trial date to sort out lose ends of the divorce. I asked why he contacted me - and he responded that he did not think I would have waited that long. The last two months have been up and down with one child seeking psych help and now that is the new set-back. As he says that he can't be with me quite yet - as two weeks from now will be last trial date - until he knows that he children and okay and safe. I totally understand that. I do. But - the thing that has been the hardest is that I feel like I have put my desires/needs on hold for a few years - as he has attended to all of his life issues. I can't help but feel that he was selfish to do that to me. I can't help but feel resentful and angry toward myself for letting this happen to me. It was my choice to date him. I know this. I feel like I have fallen in love with the dream of what it would be like to be together and when 'everything falls into place'. He recently told me that he has to make sure his children are okay and I asked when we would be able to be together. He responded when they are okay - back to school in a couple of weeks and he knows that they are settled - and then it would depend on me. Being if I would wait that through. I got mad. I don't think that is fair. He is doing what is right for him. But - why do I always have to wait?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. G. replied 1 year ago.

Dr. G. :

Hello, it sounds like you are going through a rough time. I can't help but notice that you seem to already know deep down what you need to do for yourself with regard to this relationship. You made a good decision by telling him to get things settled in his life and then down the road give you a call. I would advise you to focus on taking care of yourself emotionally, spiritually, etc and take stock of your life, put the relationship with him on the shelf for "a while", and really just focus on your needs. You certainly have put things on hold for yourself for quite some time. The way I see it, there will always be "issues" of some sort or another with his children, even as they are older adults. I'm curious what seems to keep you invested in the relationship? The fact that you've been "together" for 3 years and your longing to have a family of your own?

Customer:

Thank you for your reply. I think he knows exactly what it is that I do want out of life. I want to have a family of my own. When I try to explain to him that there are issues that are unappealing about the relationship - he responds that he is working on all of these things 'for us'. He was always busy with divorce things and we were not able to spend time together - and I would express my dissatisfaction with this - only to have him explain that he was doing it so that the divorce would result in better circumstances for us. How do I respond to that - if I complain further - it only makes me come across as insensitive. I feel like I have been his cheerleader for this time - at my expense. I am just venting I suppose now. Another issue that I had with the relationship was he worked a great deal. He is a physician and worked many long hours which was also a point of contention. I spoke to him at length about how I was not interested in a relationship where I could not spend quality time with my significant other. So - that was another thing that he was working on. During the second year - he would stay at my house each night - however, he would get in around 11-12 at night. I explained that/that was not healthy. So - that was one of the times that we separated - so that he could catch up on his work - because he had all of the divorce work to do as well. He explained again that he was doing all of this work for 'us' so that we would have a nice life together. I explained to him that it was highly unlikely for people to change their lifestyle and to not work as much etc. He said that yes - people can change and that he was working on all of this for us. I have spent many a weekend alone - while he was at work. ..only to have dinner on the latter part of the weekend when he had some time. When he are together - and have the time - it really is nice. We have wonderful conversation and are very similar. We have a great time. And he knows just what to say to keep me hanging on - if you will. Dr. G: My problem at this very moment - is I don't even know what 'normal' is. I find that I long to spend more time with him - and self reflect - that maybe I am too needy. Maybe I am not normal? In my heart I will tell you what I think normal is: I want a man who is supportive, who will be available for dinner in the evenings - or at least a couple of times a week [as I adore cooking - am passionate about it], someone who can plan ahead with me - even if just for the weekend. - Not ask me to go to a concert/play an hour before it is going to start. We spent Thanksgiving together - which was nice - and I spoke about my desires to solidify our Christmas plans so that we could visit respective families....Christmas Eve approached and he still was unable to tell me what the plans were going to be. He said that his children were not able to make up their minds about what they wanted to do... so I explained that this was affecting me - and I was the adult - as is he. But - he likes to let them decide. I think that I have stayed because I have vested so much energy into this and time. I am intelligent enough to know that is not a good reason. But- there is something to be said about how that makes me feel. I am not used to failing at things and this would be another relationship that I was not able to continue. I have never experienced a relationship that actually worked. It is baffling to me and truly embarrassing to me - when so many people comment on the fact that they are surprised that I am not married with a family. I laugh it off... but it truly hurts to hear this. I have written him today - an e-mail and explained that I needed time to myself because I was overwhelmed. But - what do I do? In writing this to him - I have not ended it. When I am more definitive with my need for perm space - he goes out of his way to convince me that it will all work out. So - when I am a little more aloof with my wishes - he is very understanding and will give me space. -- and I am fine -- until he calls again. He gets me every time. How do I do this? This sounds so elementary - but it is hard for me to do this with him. I think it is because I have fallen so in love with an incredible dream of he and I together. My false reality of us is perfect. And I hate that I have done this. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you.

Customer:

Another side issue is that his ex-wife has had to re-enter the work force. She moved about 4 hours from home for her job. He has a 16 yo HS student who wanted to continue to go to her current school. Now - it will be he and I together - with the 16 yo. I am a very sweet person and would not think ill of anyone... but - this has been hard to accept in my head. I imagined getting married and spending time with new husband.... not new husband and 16 yo daughter. Some people would be ecstatic to have such a situation. ....just not me. When I think about him I am thrilled...but - the 3 of us. ..not so much. I feel like I want to get sick. You are correct - I know that this is not the right situation for me - and I do already know the answers here. I have just gotten so programmed with this relationship to be patient and to wait and wait some more and to be understanding - that I don't know any better at this point. I am scared to make a change. Scared of maybe looking back one day and wishing I had given it a chance - and maybe all of the things that he promised me would actually come to fruition.

Dr. G. :

Some of us make decisions based out of some emotion and some intellect. Others make decisions based more out of emotion and less intellect. While some make decisions based more out of intellect and less out of emotion. It sounds to me that most of your decision making with him and this relationship thus far has been primarily out of emotion, that is how he makes you feel in "moments" that are nice. It's best to use a some emotion, some intellect here, which is where you seem to be at this moment.There's lots at stake here for you. You stated that you have gotten so programmed to be patient and wait, etc. You are really saying you've allowed yourself to be right? Well, the good news is, you can allow yourself not to be as well. It seems to me that you have alot going for you in your own life and that certainly you would be able to find someone without all of the "extra stuff". Many clients I've seen who are in similar situations as you are describing, often are left feeling they are not at the top of the priority list in the relationship, which is where you need to be in a healthy relationship.

Customer:

"You are really saying you've allowed yourself to be right? Well, the good news is, you can allow yourself not to be as well."

Customer:

could you explain this line a little further - I understand it to being that I have been patient and understanding to the hardships - to make the relationship work. -- because I did not want it to fail. Is that what you are commenting on? I had not really thought of it that way.

Dr. G. :

Being scared to make a change sounds like a pretty natural reaction to what you are dealing with here. I'm sure that now that he seems to be very close to being more like "just yours" and after all of these years planning and waiting for this time to finally come, that it would be scary leaving "what might have been". Certainly, only you can decide what is best for you, which I know you know. Have you ever considered talking to a counselor face to face by chance? I think this could be quite beneficial for you to sort some things out for YOU. Focusing on just you and caring for yourself would be nice too.

Customer:

I have never really thought about that before - seeing a counselor to sort it out. I feel like I know what I need to do - as I said it is all very overwhelming. If I went to a counselor - what would we discuss? I wouldn't even know what to expect. :-/

Dr. G. :

I'm sorry. Yes, that's what I meant. You allowed yourself to be "programmed" in the relationship to do all you could to make the relationship work, that you say, you "dont' know any better". What i was saying is that you can allow yourself not to be programmed in that way anymore instead, "programming" yourself to just put that relationship on hold (and really putting it on hold) to simply focus on yourself for a while. I'd say at least 6 months. See a therapist for at least a few sessions, preferably more, and focus on how you need to take care of yourself before taking a gigantic leap into this relationship with him and his children and his almost ex-wife. Because, you really do inherit all of them. Talking to a therapist in person can help you to sort things out for yourself. You mentioned you've tried prayer...Possibly even talking to a clergy rather than a therapist would be helpful for you if that is something you would like to do. You should expect that they will help you to figure some of these concerns you have for yourself.

Customer:

Your words have been very helpful. It is nice to simply hear the expression 'that I need to focus on myself for a while'. I feel like I have worked so hard at trying to be patient/understanding for the sake of someone else. At times - I would tell him - I wish I had problems too - so we could focus on my life some too - as I felt all of his issues took priority. But...when I thought to myself - what are my problems in life. I could think of none....except one...being this relationship. Everything else is beautiful and all I wanted to do was share that with him. I met him and I was so high on life and happy - and he was sorting all of his issues out -- and now instead of me bringing him to where I was (which I tried) ... I have sunk to his level of issue-sorting and nonsense. I just don't like it. I want to smile again - and be me again. Thank you again for your insight. I will take it to heart and use it. You are kind. thank you.

Dr. G. :

I wish the best to you! I am certain you will get through this and make the best decisions you can. Glad to hear you will focus on yourself. You need this. Take care and best wishes to you. If you need further assistance, please let me know.

Customer:

Thank you - best to you as well! Happy New Year!

Dr. G., Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1467
Experience: Licensed Psychologist.
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