Just Married and His Ex Wants Us to Take His Three Children

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Reader’s Question

I am a 34-year-old woman who just got married for the first time a few months ago. I met this guy I work with seven years ago. We have lived together and finally just got married. We just went and did it. No family or anything. We’ve now been married 2 months. His ex-wife said she and her new husband need us to take the kids (my husband’s and her kids: 3 of them). His ex said the kids are not doing well in school in the city, and she has not worked before, but has started this new job and likes it and they are really busy lately. So they can’t really help them with their school work.

They have been married for three years now and I know that they have been going through tough times lately and it has started with the kids. They won’t listen to the new step-dad. I know this is true because they won’t listen to me, when we go get them. They are really bad. They have two boys and a girl. The girl I will keep, because she is 15. My only daughter (at home) is 14. The boys they have are 11 and 7. I have raised one daughter; she is 19 and working part time and going to school part time. I can have a child any time I want to with my new husband, but we decided we don’t want kids at this time. I really love the fact that I don’t have to wash as much, cook as much, or clean. My daughter at home does it all. She is really good. Her grades have recently dropped also in school. I was just talking with her teacher and decided to take her out of band or volleyball. She just does so much and I think that is what happened to her grades. My husband knows that I am dealing with my daughter.

Then we get married, and he wants to put 3 more kids on me and the boys play al…l..l..l…l the time. One was even on some hyper-medication. I am just stressed, because I have to make my mind up by this Sunday. My husband is ready, he feels this would be a great family, because he has a dog also — a golden retriever. We have had about 3 weeks. The ex wants us to get the kids right after Thanksgiving holiday. But my husband said he told her that is too soon. So after Christmas. They will give us the $700 back that he pays in child support. He also pays $253 every two weeks in health insurance. He does not have a house. I have an 1100 sq. foot house that I bought about 8 years ago. I told him we have no room. My house is so small, and my daughter needs her bedroom. He wants her to share with the 15-year-old, in a full size bed. I bring home about $1500 after taxes, and I am scared this will affect my marrige.

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We are newlyweds. We did not even have a honeymoon. I am trying not to sound so selfish. But we go get them every other week. I love to do that because I can take them back. This will be hard because I will start having my two girls young. I never was able to do anything because I lived in the projects, and it was hard, but I never gave my daughters to their father. I toughed it out. I did not move to the city, I was born and raised here in this little town, population 2300. All my sister and brothers are gone, to big cities. I have always been scared to go to big cities, because I was young and had two girls. It would be so different if my husband’s ex were ill or something, but she is not. They just want to work on their marrige, but I am scared it will mess mine up. I asked my husband to let us do one for now and work on that one, and my one. They want us to let them go to school in my city and they have them every summer. No support paid. Should I try this?

Psychologist’s Reply

It sounds like you are being overdosed on responsibility here. Are you being selfish — you’d better be in this situation. It seems that few people involved are looking out for your feelings in this matter. Everyone seems to be doing what is best for them — not you. As you suspect, I think taking on three additional children who are uncooperative, plus a new dog and new husband, would seriously impact your marriage at this time. I would encourage a compromise. You might want to offer to take the stepdaughter but allow the boys to visit as in the past. Explain that the situation is “on probation” to see if it’s going to work. I would also suggest that you seek marital counseling with your husband. He’s not being sensitive to the high level of responsibility this situation creates for you. While it may be a great deal for him, you will end up with the majority of the problems — including stepchildren who won’t listen to you. This situation may work out over the next years, but it’s unlikely if the marriage begins with a “dump” on you of three children. Go slowly and very cautiously. The other side may be trying to take advantage of your kindness and cooperation to lighten their load of parenting responsibility. I would also suggest that the stress of a new marriage, new stepfather, three new stepsiblings, etc. is creating more problems with your daughter than the high school band. She is stressed and may need some counseling support as well.

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