Long distance marriage troubles
December 8, 2008 12:31 PM   Subscribe

My long distance marriage is starting to crumble. I don't know what to do. Any comments would be of assistance. Long story inside

Ok, let me try to boil this down to the essentials. I'm 42. I got divorced, and then remarried to a woman I had met online. She lives half the country away from me (i'm in the midwest, she is on the west coast). Prior to the marriage, the plan was that she would live with me from spring to fall, and when it got cold out, she would stay with family out west. She has never lived in the cold, and doesn't want to start now. The length of time she has stayed with me has varied, and this past summer she stayed with me for two months (that is the longest in 6 years worth of dating and marriage). I can't move west becasue I have two children in middle school/elementary, and I don't feel like I could be a father to them from that distance. My wife works part time, while in California. I work full time.

She has said on many occasions that she doesn't think I take care of her enough, and that she feels like she rates below my kids, since I live near them, and not near her. She has one son of her own that lives in the same state as I am in, but she is not close to him (he lives with her ex). I'd love to take care of her, but since she won't come live with me, it is difficult to do from a distance. I call her several times a day, and we talk for several hours each night. I stay up late to talk to her in the evening.

I fly out to see her every month to 6 weeks when she is not staying with me (about 9 times a year). A typical stay is 3-5 days. This is pretty much the limit of how much time I can take off and is all (and then some) that my budget can afford.

Last night, things kind of hit the fan. She is in a stressful situation with the health of some family members. When I talked to her last night, she was clearly spoiling for a fight, and was working at pushing my buttons (example: she said she feels alone, and I told her I did too, and that I missed her very much. she answered that I seemed to be just fine).

As things progressed, I told her that I felt she was starting to be insulting (she says things like "while she was here, the only thing she liked at all in two months was seeing me", and that she hates having my kids around as much as they are).

I said I was sorry she had so much hate for here, and for my kids, etc. Her reply was that she didn't hate my kids, she hated me with my kids. I was very offended and told her to Fuck off and hung up the phone. Not a very mature response to be sure, but this has come up many times before. She thinks a dad should not be active in his kids' life, and that seeing them at Xmas and in the summer would be enough (and that I should live out west and visit them that way).

She followed up with an email saying "how dare I be so cold when she is stressed out over her family members health, and a real man would be taking care of his wife".

To sum up a long long sordid tale, the smart, funny, beautiful woman I married and whom I love very much is full of anger because I won't move away from my kids. she won't move away from warm weather (and likes to be near her folks). The stress over time is shaking us apart. Please, me-fites, I could really use some advice.
posted by midwestguy to Human Relations (62 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
How old are your children?
posted by availablelight at 12:37 PM on December 8, 2008


They are twelve and nine (both daughters)
posted by midwestguy at 12:38 PM on December 8, 2008


Your relationship to your kids predates and out-weighs your relationship with your new wife. She is a capable adult who can take care of herself, your children are not.

I am amazed that you would stay in a relationship where she is as emotionally abusive as this. This marriage does not seem worth saving at all.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 12:42 PM on December 8, 2008 [17 favorites]


she feels like she rates below my kids [...]
she hates having my kids around as much as they are [...]
she didn't hate my kids, she hated me with my kids [...]
She thinks a dad should not be active in his kids' life


You had kids when you married her, correct? So I am rather dumbfounded. OF COURSE they rank higher than her. I feel like we're only hearing one side of the story, though, because damn, she sounds like a selfish b---h, yet there must be something you saw in her in order to want to marry her. Was this living situation a surprise to her? Did she expect you to move to the west coast, and you reneged? I cannot figure this one out. The only thing I can suggest is marriage counseling when she comes to see you or viceversa. I'm not sure anything else is going to save your marriage.
posted by desjardins at 12:43 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've never been married, but I've been in long committed relationships that are going south for reasons outside of our control. When all was said and done, the end of the relationships always seemed inevitable once I looked back on them afterward. My only regrets when they were done (and I got dumped, mind you. I did not do the dumping for any of them) were that I held on as long as I did without recognizing what holding on was doing to me and the people I cared about. I'm not trying to speak from a position of authority or anything like that, but my take on things like this is that situations like yours are unfair and unfortunate, and ultimately unworkable. It sucks. You can't just say "you know what, you're wrong and I hate you," because it's not that simple and you don't feel that way. On the other hand, nobody is getting what they want and deeply hurtful feelings are developing that won't go away because the situation can't improve. I hope you work out whatever you have to do for yourself, for her and for your family. It seems like maybe you're hoping she'll all of a sudden "come to her senses" and move out your way and then everyone is happy. As much as I possibly can, I'd like to stress how almost completely unlikely it is that this will happen. If I were in your shoes, I would eventually see divorce as the only option. I'm sorry to say so. Again, please do what you think is best for you, her and your family, and I'm sorry this situation is so difficult.
posted by shmegegge at 12:44 PM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yikes. This really sucks, as you know. First, she chose warm weather over you. And you chose living near your kids over living near her. I'd say that you're the bigger person here.

It sounds like there needs to be sacrifice on someone's part to make this work. I hope with all my heart that you aren't the one making the sacrifice. Be there for your kids. If she doesn't understand the important role a father plays in children's lives, then you are better off without her.
posted by Sassyfras at 12:45 PM on December 8, 2008 [6 favorites]


You won't move because of your kids. Understandable.

She won't move because she likes warm weather. Not understandable.

This marriage frankly seems doomed to failure.

I just can't get past the fact that she can't leave warm weather. And that she can't leave her parents. This is what married adults are supposed to do, choose their spouse over their parents. That's a foundational thing about marriage, choosing spouse over parents. If she is choosing her parents and her preferred weather over you, it doesn't seem like much of a marriage.
posted by jayder at 12:46 PM on December 8, 2008 [5 favorites]


Ugh, I am sorry for the position you are in....real men care for their children. Cold weather is not so bad. Sons need love, too.
posted by oflinkey at 12:47 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Your kids come first. Did she used to understand this, but just not any more, or did you marry the wrong person?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:48 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


What a weird situation. The fact you got married despite the fact that a) you're not moving away from your young kids - which I totally get, by the way - and b) she doesn't want to live in the cold (are you serious..?) is just odd. Really, it sounds like you both had unrealistic post-wedding expectations - she was thinking you'd move to be close to her, and you were hoping she'd move to be closer to you. Now you see that neither one is going to happen, and it's falling apart. The way it looks like from here is that it's little surprise...
posted by neblina_matinal at 12:51 PM on December 8, 2008


Wow. Really? Look, it's impossible to comment on these situations without hearing both sides of the story. And even then, I don't feel an outsider can really understand what happens between two people in a marriage. But from an outsider's perspective, I can't understand what is keeping you two together. In my opinion, living near your children far, far outranks staying in warm weather. If I was her, and my marriage was a true priority, I would have moved out to be by my husband a long time ago. If the situation as you describe it is accurate, I'm pretty shocked that she's complaining about the amount of time you're putting in to see her. It sounds like you're making far more of an effort than she is.

But honestly, when it comes to situations like this, judgments about who is in the right and who is in the wrong are totally worthless. The core of the problem is that the two of you seem to have entirely different values, desires, and priorities. You have different ideas about parenthood, how much each partner should be putting into the relationship, where you should live, spending time with your children...really, the list seems to go on and on. It doesn't sound like you two are a good match for each other at this point in time. I'm sorry, but if you want an unbiased opinion -- there it is. If I were you, I'd tell her that the situation isn't working for either of you as is, and unless someone is willing to compromise on their desires, you don't see how it's going to work out long term.
posted by theantikitty at 12:51 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


You're right not to leave your daughters. I'm not surprised to hear the two of you are unhappy with the arrangements you've made, but it seems like your wife is more discontented with it than you, and is blaming you, and is ready to leave while you're more accepting of it, and coping better.

You might ask your wife what she would like you to do to make her feel supported and cared for, and figure out if there's a way to do that from a distance.

I don't think this will last, though. Your wife sounds resentful of the fact that you even have children, and that's a completely immature and selfish attitude. I'm sorry, I wish I had better news.
posted by orange swan at 12:52 PM on December 8, 2008


She sounds like an incredibly self-absorbed person. Are you really asking this question? This sounds awful. Why would you be doing this to yourself?

It's possible she's a perfectly decent person, but relationships are built on compromise and actual proximity and closeness. A shared life. You two sound like you've settled on years of long distance dating instead of a marriage. Why? Is it because you're not actually that into each other, or because the situation has built-in artificial boundaries that let you both dig your heels in rather than make compromises and sacrifices and all the hard work relationships entail, or is it something else?

Whatever: this is weird behavior. (And the second AskMe I've noticed like this today). You're going through the motions of commitment without actual commitment. From this writing, it sounds like she's the selfish one, but who knows, and honestly, who cares? People make compromises when they really want to be together. If somehow after six years you've managed to not be living together, honestly -- why bother with this at all? You say nice things about her at the end of your post, but everything else in it makes her sound horrible.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:52 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


She says she feels she rates below your children; yet you rate below warm weather??

Either part of this story is missing, or she really doesn't care about you. She may be trying to find an excuse to end the marriage, and even moving out with her wouldn't help it, or she may just be really selfish.

Given that you met online, and my anecdotal non-scientific evidence shows me that on-line romances very rarely successfully translate into real-life relationships, I'm guessing that it may be time to start looking again.

If you TRULY love her and she loves you enough to try, the next step would be counseling to work this out
posted by arniec at 12:52 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


You guys are either very bad at communicating or she is a complete mess.

1) The initial plan was for her to spend spring, summer and fall with you and the best she has managed is two months.
2) She knew that you had the kids and were devoted to them pre-marriage and now thinks you "shouldn't be active in your kid's lives."

You send some mixed signals, because you also say that she is upset because you haven't come to live with her. If the plan was to live in the midwst for nine months a year, this makes no sense. Either she reneged on the deal and is now browbeating you to change the deal, or there never was a deal in the first place.

"Spoiling for a fight" can sometimes be what it looks like to you when it looks to her like you aren't responding appropriately. If she wanted concern and sympathy and you didn't respond in the way she hoped, that could lead to picking a fight. It isn't a great problem solving technique, but it is more understandable.

In the end, the combination of thinking there is no need for you in your kid's lives and the lothesome "a real man would ..." nonsense lead me to the most tried and true AskMe answer: DTMFA

If you are going to make it work over long distances, you are going to have to get a whole lot better at figuring each other out.
posted by Lame_username at 12:57 PM on December 8, 2008


You have first responsibility to your kids. Quite honestly, my wife and I believe that is our primary responsibility - we work on our own issues, but our priority is our kids. It is an extremely firm belief for us - both my wife and I came from divorced/seperated families.

You sound like an amazing/excellent father - you care enough about your children to not uproot them/shake up their lives. Believe me that makes a difference. Personally when I was a kid, I was moved across the country, town to town and while I can't complain, it didn't help for making lifelong friends/connections, etc.

She knew you had kids - if she cannot understand it - then too bad.

As others have said, this situation seems unworkable. It would be in both your interests to move on.
posted by jkaczor at 1:00 PM on December 8, 2008


Somebody has to give in and I think it has to be her. It's all about the kids, you're right that you put your priorities there. I'd Fedex her a down coat and flowers.
posted by ouke at 1:01 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Agreed with what the others above said. You both made a marriage plan that she departed from, the emotional abuse is coming one way, and your kids are being pushed down on the hierarchy. This is bad. I think you need to make a clean break of this one.

The redeeming thing is that cutting the ties will be easier now than later. Years ago I remember reading some divorce discussion boards and there was a sort of understanding that the second marriage often didn't work, but the third one was perfect; maybe it's time to find out.
posted by crapmatic at 1:02 PM on December 8, 2008


Marriage is a partnership. It's give-and-take, which does not mean that you give and she takes. I can't help but think we're missing part of the story, but the way you've told it, she sounds like a character right out of Parent Trap. I mean, you just can't sacrifice your (still very young) kids for her! It's not your job to take care of her, either. What is this? The 17th century? You take care of each other. That might mean she has to make a few sacrifices of her own. Bottom line: if she won't accept your kids, then this marriage will not work. Your children are part of you. She married you, which means she married your family. If she doesn't want your family, she doesn't want this marriage. I know it must hurt, but I can't see any other way around it.
posted by katillathehun at 1:04 PM on December 8, 2008


I know it's AskMefi and not GetAskedMefi, but the question is, do you want this? What are the things that make the relationship worth saving? As bad as things sound, we are only really hearing one side of the story. She is jealous of your kids and the way that they come first. She undoubtedly has a much closer relationship with you than your children. While it is a pretty tactless way to put it, I can see why she said that she hates you with your kids. From her perspective, they are what is holding your relationship back. This is a big deal. You need to articulate everything you've said us to her, if you haven't already, and without hanging up when things get contentious. If you can't make each other understand how you feel, and why you feel that way, there's no hope for your marriage.
posted by seagull.apollo at 1:07 PM on December 8, 2008


I'm so sorry. I don't know much about you, but I do know that you're a good dad in that you're not willing to move away from your kids. 12 and 9? Heck yeah, they need you.

Some thoughts - I get that your wife hates cold. However, given that :

- you work full time, while she only works part time
- you fly out to see her about once every 4-6 weeks

couldn't she move to be with you, gets a part time job in your area, and then you could send her on a warm holiday weekend every 4-6 weeks?

However....she's probably not the right person for you. You need someone who's going to be able to interact lovingly and kindly with your children, and that's not her. These are red flags:

1. "She has one son of her own that lives in the same state as I am in, but she is not close to him"

2. "She thinks a dad should not be active in his kids' life, and that seeing them at Xmas and in the summer would be enough"

She doesn't want you. You're a single part-time Dad who wants to stay in the Midwest. She wants a childless (or some semblance thereof) guy who has nothing to prevent him from pulling up stakes and moving out West. Nothing bad about this, just a case of mistaken identity - but for both of your sakes, it's probably best to quit playing tug of war now.
posted by HopperFan at 1:07 PM on December 8, 2008


This is mind-boggling. She has a child that lives in your state that she "isn't close to!?" And she hates the priority you give to your children and thinks that "a dad should not be active in his kids' life, and that seeing them at Xmas and in the summer would be enough (and that I should live out west and visit them that way)," yet has left her own child to be raised by it's father with minimal attention/assistance from her.

I hate to say this, but it appears that you have a full-blown narcissist on your hands. She's angry because you aren't doing what she's doing, which is living wherever she wants and letting someone else raise her child. The long-distance marriage is boggling too? Just what, exactly, are you getting out of this marriage? Marriages are about shared work and experiences - how can this happen in only 2 months out of the year?

Are you paying any part of her bills? Do you buy her expensive gifts? Are you absolutely, positively (via background check) sure that she isn't also married to someone else? I think you need to understand why you are willing to settle for this situation. Have you considered therapy?
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:10 PM on December 8, 2008


Long distance marriage?

Come on. Why is everyone pretending this is normal.


The Llama is not really being terrible. He's being candid.
posted by Zambrano at 1:10 PM on December 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


Even if she lives with you full-time- how will she treat your children? What will it be like for them to share their home and father with someone who resents them?
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 1:11 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


DTMFA. Anyone who tried to manipulate me out of having a close relationship with my kid would be shown the door. And not politely. Your kids need you more than she does, that's clear -- and you need them more than you need her BS.

Punt.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 1:13 PM on December 8, 2008 [7 favorites]


I don't know everything about your life and I can't tell you what to do, I'm afraid. This sounds like a time to confide in a trusted and respected friend.

Speaking only for myself: I grew up seeing my dad twice a year. You're right to put your daughters first. Don't stop getting this right. Her idea of what a father's relationship with his children ought to be is, at best, a tragic mistake.

Maybe think about what it's like for your daughters to have a stepmother who feels about them, and about your relationship with them, the way she does.

I'm sorry I don't have real advice for you. I just want to add my voice to the chorus of those who are telling you that the most important thing here is your commitment to your daughters.
posted by prefpara at 1:14 PM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Are you paying any part of her bills? Do you buy her expensive gifts? Are you absolutely, positively (via background check) sure that she isn't also married to someone else?

I have to say I was wondering about this as well...
posted by WinnipegDragon at 1:18 PM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


thanks for all the advice so far. My heart feels so heavy because I know you are all right. And, yes, it is only my side of the story, but I tried to present it as neutrally as possible. We did have a living arrangement deal before marriage that she reneged on, and she has been pressuring me to move. She really is a remarkable person, and we share a lot of common interests, but as time has progressed, she seems to be getting more and more negative. In person, we have so much chemistry, but when we are apart, she does not cope as well with the distance as I do.

Seagull.apollo, I think you pegged it--she is not close with my kids, and sees them as what prevents me from moving.

Hopperfan, I think you are right also, I am a single part-time Dad who wants to stay in the midwest, and she wants a childless guy who will move to her.

I am trying not to demonize her in this writeup--I love her very much, but I just can't walk away from my responsibility to my kids. I told her this when we first met, but I think she figured she could change my mind.
posted by midwestguy at 1:29 PM on December 8, 2008


Her reply was that she didn't hate my kids, she hated me with my kids. I was very offended and told her to Fuck off and hung up the phone. Not a very mature response to be sure,

No, but, quite frankly, a reasonable one. One's children are the primary responsibility, and you're absolutely correct to put them first.

She thinks a dad should not be active in his kids' life, and that seeing them at Xmas and in the summer would be enough (and that I should live out west and visit them that way).

I think your children would beg to differ. I think, for that matter, that the children of many, many divorced parents (I assume that's the situation with your kids) would feel that your path is the correct one.

I honestly don't see that you can make your current wife happy, since it seems fairly clear her criteria clashes fundamentally with your desire to function as a father in a meaningful sense.
posted by rodgerd at 1:49 PM on December 8, 2008


Time to move on to someone who gives a damn
posted by wheelieman at 1:49 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


The weather thing is a complete canard. It's bullshit. It's nice in Minnefuckingsota (you sound like Iowa) until November, so her whoop-ti-do record, two whole months is crap.

Just because you have chemistry with a person, does not mean they're right for you.

Again, we're only hearing your side, but it also sounds like you're being too nice in your description; "bitch" is the *nicest* thing I can think to call your wife based on the actions you describe.
posted by notsnot at 1:51 PM on December 8, 2008


She thinks a dad should not be active in his kids' life, and that seeing them at Xmas and in the summer would be enough (and that I should live out west and visit them that way).

You don't want to move to this woman because she lives in CRAZYTOWN.

I'm sorry that you are in this awful situation, but it is NOT NOT NOT a situation that can could or should be solved by you checking out of your kids lives.
posted by dirtdirt at 1:51 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am not married, but I have been -- twice -- and I am currently living with a delightful, warm, caring, kind woman. My beloved daughter, Kira, is sixteen. She lives in CT with her mother; my inamorata and I live in PA. Kira came to stay with us for Thanksgiving. She was there for 5 days and spent most of that time with us -- not with her friends, of whom she has several in town because when I was married that's where we all lived. Now, you tell me how many 16-year-olds willingly spend most of their vacation time with one of the 'rents -- and his live-in. As a dad, I am soaringly proud of my wonderful daughter and my amazing partner. They like to go to thrift stores together, they play board games together...

Now, why can't you find someone like that, who is supportive and respectful of you and your children, as opposed to someone who is actively trying to drive a wedge between you?

DTMFA.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 1:56 PM on December 8, 2008 [5 favorites]


I'm so sorry she's behaving like that. I can't imagine not wanting to live with my husband because of something as trivial as the weather, and then telling him that his kids are more important than me because he chooses to live by them. She sounds emotionally abusive, and if she's incapable of understanding something as basic as "children are important" then...

I wish I could tell you how to save the marriage, but I don't think it's worth saving and I'm not sure that you could without compromising everything for her. Your children, certainly, you understand that you cannot compromise. Don't back down on that now. If someone has to go, it's gotta be her.
posted by Nattie at 1:58 PM on December 8, 2008


Lawyer up and get out of the marriage, then cut her out of your life and find someone decent and local who isnt trying to turn you into a horrible father.
posted by BobbyDigital at 2:07 PM on December 8, 2008


I think you hit the nail on the head with your follow-up. She married you hoping she could change you.

And now she's learning she was wrong. Unless you're willing to change, where change in this case means giving up on your kids, you're not the person she was hoping she could make you.

I'm so sorry.
posted by cgg at 2:31 PM on December 8, 2008


For your children's sake, I don't think you should give any merit to a husband/wife relationship that tries to undermine the parent/child relationship. And that goes for everyone, not just you. You could marry lots of people...your kids have one dad. Priority. End of story.
posted by agentwills at 2:36 PM on December 8, 2008


"she likes to be near her folks"

And your children like to be near you. The irony is killing me.
posted by iconomy at 2:38 PM on December 8, 2008 [11 favorites]


What? She doesn't want to live with her husband because of the weather??? Unless she has some kind of serious disability that means she HAS to live where it's warm, that's a great big warning flag with a neon Jolly Roger on it. DTMFA.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:42 PM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't have any specific advice for you.. but weather is NOT as simple as it seems. If you grew up in Arizona would you be able to move to Manitoba without any consideration?

Some people don't mind winter and snow. Others would never make it through a Miami summer.

Weather is often a large concern for someone who chooses to relocate, or in this case not. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real condition.
posted by ninjew at 2:47 PM on December 8, 2008


Ninjew: yes, but...I would think that SAD or some other disability that required Mrs. Midwestguy to stay on the West Coast would be something that she'd mention before she was married. And also, it's legitimate to want to live near one's folks, especially if one is an only child and/or the parent is dependent on them. But...again, that's something you discuss BEFORE you are married.

It seems from the OP's statement that his wife didn't mention a disability or caregiving duties, just she "hated" cold weather and "didn't want to" leave her family. There's no can't or compromise or negotiation, just She Doesn't Wanna and isn't about to give an inch. I won't even bring up the kid issue. This woman KNEW (as far as we know) that she was marrying a Midwest-dwelling father and that some compromises and collaboration was going to have to happen. This shows me that she doesn't value her marriage with Midwestguy, if she isn't willing to work together to find a solution. And if BOTH people don't value a relationship, it's not going to work out. If both people value a marriage and want it to last, lots of really tough things can work out.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 3:15 PM on December 8, 2008


I don't have any specific advice for you.. but weather is NOT as simple as it seems. If you grew up in Arizona would you be able to move to Manitoba without any consideration?

I may not like the weather, but if I MARRIED someone that couldn't move, I would certainly suck it up.


She really is a remarkable person, and we share a lot of common interests, but as time has progressed, she seems to be getting more and more negative. In person, we have so much chemistry, but when we are apart, she does not cope as well with the distance as I do.


Chemistry is a double edged sword. I think the sexual attraction you feel for this woman is clouding your judgment.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 3:18 PM on December 8, 2008


I don't get why you should be taking care of her and yet you're not supposed to be taking care of your kids.

Presumably they are, you know, kids, and she's an adult. This emphasis she puts on you taking care of her is really weird.

And by the way, when I was 12 if my father had told me that it wasn't important to see me more than summer and Christmas it would break my heart.

Your instincts are right in this case, and keep trying your best to be a good father.
posted by sondrialiac at 3:20 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


She has one son of her own that lives in the same state as I am in, but she is not close to him (he lives with her ex)

I agree with the others, who think your wife sounds like a narcissist. The bit about not being close to her son is a really bad sign, I think. She may have sterling qualities in terms of personality, conversation, etc., but she does not seem to have priorities straight. There's something seriously wrong -- by wrong I mean pathological, sick --- with a woman who is not close to her minor child.

Think about it: if she doesn't value her relationship with her own child, why would you expect her to value your relationship with yours?
posted by jayder at 3:52 PM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Just reading between the lines: It sounds like this woman was desperate for a husband (it can be hard, especially after a certain age, to find a good husband), and perhaps had had some really bad luck on the dating market.

She gets on Match.com, and finds a great guy --- good job, strong moral compass, loves his kids --- with only one problem: he lives in the Midwest.

But the dating market is so bad, she decides not to pass up this great guy, and she marries him, figuring he will come around on the geography issue, and she will win.

Guess what --- he didn't. The great guy is not about to abandon his kids.

She cranks up the manipulation: "A real man would take care of his kids" ... "You're putting the kids before me."

I'm sorry, man, I think she has been trying to play you. I think you were too good to pass up, but she has never really meant to compromise with you.
posted by jayder at 3:59 PM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


First, you are not blameless in last night's fight. Your wife is in a heightened emotional state because of the crisis with her family member's health. This is not the time to start in with cussing and hanging up the phone.

Second, it seems that she really has no interest in kids. At all. It's not that she doesn't think a father should be involved with his children. Her son lives with his dad. It's that she doesn't want a partner who is involved with children - not hers, not his, not any. She doesn't dig parenting. It's not the cold weather; it's the children.

You can't fix this in a relationship. It's a difference so fundamental that you simply can't ignore it or toss therapy at it.
posted by 26.2 at 4:47 PM on December 8, 2008 [5 favorites]


A little story:

When I was a kid, my dad left my mom for his secretary, and moved across the country to live with her. (It broke my mom's heart, and she died from grief, essentially.)

We didn't hear from our dad for nearly two decades thanks to this woman, until my sister tried to patch things up, and now we have a somewhat tenuous relationship with dad.

Nowadays, dad's wife (he married her) routinely gets drunk, calls us kids at random hours of the night and tells us what bad children we are. To me, this sounds like the kind of woman you are married to, and I feel sorry for you and your kids. Stand by your kids. DTMFA.

And good luck to you and your kids.
posted by trip and a half at 5:36 PM on December 8, 2008


If someone is reluctant to live with you, they don't want to have a long-term committed partnership with you.

Also, this woman hates you with your kids, but she's not going to get you without your kids, so she might as well just hate you, full stop. Probably not the sort of thing you want out of a marriage.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 5:37 PM on December 8, 2008


She has said on many occasions that she doesn't think I take care of her enough, and that she feels like she rates below my kids, since I live near them, and not near her

Um... she does rate below your kids. As others have said upthread, "they were there first". And you have a responsibility to look out for them, since you made them. This woman, she is not good for your kids. (Anyone who marries someone with kids and then has a cow because that person... uh... has kids. Well, I just don't know what to say other than it was destined to fail before it started.)

I'm sorry for your pain (this will probably hurt), but you need to watch out for your kids. They need you. The emotionally manipulative woman who married you but will not come live with you? Not so much.

Good luck.
posted by eleyna at 10:20 PM on December 8, 2008


A small update--I wrote and told her I was sorry I said what I did and sorry that I hung up. she says I am cold and will not answer her phone and now says she will not write me until she has time to think things over. She has also asked that I cancel the flight I have a ticket for at Xmas time. her feeling is that no matter what she said to me, she didn't deserve being told to F' off since her father is in the hospital.
posted by midwestguy at 6:14 AM on December 9, 2008


So I will go out on a limb, We can't answer for you, if this is an amazing match you just found too early. If you really believe this marriage is right for the *two* of you, it becomes a case of dealing with both of your obligations until you can truly be together. She seems to be devoted to her parents (assuming the weather thing is just a throw away), you are clearly devoted to your kids.
In a decade, it is likely both situations will change. Old folks die, 12yro's go to college. If you have really got *the* thing going, work this out. If you dump her, and find a woman who loves your place and your kids you will still have issues, is this relationship better than others you could have?
I'm an old romantic, but this view is thin on the ground. My wife and I have lots of drama raising our kids, but I know/hope we can regroup on the other side happier with the the bonus of a loving bunch of kids. Is your marriage the sort that can take 10 years of hard work, trouble and distance? Maybe not, judging from the question, but maybe if you put it in black and white,and she does the same, the love you have for each other will be enough to carry non-ideal conditions for the next ten years knowing you will have each other forever.
Wow. I sound all religious, but I am really just trying to say - yeah, compromise if it is worth it, but both sides need to compromise. Maybe your wife can come around if she knows you will move to the sun once your kids are grown.
posted by bystander at 6:31 AM on December 9, 2008


It doesn't matter who is right and who is wrong here. I see a couple of options.

1. No change is made on either side and the situation continues as is. It doesn't sound like either one of you would like this option very much, as you are both unhappy.
2. You move to her. You have said this is not a viable option.
3. She moves to you. She has said this is not a viable option.
4. The two of you really look at what you want out of marriage, what you need and want from each other, and you set about examining ways to get to that point and formulate a plan to get there. If you think that this can be accomplished (not just attempted), given that neither of you likely will move, and given your knowledge of how much your wife may or may not be committed to saving your marriage, then you tell her that you want to go through this process and try to save your marriage. And you tell her that it will probably be painful and a lot of work. And then see if she is willing to try.
5. One of you decides to end the marriage.

The two of you individually might be absolutely wonderful people, with so many redeeming qualities. That does not mean that you "work" as a couple, or that you have compatible goals or life processes or whatever. For what it's worth, I don't think your wife is an awful person. But I think that the two of you are in what has become an awful situation. And I think that you have come to the point where you have to decide to decide, because if you decide by not deciding then it sounds like you are in for a lot more pain.

I wish you well, whatever you decide. I know this is not easy.
posted by KAS at 6:33 AM on December 9, 2008


A bird could fall in love with a fish, but where would they live?
Love isn't all you need. There's a very practical side to a relationship as well, and it sounds like you two have failed at that part.

(at this point it sounds more like you have a penpal you sleep with whenever she's in town. and not a very good penpal at that.)
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 7:12 AM on December 9, 2008


Congratulations, you married a manipulative bitch.

Let me make this as clear as possible:

Your kids aren't stupid. They know she doesn't like them. There is no way they can't pick up on that vibe, children are very intuitive. You have two little girls in your house that are watching how you act, how you allow them to be treated, how you allow yourself to be treated... and right now you're sending them a pretty loud and clear message that not only do you not think that they are important enough to protect them from some stupid emotional bitch you just happened to fall for, but that you don't even think that -you- are important enough to do the same.

20 years from now when one or both of them is shacked up with some asshole you couldn't possibly approve of because he treats them so poorly... remember that you're the one that taught them to have low standards.

I might sound harsh, but you didn't give out a public cry of help to get your hand held.
posted by JFitzpatrick at 7:36 AM on December 9, 2008 [8 favorites]


- Emotional blackmail? Check
- Self absorbed? Check
- Different values when it comes to children? Check
- Unwilling to compromise? Check

The only remarkable thing about this woman is that she honestly thinks putting your children ahead of her is a bad thing.
posted by like_neon at 9:04 AM on December 9, 2008


A small update--I wrote and told her I was sorry I said what I did and sorry that I hung up. she says I am cold and will not answer her phone and now says she will not write me until she has time to think things over. She has also asked that I cancel the flight I have a ticket for at Xmas time. her feeling is that no matter what she said to me, she didn't deserve being told to F' off since her father is in the hospital.

I wouldn't lightly urge someone to dump a spouse, but consider taking this opportunity to break things off with her, for your kids' sake and your own sake.

It will be harder to break it off with her if she wants to be with you; i.e., if she is "being nice."

Now that she's asked you to cancel the flight, and she won't answer the phone, that gives you a nice window to terminate the relationship.

Good luck.
posted by jayder at 11:33 AM on December 9, 2008


Well, it is another day, and communication is cut off still. To answer a couple of questions, yes, she knew I had kids before we married, and at that time she had said she looked forward to having daughters, as she had only had a son. I read up on narcissistic personality disorder, and found several of those attributes seem to hold true, although I am not qualified to judge that sort of thing. she does not have any medical conditions that require her to stay out west, and until this recent hospitalization, her parents were in good health, so she has not been a caretaker.

I know part of this is my fault as well--I did not respond well when she said she hated me with my kids, and I'm sure I do plenty of other things wrong too. I know one thing that has irritated her is that she wants me to name a date when i'll move out with her. I have refused on the grounds that I don't know that date will be, since it depends heavily on how my kids are progressing in life.

Also, my kids are not hellions--they both make straight "A's", are active in school, and sports. They seem to get along fairly well with my wife, although if things get too busy/loud while working on homework, dinner, etc all at once, my wife tends to withdraw and leave the room.
posted by midwestguy at 11:47 AM on December 9, 2008


How long have you been married to her? How long did you date prior? What was the reasoning for getting married in the first place (instead of just being long-distance boyfriend and girlfriend)?

My uncle divorced my aunt and they lived apart for some years before getting back together and remarrying. (Actually, that's happened a couple times in my extended family, sometimes for good and sometimes for ill.)
posted by klangklangston at 11:51 AM on December 9, 2008


"I know part of this is my fault as well--I did not respond well when she said she hated me with my kids, and I'm sure I do plenty of other things wrong too."

Dude, you're sounding like a victim. You know that, right? Would she stop beating you if you just cooked dinner the way she liked?
posted by klangklangston at 11:52 AM on December 9, 2008


Are you familiar with the concept of Co-Dependence? Co-dependents attract narcissists like sugar attracts ants. There is a lot of information on the internet if you'd care to look it up - but I see you taking far too much responsibility for this situation right now, and you really need to step back and figure out what YOU want.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:45 PM on December 9, 2008


I was not familiar with co-dependence. but, some parts of it sure hit home. I lean towards super responsible, take care of others, and work on many projects. I spend a good deal of time problem solving---its a big part of my job, in fact. Ahh crud. Bad enough that my head is reeling from this. That would go a long way towards explaining some of my past relationships as well.

I am going to have to do a good bit more reading on the co-dependence thing. Thanks to everyone for the straight talk, and good (although painful) advice. I'll keep you all abreast of what happens.
posted by midwestguy at 1:08 PM on December 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


I did not respond well when she said she hated me with my kids

Almost no parents would respond well to this--it is a basic instinct to protect your kids and your relationship with your kids. It is completely natural and normal.

Just so you know--I personally think that you did respond well. I am not generally accepting of cursing and/or yellling at people, but this is one of the few scenarios in which it is completely understandable, predictable even.
posted by sondrialiac at 2:05 PM on December 10, 2008


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