Middle Aged Man's dilemma: stay w/ current situation or quit to start over - current wife cannot have children
October 16, 2006 3:59 AM   Subscribe

Middle Aged Man's dilemma: stay w/ current situation or quit to start over - current wife cannot have children

Aged 49. Great job. Good life. However current wife cannot have children - she has 2 from previous marriage and had female troubles after 2nd child. The dilemma: I still think that I want children before it is finally too late and can still be a viable Father. The 2 step-children are ok, but the old saying: "blood is thicker than water" keeps racing in my mind over and over again. Quick background: Yes there has been some "acceptance" problems with both step-children, particularly the older one, who rebelled strongly at first. Wife knows my concerns, and is unhappy of course. Her 2nd marriage, my fourth. I do have a son from marriage # 1 and he is 24, but is overseas. More "dilemma": wife is great, could not ask for one better. OK the 2 step-kids are burdensome and I will be supporting them forever as I lost that battle over schooling practices as I was not the "real Dad". My concerns are:

1) Any child-rearing woman that would take a chance on a man like me is going to be significantly younger than me, and let's face it: American women are big on both age and looks;

2) I just do not think my chances are good to even find ANY potential suitable woman that wants the good old-fashioned marriage w/ children. Most of the women I have worked with and/or just happened to be acquaintances with talk the Modern Woman talk of " Hell no - no kids for me - my big job and lifestyle means too much for me" ; " No Man is worth much these days"( exact quote from wife's friend); and many more lines that belong in this group of discussions;

3) Current spouse is a great one - also afraid that I would NOT be able to get along and/or have same retirement goals if a younger woman was to found. Current spouse is somewhat of a "Saver" like myself. A younger woman is going to see my savings and will want to spend, spend, spend. Been there done that a FEW times before, and at 49 I don't want to keep replenishing the retirement if a relationship did not work out( a cold, real fact in our days of Alimony, child support, etc - been there and done that too).

4) No more exploration of adoption, etc. Been there and tried that too. Saw my own real parents do this and the girl insisted on finding her "biological" parents and now she is gone to them after my parents raised her for 17 years. I know that this is an isolated case on my part fromn a personal level BUT there are many similar heart-break stories online. Plus the "fetal-alcohol-syndrome" adoption children is something I do not want to be a part of.

If I indeed decide to pursue the children angle, I need to get going soon, or just forget about the whole idea and just stay put.

I know that this is the "quick-and-dirty" version of this case here, but the members of this online community seem razor sharp and if inclined to do so, will be able to contribute positively.
posted by NFLfan to Human Relations (92 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
Maybe I underestimate the drive to reproduce, but I think you should count your blessings now and be happy with what you have. If you love your wife, you should not even consider your chances of scoring a woman of "child-rearing age." If you want to raise another child, I think your only option is to consider the many beautiful babies available for adoption.
posted by grieserm at 4:17 AM on October 16, 2006


You already had a kid, and you can't imagine finding a better woman than you already have. I think you'd be better off finding a way to make the best of your good life with your great wife, than throwing it all away for a mid-life-crisis pipe dream. (And start making donations at a sperm bank.)
posted by The Monkey at 4:24 AM on October 16, 2006


I'm not sure I understand your problem... your current wife is a "great spouse" who understands your concerns about your stepchildren, yet you want to leave her for a possibly younger woman just because you want biological children, one of which you already have from your first marriage????? Am I missing something here? I think I agree with grieserm, you should be happy with what you already have.
posted by misozaki at 4:32 AM on October 16, 2006


You're making a lot of assumptions about what other people want and do. You're sure as hell not going to meet the person you're looking for if you assume all women think all men are worthless, or that they're all just going to want to spend your money. If you think those things--if you go into it with those incredibly negative, mean spirited assumptions--you're one of the worthless ones. But also--if for some reason you think all (OK, most) women are like this except your wife, why would you even dream of giving her up?

I notice you don't bring up love. Not whether you love your wife, and not whether you care if you love this potential mother of your next child. You also don't mention why you want to have more kids. Just something to consider.

But here's the bottom line--you can't have both. If you try, you'll end up in a much worse position. You can't know ahead of time whether you'll find someone you want to have kids with. So you have to decide which is more important, accepting the fact that even if you leave your current family, there's a perfectly reasonable chance you still won't have any more kids. Will being alone, but with the possibility of meeting someone who'll have your kid, make you happier than you are now?
posted by lampoil at 4:32 AM on October 16, 2006


Just a thought, if you were to leave your wife and find someone else to have a child with, think about it. You'll be at least 50 by the time the kid is born. You'll be 55 when they start school, 68 when they graduate high school.

Just a thought, that's all.
posted by cholly at 4:43 AM on October 16, 2006


Your negative assumptions about women would be a big problem in finding a younger woman. But the bigger problem you'd run into is that most "child-bearing" women will be put off by the idea of being wife #5 and doubtful of the stability you could provide to these bio children you're dreaming of.
posted by Mavri at 4:45 AM on October 16, 2006 [2 favorites]


What makes you think having a biological kid is going to work out any better than the stepkids? Hell, it might even be worse- then they can scream, "I didn't ask to be born" to your face while you reach for your walker and try to chase them down.
posted by headspace at 4:52 AM on October 16, 2006


Seriously. Read your post from the point of view of someone who is not an egocentric fool and then give yourself the obvious advice. You have a child, but haven't kept in touch. Your on your fourth marriage. You find your wife great, but you are considering leaving her for the most superficial reason. You find your step kids burdensome. You think a new wife will "spend spend spend". And you think the problem lies external to you.

Seriously.

(Secretly hoping this is an elaborate joke, but stranger things have happened. Curious to hear your rebuttal to the previous comments...)
posted by qwip at 4:52 AM on October 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


You call your life partner your "current wife".

It sounds like you've already shouted NEXT.
posted by Sallyfur at 4:55 AM on October 16, 2006 [6 favorites]


Find a surrogate mother?
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 4:56 AM on October 16, 2006


Also hoping this is a joke, but if not, please consider this on a practical level.

You haven't even mentioned in the question why you want to have (more) biological children. Are you willing to go through a potentially nasty divorce with a great woman on the off-chance that you'll find a new, suitable partner who will bear your children? Many women don't know they're infertile until they start trying - are you going to demand a prenuptial fertility test?

She'd also have to overlook that this would be your 5th marriage, and be okay with the fact that if she wanted more than one child, you'd likely be in your mid-70s by the time the youngest graduated high school. And your savings - besides the fact that it's crappy to assume that younger women would spend all your money, new kids are going to deplete your income and savings even faster, just as you'd be heading into retirement.

It sounds like your time and efforts would be better spent strengthening your relationship with your wife, your stepchildren, and your biological child.
posted by lalex at 5:05 AM on October 16, 2006


Let's see . . . You're on marriage #4 with "current wife." Your sister (for 17 years) is "the girl." You're estranged from your biological son and don't get along with your stepchildren. Maybe you have attachment problems. Why would moving on make anything better for you? And didn't you know that your "current wife" couldn't have children before you married her? Stop being a dolt and be thankful for what you have.
posted by Joleta at 5:13 AM on October 16, 2006


Agree with everything above, and from another point of view. If you have worked and slaved to catch up on your retirement funds and you are afraid of your next wife spending it all, why on earth would you want to spend it raising another child? Unless you are quite well off your child could be the difference between wine and steak or pbr and alpo...

on preview, ditto lalex
posted by iurodivii at 5:13 AM on October 16, 2006


It seems like you have a problem viewing people and relationships as disposable when they don't meet every one of your expectations all the time. Your "current" wife is written off because she's infertile. Your biological son is written off as inconsequential because of his age and location. Your stepchildren aren't 100% accepting of you -- perhaps because they know you view their mother as defective and in need of replacement. None of them are just what you want, so you're ready to just walk away, no matter who gets hurt.

I note that never once in this discussion of your wife or child was the word "love" (or even "affection") used. It doesn't seem like there is any love or affection, just a selfish concern that your desires, whatever they may be, are met, and in the fashion you deem satisfactory.

The problem here is self-manufactured. It has nothing to do with external factors. Before you throw another set of relationships away, you might want to step back and analyze what's happening in your own head that you need to have your way to the extent that you repeatedly jettison relationships in search of the next, bigger, better, greater thing.

You don't need a divorce lawyer or a younger woman with functioning reproductive organs, you need a therapist.
posted by Dreama at 5:16 AM on October 16, 2006 [14 favorites]


I just do not think my chances are good to even find ANY potential suitable woman that wants the good old-fashioned marriage w/ children.
You've been married four times. You're considering leaving wonderful-but-aging Wife #4 in search of Wife #5. You have a grown son from your first marriage. I don't think that "the good old-fashioned marriage with children" means what you think it means.

A middle-aged man driving a hot sports car is a lot less pathetic than a middle-aged man who's thrown away a good thing and chases girls (who gets even more pathetic when he's alone and eighty).
posted by mimi at 5:41 AM on October 16, 2006 [2 favorites]


It sounds very much like you view women as walking wombs (defective or otherwise) and judge them based on what they can either give you - children - or take from you - money. Let alone how you view your kids. You're lucky enough to find a wife who loves you? For God's sake stay with her. You're scaring all single women out there. There is a reason you're onto marriage four. Maybe it's time to start asking why. The issues can't all be them. Seriously, dude.
posted by Jubey at 5:43 AM on October 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


What everybody else said. Reading your question reminded me of a classic John Prine song, which I paraphrase thusly:
NFLfan, NFLfan, you have no complaint
You are what you are and you ain't what you ain't
So listen up buster and listen up good
Stop wishin' for bad luck and knockin' on wood
Really dude, you ought to see someone about that mote in your eye.
posted by RussHy at 5:45 AM on October 16, 2006 [2 favorites]


You don't need a divorce lawyer or a younger woman with functioning reproductive organs, you need a therapist.

Couldn't say it better.
posted by jennyjenny at 5:56 AM on October 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


Don't throw away the good thing. Learn to appreciate the people in your life. You have a biological child, appreciate him. You have a wife who you admit is great, appreciate her.

I had a good friend whose dad was in his 50s when he had him, he hated having an elderly dad. I would too. I think you're trying to avoid the fact that you are entering into the grandfather time of your life. Embrace it instead.

You said "Blood is thicker then water" keeps going through your head. Well, excercise some self-control and squash the thought. We can't just go around making life decisions based on thoughts in our head. Some thoughts are good and some are bad. This one is bad, based on the fact that if followed would have you tearing a family apart.

You can have every bit as fullfilling a relationship with a child who is not a blood relative. My sister was adopted and she is not a second class family member. Family relationships take work, they are hard, but stop using your step status as an excuse to have a bad relationship with your kids. Start working on it.

Again, in the "appreciate what you have" camp, have you considered how your 24 year old child might view you having new babies around now, half-siblings. I would bet that it would suck. I don't think it's fair to him to start a whole new batch of kids with a new lady.

I would say, don't do it.
posted by visual mechanic at 6:38 AM on October 16, 2006


You don't need a divorce lawyer or a younger woman with functioning reproductive organs, you need a therapist.

Couldn't say it better.


And, because it's so perfectly right on the point, I think it bears repeating just one more time.

Seriously, think about it. Let's say you decided today to move out. It's going to be at least a year before you get your divorce and such settled out. Figure in another year (I'm being generous here, I'm sure it would take longer) to find a gal who would go for this. Another year to woo her and get her married, then another year to have a child. You're now 53 with a newborn. You'd better be a really healthy 53 or your new child is going to grow up without a father.

Also, what is your financial situation going to be like? You're going to be paying support to "current spouse" (not even "my wife", but "current spouse". Nice.) You gonna be able to afford a new life on what you've got left over?

Stop being so selfish. I shouldn't have to say this to a 49-year-old man, but...GROW UP!
posted by Spoonman at 6:45 AM on October 16, 2006


I can understand the drive to have biological children, but I just don't think there's any way for this to turn out well. Why not put more effort into your relationship with your son and see if that lessens the anxiety?

Any smart young woman is going to be very hesitant about having babies with a guy who's on his 5th marriage. How is she to know you won't trade her in too?

You complain about women being after your money, but if that's really the case, it's the other side of your own coin. You see women in terms of what they can offer you - they look to what you can offer them. It doesn't sound like you have much to offer except money. If you aren't offering love, or stability or acceptance, or great looks, or a sense of humor, expect women to look to your wallet - what are you going to offer wife #5 instead? No woman is going to have your kids for nothing.

It sounds like you've already decided though. Why don't you just cheat and poke holes in your condoms? I'm almost serious, at least then the lucky young lady would know the deal.
posted by crabintheocean at 6:50 AM on October 16, 2006


being 49 myself, i'm here to tell you that at this age, you should have realized something ... you can't have everything you want ... whatever you have so far is probably a good part of what you're going to get ... if what you have is pretty good, you should be happy with it

and as you suspect, but don't fully realize, starting over at age 49 is not going to be easy ... in fact, the odds are good you'll be alone for a while, especially if you insist on trying to get with women who are at a significantly different stage of life than you are ... and if for some reason that relationship should fail the odds are fairly good you won't get another chance

be happy with what you have
posted by pyramid termite at 6:50 AM on October 16, 2006


About having an older father, my own father was 57 when he had me, 59 when he had my younger brother and 61 when he had my younger sister (on top of his two stepchildren). He worked until he was 75 to feed, clothe and send us to school, and only stopped because of dementia. This was a man who had the energy of a 35 year old when he was 65, the envy apparently of the local wives (or so my mother says).

That said, I could never relate to the man, even though I am in many ways a facsimile of him, little that he said ever jibed with my experiences (he once gave me the "drug talk" and used Chinese opium smokers as the example, seriously).

Judjing by what you've written here you're likely to be at least as remote to any more children you might have. If it didn't work out with your first son, why would it be any different this time, especially with the additional issues of age difference?
posted by claudius at 7:03 AM on October 16, 2006 [2 favorites]


Is this prank?

You've been married FOUR times and you want to try it again!!!

You have a kid, but you want to have kids!!?!!

You love your wife, but you want to marry her to have a kid, even though you've already had a kid?

What's wrong with you? Get a grip, kiss your wife, be glad you found a woman to give you a fourth chance and start learning to accept what you have. It's not going to get better than this.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 7:05 AM on October 16, 2006


er you want to marry divorce her to have a kid,
posted by croutonsupafreak at 7:10 AM on October 16, 2006


Do not overlook the fact that AskMe is rarely unanimous. This means something.
posted by hermitosis at 7:11 AM on October 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


Four times and you're still not happy. Even though you have a great job and a good life. You will never be happy (or, perhaps fulfilled is a better word than happy). You should read the book "Freakonomics". You are a maximizer.
posted by spicynuts at 7:16 AM on October 16, 2006


You could always start cheating on your wife until you get someone pregnant, then leave your "current" family behind and get divorced to be with the new lady and your new baby. This way, you can test the waters for prospective wives who are fertile while not jeopardizing the situation you have now in case it's actually the best you can do. You will have the years up to your death with a new child of your own, up to about the age that your other son is now. I guess that gives you a fresh start.

I think to most people this would sound utterly sociopathic, but it seems like the most fool-proof means of optimizing your situation at this point if you don't have to worry about new stepkids, finances, or the lives and feelings of any other human beings in your past, present, and future families. Which is what I'm getting from your post. People only act like this on Telenovelas.
posted by Marnie at 7:20 AM on October 16, 2006 [2 favorites]


?
posted by crabintheocean at 7:21 AM on October 16, 2006


Or alternately given your views on American women and their needs for looks, age, careers, and their own retirement plans, maybe you should just get a mail-order bride or offer someone a green card for an heir. After you die, she can have a life of her own in her new country.
posted by Marnie at 7:24 AM on October 16, 2006


jinx.
posted by Marnie at 7:25 AM on October 16, 2006


I had to read through the details of your question twice just to determine that you aren't the ex-husband of one of my coworkers -- her ex has a similar number of ex-wives.

I'll put it this way: Ideally, people have children because they are in a life situation where they are able to provide a stable, loving environment for a child. This means that if there's a relationship it's healthy, and if there are any environmental or social factors (money, housing, etc) they are minimal. You're talking about having a kid for the sake of having a kid, because you feel like something is missing from your life.

What is your life missing that you haven't been able to find over four marriages, one kid, and two stepkids? Do you have any reason to believe that you're going to feel any different once you have another child other than some sense that you need to procreate?
posted by mikeh at 7:34 AM on October 16, 2006


I say leave her and move on - PLEASE! Give the "current spouse" a good exuse to get out of an obviously disfunctional relationship and find someone who might actually love her the way she is! I can't believe that a woman who KNOWS that her husband is considering ditching her for a newer model would stick around at all - I would hope she would make the decision for you!

If you're smart enough to realize how good you have it and stay with this woman who is probably too good for you, please get over yourself and get some counselling.
posted by DecemberRaine at 7:50 AM on October 16, 2006


Why would you want to break off and burn bridges with people you already know and who love you, just so you can hopefully be with people you don't know and some kid who doesn't even exist?

Please explore ways to appreciate and get meaning from your life the way it is! You have a lot going for you already - don't discard it because you feel life-itchy.
posted by cadge at 7:56 AM on October 16, 2006


Also consider the consequences on the children. I have a good friend whose dad left for another woman in nearly the exact manner you want to. As a consequence, both his biological daughters, whom were once very close to him, have shut him completely out of his life and my friend's only hanging on because of the financial reprucussions. If you don't feel very close to your current children, it pales in comparison to the seperation you'll feel if you leave your current wife.
posted by jmd82 at 7:59 AM on October 16, 2006


If I were a woman of child-bearing age, and you were a newly-divorced for the FOURTH time man, looking to have a baby with me...

I'd run like hell.

I can only add to the: it's time for a therapist chorus.

Good luck, and good luck to your current wife, too. This cannot be easy for her to be going through, whether or not she is fully aware of your musings. It sounds like you do not deserve her, to be frank. I hope your situation resolves itself with the minimum amount of heartache for all concerned.
posted by Savannah at 8:08 AM on October 16, 2006


From the perspective of being an older parent. Kids keep you moving but sometimes you just can't keep up. It sounds like the step-chiuldren are your burden not your spouse. Since her primary interest is her kids, not you then either adapt or move.

My wife started having children when she was 39, so I think your assumption about age is invalid.

If you choose to leave this spouse, do it before you find your prospective mother, you don't need the bad karma of abandonment. The best place to look for women who are older and healthy enough to have children would probably be your local gym.
posted by ptm at 8:27 AM on October 16, 2006


Forget checking whether or not your sperm is viable....as a single woman of childbearing age, I can tell you that your personality is NOT. You have a marriage with someone who is a loving spouse to you.....which you shouldn't take for granted, given that most of the demographic you'll be trying to target will--all problems with your looks, your 4 failed marriages, etc. aside--be completely repulsed by your views on women (your "spend spend spend" and "Modern Women" comments you present as absoulte truth); your failure to feel parental/attached towards the children you ALREADY HAVE (the ugly, unhappy, nasty comments about the step-children, and fact that you've decided you can't have a relationship with your biological son since "he's overseas"); and your bizarre views on adoption (based on a single anecdotal example and "stuff you read online" about FAS); your dismissive and complaining and entitled attitude in general. Since when do kids--even your onw biological ones--come with any kind of guarentees that they'll do/turn out exactly to be what you demand?

How old are these step children you've already given up on parenting? Why the bitter nasty comment on how "you'll be supporting them forever" due to "losing" the battle on some schooling decision?

Agreed with previous posters--you sound like enough of a tightwad that, at 49, unless you are making oodles of money on salary, it makes no sense for you to want to sink the close to million dollars it takes to raise a kid fresh from the start
posted by availablelight at 8:40 AM on October 16, 2006 [4 favorites]


Plus the "fetal-alcohol-syndrome" adoption children is something I do not want to be a part of.

There are no guarantees that you wouldn't encounter physical problems with the birth of a biological child. What would you do then?

There are many children who come from societies where fetal-alcohol-syndrome is not a major problem. And there are ways to make good educated choices when adopting (but no guarantees here as well).

This being said, I think, as others have stated, there are other issues involved that have nothing to do with adoption.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 8:42 AM on October 16, 2006


Older Fathers More Likely To Have Autistic Children, just, y'know, FYI, and so that you don't think all of the age related problems are blameable on recalcitrant women.
posted by OmieWise at 8:54 AM on October 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


Poor NFLfan. This seems to be his inagural AskMe post. I can only hope that means this account was created to commit this prank, as the idea of someone actually considering this is bloody depressing.

Now, if the post is legit, then I would posit that NFLfan has discarded this board as swiftly as wives one through three. The hive mind's views have become as disagreeable as his stepchildren, which seems a sure-fire way to send our dear OP sprinting in the opposite direction.

Which is a shame, because he truly needs to be talked out of the crime he's contemplating.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:14 AM on October 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


If you already have a child I agree with the majority-count your blessings, and tell your brain to be quiet. Sometimes children with your spouse is not in the cards, but you HAVE had a child of your own. If not there would be more inclination to leave her, but in this world (and no offense but you should know this after 3 marriages) it's tough to find a woman who you're in love with, and who is as great as you make her out to be.
posted by PetiePal at 9:17 AM on October 16, 2006


Maybe what you're really yearning for is grandkids! Have you done all you can to help your son build a life for himself? Does he need help purchasing a home, paying off student loans?
posted by xo at 9:17 AM on October 16, 2006


leave her and don't pursue anyone else. no girl deserves to be treated as one in a line of baby-making machines.
posted by pinksoftsoap at 9:20 AM on October 16, 2006


Why not get a surrogate Mother?

(i am confident this is a real question) So here is my best attempt at a civil answer : )
posted by crewshell at 10:24 AM on October 16, 2006


I have to say that I do not think a surrogate mother is a good idea. This man's problem is not the inability to have a child. His problem -- the question he is asking underneath the question he is asking -- is the inability to see his life as it is, to appreciate what he has.

NFLFan, if you're still reading, print this thread (or just your question) out and take it to a therapist before you even consider the surrogate mother option.

Also, surrogate mothers are, understandably, extremely selective about who they will consider bearing children for. There are a number of red flags in your post that would likely frighten them off. Just as they would nearly any woman of childbearing age, and rightfully so.

If you have any difficulty seeing why you would seem extremely red-flaggy, or seeing why you managed to get one of the few unanimous askmefi responses I've ever seen, then that is definitely a sign that you need to talk to somebody professional.

I say this without any snark whatsoever. You don't sound like a happy guy. Talking to a therapist could really help.
posted by jennyjenny at 10:39 AM on October 16, 2006


I bet you think Henry the VIII had some really sound ideas about women and children. Have you considered that this next spouse you seek of child rearing age will probably be close in age to your son and how that will impact him, your wife, and your child? Have you considered what you will do your child's sense of committment since you can't seem to hold a relationship together? With your considerable savings have you thought of surrogacy?

Really, I'm with EatTheWeak and LanguageHat, and I wonder how that bridge you're living under feels. I also wonder if maybe you are spouse number four and your husband is leaving you. If that's the case, run away. He sounds like an asshole.

If this is really you and you really do think this way, I weep for every single person who has gotten into an interpersonal relationship with you. If my math is correct, it looks like you can only make a marriage last about 7 years on average (and that is if you jump from one to another with no courting in between). Find a woman, get her to feel secure, find something wrong with her, leave, lose half, repeat. Aren't you sick of this dance yet?
posted by nadawi at 10:47 AM on October 16, 2006


I don't think you are being 100% honest of why you want to leave your wife. Something doesn't click for me.

The question you need to really ask yourself is: What does having another child/wife mean to me?

What do you hope this child/new marriage will solve? Do you hope to be absolved of past mistakes? Do you hate your life in a way you weren't able to share? Do you look forward to sex with a younger woman?

Frankly, I think it's proabably a little of all three and more. My point is, I think you need to be a little more honest with yourself about what you really hope to gain through wife #5 and child #2.
posted by milarepa at 11:18 AM on October 16, 2006


Two days after I post an AskMe as a middle-aged man looking for advice on how to find love, I see this damn question. All sorts of cliches are running through my mind.

NFLfan, learn to appreciate the good things you have in life. And those "good things" are the people that love you. I envy you both your children and your loving spouse. The advice "go to a therapist" might be intended or taken to be tinged with ridicule, but it's also very good well-intentioned and generous advice. You have had some considerable good fortune and all that it would take for you to enjoy it is a little bit of help finding a better, more healthy, perspective.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:39 AM on October 16, 2006


NFLfan, count your blessings. You have a wife who loves you, financial security, and hundreds of fans on the internet! It is common at our age to have fantasies about the lives we might have led, but when you think of acting on those fantasies, you are letting it go too far.

In short--you are too old to start another family, have unrealistic ideas of how possible this is and how satisfying it might be. There are millions of people on this planet who would change places with you right now. Try to reconnect to your wife and to enjoy the life you have.

(And if you want to have some fun with kids, youth sports leagues are generally desperate for coaches. You don't know what fun is until you have seen a 5-year-old T-ball player hit a single and all the players from both teams chase after it and pile on each other into a big, giggling tangle.)
posted by LarryC at 12:05 PM on October 16, 2006


If I indeed decide to pursue the children angle, I need to get going soon, or just forget about the whole idea and just stay put.

Yes. Unlike everyone else here, I actually feel somewhat sympathetic towards you. So here's my advice for what it's worth.

1. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. At 49 you must have been through the experience, at least once, of not getting something that you wanted. You only go through life once and you can't do it all. So letting go of this desire and enjoying your marriage and you existing biological and adoptive children would probably be not so hard.

2. If you want to continue on the path of what some have called "serial polygamy", it's probably not so hard to find a younger woman to bear your children. Will they want to spend all your money? Probably. Johnny Carson and Tony Randall seemed to pull this off pretty well. Being rich helps. If you're not rich, you might want to go back to suggestion #1.

Finally, you probably should go see a professional therapist to talk about this with. They really can be helpful, if expensive. You, by your own admission, have a biological child. So it's not just the issue of not having a child. Are you estranged from your son? Do you wish that you have more intimacy in your life and your relationships? As a guy with two small kids, you don't want a baby. I mean, those things are a lot of work. So, what is it that's driving your desire to have a kid? I'm guessing it's not the sleepless nights and diapers. You need to ask yourself what you're really looking for.
posted by GuyZero at 12:27 PM on October 16, 2006


Those who suggested mid-life crisis are right. NFLfan is looking at the bleak prospect of his 50th birthday and wishing that he had left some "footprints on the sands of time".
Adaptability is the name of the game. Realize that you are past fathering prime time - for the sake of the children who do not deserve elderly parents!
Do you really want to spend your retirement at PTA meetings? Or did you let wife #1 take care of all those little parental duties and you now realize that by ducking them, you missed out.
Make the most of your current circumstances. There is an old poster of a flower with the caption "Bloom where you are planted". Not bad advice.
posted by Cranberry at 12:44 PM on October 16, 2006


Just to buttress Omiewise's excellent point, fathers over 50 seem to be as much as 4-5 times as likely to have a child who develops schizophrenia.

Your story and your descriptors make me question whether you have been able to love anyone as an adult, and I sense enough pain in the account of your adopted sister to wonder if something there is at the root. If you choose to stay, which may or may not be the best thing for your "current wife" and step-children, though I'm inclined to say not, you may want to get some help to look at what went on with your sister.
posted by jamjam at 12:51 PM on October 16, 2006


Following up what GuyZero said, I'm going to take a wild guess that the only time in your life you've been really, really happy was right after your son was born. You want to feel that happy again, so, with thudding literal-mindedness, you try to recreate the circumstances.

Of course, this is stupid for a number of reasons, but primarily because you can only be a new father once. Also, you are a different person now than you were 24 years ago. Also, you are almost certainly remembering your youth through rose-colored glasses. Also, you made a promise to the woman you married that should mean a lot to you (and BTW, you could probably stand some work on that). The life you have doesn't sound like it's so bad as to justify divorce.

Rather than trying to relive past glory, why not work on making a better future for yourself and your family?
posted by kindall at 12:56 PM on October 16, 2006


Extremely dissapointed about most of the responses. I should have known better. I am going to take a day or two, re-read the responses. Then decide if I should respond, or listen to my instincts and just leave this Forum. Pretend that I was not stupid enough to even THINK I could get civil answers on this or any online format. Really am offended at the name-calling and those name-calling and negative members have shown the true colors and flavor of this Forum.
posted by NFLfan at 1:25 PM on October 16, 2006


You're getting extremely civil answers here, NFLfan. Other places will not be as kind.

Not everything is other people's fault.
posted by divabat at 1:45 PM on October 16, 2006


Stay. You already have a kid.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:52 PM on October 16, 2006


NFLfan writes "Extremely dissapointed about most of the responses."

Are you disappointed because people don't share your worldview and haven't suggested that you should leave your current wife, or because you think that people have been mean to you? In either case, it's worth asking yourself why you thought that any of the answers here would be of help if you knew so little about Metafilter that you thought that so blatantly misogynoist attitude was suited to getting non-judgemental answers. There's plenty of great advice in this thread, although almost all of the good advice contradicts what can be reasonably inferred to be your desired answer.

Also, if you click on this link, it will take you to a different part of this site where there's a discussion under way about how this question has been answered. (People are markedly less sympathetic to you in that thread, so be prepared, but it may also give you a guage against which to view the very balanced answers here.)
posted by OmieWise at 1:54 PM on October 16, 2006


You got lots of civil answers. They just aren't the ones you wanted. This is the risk you run when you ask people for advice -- you just might get it.
posted by litlnemo at 2:07 PM on October 16, 2006


Bitter medicine or not, the AskMe-ers almost never agree on anything. But they agree on this. If you can scrape away the name-calling and what has insulted you, the advice and impression given of your post is sound.

Good luck.
posted by agregoli at 2:34 PM on October 16, 2006


in any hive, you can always get stung...
posted by criticalbill at 2:52 PM on October 16, 2006


Extremely dissapointed about most of the responses. I should have known better.

As was said in reply to a similar pouty response by someone who received a near-unanimous "DONT BE AN ASS" response: Bzzzt. Wrong. When you get advice you don't like, the answer is not that you shouldn't have asked the question.

But given the detachment that you show for the people in your life -- your wife is "the current spouse," your marriage is "the current situation," your sister is "the girl," your stepchildren are "the step-kids" and "burdensome," your son apparently dosen't count because he's an adult and overseas -- it's not surprising that when you hear something you don't like, you just dismiss it with contempt. You don't seem to be able to relate to your own family, so why would you relate to any of us as having anything meaningful to say?
posted by scody at 3:03 PM on October 16, 2006


Why do you want kids? It seems like a weird thing to want when you already have too many burdens in your life already.
posted by koeselitz at 3:19 PM on October 16, 2006


Aside from that, I think you should talk to your wife. You made an enormous mistake marrying her without talking about this first; but as this is common nowadays, I can't blame you too much. You now have a duty to stay with her, since you've made that promise by marrying her. I suggest you figure out how. I think talking with her is the first step.
posted by koeselitz at 3:26 PM on October 16, 2006


You are almost fifty. It doesn't sound like you'd be happy with finding another woman in her late 30s, so you will probably be looking for someone in their 20s or early 30s. Your new potential wife will be nearly half your age. When you are 70, they will be 50. Maybe they will want to put you in a nursing home and be done with you. Think about how you want to end your life.

Also, I don't know your particular situation, but remember that there may be financial ramifications from divorcing your current wife. Don't assume you will leave the relationship with all the money you made while you were in it if you were supporting her during your marriage and did not have a prenup.

Maybe you can work something out with your mom or inlaws.

Thanks for the post. It is interesting to see how people think.
posted by onlyconnect at 4:08 PM on October 16, 2006


Why is foreign/overseas adoption not a possibility? You can do a closed adoption in China, Korea, etc. if you are worried about "losing" a child to its birth parents.

Also - google "internal locus of control." Yours is external, right now, as shown by your reaction to criticisms here; you might be happier if you learned to change that, first.
posted by luriete at 5:01 PM on October 16, 2006


As a childless, never-married, healthy 33-year-old woman who is very good with money and who never says things like this to any man, I can only say, I wouldn't touch a 50-year-old, four-times-divorced man with your attitude with tongs. Even one of those things makes you a non-starter, let alone all of them. Honestly, I'd rather never marry or have children then wind up with someone like you.

So I'd advise you to make the most of what you have. One thing no one has mentioned yet is that it might be possible for you to have a child who is genetically "yours" with your current wife — by adopting an egg and using your own sperm and IVF. There is also embryo adoption, (though the child would not be genetically either yours or your wife's), or surrogacy with another woman using your sperm.
posted by orange swan at 6:26 PM on October 16, 2006


For my midlife crisis I got my teeth fixed up pretty and bought some doc Martins. I think you should work on connecting with the people you have in your life and don't screw it up chasing after something else. You already have a great wife, a son, stepkids, you have a lot, you just need to connect with it and not fuck up. You aren't a kid anymore and the gamble you are thinking of is a bad bet. (and like you have been told, selfish)
posted by Iron Rat at 8:16 PM on October 16, 2006


If I were a woman of child-bearing age, and you were a newly-divorced for the FOURTH time man, looking to have a baby with me...

I'd run like hell.


As a woman of child-bearing age...no way. No way in hell.

Previous posters have been polite(r), but I can't and won't be: this is seriously fucked up. My mother's second husband was a lot like you. Kids can tell when you don't like them, you know, and it sure sounds like that's the case here. How on earth did you think they were going to treat you if they're second-class citizens in their own home?

I suggest you start engaging in the novel hobby of excruciatingly honest self-examination before it's too late.

We only get one go-around at life. Try making the most of the blessings the universe has--somehow--graciously granted to you in the form of your wife and children. This thread might stick in your craw now, but if you actually listen to the advice you've been given, you will thank us later.
posted by Vervain at 9:00 PM on October 16, 2006


Marnie: You could always start cheating on your wife until you get someone pregnant, then leave your "current" family behind and get divorced to be with the new lady and your new baby.

My dad did this, at age 60, except instead of physically cheating, he took out personals ads in newspapers of neighbouring cities. Same reasons as you, NFLguy - "blood is thicker than water", and I and my sibs (aged early to late 20s at the time) weren't enough blood progeny to fulfill his obsessive procreative urge.

He broke my mom's heart (after a 30 year marriage, and she the most loving wife and mother any husband or child could have been blessed with). I have to say though that I was relieved to get rid of him, for her sake and ours. His husbanding and parenting were dysfunctional, of which the "Must...father...dynasty...while...sperm still...frisky!" issue was just ONE symptom. This may not sound applicable to you, NFLguy, but try running it by your spouse/kids.

He married a woman in her late 30s who also craved to have biological children. He continues, now in his 70s, to work full-time to pay debts that include a shitload of alimony and child support to this woman, the mother of my half-sister (nice kid, I have to say). Death will be his retirement. (You said something about "retirement goals"?)

Also:
Saw my own real parents do this and the girl insisted on finding her "biological" parents and now she is gone to them after my parents raised her for 17 years.

This understandably hurts you. Watching good people, whom you care about very much, devote their love, energy, time, money, worry, and faith, to someone, only to have the ingrate throw it back in their faces. That's hard. I mean it. I watched dad do this to mom. You do realize, don't you, that that's exactly what you're proposing to do to your "great" current spouse...don't you?

NFLguy, 'some "acceptance" problems with both step-children', ' son from marriage # 1 and he is 24, but is overseas', suggests to me that you'd like to have parent-child closeness in your life. You aren't getting it from stepkids, or presumably from overseas son (really, is geographical distance responsible for the fact that his existence doesn't fulfill your craving? Man, dig deeper), and you won't consider adoption because of your parents' experience.

If I'm close to the mark and you do indeed want another chance at having a loving father-child relationship, consider this: however bad your relationships with your biological and step- kids are now, if you manage to impregnate someone and have another kid(s), you'll flush your current relationships straight into the sewer. Have you tried to "start over" with them at all? Acknowledged mistakes you made? How do you expect your overseas son to feel about effectively being told he's not good enough for you? Do you care?

There's one reason why I no longer despise my dad: he eventually had the guts to admit his selfishness and start dealing with the damage he caused, both before and after he announced his Rent-A-Womb Quest.

If you don't like the idea of therapy, why not? The payoff could reduce or resolve your currently overwhelming urge to take a phenomenally bad risk to your retirement finances and your good marriage, for a hypothetical child with whom your relationship may be as "troubled" as those you already have; a happier spouse; and happier relationship with existing kids.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:28 PM on October 16, 2006 [5 favorites]


cybercoitus interruptus: fantastic answer. I hope he listens to you, at least.
posted by divabat at 4:07 AM on October 17, 2006


You might try Russian personals - a lot of Russian women are looking for American husbands and they aren't so picky about age and looks.
posted by thirteenkiller at 5:26 AM on October 17, 2006


I am back and am going to dig in and fight like a wolverine cornered for his life. And I am not going to use profanity and vulgarity even though some of the members here poured as much as they could on me during my "condemnation" for my honest but poorly written question. This will take a few days as I am busy, but I am going to do it. Three reasons that it is in my best interests to fight back that I do not mind sharing:

1) Expose the negative naysayers that did not respect the part of my question "be able to conrtibute positively";

2) Expose the degenerates that did not respect the Spirit and intent of this Forum, which was to help those seeking answers; if something was not to your liking and you could not handle the content( question) in the best interest of this Forum you could have passed without the throwing of the rocks in the worst case of internet trolling I have ever witnessed;

3) Which leads to others to see how the Forum is really like - what the members are apparently made of and how they react( first) and think( sadistically and disrespectful) and keep others from wasting their $5.00 and their time wasted -
posted by NFLfan at 6:27 AM on October 17, 2006 [2 favorites]


NFLfan, this is honest, well-intended advice: This is not the place to "fight back." Nothing good will come of it, I promise you. There is nobody to "expose" -- it's all right here in front of us. We can all read for ourselves what people wrote, and frankly it's not as bad as it could have been. If you're not willing to view the (almost unanimous) advice you've been given here as helpful, you're better off writing off this whole exercise (and your $5), and going elsewhere.

Even if that doesn't convince you, this is not the page to talk about the posters themselves. As OmieWise indicated above, in another part of this site there's a very active discussion going on about you and your question. If you want to keep addressing this, you should probably do so over there.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:02 AM on October 17, 2006


Yes, as pardonyou? said, this is actually a surprisingly civil thread, all things considered. I'm sure you feel besieged, and it's natural to want to strike back, but I guarantee you nothing good will come of it. If you want to continue the discussion with possible profit to yourself, I'd suggest pretending that nobody said anything offensive and simply addressing the issues (why it's so important to you to have biological children, especially when you already have one; why you want to leave a wife who "is great, could not ask for one better"; why you think a fifth marriage with a younger woman would work out better; and so on). Otherwise, like the man said, you're better off forgetting this thread even existed.
posted by languagehat at 7:10 AM on October 17, 2006


Before I undertake the momentous task of commenting on the answers I received for my question( Dilemma), it is appropriate for some more "background" on myself.

Age: 49. Great job. Yes, great job, six figures. Financially secure. Not filthy rich, but if I devoted my remaining time and set out the goal to BECOME filthy rich, there is no doubt in my mind that I could do that if so inclined. Oh, let me get a dig in here that yes I am stuck on that part of myself that yes, I am the kind of man that should be trying to raise children - the man that can afford the best education available and the best secure home to grow up raising children.

Yes great current spouse. Yes she knows about all of this and actually understands. Yes, 2 ungrateful step-children that have continually taken advantage of me and my kindness for the past 8 years. The older of the two, the 22-year-old, has just recently re-moved( yes, this is NOT a typo), RE-MOVED back into our home again for the third time in two years. This child decided at 20 that s/he( I am not revealing gender as of yet and may not at all) that s/he knew more than step-dad, mom is weak, it is mom's fault that biological-but-Metro-headline-abusive Dad left them in the first place, you get the picture. I put the child in college TWICE and the results were unacceptable and no more from me.

Yes have a son - a Marine overseas. He is angry at me because he blames me for the breakup between me and his mother. He insists that I tell him why it happened - I maintain my position that it is between his mother and myself - none of his business. He also had behavior problems and smoking/drinking/drug habits and I told him that I would NOT support him any more if he did not get help. He refused - and it is evil Dad's fault that he got in trouble with the law and thus led him to the " Join the Service or go to jail". I know some of you younger libs here that bashed me are going to side with the son - I expect that - matter-of-fact I would be somewhat disappointed if you saw my side of ANY of this. I can only hope that Karma gets you good and your offspring causes you similar grief.

By the way, the Forum is NOT unanimous against me. Some light at the end of this tunnel.

I will post more but I am tired, and do not spend a lot of time on the Internet any more. Don't worry - I promise to respond to ALL the answers, and yes some of the posters did try to help in a sincere way. But the ones who flamed away are the ones that got my attention - made the question secondary now.
posted by NFLfan at 7:15 AM on October 17, 2006


NFLfan, if you ask a question like "I'm going to drill a hole in my head. Should I use a drill press or a hand-held model?" it's pointless to say, "Don't speculate about my motives. Just answer the question!" because asking a question like that exposes a much bigger problem, and people are going to respond to it.

In zen practice they use the keisaku, the stick of compassion, to beat some sense into someone. It sounds harsh, but it's not a punishment, it's a wake-up call. You're shocked by what you've read here, and you feel like you have to defend yourself. You're angry that people won't tell you how to drill a hole in your head.

Truthfully, there's nothing to fight back against or expose here; it's not you versus them. The shock and anger you're feeling now can be productive. Rechannel your energy into re-examining your motives, your actions, and the impact you have on the people around you. You've gotten lots of good advice here. It might not be what you want to hear right now, but take some time to let it sink in.
posted by Gamblor at 7:35 AM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


With all respect, NFLfan, I am not sure you should come back and post here anymore. In order to provide the advice that you seek in this thread, members of the community will have to challenge your assumptions and your views on parenthood and family. There's simply no way for someone to counsel you effectively if he or she is constrained by having to agree with you. I am sure that if you sought professional help (which I hope that you do) the therapist would react similarly. Please understand that yes, while the community here is generally politically liberal, secular, open to nontraditional family relationships and frequently scarred by the experiences of its members, we are a genuinely compassionate bunch. This is reflected in the overwhelming restraint and respectfulness of tone that has been expressed in this thread despite the way that most of us feel about your situation.

Because you require that we accept your worldview as a condition to you accepting our advice, I think that you need to walk away with the chips you have and put this to rest. I sincerely wish that you find happiness and that your son comes home safely as soon as humanly possible.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 7:41 AM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


I am back and am going to dig in and fight like a wolverine cornered for his life.

why is what we think so important to you? ... by the way, if you're going to fight, this thread is the appropriate place for that, not ask me
posted by pyramid termite at 7:52 AM on October 17, 2006


NFLFan, I hope that I didn't come off as too negative originally -- while it's easy to cast you as some sort of serial-marrying jerk, I think it's very unlikely that you've gotten to this point in your life without hitting some pretty nasty breaks. You've mentioned them now.

It's presumptuous of me to ask this as a younger man with little experience, but what has been very fulfilling in your life so far? You've likely gained some wisdom and experience throughout several marriages and you likely know what makes you feel fulfilled in life. Is it possible you still haven't found what you're looking for?

My parents are older than you, but by less than a decade, and have a much less storied past -- but I still see them looking around for something to fulfill them in life. Everyone does, otherwise they're sitting in a retirement home wheezing their last. My mom volunteers at an elementary school, while my dad has become less of a workaholic but does a lot of landscaping. They've drifted between a few groups of similarly-aged friends and have helped crew for a hot air balloon, helped my sister out around her place, and picked up new interests.

It's not your "current situation," it's your life. Expand it, and not necessarily in the same ways you have before.
posted by mikeh at 8:06 AM on October 17, 2006


What this is really about, NFLfan, is your pride and narcissism. The reason the more mature and healthy among us want children is because we want to be loving and supportive fathers. You've had three opportunities to be a loving and supportive father and you've failed at it, if you even made an effort. It's clear that you're not interested in a child to love, you're interested in having a child that you believe is worthy of you, someone who will make you proud. It's all about you, just as your several marriages have obviously been all about you. The bottom line is that your selfishness makes you a lousy husband and a lousy father. Somehow earning a substantial income convinces you that your considerable self-regard is rational. But that's a single example of success amid a sea of failures. You're a failure in your personal life and it's my earnest hope that the recognition and shame of these failures will motivate you to re-examine yourself and work at being a better person, father, and husband. You can be, and you'll find yourself much happier. What's missing from your life is loveā€”or, more specifically, the fullfillment that comes from loving others, which is much more important than being loved.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:09 AM on October 17, 2006 [4 favorites]


Did you know she was unable to bear children before you married her? If yes, your marriage contract binds you to her, your moral obligation is clear, and you don't suffer from a Dilemma, you made a Promise You Shouldn't Have. If no, you'll find a way to live with yourself either way.

Your kids are around breeding age, are they not? - reconcile with them over the next few years, and have a beautiful, fruitful relationship with your grandkids. Now that would be some good Karma for a man who invests a lot in bloodlines.
posted by DenOfSizer at 9:16 AM on October 17, 2006


NFLfan, I'm older than you and have been divorced myself, for what that's worth, and I'm not going to "side with the son" because I don't know you or him or what happened between you, but I think if you listen to what people are saying you'll realize your problems can't all be other people's fault, and I hope you'll try to fix them by some less drastic and pointless means than leaving a good marriage.

Oh, one more thing: having money does not mean being a good parent.
posted by languagehat at 9:20 AM on October 17, 2006


Hmmm. It's an interesting dilemma. I would have to consider if this fourth wife will possibly "cause trouble" if you divorced her or got another woman pregnant.

If no to the both, I'd look at hiring a naive "young thing" on the pretence of working for wou, but then I'd woo her and make her pregnant. The upside of this is that you'd keep your wife and have another kid.

Also, have you considered black market Russians. If someone is desparate enough, then a bit of money and you could get to keep the kid. Your wife may not be 100% OK with this, but it's her fault for being unable to get pregnant any more. Sometimes marriages are also about the husband's needs.

If she is going to cause a stink with an extra child or a divorce, then I'd look at moving your money to a swiss bank account and fleeing the country. The GREAT thing about this is there are many desparate child-bearing women in third world countries and with your salary you should have no problem getting a wife.

BONUS: Because the cost of living would be lower, you'd also be able to afford more for your money. That includes NFL.
posted by seanyboy at 9:46 AM on October 17, 2006 [2 favorites]


and yes some of the posters did try to help in a sincere way. But the ones who flamed away are the ones that got my attention - made the question secondary now.

Just a suggestion--if you're really more interested in solving the problem then ignore the (amazingly few) personal attacks. Most people here are just trying to help, even if it's not the answer you expected.

Now, a couple more points:

1. As I'm sure you're aware, divorce is amazingly expensive. If you're concerned about a money-grubbing future wife, consider what divorce will do to you before you even find here, and for many years afterward. I don't think divorce is congruent with your stated financial goals.

2. I don't find anything wrong with making a 22-year-old pull his/her own weight or leave. I'm just saying.

3. I feel bad for a wife whose husband is already looking forward to the next model. She didn't ask to be childless.

4. Find a friend. You know, not a "buddy", but a friend who you admire and has given good advice. For these purposes it'll help if he's been in a stable marriage for some time. Ask him. Us guys don't always talk much, but it's sometimes necessary and it is almost always amazingly helpful. If you don't have a friend yet of this caliber, develop one--it's easier to cultivate a deep friendship than to get married (at least it should be *sigh*), and a friend is what you need.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 11:06 AM on October 17, 2006


Just a thought - you say your your current wife is unable to have children, but she already has children. Is there any possiblity that it is you that is unable to have children? That would put a differient spin on the whole thing, no?
posted by dg at 3:37 PM on October 17, 2006


Hi NFLfan,

I must admit that when I originally read your post I found it pretty repugnant, but your subsequent posts, while not entirely absolving you from blame in my mind (and despite what other posters have said, I don't believe that you see yourself as entirely blameless), have shown me another angle on your situation. I fit into a number of the categories you generalized about - a "younger lib," a "Modern Woman," and I wouldn't say I'm "big" on age and looks but hell, they're a factor. But I'm not insulted and I'm not going to insult you, because although I think we're about as different as can be, I do understand a little bit about where you're coming from. You remind me of my parents.

When my mother married my father, she was ten years younger than he was, and he had four children from a previous marriage. They were far from wealthy, but my mom worked like a horse to support them, especially because my dad had a fondness for alcohol and a tendency to be out of work for months or even years at a time. Neither of them were perfect parents, but they were both well-intentioned, they both loved the kids, and when my mom married my dad she did so with the purest of intentions - she wanted to take care of his children, to be a mother to these motherless kids.

Two of the four kids fell into drugs and drinking addictions that they're only now - at your age, or near to it - beginning to seek help for. Another married a cocaine dealer. All have been completely estranged from my parents at one time or another. They were hardly even spoken about when I was growing up. Even now, before I catch myself, I have a tendency to think they don't "count," perhaps similar to the way you spoke of your son as if he doesn't "count." I don't solely blame my mother, my father, or even the kids themselves for the way they turned out - all share varying levels and facets of responsibility. Life's life in all its great interconnectedness and it'd be unjust and flat-out incorrect to compartmentalize things just so it makes for a better narrative. So, no, I'm not going to "side with your son." You're both responsible for your decisions and your relationship, and I'm sure you know this.

Five years after the last of my dad's children left, my mom got pregnant with my sister and me. The phrase "start over" in your title struck me. It's interesting and *very* meaningful in the context of your question. Start over - new wife, new baby, new life. Perhaps a way to prove to yourself that not everything you do ends badly, not all your children end up ungrateful and upset with you. When my mom had my sister and me, it was a little bit of a "starting over" for her, too. She raised us well, loved us to death, and we love her to death in return. My dad was 51 when my mom had us, and although it's awful watching him age so quickly, it's not like I'd rather not have been born, so I strongly disagree with those who say that you're just too old to have a kid. On the other hand, he was very emotionally distant - even a little afraid of us, I think - and we're only now beginning to build a strong relationship. But I do believe that for my parents, after such disastrous results with the last kids, having two more that turned out to be fairly well-adjusted college graduates who love them and are in close contact with them was wonderful. Beyond wonderful. My mom truly believes that God blessed her with twins - I guess you could call it compensation for how much she'd suffered before.

But was it truly a reset button? Hell no. They have six kids, not two. Are they doing all they could to be parents to all of their children? No, they're not. But does this make them bad people? No, of course not. Again, life is tricky (especially when drugs and alcohol are involved).

OK, so the situations are similar in some ways, but very different in obvious other ones. Based on what I know, which isn't much, here's what I think. I don't think it makes you a jerk to want to be a father to a child who loves you. I don't think it makes you a jerk to look at your past mistakes and think you can cut your losses and try to start over. I don't even think it makes you a jerk to consider making some choices that will hurt others if you truly believe it those choices will make you happy. I don't think it's impossible that "this time," you might get it right.

But you have to look at your past and ask yourself what it would take for things to work out this time. Reading your post, I think some of your premises are shaky, and I think most, if not all, arise from your belief that getting remarried and having a kid is truly akin to "starting over." First of all, you say most women don't want an old-fashioned marriage with kids. Let me be clear here: what you'd be offering is not a traditional, old-fashioned marriage with kids. You're offering a middle-aged, four-times divorced father with an estranged son. Any "old-fashioned" woman is not going to want anything to do with you.

Second, it sounds like you've got some contempt for most women, especially those in the demographic you'd be fishing in (so to speak), and I worry that this contempt will be directed at your future wife. Believe me, your child is going to pick up on that and resent you for it. Obviously, you want the child - it just doesn't sound like you want the mother (or more accurately, who you envision to mother to be). For the kid's sake, and for the sake of marital harmony, you'd either need to decide you're COMPLETELY FINE with marrying someone who claims full right to your sperm and your money, just like you'd be claiming full right to her womb - almost a business relationship, in other words - OR you need to find someone who's fertile and whom you really love and respect. Option B sounds unlikely unless you change your attitude towards women stat. Option A sounds totally impossible unless we're in Robot World. But otherwise, I fear that in 25 years you're going to find yourself with another drug-addled Marine who again blames you for the breakup of your marriage with his mother.

Third, and there's more but this is the last point I'll address, it seems that you regard people and commitments as disposable. Other people have said this, and you have to admit they're justified, based on what you've written. Now, I don't know you, I know only the most cursory outline of your life story. But to me, it looks like this: you try something, it doesn't work out, you start over. You try something, it doesn't work out, you start over. And again. And again. But look: you can't hard reset your life like it's a computer. Mistakes stack up; they don't disappear. That means every time you try to start over, it's less likely that things will work out, given all your baggage. Plus, I'm sure the psychological toll on you is significant, which may explain why you refer to your wife - your wife! - as your "current wife." Have you always referred to her this way? Did you ever believe it would last forever, or were you hedging your bets from the very beginning? If you try this again, will you do it half-assed, half-expecting history to repeat itself?

If I were to give some capital-a Advice, it would be: stick with your current wife, consider adoption again (your parents' experience shouldn't dissuade you any more than your experience with your son should dissuade you from trying to have biological children again), and prove to your son, your stepchildren, your spectors, your past, and YOURSELF that you're going to do everything you can to be a good person, the absolute best person you can be, and make that your legacy. You've got a great thing going with a woman who loves you and supports you. You've got decades left to make things right. Instead of trying to erase your past and start over, work with what you've got and then try and move forward. I think you'll find that you've made it farther than the same route would ever have taken you.
posted by granted at 4:58 PM on October 17, 2006 [20 favorites]


I forgot to add that if my mom, at age 40, had left my dad so that she could have biological children, as the resulting child I wouldn't have blamed her at all. It would be different from what NFLfan is suggesting, but not all that different. It's also interesting to contemplate why it's different.
posted by granted at 5:10 PM on October 17, 2006


Granted speaks wisdom.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:11 PM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


The short answer: I would suggest that you stay with your current wife, but would also suggest talking to someone professional about the urge to "quit and start over." I would also suggest seeing a couples counselor to try and undo the stress that you have introduced into your marriage. Talking with someone might also help resolve the issues you and your wife have with your stepkids and maybe even your own son.

Here are some additional caveats/items to consider in your decision-making process:

- Why do you want children? The fact that you can materially provide for them does not justify their existence. I know of many many young people who were materially provided for but either hate their parents or are extreme screwups. You've lived through that once, are you sure you are willing to risk it again? Do you want to devote 20 years of your life to raising a child, to cleaning up throw-up and going to school recitals and teaching them to drive? Do you want a second chance? Are you just looking for some "meaning"? Because there are solutions for all of these issues. I would actually suggest volunteering with Big Brothers or some other program, and re-familiarize yourself with kids. Maybe you have some friends with younger kids or grandkids? You may find that your paternal instincts are more of a ticking biological clock than the desire to raise and love a child. You may also find that kids are fun to play with, but even more fun to give back to their parents when they start to cry.

- I think you will have a hard time finding a new partner. I don't mean this harshly, but your attitudes against women are unkind. Further, I think that your track record doesn't look promising for someone who wants "an old-fashioned marriage w/ children." Personally, I would like an old-fashioned marriage with children (and I am a "Modern" career-minded woman). But to me, that implies a level of commitment that you have not been able to demonstrate. An old-fashioned marriage (IMO) is one that is built on the concept of a lifetime partner, not a "current wife." I think you will have a hard time convincing someone that your intentions are pure and she will not become the 5th ex-wife.

- Wife knows my concerns, and is unhappy of course. This is very sad and makes me want to hug your wife. Your current wife is a "great one" and yet you are considering starting over because she cannot provide you with offspring? This is not the Bible, it is real life. If I knew that my husband was considering leaving me because I could not have children, I would be pissed as hell that he did not mention this earlier so that we could discuss (since you seem to have been aware of her infertility). Sadly, I wonder if your dilemma has already been solved for you? To me, it sounds like your marriage is on very shaky ground, and even if you stayed with her, there will be resentment. The fact that you haven't focused on how she feels in all of this, except to say that she "is unhappy of course" does not bode well for the longevity of this relationship.
posted by ml98tu at 9:21 PM on October 17, 2006


I had debated adding that, by all accounts, raising my half sister has helped my dad grow up, she seems to think his (still emotionally distant, but better than with us) fathering is fine, and I certainly don't regret that she was born. Dad's choice hurt many people in many ways, but there would have been different kinds of hurt if he'd stayed and carried on as before. Good has come out of his choice (like my half-sis), while other kinds of good would have resulted if he'd really committed to work things out with my mom and us.

But I decided not to post that, because I was afraid, NFLfan, that you would latch onto the idea that your fantasy was within your grasp, without your needing to change a thing about your attitudes to wives or women or what it takes to be a good father. I'd already written a long post and and decided against elaborating on that score. Good thing too because I couldn't have done it better than granted.

Mostly I hoped that whatever choice you make, you do it fully conscious of the likely effect you'll have on your son and wife. And to ask if you've REALLY tried everything possible to improve things with your son. A good therapist would offer communication and negotiation strategies you may not have thought of (it also would accelerate the attitude adjustments granted recommends), but as you've called counseling "BS" in the grey...*shrugs* It's your funeral.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:44 PM on October 17, 2006


37, 38 39 40 is considered advanced paternal age. Stay where you are and count your blessings. At 49 you risk the health of your child. My father was 49 when I was born and I am not at all healthy. Don't be selfish.
posted by leyna howe at 12:10 PM on October 23, 2006


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