I’m a 55 year old widower. My wife passed away just under 2 years ago. I have a 23 year old daughter who is still struggling with the loss. She lives out of town.
About 5 months after my wife passed suddenly, I met a single mom at a professional lunch. I won’t get into the details, but I was not ready to meet anyone. We started dating about 6 months later and I am now almost living with her. We live 5 minutes apart.
She has an 8 year old son who is a handful. This is the first relationship I’ve had other than my wife in 35 years. I fell in love, but tolerate her son. I am having a very hard time committing to the future. Call me selfish, but at 55 I’m just not on board with continuing down the path which will lead to being a stepdad.
We have been together about a year now, and I am integrated into their household. It’s a really tough spot. I’m weighing pros and cons and they are about even.
I stumbled on this site and decided to reach out. Any insight appreciated. -JM
What stood out for me in your email was that you already find yourself tolerating her son. It’s a package deal and he’s –essentially- the price you pay to be with her. It doesn’t sound like your hear is in it. If you’re already to a point of having to tolerate him, it’s important to ask yourself why. Is it because you’re not ready to be a Stepdad, or is it because of the way the child behaves?
If he’s out of control you’ll need to get him under control before you commit to marriage. That means the mother has to be on board with you having a say in how her son is raised. Many moms push back when they feel their parenting is being questioned. If she isn’t open to letting you have a say, it will become a tough situation when the boy is older. She will become the key to whether you fail or succeed.
Many single moms resist their new husband’s desire to have a say in their children’s’ upbringing. If she says she’s willing to accept your input, get the book The Stepdad’s Guide and go through the exercises with her. It provides a list of discussion topics, which cover the most-common challenges. The book will help you lay the foundation for success as a family.
If your heart isn’t into being a Stepdad walk away now. Being a Stepdad is a challenge for any man. Men who are completely committed still fail at a rate about 25% higher than traditional marriages. If you aren’t completely committed you will fail. Stepdads have to be ready for a tough road. The odds are stacked against you and even the law isn’t on your side. Read Stepdad 101 to learn more about that.
The Hard Statistics (source The Stepdad Survey)
- About 70% of Stepdad marriages fail
- 66% of Stepdads say they felt unappreciated
- About third of Stepdads say their wife’s kids were out of control
- 42% of former Stepdads said the split up was due to arguments over how to raise the kids
It’s good that you’re thinking about it before diving in. Remember, you don’t have to marry her to be a couple. It can be very beneficial to a child to have a father figure, even if the father figure isn’t married to the mother. If you can’t completely commit, I urge you not to marry here.