Thursday, February 21, 2008

Quality Not Quantity

Dear Aunt Babz,
I have been married for 1½ years. My husband and I both have ex’s and
children from those relationships. We have a 6-month-old baby.

My husbands’ ex-wife recently relocated 45 miles away from our home. They could not agree on parenting time and school district so they went to court, the judge ordered for the ex-wife to keep the kids for school and my husband would have them for the summer, this decreased his parenting time from 182 days to 120 days/year. He is devastated by this change and cannot live with it. I recently found out that he has been looking for a place to rent in the city where his kids were relocated. I asked him about it and he said that I wouldn’t go with him anyway because my kids are here with us. I agreed that I would not want to leave my children but that he was not losing his kids completely; he still has them on the weekends during the school year and all school breaks, including the summer. I tried to tell him if that were me in the same situation I would appeal the decision, but I would continue to stay home because they are not really that far away and we both work in the city of relocation and could see them any day. Neither of us know what to do from this point, I am extremely hurt that he would just up and leave his new family over this. Any advice would be awesome!

Dear Reader,

Good grief do I feel for you. I mean anything you say will look like you are being selfish and not understanding. But I do not believe this is how it is I do think you care and as well you are looking at things from all angles.

I mean I don't have the entire story but enough to deduce that Dad is extremely caring. In this day and age that is not rare but you see so many dead beat Dad's, now don't we? So, it is a breath of fresh air, when you hear of a Dad that would go to such great lengths. But is he really thinking this through?

This whole situation is not a win/win one, now is it? The best you can hope for is some form of compromise and fresh perspective. I do give Dad credit for his purpose and drive to be or have more time with his children. As well, I can completely understand your questions concerning that drive?

I would hope you could somehow share this letter with him. There's no harm here as I do not know you nor will I ever, right? It's not airing your dirty laundry to a girlfriend or co-worker in fact this is safer. You are simply asking for opinion. Maybe even a fresh pair of eyes and ears right?

It all comes down to the power of deducement on "our" parts. I have a few questions and a few observations to offer...


A few simply questions; I would ask you, if your motive for going way out in left field and possibly renting an apartment is only and solely so you may spend more time with your children?

For lack of a better way or more diplomatic way of asking this, are you pissed because your ex wife was awarded what appears to be more actual custody? If you've dug in deep, in all honesty, you may see this? I don't know? I may be wrong? Either way your fatherhood looks exemplary and that is surely not in question.

If we do the math, just as you've done in your letter, "
this decreased his parenting time from 182 days to 120 days/year" we see that as always, there are ways of seeing things in a different light. As you try to regain some of those hours by moving closer and purchasing/renting another apartment, you must realize that whilst filling those hours, bridging that gap, your family, your current family and children will most certainly fall in the category of casualty in this war. It's just a natural fact that while you are gone, with travel time and so forth, your baby is left behind, your wife, yes the one you married, now, as in present and not past tense, will be without you as well.

It boils down to "Quality not Quantity," my friend. Remember this, please?

Dear Erica,

Wow. I don’t know how to answer this one. I mean, on the one hand it seems like a no brainer, he made his choices (separating from his ex, marrying you and having another child… so this I would qualify as “moving on”) so he should live with his choices and like you said, appeal.

But on the other hand… those are his kids. And as sure as you are about not wanting to move away from your children, even if you could make a day trip… he is reacting the same way.

So it’s hard to actually find what the best solution would be. Especially since so many people have less sympathy for the father in these cases… and because there are other elements involved.

So instead of spouting off what I think would be the best thing (which I couldn’t do anyways) I think I will ask you this: what do you think will happen if he stays and doesn’t move? You said that he is devastated and cannot live with the decision that was made. Maybe this looking for an apartment thing is somewhat like temporary insanity, where he is looking at just being closer to his kids at any cost without really looking at the bigger picture. Maybe he didn’t think that the picture would involve his kids moving away from him. Maybe he thought that his moving on wouldn’t affect his life that much because his kids would still be near him. And maybe he is ready to snap.

Is there no way that you and your kids could move to the city as well? You didn’t mention your custody situation so I thought that I would ask. But maybe that would be the solution you need, since it keeps all the family together.

I don’t think that he is thinking clearly though. I know that you referenced yourself as the new family… but that is also pretty unfair. Both to you and him. His children are still his children regardless of who he is partnered with. And you aren’t the new wife, you are his wife and partner and that deems more respect then a title of new.

Honestly I think you need to seek out a therapist to help you through this. You are hurt (and rightfully so) but so is he. And sometimes when it comes to our kids we do crazy things and go to crazy lengths to be with them. And maybe it won’t work out. But if you want a shot at it you both need to talk about it and to both make compromises. After all, if the shoe were on the other foot so to speak, could you do the same?

I hope that there is a solution for you two and everyone involved. And I hope babs maybe can answer a little better!!

Take care, and I hope things work out for you.


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