In my first post on this page, I believe I referenced the time it took for my husband and I to tie the knot. If you don’t have time to go back and read it, I’ll sum it up for you. We met online in February of 2014, had our first date that March and were married by May of 2014. Talk about a whirlwind romance, eh?
Before I get too far into this post, let me just say that I love our “how we met” story. I love how it was clearly apparent to us and all those around us that God, in all his infinite wisdom, had ordained that we would end up married. I love how there was no hesitation on either one of our parts when it came to talking about marriage. We were both older, we were both serious about marriage, and we were both ready. I love my husband fiercely, and even though we are still working out the bugs in our relationship, there is no one I would rather do life with than him.
Okay, now that that little disclaimer is out of the way…
Dating the single dad is not for the faint of heart. Just like dating a single guy with no kids, you get caught up in the euphoria of the “new love,” and all those crazy emotions are the same. But, there are some bigger hurdles that come with dating a single dad, and after 3 years of marriage, I feel like I can finally share some of those things that I struggled with and still struggle with sometimes as it relates to marrying a single dad and inheriting a ready-made family.
- The baggage can be more intense
I use the term baggage loosely. Everyone comes into a relationship with some kind of “baggage.” For me it was serious rejection issues and emotional abuse from my previous relationship. But, for my husband, the overarching issue that blanketed our relationship was that his wife had passed away. I don’t know about you, and maybe you’re reading this post and are starting to pursue a relationship with a single dad or have been in one for quite some time. I know that not everyone will marry a widower like I did, and I don’t want to scare you away from dating a single dad by any means. For us though, there were unresolved issues from his previous marriage, insecurities, and some pretty heavy emotions that we had to work through. In my naivety, I thought that once we were married some of those things would fade away. Maybe we haven’t been married long enough, but those issues? They’re still there. Sometimes I find myself doing something or NOT doing something just so that I won’t be compared to his late wife. Silly? Probably. But, there are things (like not folding laundry right away), that trigger a negative response in my husband. Don’t get me wrong-he doesn’t stand around comparing me to his late wife at all, but there are triggers that we have identified and have realized that we have to work around continuously. And you know what? A large chunk of that is just a part of marriage and getting to really know one another.
2. You’re not alone. And those dates? Totally different.
Seriously. You’re not alone. Well, hardly ever. No, I take that back, you’re never alone. My husband had three children from his previous marriage. Our first date, we went sans kids, but just about every date after that took place at his house because we couldn’t find a sitter or because it was a school night. The rare times we went on a date just the two of us, a large chunk of the time was talking about the kids. The “dates” at his house largely consisted of making supper and helping kids with their homework. We fell into the “family” role very early on, and, while I think that helped with the transition of my role as “Mom,” if I could do one thing differently, I would have made date nights for just the two of us more of a priority. Of course, that’s easy to say now, but when you date a guy with children, the priorities are divided between getting to know the guy and getting to know his kids. I don’t for one second want you to walk away with the impression that I think that his three oldest children are a nuisance. Nothing could be further from the truth! But, dating a man with a child-or three!-adds a very different dimension to the whole “get-to-know-ya” phase of the relationship. I will say that I went into my relationship with my husband without a lot of the frivolity that sometimes comes with dating a single guy. I had a focus, and my focus was getting to know my now husband quickly so that I could make the decision of whether or not he was someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with because, and this is important here, I did NOT want to toy with the kids’ emotions. And that leads me to the third thing I wish I knew.
3. His kids weigh heavily in the approval process
It’s easy to feel like kids shouldn’t have a say in what happens in your relationship. I mean, you’re dating their dad, you’re both adults, and eventually, one day, it will be just him and you. There is an element of truth there, but, for me, knowing that I would be assuming the role of mother to these three children who had lived through their birth mother passing away felt like a huge deal. Colossal. Monstrous. The meeting I dreaded the most was meeting the kids. I knew that I really liked this guy I was dating, but I also knew that if I completely and totally did not gel with his kids, I would most likely walk away. They deserved to have someone that they loved and that loved them in return, and if we didn’t “click,” I didn’t want to stand in the way of them being parented by someone that they did click with. Thankfully, we clicked right away, and they were so ready for a mom. My husband and I actually received advice from several people close to us to the effect of, “You need to get married sooner rather than later because you don’t want to lead the kids on.” Am I glad we got married so quickly? Yes. A thousand times yes. Did I realize at first how dating a guy with kids would cause things to move along so quickly. No, I did not, and in the interest of total honesty…if I had known at the beginning that I would be getting married and becoming a mother all within the space of two months, I would have probably run for the hills screaming. (Maybe that’s a little too dramatic, but you get the picture.)
4. You will be compared to his past partner-and you will come up short
I’ve sat on this point for a while. I’ve written it and erased what I’ve written. I’ve tossed it over and over in my head, and my heart has been so torn about sharing this. But, I think that this is an important (although unpleasant) point to share.
To be very clear, my husband has never come to me and told me that his late wife did things better than me. He does not compare me to his late wife, and that is one of the things that I love about him. I might find myself comparing my actions to what she would have done, but, to his credit, he is wise enough to not do that to me. However, that does not stop others from comparing me to her. I would love to say that I have fit in perfectly with his family or that we are on good terms with hers. The truth that is so hard for me to swallow sometimes is that I may never have a good relationship with extended family because I am not her. I did have issues with people expecting me to fill her shoes in terms of personality, etc… For example, I have a very strong personality, and I love to give as good as I get in terms of playful bantering, but she was quieter and would take the bantering without giving it back. Totally not me. At all. And honestly? There are times where I have felt that that has caused some problems with the extended family. It stings somewhat, but I am learning to accept it-just as I am learning to accept the fact that others do not agree with how I am raising my kids vs how she did, do not agree with my stances on certain things. I have also realized in the past year, that the ONLY person whose opinion should matter is my husband’s. This is the point that I so wish I would have known at the beginning of our relationship.
Maybe you’re reading this and getting a little freaked out about dating a single dad. That is not my intent at all. But, this point was laid so heavily on my heart, and I knew I had to share it, as unpopular as it may be.
So where do I go from here? Let me just sum up by saying that none of these points are a negative for me. Some of them are just life, and all of them are based off of my personal experience. I know your experience might be different, and you may not relate to any of these points. You know what? That’s ok! You go, girl! For me, personally, I do wish I had someone come up to me and honestly and frankly tell me some of the things that I had to look forward to as it relates to dating the single dad.
One last point.
5. Dating the single dad? SO WORTH it!