Why being involved with someone with children can be tricky if you are childless/childfree

By Nina Steele 

A few months ago, a woman in her 40s sent me her story, which centred around the difficulties of being childless and married to someone with children. She refers to herself as being both childless and childfree because growing up, she never wanted children, then briefly changed her mind when she got married. It was later discovered however that she has endometriosis and so having children never materialized.

Although by the sound of it, she is in a loving relationship, her main challenge is her relationship with her husband’s children from his first marriage and other members of his family. As she herself put it, she and the children have never bonded, even though she does her best to make them feel welcome whenever they visit. They are both teenagers and it is fair to say that she has given up on the idea of ever being close to them.

She also lamented the fact that during family gatherings, her views on children are ignored, just because she does not have any of her own. Naturally, this is impacting on her relationship with her husband and the resentment she feels could have a long lasting effect on their marriage unless those issues are dealt with.

In complete contrast, an acquaintance of ours who had no children of his own, was married to a woman with children and got on so well with them that unless people were told otherwise, everyone assumed that he was their biological father. The couple has now passed away and had been together for over 50 years. When the children became parents themselves, their offspring took the man to their heart as well and referred to him as grandad. Theirs was a love affair that touched everyone who knew them. The wife passed away first and the man never recovered from his loss. He passed away a few years later and the family is convinced that he died from a broken heart.

I suppose that whether such relationships flourish or break down, depends on how much sacrifice everyone involved is ready to make in order to make it work. Also, talking to people, there is definitely a pattern that emerges based on how amicable a break up was. The woman who is struggling to connect with her husband’s children, makes it clear that the break up with his first wife was anything but amicable. When there is still so much resentment, like in any other relationship, it is bound to affect the dynamic within the new family. With regards to the elderly couple, the woman was already a widow when they met. Having said that, human behaviour can be so unpredictable that such relationships will not always follow the same pattern and as such, each one should be judged on its own merit.

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