Two black holes collided more than a billion years ago, but the gravitational waves generated by the event did not reach earth until September 14, 2015. You might think such a monumental meeting would be a booming, mysterious — even frightening — sound. Not so. It is a cartoon sound effect1, reminiscent of a slide whistle. The collision of your new love interest and your children from your previous marriage or relationship will likely not sound like a cartoon. How to prepare for that cosmic event?
A Billion Years: Picking the Perfect Time for an Intro
At some point during your divorce or breakup, you may have thought to yourself, “I am never getting a girlfriend or love interest in a billion years.” Be careful what you think, though, because those “billion years” may have come and gone; you may be dating already. It’s natural — you want companionship, just not from your ex-wife. You want to share moments with someone, just not with the mother of your kids. You want a love interest, just not … whatever may have substituted for a real person. Picking the perfect moment when your two worlds collide takes research, planning, and timing.
Research: Learn How Your Children May Feel About Your New Lady
Tap into helpful resources, including your attorney who helped you through the divorce, online sites, support groups and friends. Learn what to expect from bringing your new love interest into the family fold.
Researching this topic, you will immediately learn how strongly children view any new person in your life as their competition. This means you are being unfair to children and love interest alike to introduce them when she is a casual acquaintance. Research the stages you two need to get through before that meeting of two worlds, says Ask Men:
- Shared sense of humor
- Comfort with each other
- Complete honesty
- Familiarity with eating, drinking and traveling together
- Similar outlook on finances and handling money
- Sexually compatible
Avoid introducing a one-night stand (hey — no judging —we all need to feel a little free now and then) whom you will never see again; save the family introduction for someone you share a range of interests with, because you are signalling to your children that this new person matters to you.
Knowing your kids will see your love interest as a rival for your attention and resources, you need to self-check that she is all that and a bag of chips to you and worthy of this merging of powerhouses.
Another thing to research: are you in love or lust? If you have recovered from a protracted divorce, you could be completely smitten with the raw physicality between you two, without acknowledging that she may not be a family person. Great between the sheets but lousy at groceries? Good at nightclubbing but terrible at coupon clipping? Only the two of you can decide that. Just because the two of you fit together physically does not mean she is automatically a good fit with your existing family.
Planning: Arranging the (Hopefully) Perfect First Meeting
If your children can understand most of what is happening, invite them to help arrange that all-important first meeting, says Divorce Mag. A neutral spot is best, such as a restaurant you and your children agree on. Gently guide your children ahead of time into forming polite but probing questions (for their ages) for your love interest:
- Do you have children of your own?
- What children’s books do you like?
- Do you like pets?
- What do you like about our Dad?
For her, this will feel like a job interview: your children need to feel comfortable with her, and she with them. Prepare your kids to take her questions, too, and more than just, “What grade are you in?” She is entitled to ask your kids:
- Will you take No for an answer from me?
- Can you respect your Dad’s need for privacy?
- Do you do chores?
- Will you be honest with your Dad and me?
The first meeting should be short — a quick lunch; just dessert and soft drinks — and pave the way for more time together. An overnight stay comes much later.
Timing is Everything: Don’t Rush Your Children into a Relationship
Timing is everything. That Laser Interferometer Gravitational Observatory (LIGO) that found those colliding black holes was not even officially “turned on” when it picked up that first signal confirming the existence of gravitational waves.
Do not rush from the divorce to fresh introductions too quickly. Children need time to adjust to their newly disjointed lives with separate homes, separate parents, and two sets of rules. Introducing them to your love interest too quickly after the divorce could ruin everyone’s chances of getting along.
Before, during and after the introduction, reassure your kids that nothing will stop the love you have for them — not their mother, not this new person. Older children may have an easier time adapting to the new woman in your life than younger children, who may be confused and feel threatened by “Mom’s replacement.” For teens, they may understand your emotional needs and be accepting of a new partner. Seeing you interact with your love interest, however, can be troubling for teens, says Terry Gespard, licensed social worker.
The short answer on when it is safe to bring your two worlds together: when you feel reasonably certain such a meeting will not make waves that overwhelm either your family or your love interest.
Get in Touch with The Firm For Men’s Family Lawyers for Men
We cannot always provide tips for the lovelorn or explain black holes to you, but if you have a legal question, please call The Firm for Men at 757-383-9184. Sometimes the realms of law and emotion intertwine, and we have often seen the unexpected outcomes of those collisions. If we can be of help, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re the only family law firm in Virginia representing men exclusively, and our family lawyers for men stand prepared to protect your rights before, during, and after your family law matter!