I have been separated for 3 years and my children are 16, 14 and 10. Since the year 2000 I have been, and always will be, the sole financial support of my family. I did the major internal work before leaving my marriage. Consequently, for me divorce was a new lease on life and I have never been happier. In fact, my happiness probably borders on the obnoxious. A year ago I met a wonderful man whom I consider to be my ideal-he shares my values and my sense of adventure, and has been nothing short of a prince in his treatment of me. So, where is the problem? It's all with me. While I feel I have done a good job of not taking much time from my kids to see my boyfriend, I find it very difficult to have a huge emotional attachment outside of my family life. I feel this relationship has changed the dynamic in my home, that we are somehow not the same tight knit foursome we were. In short, I feel emotionally spread thin. I told my boyfriend I needed to reestablish my emotional presence at home, that it hasn't been the same. He understood and said he will do whatever it takes. Problem is, now I don't seem to have the same joy in being in the relationship. I don't seem to know how to be a "We" with my boyfriend, and maintain the the joyful foursome I have been with my kids.
Right now I am feeling that I am going to end the relationship with my boyfriend, because I feel I can't have both "lives." But I have to pause and wonder: How do other women do it? Must something be lost at home? Am I lacking some internal tool or trait others have?
My thoughts on this: My first question is if you've discussed this with your kids, the emotional absence you feel you might be creating with your relationship? It may be that you are over analysing and they are just fine with in and in fact may even be relieved. As they get older and begin to prefer friends to being with their mom there is this feeling of an emotional absense anyway. It's a shift that happens and it's a hard letting go process. I'd ask yourself it it's the relationship that has changed the dynamic of the family, or simply the process of growth and time. Lets say it is the relationship–is that a bad thing? Any passion you add to your life, even if it were a hobby, class, schooling, new career, would change the dynamic in a family. That's what growth is about. You are teaching your kids something very important by having a good, loving relationship. First, that you have a life too with needs, goals and dreams. Why this is so important is that at some time they are going to be in a relationship with someone else who will not meet every need they have or be willing to alter their life and dreams to keep things exactly the same. Your kids learn how to set boundaries by watching you set them. They have their friends and relationships and you have yours–it's very healthy. So that's how other women do it, they believe that it's OK to have wants, needs, goals and dreams separate from but just as important as their role as mother.