-- Question for John --
I’ve been dating a wonderful man for the past 5 weeks. We are so in sync with each other and we are planning to share the rest of our lives together. My new boyfriend would love to see me (and my kids) staying at his home on a permanent basis. And in a perfect world, so would I. But I have two children and share joint custody with their father.
My ex and I each have them a week about. We agreed on a school half way between the towns that we live in. (30 minutes apart.) I recently sold my home with the plan to move to the town where the children go to school. My new boyfriend lives 1 hour from this town.
My new boyfriend’s home is exactly the home I’ve always wished to live in. I would never allow him to move for me. I have been staying with him every other week and it has been a dream. The other weeks I have been staying with my parents with my children (they live in the town where their school is – great for Grandma to pick them up after school for us).
Should a go forward with my original plan of buying near school (which I made before I met him) and continue to see him on a by-weekly basis? Can a long term relationship tolerate this? I would love to spend every day with him, but with my joint custody issue I can’t see how I can swing it. I would never take custody away from my ex. He is a wonderful father. Can you think of any other options for me?
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-- Answer from John --
It is great to find such a wonderful mate — and fall in love — and have such a strong honeymoon. To keep building on the strength of your honeymoon feelings, realize that all relationships — even perfect ones — will have phases other than the honeymoon. You will want to know if both parties in the relationship are able to put themselves into resolving all challenges that come up. All important relationships bring up challenges from time to time. It goes in cycles and phases. And two partners who can sustain a lasting stength in love are two people who together can face and resolve challenges in a way that strengthens their love.
Since you can only determine the true nature of your partnership by seeing how the two of you deal with challenges and resolve them, then it is not likely that in 5 weeks you have done this yet. It actually takes a few good challenges to shake things out of the tree and let you know how both you and he will show up to overcome problems, issues and inevitable differences.
Right now your job is to simply enjoy the honeymoon. This is a time of relative bliss, completely removed from challenges. It is a time when you can see each others souls fully, uneclipsed by problems or issues. But enlightenment is a state which eventually gets challenged by world events and daily life. So it would be wise to acknowledge that as of yet, you do not really know how the two of you will show up and resolve challenges.
Perhaps this is your first small challenge. Or maybe it does not feel so small. But it is a challenge nonetheless.
I can give you a few things to consider:
1. The heart in the honeymoon says “go for it completely” — and this spirit is part of falling in love. It gives you an enlightened glimpse of what is possible to sustain in longterm love together — provided you have the right tools to face and move through all challenges that will come up. Right now, the impulse is to move together as closely as possible, 24 hours a day, based on your feelings.
2. It’s one thing to totally risk your own heart — and possibly go down in flames, as is a risk in love. As we all know, some people don’t yet have the right tools to work through challenges, and thus the inevitable challenges will tear their love down. You do not know if both you and he do have these tools, or are willing to learn them when you discover you get stuck in problems. So all you know is the honeymoon feels great, and you hope it lasts forever. Hope is hope. You are certainly willing to risk your own heart on that hope, and I encourage you to — but wisely, of course.
3. While you should feel free to risk your own heart, beware of risking your childrens’ hearts. Rationality advises that before you mix your children’s hearts up with a new potential lifetime partner — before you do this — you spend at least six months to a year — and gather enough evidence that once problems or issues arise, you both have the tools to handle these issues and get through them in a healthy way. In other words, you want to know your relationship is on a solid basis, and extremely likely to overcome the tests of time, before you expose your kids to fall in love and become very attached to the new guy. Otherwise, you risk their hearts and the conclusions they will draw about love — which will affect their entire lives. Simply put, if it does not last beyond the honeymoon — and if the relationship does go down in flames once the heat is turned up, i.e. the relationship is tested in some way — then you are going to damage your children if they have established a home with the new guy. So wisdom dictates you give it, say, 9 months to gestate — a good period of time to really birth a solid life partnership — and that you really know not just in your heart, but in your clarity of mind and evidence of experience dealing with challenges — before you start homemaking together.
That is standard issue advice on the matter. If you are overly impulsive, you will want to ignore it and go with your feelings right now. That, in itself, is a dangerous sign. Because if feelings actually prevail, then when things feel different, as they will after the honeymoon and certainly after the first big problem arises, then — because things feel different — you will be likely to be equally impulsive and this is not a good solid foundation from which to build lasting partnership. So feelings are important, no debate. But wisdom need to be in the picture as well.