One couple, one separation – two perspectives!
She says: “I want both: him and you”
When Marion * fell in love with another seven years ago, she knew that she did not want to be in love with the father of her children, but still receive the family.
Yes, I say to people, when they look at me with that look, curious, incredulous and often jealous: Yes, we still live apart together. In the seventh year. Mom, dad and two kids, now 14 and 16. And that’s what we’re supposed to think, until they’re both independent and out of the house. Whereby the house should not run as prescribed in the picture book for families: Mom and Dad love each other until the end of their lives, like all the other decent couples have sex twice a week, and when the kids are big they go out of the house, and mom and dad do not know what to do with them. I like to repeat the story one more time. Because time and again people want to know how we got it: you are separated? And still lives under one roof? Do you have separate beds? And new partners? Are they coming to your home? Is not he jealous? And what do the children say about that?
When you make children, you have responsibility
It was in autumn 2011, when I started to get interested in another man. In the beginning I did not consider myself as dangerously in love, I sought the thrill and confirmation. It can happen. After 14 years of relationship, and when you are a bit exhausted from everyday life together. The father of my children, we are not married, that was already happened. There were the kids two and four, and it was a blatant shock. Not that he had sex with another. That can happen. But that he left us and wanted with her over all mountains. I understood that zero. He could let off steam with her, I said, but children do not let you down. And not the partner in crime in it either. Children need father and mother, as equally as possible. And we have always tried to share everything, making money and caring for children, and the job and the worldview too. We are a good team. And if you make children, that’s my deep conviction, you have the damn responsibility of giving them a solid bond. Because stable relationships, trust, honesty and reliability enable a person to lead a good life.
Never under the belt!
One year later, the other one still interested me. So I said to my friend: I want both: him and you. I remain. And now and then I want to go. Now comes the crucial linchpin of our relationship story: the strength of my children’s father, who said yes to the idea. You need tolerance, a strong will, strength and courage. Above all, patience. From both sides. So we did not part with a bang, but weaned in small steps. And turned into friends by a former lover. And that on the basis of a very essential property. That was and still is: our way of communicating.
I say this to anyone who asks me and says: Sounds great, your model, I would like too! – Such, I say then, only works if you can talk openly and honestly with each other. With the famous I-messages. Never under the belt. Always with respect and respect. To understand the other instead of trying it out. And besides, I follow a trick: From time to time I step beside me and look at what we are doing there in life. Like a spectator of your own drama. This creates a shrewd distance to your own self.
Many say: Visionary idea, but that never works. And, the funniest reply that came to me: the time is not yet ripe. Yes, when? I only have one life. It is, statistically, as long as rare in human history. Never before have we had so much freedom, especially as women. Everywhere loosen “the circumstances”. There are many ways to live with other people, with children, with friends and under a single roof. So we took the lead: we’ll show you! It worked. We were very open with our strange constellation and have told everyone. The last to learn was our children after two or three years. Because we wanted to assure them: Do not worry, that’s been going on for years, and you have not noticed.
But look, most parents of your friends have separated, and now the kids have to commute, you never wanted that.
Outwardly, we seem like a pretty normal family. Everyone has their own room. We travel a lot both professionally and privately, for the kids this is normal. In our home is always one of us, mom or dad. There are common conversations, shared meals and holidays together. And then daddy is with his girlfriend and mom with her boyfriend. Recently, our grandfather asked us all three to leave overnight so he could celebrate at home. His buddies were jealous. And the kid does not find his parents off. At first our model was “totally perverted”: no one does it like you! He is a romantic, he wants his parents to love and heart and marry. I totally understand that, I say to him then. And think of the two couples in my large circle of acquaintances, which I still find loving and good after years.
I say to him: I wish you a love for life and forever. But look, most parents of your friends have separated, and now the kids have to commute, you never wanted that. Unfortunately, I can not give you everything. But maybe, I think, my children will later even realize that their parents have given them new ways and freedoms. And how and that that works.
No, our new partners are not in the apartment while family is in it. No, I was never jealous. Yes, we sometimes go to the cookie. Then we bite our teeth together or make a turn, sometimes to one or the other. Yes, disconnected life requires discipline too. But which family does not need it? And we will not be bored sitting on the sofa when our boys are out of the house. It's probably the other way around. And the children continue the commune here.
He says, "Did I really get emotional?"
Paul * is the father of Marion's children. The family apartment cost him some new relationships - because the partners could not cope with it
How do I explain it to her? - That was the question that worried me the most. It is not easy to convey to a woman you just met and find that you have two children. But to explain to her that besides the two children, the mother of the children still lives in the house is a very delicate matter. The women I met could be seen as wincing inside. I approached it openly every time, trying to get the timing right (not too early and not too late) and not making much of it. The women I met were surprisingly easy-going, at least in the beginning, but they were not so relaxed after all.
Ultimately, the relationships (except for one) in the end also failed on my family model. One of the women accused me of not having an ass in my pants. Only then could she explain that I still live with my ex under one roof. Another believed that she was ultimately nothing more than the lover and guessed that I was just having an open relationship with my ex. "I do not want to share you," she said. I could assure so many times that my children's mother and I have not had anything to do with each other for a long time, and we only stayed in one apartment because the children should keep their usual environment.
On the one hand, I was sad because in the end we did not make it as a couple, but on the other hand I also felt liberated.
The end always hurt me a lot - partly because it always hurts to be abandoned, but also because I had to wonder if this special family constellation did not ultimately stand in the way of my love happiness. And if I did not lie to myself and in fact was not ready to engage myself completely in a new woman. Did I really get away emotionally from the mother of my children? When she told me that she was in love and wanted to have both the family and the other man, it was not as easy for me as it sounded when I told her we could try. She was traveling with him and I at home with the kids, and experiencing her so elated, hurt me because it was someone else who made her swing like that, not me.
I remember well the feeling when we broke up the common bedroom: On the one hand I was sad because we did not make it as a couple after all, but on the other hand I also felt liberated. With this emotional ambivalence, I lived for some time, and maybe that was what the women I was with at first felt. But over the years I have solved myself emotionally. It is not because of the mother of my children that I still live at home, but only for the sake of the children. If a woman had given me the choice, either she or my family model, I would have chosen the family because I wanted to take my time, but especially the children.
At some point my girlfriend wants me completely
I admit that in the beginning I did not think much about it, that it takes not only two, but at best four people for our family model to work: the new partners have to play along. And that requires tremendous trust, understanding and real love. This has become clear to me over time, and I am incredibly grateful to my new friend for coming to terms with the situation, even if that is not always easy. She knows that I do it for the sake of the children. And I know that she needs a perspective, for us: At some point she wants me completely, just as you can have a father with children from another relationship. And because she gives me this time, I have also found confidence in our relationship to engage emotionally with her wholeheartedly; and that is, I think, much more important than being available at all times.
* Name changed by the editor
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