There is no better friend I have on this earth than my sister Becca. We have always done everything together. Even after we got married, her family and my family were always together. I have two kids and she has two kids, and our kids are really close too. Five months ago Becca moved to Colorado when her husband was transferred. As hard as it was to say goodbye, it’s been even harder to live day to day without them around. It’s been hard on me and hard on the kids. I even think is been hard on my husband. So I pitched an idea to my husband that we should move to Colorado, too! He says that it’s crazy to quit his job and try to find one in a strange place. He says selling our house and moving the kids all for my sister is ridiculous. I don’t think so. I think that our lives are going to be changed for the worse without them.
My first impulse is to say “No, don’t do this,” but truthfully it’s hard to answer because I can see arguments for both sides. This is one of those times in life where you might just have to actually sit down with pen and paper and make a pro and con list and see where it all lays out. Do you have family here in Alabama? Are you and your sister originally from here? If so, then you probably have roots in this community. Are you willing to leave all of that to be with your sister? I could see the rationale in your idea if your family has no real ties here other than a house and job. It wouldn’t be too much of a hassle for your husband to try and line up some interviews in Colorado and go there for a couple of days and try to land a position. Maybe your brother-in-law has some contacts there and could help with the process. Then he wouldn’t have to worry about quitting a job and selling your house until he knew he had a job there waiting on him.
So really, your husband’s argument, though true, can be circumvented a little if he has a week’s vacation coming to him at work. He could stay with your sister and interview out there. However, the naysayer in me can’t help but think that uprooting your lives and the lives of your children, all for the sake of following another family that have started over somewhere, could be a big mistake. Your sister might be very thankful to have you join her, but she might also resent your coming out there and usurping her new life. I would have to know what your dynamic is together. I understand fully that you miss her, and I am sure she misses you—but missing someone you’ve left and desiring that person to follow you are two different things.
Your sister may be enjoying this new adventure of having to make new friends and carve out a new life. If you show up it might feel like you are trying to horn in on all of that or like you are going to cash in on the inroads she’s made without having to do any of the work. As for your kids, I am sure they miss their cousins very much, but do they not have other friends or activities that they participate in? Would they be willing to leave everyone they know just to be closer in proximity to two cousins? Also how permanent is your brother-in-law’s new job? Is Colorado where they plan to live the rest of their lives, or will they be amenable to packing up again and following the next big job offer? You could relocate your entire family to Colorado and have your sister take off again somewhere else. For me, personally, I would not do all of this. I do not think it’s a wise decision. I think it’s an idea of someone who really misses her best friend. Luckily your best friend is your sister, so you aren’t going to lose touch in life. I say find a new replacement best friend and let your sister just be your sister. Set her free in this new life that she’s making on her own and set yourself free to see what kind of relationships your family can cultivate on its own.
I have never told my two kids that I was married to another man once in my early twenties. My husband knows of course, but we never found it necessary to tell our kids because that first marriage was only about two years long and produced no children. I always worry about them finding out somehow from family or even an internet search. I know I need to tell them, but I don’t know how. I don’t want to make them feel like they can’t trust me or worry that perhaps Daddy and I might get a divorce too. Any suggestions on how to approach this?
(I’m shouting this at my screen right now) Oh my God it’s not that big of a deal, Lauren! You are making this a way bigger deal in your head than it actually is. Unless you have extremely dramatic children, this news should not devastate their sense security in any way. Most likely a conversation would go like this:
You’re driving down the road with the kids in the car and the subject of marriage or divorce somehow naturally comes up
YOU: You know I was married once before your father.
KIDS: What?! Are you freakin’ kidding?
YOU: No. It was really short. We got married way too young before we realized we weren’t really compatible. Let that be a lesson to you. Don’t just get married because you think you’re in love. Make sure they are the right fit for you. Daddy is the right fit for me. I should have waited for him.
KIDS: Are you serious? You really were married before?
YOU: Yeah. Ask Daddy, he he’ll tell you.
KIDS: That’s crazy! Why do we not know this?
YOU: It isn’t a secret, there was just never any reason to mention it before. It doesn’t affect you guys. I didn’t have any children and I don’t have any kind of relationship with him. In fact I sometimes even forget about it.
KIDS: That’s so weird! What are we having for dinner?
It will go something like that. They will have questions, which you should answer. Trying to imagine Mom having a life, a romantic life is hard enough, but with someone other than Dad—they will be fascinated with it for a day or two and ask questions about it, but then they’ll let it go. Then it’ll just be a little family joke. Every once in a while they might kid you about your “first husband,” but it will all be in fun. Use this as a teaching tool about relationships and marriage. But I assure you, Lauren, that they will not be devastated. If they are, then you have bigger things going on that have created that.
Playdates With the Ex
It turns out that my son is in class this year with the son of my husband’s ex girlfriend. They were dating when my husband met me and I am ashamed to say he cheated on her with me and eventually married me. As you can imagine, I am not high on her list of favorite people. I am petrified that something is going to happen now. Will she tell this to her son who will tell it to my son or to other kids and target my son? I am even afraid they might become friends and that would be awkward if they wanted to get together for playdates. Tell me how to navigate this PLEASE!
I would honestly just ride it out and do nothing until I could gauge where it’s going. If these two boys become friends, then you could contact this woman at that point and try to have a meeting of the minds. If that point comes, I would just be honest with her and say that you recognize that mistakes were made and that period of your life and your husband’s life were not the most flattering parts of your characters. You can tell her that much time has passed and you are hoping that all can be placed in the past and your two sons be allowed to be friends.
If the boys become enemies and her son starts telling the story around the class room, that’s an easy thing to flip around. You could always jokingly tell your son “Yes, it’s true, your father fell in love with me and dumped Joey’s mother. I guess she must still be in love with him if she hasn’t gotten over it in all this time. Maybe one day she’ll learn to love her own husband.” I bet once her son goes home asking “Are you still in love with Jake’s dad?” that will put an end to her sharing adult information with her son. I truly doubt anything is going to come of any of this, but just on the off chance that this person tries to make you look bad to other people and allows her son to try and humiliate your son with the info, just remember that you are the one who won here. You have the man and have kept him so maybe she will see the smarts in keeping her mouth closed.