Ask A Question: Advice For Those In A Long Distance Relationship When One (Or Both) Of You Have Kids

Craig (name changed) contacted me for advice on how to deal with a long distance relationship when one (or both) of the partners have kids. Here’s his story:

 

We met last June in Montreal. She was there visiting a friend and I was there for a race. We spent three days together, the connection we had was pretty unreal and it was very hard to leave. 

 

Even though everyone told us we were crazy, we decided to meet up again a couple weeks later in Denver, and the last night we both confessed our love for each other. We decided we were really going to try to make this work.

 

I booked tickets to fly to her in Victoria, BC. but unfortunately I was randomly stopped at customs due to a misdemeanor (DUI) that are considered felonies in Canada. I was sick to my stomach, being so in love with her and feeling like everything is [sic] trying to keep us apart, not to mention having to deal with these legal issues again that I thought were in my past. Luckily, Canadians are extremely nice and they let me go home with her for the night, but I had to be back on the first flight out to Seattle. She took a ferry over to meet me in Seattle and we still had a nice time. I vowed to try to figure out some way to get around the legal problems but I didn’t have a ton of options, and the rules are pretty unclear.

 

She came to my home in Savannah twice last fall but I began to see that it was quite difficult for her to schedule the trips since her ex tends to not be a [sic] very good at keeping up with a normal schedule. It was to the point where we would only book tickets a few weeks in advance. However, she does work from home, so there was flexibility there. We always have an amazing time together and I couldn’t be happier with her, except for the distance.

 

After the first of the year she found an application process that would allow me to submit my case for review. This required me to ask the court for the case dispositions, and this is where I learned the charges were reduced and my record was in error! I quickly had all of this corrected and was able to enter Canada in February. I guess I’m telling you all this because we were just trying to tackle each issue in the order they came up, which kinda prevented us from talking about the next move we would need to make. 

 

I don’t have full custody and would not be able to move with my son. I could not bear the thought of leaving my son either. She is in a similar arrangement with her ex. These are the biggest challenges for us being together physically. Being that our children are 4 yrs [sic] old, commuting between opposite coast for about 14 years seems unrealistic. My biggest concern is that I don’t see a way where a child doesn’t miss out on a parent and visa-versa. To further complicate things, it’s really important to her to have another child. This by itself almost mandates that we have to be together. 

 

At this point, the only real option is to try to convince one of our ex-spouses to move with us. The logistical, emotional, and practical challenges in that are daunting. What do you think?

 

 


 

Craig, thank you for sharing your story.

 

Being in a long distance relationship is not an easy challenge. Juggling distant relationship, raising children, and keeping them close to their respective parents is a huge task. The fact that your kids have many years ahead of them before they become adults complicates the situation to the point where it might seem that there is no solution.

 

Personally, I don’t think that one of you moving without the child is something you can consider– both parents need to be actively involved in their kids’ life instead of entertaining them with occasional phone calls and holiday visits. You, your partner, and both of your ex-spouses have the right (and, moreover, responsibility) to take care of your kids together. I feel that we completely agree on that point.

 

Long distance relationship lasting the span of 14 years (until your kids turn 18) is quite unlikely to have a happy ending or allow your partner to fulfill her dream to have one more child.

 

I understand that after considering various options you came up with idea of one of you moving together with a child AND persuade the ex-partner to move, too. Yes. That would be ideal (if only the ex-spouse agreed).

 

Moving to a new place because of a long distance partner would be a huge step (and a sacrifice) from one of you, but in that case you would clearly know why you are leaving everything behind—so you both can pursue happiness as a couple.

 

What would be the role of your ex-spouse in this case? Leaving everything behind so they could give a chance for you and your partner’s future? I might sound harsh, but I can’t imagine giving up the life I’ve created in one place, forgetting my plans, and quitting my job because of my ex-spouse’s new partner.

 

Having said that, I think that there are alternative solutions. They might be not ideal, but you definitely could at least (slowly) develop your relationship.

 

You haven’t mentioned if your kids got to spend time with their mommy’s/daddy’s new partner. Firstly, you should make sure that they have a friendship established before you consider moving your relationship to next level.

 

I also think it would be good for both of you to talk to your ex-spouses about the seriousness of your relationship without “trying” to convince them to move with you. Having said that, they will be aware of your aim to be together and maybe (just maybe) something might work out in the best way for all of you. Maybe they could have their job moved closer to the new place, or look at options to move because they are tired of the place they live in now?

 

One more option could be one (or both of you) trying to “live in both places”. You would need to decide who that person would be depending on your work conditions and abilities to travel for longer periods of time. The one that moves could possibly rent a room or a small house back home. Since constant flying between opposite coast requires quite a bit of money, time and effort, maybe you could think about spending one week in Victoria BC and one in Savannah (depending on the schedule of the kids and your personal schedules). This is not an ideal (and quite costly) solution which would also mean that one of your kids would not have a full-time parent, but it could be a possible compromise, as long as you can afford it and keep up to your decided schedule.

 

Also, you have mentioned that your partner works from home. This opens up one more opportunity. You could remain having two “fully fledged” bases in Victoria BC and Savannah – as long as she could make some amendments in the current agreement with her ex-husband.

 

I understand that your partner is willing to have another child (which obviously requires relocation), but I strongly believe that the kids you already have need to be the top priority and deserve to grow up with both parents being close to them and make the decision where they want to live when they are old enough to evaluate the situation by themselves. I am not against both of you creating your happiness, but this situation needs more compromise than a usual long distance relationship would require.

 

Unfortunately, being in a long distance relationship with kids involved is exceedingly more complicated than having a distant relationship in general. Look at one day at a time for now. You are happy today and no one knows what the future will bring. Don’t make big plans–talk to your ex-spouses, spend time with each other’s kids, and let them get used to what’s going on. There is a big chance that time will bring some new opportunities and ideas.

 

Honestly, I am few years away before even considering having kids on my own, and I haven’t faced any similar situation in my own family or friends’ circle. I would love to hear from anyone who is in a long distance relationship and has kids. Your experiences might be very useful for Craig or anyone with a similar issue.

 

Do you have any plans for the future or take your relationship one day at a time?

How do you involve your kids into the communication with your long distance partner?

 

 

9 thoughts on “How To Make Long Distance Relationship Work If You Have Kids?

  1. You can also make an application to the court to move with your child (without co parent) if you can establish that the co-parent will have full access opportunities, maybe some holiday weeks, reduced child support payments, and that the move is ultimately in the best interests of the child (lower Canadian university tuition, free healthcare, etc.) – contact me if you have questions.

  2. I am in a relationship with a Swedish man who has a daughter who’s 4. I live in the UK and have a daughter who is 5. We are settled on being together and we all want to be together, including the children, who already love each other as much as we do. Unfortunately, both ex-spouses are highly against their child moving country. My daughter has a court order stipulating the visitations she has between her father and me, myself being the resident parent all but every 2nd weekend. I am considering mediation, however, I expect he won’t respond to that and it will go to court. This will obviously be costly and stressful, but we will find a way. My other half’s ex-spouse and he have a half/half shared care responsibility together, one week with the father one with the mother and alternate. I find it highly doubtful she will let her daughter leave the country and have less time with her. The children are both considered too young to make their own choices on where they want to live with which parent. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  3. Same boat here. 600 miles. However, for us its only been a month. The other hang up im having is that im 40 and am questioning if this is whats best for my happiness long term. I wanna share my life. I wanna team mate to tackle the everyday. I really just wanna hold his hand. Our irl time together has been magical but then highlights my loneliness when we return home. We have fallen in love and it kinda sucks.

    1. Hey there, I can feel your pain so well- asked myself exactly same questions hundreds of times even though I was 27 at that time. 2400 miles- had so many weekends feeling above the sky during our dates in Hong Kong which were taken over by overnight non-stop crying on the flights back home, followed by learning to do simple things alone…after every time we used to meet! God, my moods were changing as a roller coaster. Advice: don’t concentrate on the negativity, it’s easy to get stuck in a sadness spiral unless you choose to look at the positive side. Explore the options for the future and how can you find a solution to be together. It’s not going to be as easy as moving from around the corner and it’s going to take time, but it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. Hang in there and stay positive!

      P.S. I have written quite a few articles on how to manage your time alone and overcome sadness on this blog. You might want to check them out if you feel low at times.

      Hugs, Lisa

  4. This was nice to read as sometimes I feel really alone in my situation. I have two little girls. One is five and the other is two. I also have my soul mate of the last year that lives 2 and half hours away in Banff. My ex husband has not let me move with the kids and said that I need to remain close to him so that he can see the kids when he wants. We were sharing 50?50 but now he has chosen to take a job on the rigs for a while so now I have them full time. Still I could not move without his consent so here I am trapped… My boyfriend and I see one another about every ten days. Either I drive up there or he will come down here. We want to be together but life has just not rolled the dice in that direction yet. I was hoping that maybe he would move down here but prior to meeting me he had just bought a house and set up an amazing career for himself. He says he cannot see himself leaving where he is as he worked his whole life to get there…
    This made me angry at first but I do understand that uprooting to become an insta dad in a new life is scary as hell for him. I dont mind the distance to much right now. I am forced to set up my own life and make my own money. I am busy building a life that is for me and my kids and when I finally do get to see him its such a breath of fresh air.
    I have no idea what the future holds or how long it will actually be before we are together. it may be years….but who knows. Right now we are taking one day at a time and truly appreciating the passion and memories that we are making. as I am building my own life I am also letting go and let God figure out the details of our union.

  5. Hey guys I met my husband in the uk and he had to go back to Africa for visa reason. We got married few years back and we had a daughter who is 2, but is hard for my husband to join me because visa requirements and it Is causing problems in our relationship. He say he can not afford to help me support our daughter and Is really making me anger and Is damaging our marriage. It is also making me depressed. Is it wrong for me to ask him to support his daughter here in the UK? Please guys I need your thoughts and advice.

  6. I’m so happy to read this. My soulmate lives in Scotland, I live in the Netherlands. We are about to endeavor into our lives together and are both very aware of the struggles that will come our way. We both have 3yo sons, he has another son in his teens. We see a tangible future in which our boys get to grow up as brothers. Possibly, if kismet allows it, adding another child. But that would definitely mean one of us relocation to another country with or without a child. I’m not sure that’s in the cards but not closing that chapter as well.

    We both coparent 50/50. For the first years I believe that we will survive by pure willpower to keep this true love afloat. We’ll take the time we get and are trying to fit our schedules so that we can spend at least 2 weekends a month together. Holidays will obviously be together. His jobs takes him to my country but not on a regular bases. My job allows me to work from home half the week, I hope that in a few years they will allow me to work from home one week and in the office another week. This would create a situation in which I can live in both countries, if his job does the same there would even be the opportunity to be together all the time until the kids are going to highschool, which my guts tell me is the time to make a big move. At an age where the kids are old enough to have a say and properly think and discuss with us regarding moving.

    Both exes are similar. We highly doubt they would be ok with us taking our kids to another country. If we choose to walk that path it will surely be one that involves mediators and lawyers. I don’t want to take my son away from his dad, but I also don’t want to give up my soul mate. But the strength of this love is stronger than anything we’ve encountered. I’m sure that with him at my side, even in distance, we can find a way.

    I’d really like to hear more of people that have made this work without the co-parents being damaged too greatly or taking a child away from one parent before their teen years.

    I’m sure kismet will find a way but boy has kismet thrown us a curveball with this one 😉

    Really happy I found this website, eternally grateful to you for posting this. Sharing is such a powerful tool.

    Love,

    MM

  7. my ex only lives 43 miles from me… which I know by US standards is not very far as it’s such a huge country… but in the UK it’s quite far lol. I met my ex on a dating site, last September. We hit it off immediately and both fell for each other the first time we met. We both have 9 year old sons, mine lives with me, his with his ex-girlfriend 5 minutes away from his place. Initially when we were first together everything was fantastic, he’s a beautiful looking man as well as lovely in personality – funny, v romantic, considerate, generous, loads of communication etc. He was driving to see me 3 times a week Tuesdays Thursdays and fri-sunday when he’d have to leave to go home to see his son for the day. His contact arrangements are he puts his son to bed at his mother’s house on Wednesdays and Fridays and has him all day every Sunday. Unfortunately his ex-girlfriend is very controlling and she decides when he sees his son and when he doesn’t, she stopped him introducing his son to his previous girlfriend to me for 4 YEARS… if she wants to go out with friends she clicks her fingers and he has to go running. Because she’s the sort of woman who would stop him seeing his son if he steps out of line. From the very beginning he said he couldn’t bare to be apart from me, and I know I felt (still feel) the same, and he said he would move to my town and move in with me, get a job and be with me and my son. He was scared but would do it, so he said… then he started making excuses about why he couldn’t. His son. He was scared to leave his job. And the more he made excuses the more I got anxious. And the more anxious I got the worse it got. I was introduced to his son and his parents within a couple of months. We were so so close. We never wanted to be apart. But the more time went on, the more painful it felt saying goodbye to him when he had to go home, even though I knew I’d see him in a few days again. I do suffer anxiety and depression, and I think adult separation anxiety. My previous bf cheated on me, and he knew this – that I have the anxiety, found it hard to trust. Anyway it was costing a lot of money for him to be driving back and forth so much, and he was giving me money each week to contribute towards food and bills because he was here so often and because I was feeding him sometimes 4 or 5 times a week, so I suggested he stop coming here in the week and just visit fri-sunday and stop paying me money for food and bills etc. He didn’t fight it, but later admitted he felt I’d sent him away. Up until the beginning of february I had also been going with him to see his son and parents on some Sundays, but he then stopped that. He didn’t tell me why. We started arguing and getting bad tempered (well I did, though sheer frustration) and although when we were together, each time was like a first date, we loved being with each other so much, there was a lot of arguing via text when we weren’t together. Most of it caused by my separation anxiety. It came to the point in June when he turned around one day and just said I can’t give you what you want, and he left. Then he came back saying he couldn’t live without me. Then he finished with me again and we were apart for a month, him not stopping telling me he loves me… I stayed in contact with him because I am useless without him. I can’t function. He then decided 3 weeks ago he would most definitely this time move in with me… He started making plans to move, change his job, discuss with and tell his family (he doesn’t earn very much and property here is extortionate, even to rent – so he lives with his parents since splitting with his last girlfriend)… again my frustration and fear that his ex would ruin things/he would back out again, got in the way and we had an argument, I said I wanted him to be fair and not let her just snap her fingers every time she wanted to go out. That scared him off, and he finished it again… He said he wouldn’t be able to move so far from his son as he would lose his relationship with him. We’re both really upset and although we try to go no contact, we can’t. He still messages me every Morning I love you, how did you sleep? Have a good day at work… I asked him yesterday if it was purely him not wanting to leave his son, nothing else to do with me… And he said yes, just his son. I have always been reluctant to relocate to where he is because it would mean moving my son out of his school, away from his friends, our home, his dad etc. Now I’m wondering if I should. My son’s dad is useless, gives me no support when my son is sick etc, I have no family where I live…. We always had a connection between us, mentally and emotionally, and although what I’m telling you sounds v complicated really it’s not… I’m wondering if I should move to him. I haven’t told him I’m thinking this…

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