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?