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Just a Guy Choosing Between Wife and Kids

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The classic second marriage dilemma is the parent of the kids having to choose between his offspring and his spouse. Recently, I faced that problem times 10.

Angry looking kid and woman

Bruce Sallan: First, my wife had a medical emergency that involved paramedics, 911, and a morning rush to the hospital, followed by surgery, recovery, and coming home -- all in the same day. Between it all, I had to deal with my boys getting to and from school and try and do a little necessary work. While my wife was obviously going through the worst of it, I was completely worn out trying to balance everyone's needs.

Then, later in the same week, my older son and I had a fight over the stupid caca that sometimes happens between parent and child, and I ended up finally sitting down with him, working things out between us, and then attending a school event (a concert) of his, in which he was performing. It involved plenty of shuttling -- him, friends, and equipment back and forth.

However, my wife (still recovering from her recent surgery) was waiting at home for me for dinner. The school event took longer than expected, which I had forewarned her it might, and I came home to a mad wife.

This is a classic situation of being caught between the woman I love and the child I've raised his whole life. Dr. Laura says the marriage always comes first (I think she says that). I say it depends on the circumstances -- and I'd like to be cut some slack. It wasn't an easy week for me either. But, what do I know? I'm just a guy.

next: Make Some Allowances
14 comments so far | Post a comment now
Denise October 11, 2009, 8:21 AM

Sounds like a difficult situation Bruceeee. Try doing it all alone with no one waiting back at home. I’d say your juggling act is not too big a deal, though I don’t actually disagree with its difficulty. Maybe I’m just jealous…ha ha.

Sara October 11, 2009, 11:59 AM

Sounds like your wife was being hypersensitive. Provided you gave her warning of the event (and a text saying that you’ll be late could help, that may of been why she was mad) then she’s unreasonable for being mad because you’re at your kids school event.

I’d be sure to be honest about how long your other commitments are going to take (and offer to pick up dinner on the way home if you’re going to be late) but she needs to understand that your kids are a priority for you.

Cassandra October 11, 2009, 1:46 PM

I have to preface this by saying that both my husband and I are eachother’s second spouse, we each have kids from our prior marriages, and we also have children together (for a total of 8). I think your wife was completely out of line to be mad at you for being late. I get the whole surgery thing, but she was clearly over the worst of it and resting at home. She needs to ask herself would she have been angry if the child were hers biologically? And, would she even want a man who would neglect his child for her sake? I know I wouldn’t. There are MUCH bigger issues than late for dinner because of a child’s school function, and I think she should really consider herself lucky that she has a good father for her husband! I’ve got one of those too, and I’m NEVER jealous or resentful of the time he spends with the children…his, mine AND ours!!

Bruce Sallan October 11, 2009, 5:29 PM

Thank you Cassandra, but I got a good one, too, with my wife. When I write these blogs, they’re always from my point-of-view. So, to be fair, I’m sure she’ll have her say and, for the most part completely, she’s been a blessing for me and my boys. This issue, nonetheless, is one that all couples struggle with - more so in blended families, I’m sure.

Never October 12, 2009, 1:05 AM

Glad to see you tackle this one… tough day for balance.

chris October 12, 2009, 3:22 AM

I think what you explain is just the kink of situation that happens everyday in the “life of a mom”. Weather it’s the first, second or etc marriage, mom’s have forever had to try and balance the spouse with the kids with work with the housework with the extra school activities. I think what you experience is a good insight into how women feel pulled into some many directions and sometimes we just can’t please everyone (well most of the time it’s the other spouse) but we certainly try!

Scott October 12, 2009, 4:57 AM

First and foremost, I hope your wife is doing better and past this health crisis.

It’s been my observation that virtually none of us ever gets the balance thing completely right. What marks a successful marriage, I think, is the constant hard work of balancing competing needs and the recognition that one’s partner is genuinely trying to meet those competing needs.

Hang in there, Bruce, I think you’re both doing the best you can.

TMC October 12, 2009, 9:06 AM

My thoughts tend to go in the other direction on this situation. Your wife’s medical problem that required emergency transport to the hospital and surgery to correct rarely happens in an average person’s life. School functions are rarely important enough or memorable enough to take precedence over supporting your wife. Not knowing the specifics of either situation I would not say that you were right or wrong but here is a look into the other direction of the argument. Best WIshes.

Shona October 12, 2009, 10:31 AM

Well im going to say im in this situation my husband of 27yrs left for a younger girl she does not want to have anything to do with none of my kids and she has turned him away completly tried to get out of child support for three yrs my heart hurt for my kids but there is nothing nobody can do Thank god they are not young except my last one she is 16 she hurts alot about this. God Bless these evil Women or Men

BigLittleWolf October 12, 2009, 6:44 PM

This is one of those no-win situations, though I tend to agree that emergency surgery trumps school function anytime - whether it was your kid with the emergency surgery, or your wife.

But it’s a tough call, when you’re being pulled in all directions.

And even trickier when there’s only one of you - and - for example - it’s your kids - one with a medical situation, and the other, a school thing…


Christina October 12, 2009, 7:36 PM

I understand the mad. Emergency surgery is not just physically draining, but emotionally traumatizing. The mad was probably tied to that. Low blood sugar doesn’t help. So I do sympathize with her, but she could have called for delivery maybe.

ari4sc October 14, 2009, 12:07 PM

It’s impossible to please 100% of the people 100% of the time. I hope your wife is doing better and I hope your kid goes platinum.

Bruce Sallan October 14, 2009, 12:59 PM

Thanks Ari. My wife is actually doing very well. She’s a tough cookie and rarely complains which is a mixed blessing since I often take her lack of complaints as a sign that all is well. My son is growing EVERY DAY in his music. My job is just to support that passion. Plus, he has a girlfriend now and she’s cool and I’m happy for him. Check out my forthcoming blogs tomorrow and Saturday. Thanks for the comment.

Ten Tees January 9, 2011, 2:10 PM

Interesting post. Enjoyable reading. I just have a opinion to make about funny shirts.

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