View Full Version : Trigger warning: Blunt Question about divorce

01-18-2016, 06:53 AM
So, I apologize if this is rude, but I don't get this, like at all.

I've got a character, and I'm thinking of making this part of his backstory. It seems like every time I meet someone who is on their third or fourth marriage they've got two kids from the first marriage and then one from each successive coupling, and I'm just kinda fascinated by it.

How do the kids relate to each other? Like do siblings that are three weddings and twenty years apart consider themselves brothers/sisters, or if it was your dad's second wedding and he's currently on his forth do you really care about the kids of that relationship? Also, when Dad suffers a stroke at 65 which kids take care of him? The ones from the first marriage, or the last, or the middle ones, or do they all band together to help out?

If you're in your 20's or 30's do you get your kid half-brothers and sisters a birthday and Christmas presents?

What about ex-step-siblings. Like if two straight people are married, and both have kids, do you still maintain relationships with the ex-step-siblings when the parents divorce?

It's kind of inspired by a friend of mine whose Dad was married six times, but he insists that, "It doesn't mean I have five step-moms." So, any sort of personal experience would be welcomed. I'm gay and my parents are still on their first marriage.

Also, why is there is apparent urge to have child for each new marriage? Do straight people think it's not a "Real" marriage if there isn't a kid? Do you have to have a kid to convince yourself that the successive relationships have the same weight as the previous ones?

01-18-2016, 07:01 AM
It.. depends. Kind of for the same reasons people have kids with their first spouse. Often, people want to have kids with someone they're in love with - and, if they've got kids from other relationships, if one person has no kids, that's a reason, as is 'one that's a mix of both of us.'

As to the questions within the post, it... depends. Some people are close with steps and consider everyone a sibling; some people want nothing to do with anyone their parent(s) are in relationships with besides the other parent (and some of those people give the kids of any subsequent union a pass and are close to them and some don't and aren't). Sometimes those closer in age aren't close but those further apart are, etc., etc. ad nauseam. Some people are close to and love stepparents, even if they were technically stepparents for a short time, some have known the step for decades and barely abide them.

Pretty much whatever you write will ring true to someone. This is also similar to people whose parents had them young and then have a biiig gap. I've met people close to 20 years older than a sibling. Yes, they're full siblings genetically, but they might barely know each other, or feel close at all. They might be all about their little/big sibling. *shrug*

01-18-2016, 07:10 AM
Yeah, it all just depends. And it also doesn't depend on being homo/hetero/fluid/other either, but more of how you define a relationship and how you define parentage.

There's probably a correlation between people who enforce marriage as a coupling device and a strong sense of family value thus the need to have children. But, again, all depends on the individual.

01-18-2016, 07:46 AM
In my extended family, there are several straight people who are divorced and remarried. None fit the pattern you describe.

Two (both women, one a cousin and one my mother in law) had a child with their first marriages and none in their subsequent ones. In both cases, I think they just didn't want more kids, because by the time they remarried they were at a different place in their life than being the parent to a young child. My husband was in college when his mom remarried, and he has three step siblings (sons and daughters of his mother's second husband). He never lived with any of them, and while he has a friendly relationship with them (they're all really nice people), it's more akin to the kind one might have with extended family (sort of like cousins you see maybe once a year).

One (my husband's dad) had a child in his first marriage (my husband) and one in his second (and he adopted the child his second wife had with her previous partner, whom she had never married). My FiL married his second wife when my husband was in junior high school, and my husband considers both girls his kid sisters. They adored him when they were little and looked forward to his visits home (still do in fact, even though they're adults and both married and divorced and remarried themselves now). I think his relationship is similar to what I've seen in non-divorced families where one sibling went off to college when the other was very little.

One of my cousins had no children in his first marriage (though his first wife had a son from her previous marriage) and one in his second one. His first marriage ended when he got his girlfriend pregnant. The girlfriend became his second wife. I don't think there's any relationship between his current child and the child of his ex wife. They don't speak at all for some strange reason.

One close friend had no kids in her first marriage and none (so far, at least) in her second. She just never wanted kids.

One of my sisters in law (the one my husband's dad adopted) had one child in her first marriage and four more in her second. Her younger kids adore their older brother, and I don't think they look at him as a half brother, even though he lives with his dad half time. She loves being a mother to young kids, and her husband wanted a son from their marriage (the most recent baby is a boy, and she's in her upper thirties now, so I'm guessing they won't be having any more).

One (my aunt) had one child in her first marriage and one with her second. Her second husband adopted the child of her first marriage, and my cousins always considered themselves brother and sister in the full sense, not half siblings.

As for reasons why some people do the pattern you've described? I'd guess is that people who do want to have kids with subsequent spouses, even if they have kids with the first one already. Some possible reasons:

1. Because they want to have kids with their new partner, ones they can parent equally together.

2. Because their second spouse doesn't have kids already, and that person wants to be a parent.

3. Because they possibly wanted more kids and would have had more anyway if they'd stayed with their first spouse.

I think the closeness of step siblings and half siblings would probably depend on a lot of factors, like how much time they spent actually living together under the same roof, how old they were when their parents married, and whether or not they clicked well as personalities. Biological siblings don't always get along, or even care that much for one another, but I suspect one feels less motivation to work things through with someone with whom you only live part time, or with whom you have no blood ties at all, if you don't get along well.

I really think the closeness and experience in blended families can vary enormously.

Oh, and my husband and I were never married before (we'd both had long-term significant others before we met) and no kids. We were together for eight years before we finally married in our late thirties, and neither of us was burning with desire to have kids. So we didn't.

01-18-2016, 11:17 AM
Goodness, what a question, lol. I think it all just depends and depends and depends.

Come to think of it, though, I don't think I've ever even heard someone refer to their "half brother" or "half sister." They usually just say "brother" or "sister" if they were raised together. If they aren't very involved with the half-sibling and shared parent, they might not really think of them as a sibling at all. Then they might just call them "My father's kid with his new wife," or whatever.

I thought your question about if the newer sibs would feel less a part of the family was interesting. From what I've seen, if anything, the older sibs who don't belong to the new (usually) father are more likely to feel left out.

Personally, I don't know how people can stand being stuck with all these connections to ex-partners who they don't like. Not to mention ex-partners' new partners and new partners' ex-partners. I'm sure I'd go out of my mind and twist someone's head off. Or at least run off to Mexico with my kids because to me, they are mine and I don't share. Now that they're in their twenties, that would be harder.

Latina Bunny
01-18-2016, 11:41 AM
Everyone has posted some good explanations above, so I'm just basically repeating they're saying here. :)

I think it's pretty simple: They want a child between the both of them--a child that is a biological product that is from both the person and the new partner. Or, the new partner hasn't had a child yet, and now wants one.

That's the reason why a coworker of mine wants to get pregnant in her new relationship, anyway.

I understand wanting a biological child that that has part of their DNA from the new partner.

(I mean, I'm kind of wanting a biological child or two that has Dna from either me or my future life partner, too, if I was doing something like an IVF thing with a lesbian partner, for example.. .)

I totally understand that want for a biological child.

01-18-2016, 11:44 AM
Why do straight people have a new kid for each marriage?

So, I apologize if this is rude, but I don't get this, like at all.


It's kind of inspired by a friend of mine whose Dad was married six times, but he insists that, "It doesn't mean I have five step-moms."

So - how many kids do you think people should have? (And yes - it is a pretty offensive question. If I asked something quite so dismissively all-encompassing about allgaypeopleandtheirkids, that would be offensive, right? )

01-18-2016, 12:39 PM
I really feel like all these questions can't lump people together so much. There are so many possible situations that will go against any trend you try to find.

I've seen families with kids from mom getting along with some, but not all, of the kids from dad. Or ones that had enough kids and didn't want to have one together.

To say that having kids to strengthen a relationship is a 'straight' thing... well I don't know what to say about that. I'll agree that a kid is a combining of two people, like the final step of your coupling, but I think the desire comes more from just wanting a kid, rather than needing a connection between two married people. But again, it's not always the case. I have an aunt that's been married twice, happily for years, and never had a kid. There are plenty of people that have kids when no relationship existed. Maybe re-married people are having kids with their new partner because they're in love, just found each other, and hey accidents happen.

Anna Spargo-Ryan
01-18-2016, 12:44 PM
Of course it depends. What a mean-spirited question. People have children in relationships for all kinds of reasons. Some people feel as though a child is part of their commitment to one another. Some people have children without planning them. Some people have enough combined children already. Some people are swayed by their new partner's desire to have biological children. Some people marry again when they're no longer of child-bearing age. Some people don't want children, ever.

Some people do think the relationship carries more weight if there's a child from it. Many don't. It's a pretty hurtful generalisation.

I'm divorced and have two children from my marriage, which lasted four years. I have been with my current partner for eight years, and our relationship is everything to me. It's far more "weighty" than my marriage ever was. My partner is infertile. We will never have children together. This has no impact on the meaningfulness of the relationship other than it will probably be easier to separate, if we ever do.

01-18-2016, 01:57 PM
I suspect if I posted a "why do gay people do $thing?" question I'd get shot, but anyway...

I'm a stepdad - my wife already had two kids from her previous marriage when we got together and I didn't have any of my own. Never wanted any. My wife is 19 years older than me so when we met she was 40 and I was 21, her daughter was 18 and her son 12. Neither of them have ever lived with us and they don't call me Dad but we're pretty close, especially now (23 years later) when son has kids of his own who do call me grandad.

I like that - I think I make a far better grandad than I ever would have made a dad.

01-18-2016, 04:45 PM
So - how many kids do you think people should have? (And yes - it is a pretty offensive question. If I asked something quite so dismissively all-encompassing about allgaypeopleandtheirkids, that would be offensive, right? )

Which is why I apologized in advance.

I don't understand the desire to have children. I've never had that conversation with any of my partners, so I don't really know how a situation I've never been in works. My close friends come from one-marriage families or aren't close with their parents. In the one case where there was a divorce the dad was persona non-gratta around the house and neither parent got remarried. So, I'm sorry for asking a question about something I don't understand?

How I was thinking of using this in a story was an MC who doesn't ever feel like he belongs because both of his parents kept remarrying when he was a kid and so he sort of forms families of friends where and when he can as an adult because he felt like he was a reminder of a two-year long marriage and didn't have a healthy relationship with any of his nine half-siblings and twenty or so ex-stepsiblings. Also, neither of his parents support him in his struggles as an adult because after having so many kids from so many marriages in so many states they don't have the emotional or fiscal resources to help out the struggling 20-something from two marriages ago. I see where that would be offensive to straight people though.

01-18-2016, 04:57 PM
Maybe these people just enjoy having lots of kids, and it's only logical for them to have them with any new partner..

01-18-2016, 05:19 PM
Which is why I apologized in advance.

Apologizing in advance doesn't make something unoffensive. Trying to lump straight people together is about the silliest thing you could do, being the overwhelming majority of people in the world-- how could anyone speak for a group that has nothing in common culturally, religiously, ethnically, racially, nationally, economically, nor shares the same interests, other than that they are attracted to members of the opposite sex?

01-18-2016, 05:31 PM
Not much to add to this except to reiterate that when someone has children with multiple partners, the children are half-siblings, not step-siblings.

There is the old adage write what you know. I think this is unnecessarily restrictive or, as I like to see it, an invitation to go learn something. But if your imagination can't hold why straight people (or at least male/female couples) might want to make babies even if they may have made babies with someone else, then you may have trouble making it ring true. You don't need to have these feelings yourself to cultivate empathy.

01-18-2016, 05:36 PM
Apologizing in advance doesn't make something unoffensive.

No, but it would maybe be a hint to not read any further if you're the sort of person who takes offense at things.

Like, "This person is apologizing for asking a rude question. I am the sort of person who doesn't like frank talk about potentially insensitive topics, maybe I should stop reading now before taking offense at something that in no way involves me. Because obviously this person isn't talking about me specifically -- because obviously I don't know them and they have no idea what the details of my personal life are -- nor is he making a statement, he is just asking a question, but I find honest questions offensive so I should go find something else to do with my time."

The push back, and I'll admit I didn't expect it, reminds me of a coworker I had once. He had pictures of his wife and kids on his cubical, was wearing wedding ring but said he didn't think signs of sexual orientation didn't belong in the office. He was advertising his hetrosexuality in ways he wasn't even aware, but the moment someone put up a small rainbow flag in their cubical that was over the line because, because, because straight privilege.

01-18-2016, 05:43 PM
Or it might be a clue not to post "why do all people in x group do y" questions.

It's especially silly because all people in x group most certainly do not do y.

And sillier still because even those in x group who happen to do y have many different motivations.

All of which should be relatively obvious even if you aren't in x group and never plan to do y.


I'm straight, never married, and do not plan to have kids. Despite my unmarried, child free state, I can easily think of any number of reasons couples might have more kids, with or without a new partner.

The question is silly.


I suggest you stop and ask yourself how you'd react to a question "why do gay people do x" -- particularly if the question that followed had a distinctly contemptuous whiff to it, as this one does. And especially if it was something that, in fact, most gay people do not do.

01-18-2016, 05:54 PM
The question is silly.

That's great that you think the question is silly. You have the benefit of straight privilege, congrats.

I was just asked last week, "When to gay guys get married how do you decide who takes the last name?" I didn't find the question offensive because it was a legitimate question from someone who was honestly curious. But, yeah, thanks for pointing out that you're part of the majority, and therefore don't have to explain parts of your culture to people.

01-18-2016, 05:58 PM
This doesn't have squat to do with straight privilege. This has to do with having children -- something many gay people also want. And something not all straight people do (like me).

01-18-2016, 06:02 PM
This doesn't have squat to do with straight privilege. This has to do with having children -- something many gay people also want. And something not all straight people do (like me).

And thank you for deriding me for asking a question about something I don't understand.

Obviously I'm savvy enough to know that there is no one one answer, and no one group of people have the same experience. I like I said, I was asking for experiences. Thank you for sharing yours. Your non answer was most helpful.

01-18-2016, 06:11 PM
Oka-ay. We're gonna take a break from this thread for a while.