I have to respond with another view, hope you understand. A woman I dated for 2 years blurted out "What were you thinking?" regarding my two youngest being born. It helped me see our relationship in a new light. She was a daughter to a peditrician and worked in his clinic so she was great with my children. They loved her. However, her statement revealed something she withheld earlier. She needed more time with me alone, which I gave her. Things improved radically for all. However, the dad side of me came out as well, and I told her that every one of my children was special and important to me, as were her children to me. Each of my two youngest born (now 10 and 12) defied the expert doctor's claim to us that "you can never have children again." My point is that regardless the doctor, these children had no choice in being born. It is not clear that one is mine, but I never would treat her as anything but my own. I view them as a gift and love them dearly and completely. All children (and grandchildren) need attention, mine are no exception. Usually this is in proportion to their age, the youngest require more than older children. Most women are very intuitive to this and recognize it more than men. In marriage I think it requires a certain clarity to recognize while children do not replace a spouse, their age based requirement for attention and authentic love is imparative to their well being and that of the spouse. Petition for annulment gave me a certain advantage in that I can honestly say what I discovered after wedding, that I was never married. I tried with all my heart to make it a marriage, but failed. Perhpas it was the grace of God really. My two youngest girls told me they want me to re-marry, but "We don't want a mean stepmother." They have been VERY receptive to two women I introduced them to, but really cool to a third. Turns out so far, their intuitive side was right!
I want to make these points really clear: (1) human relationships can be VERY complicated. If young children are involved, as a former Big Brother and as a Dad, I think it is obvious and imparative that they be given the best possible shot at having a positive relationship with the future spouse because that matters, so listen carefully to all parties, allow them the best possible relationship knowing full well that no matter how bad the relationship they were born into, most children want their parents back together again and will act to make that happen; (2) an ex-spouse can exert positive or terrible influence on the children - sometimes with cause. In my case the ex's longest term live-in boyfriend had a criminal sex record. His brother was a registered pedophile. The court refused to place children with me because he had served his time and evidence was circumstantial! I confronted my ex, who did nothing, not even to read the police records, so I told my daughters to stay away from that guy and his brother. (She did finally read the report and made a public thing in court of breaking up with him, but was seeing him privately. Ha - he wasted no time and married a 4th time.) I think a less mature man (or woman) would not recognize the best thing to do, but I had to inject myslef into that relationship for the protection of my children. Otherwise in my opinion, my ex's relationship(s) are between her and God, not involving me whatsoever. I told her, and I mean it when I say, that I hope she enters into a loving committed realtionship in marriage and that our children are honored and loved by that spouse, but I will always be their Dad. However, as stated by the court selected psychiologist, your children "have never had a mother." The oldest daughter said, Its true, but she is a good coach. If given authentic love by a step father or step mother, children may respond with all their heart. Mine can. There are some really good women in CM who have heart and mind to be terrific wives and great mothers/stepmothers. I think you read responses from some of them in this forum... Seek a woman with wisdom like these. God blesses people in legitimate sacramental marriage. She, your children, and you will always rejoice in that choice, even if some children take longer than others to realize it.