‘I live with my boyfriend, Dustin. We also live with his ex-wife, Beth, their two kids, her boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s two kids who come over every other weekend. It’s an interesting and fun situation because we don’t have to worry about weekend visits and who goes where or rules and Mom’s time and Dad’s time.

Dustin and I bought a six-bedroom house. Beth and her boyfriend pay us rent and so they are welcome to leave if something ever goes wrong. They’re not stuck or trapped in any way. We now have all the space we need. The kids all have their own bedrooms. The kids are able to stay in their schools which is nice, too.

In the beginning, for me, it actually wasn’t uncomfortable. The biggest thing for me was not having my own space. We started in a small townhouse before we bought our house and so things were cramped. The kids shared a room and Beth had her room but all other space was shared. But being around each other was never uncomfortable. I had a harder time going from being a single twenty-one year old to becoming a step-parent.

We now have four parental figures in the house and we’re always trying to find a balance in our parenting styles. Dustin and Beth just weren’t happy being married but, for the sake of the kids, they’re willing to put their differences aside. They don’t hate each other even though their marriage was difficult. They decided, no matter what happens, not to fight in front of the kids. They’ve really stepped up to the plate that way. The second they divorced, they realized that they could be friends and co-parents. They just weren’t meant to be married.

Beth is now almost like my best friend and we get along together very well. She’s very gracious. We talk and hang out together and, even now, she’s almost the first person I go to when I need to vent. She’s also a bit of a cheat-sheet with Dustin because she can tell me how to work his buttons and get him to calm down when he’s being difficult. The best part is that Dustin and I are getting married next Saturday and Beth is making the wedding cake.’

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