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feelings much better and the challenge of building a relationship with his new stepchildren may cause him further pain but also bring its own compensations. If his new partner has no children she may find it hard to appreciate the intensity of his guilt and sense of loss. From her point of view, he has chosen her in preference to his wife and the children may seem an unwelcome reminder of his wife’s continuing influence on their lives. As they settle down as a couple, establishing new friends, domestic routines and a life-style which reflects what they value in their relationship, she finds that their autonomy as a couple is constantly undermined because of his children. A cosy dinner for two goes cold on the plate when his wife telephones to tell him that one of the children has failed a maths test, plans to go away with friends for the weekend have to be broken when she changes the date of their monthly weekend visit. In the same way that new parents discover how radically their relationship is altered by the arrival of a child, women who begin partnerships with men who are already fathers have to learn how much parental obligations undermine the exclusive mutual commitment which some people regard as ideal in a couple relationship.

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