Please help- To integrate or not
My boyfriend and I have been dating for over 18 months. I have 4 children from a previous marriage and he has 3 children from his previous marriage. I have my kids for one week on and one week off. He has his kids every other weekend. We are each others best friends! We are very much in love. We have both told each other that we want to spend the rest of our lives together with each other. My bf told me today that he would totally marry me already if it wasn't for the fact that we have children. He says that he can't ever imagine and doesn't want to imagine ever being married and spending more time with my children then he does with his own. His youngest is in 4th grade, so he said that we would NOT be getting married before 9 years. I told him that before we would ever get married I would want us to all get family counseling to make sure that we are taking healthy steps to integrate our kids. Let me also say that his kids and my kids get along GREAT! I have three girls 14, 12, 10 and a 3 yr old son. He has a 17 yr old son and two daughters 11 and 9. What kind of message would this send to my kids? I'm afraid that they will think that "Mom's bf doesn't want to spend so much time with us, so he won't marry mom until all of us are gone from the house". Won't this create a lot of guilt to my kids? My bf feels VERY guilty that he only sees his kids every other weekend. I'm also afraid that this will cause some animosity from me to his kids. Because he is so afraid of what they will think, he won't marry me (although he said he would marry me if it was only us). I asked him to talk to his kids about it. But he said he won't ever do that to them. I'm not even looking to get married anytime soon. Sure if it was just the two of us I'd marry him tomorrow, but I know with kids, we have to take things slow. And if it's the right time and things are going well...whether it's in 5 months...5 years or 15 years...then we take those steps. I love him with all of my heart, but how can I put my life on hold for 9 years? I love him and his kids. My kids have a great relationship with their dad and so they aren't looking for my bf to replace him at all. I feel like to love me is to love me and my kids. Besides, even after 9 years, I'll still have my son living with me. But he said that because his kids will all be over 18 by then, it will be okay. I'm so frustrated and thrown for a loop. How can we still date knowing that he doesn't want to be with my kids. Or maybe my thinking is all wrong since he is just trying to protect his kids. Yet he refuses to even talk to them about it. I feel like I have a knife in my heart. Thoughts and opinions are greatly appreciated!