• Wed, Oct 5 2011

My Boyfriend’s Ex-Wife Wants Nothing To Do With Me

My boyfriend’s ex-wife does not want me at her daughter’s birthday party. She feels “uncomfortable” and “not ready to meet me,” as my boyfriend has just told me. (She’s also told her children this.) I’ve been dating him for a year now, and my daughter, his kids and I are now “blended.” They sleep over often. We hang out often. There are plans for him and his kids to move in with my daughter and me. (He has 50 percent custody.) There are a number of feelings I have about her not wanting me at her daughter’s birthday party, even though her daughter wants my daughter and me to be there.

Ironically, none of my feelings towards my boyfriend’s ex-wife are negative. When it comes to ex-wives, I’m now an anti-Mommy Wars mommy. Probably, and most likely, this is because I’m still traumatized by my previous boyfriend’s ex-wife, who didn’t quite understand that they were divorced. Once, unknowingly to her, she met one of my best friends at a lunch, and opened up to her that she didn’t understand why they ever broke up and how close they still were. My friend, of course, called me immediately to tell me she was still obsessed with him. There were other annoyances, to say the least, with this ex-wife. Even though we were well into our relationship, this ex-wife still asked my then boyfriend to drive her to the airport when she went on business trips. She also found him a place to live, along with a decorator.

Once, I walked into his place, and there was a fresh vase of flowers – from her (which means she had a key to his place). She also had a knack of telling people – we travel, sort of, in the same social circle – that I “stole” him and had an affair with him while they were still together (swear on my daughter’s life, this is not true. When we got together, they were separated). It annoyed me to no end how that boyfriend couldn’t just tell her to bugger off. And, though, he did tell her that he was with me, she continued to invite him over for dinner and prepare his favorite foods.

When he and I broke up and I met my now boyfriend, I was relieved (an understatement) that his ex-wife lived a 40-minute drive away. I would never run into her, we didn’t hang out in the same social circle, and I knew nothing about her. That’s how I wanted it to stay. Anyone who has been through a divorce, or is separated, know that emotions take over rational thought, and depending on the person, these emotions can get in the way for a very long time.

When I visited my lawyer to get a cohabitation agreement for my boyfriend for when he moves in (I’m realistic about relationships now, and know that often they do not work out, even if you have the best intentions; I wanted it on paper that what’s mine is mine, and what’s his is his, and that he could never come after me for my house or support), my lawyer suggested that I speak to his soon-to-be ex-wife to let her know that her children are in good hands with me, and perhaps even invite her over to see where her children will be staying. I am not opposed to this idea (even though I want to wait as long as possible for this to happen).

As a mother myself, I understand how other mothers feel about their children. When my boyfriend was annoyed, to put it mildly, that his ex didn’t want me (or my daughter) at her daughter’s birthday party, I was the voice of reason. I told him I understood, because if my ex brought a woman to my daughter’s birthday party, and I had never met her before, I too would feel uncomfortable. I explained that the day was about his daughter, and why add drama to her day? A meeting with his ex-wife could wait for a more appropriate setting. As I said, “She’s uncomfortable with it, which means I’ll be uncomfortable, which will make you uncomfortable. Who needs three adults being uncomfortable?”

I don’t know anything about his ex-wife, aside from what he tells me (more often than not, they are not glowing descriptions, as is the case with going through a divorce) but, still, I understand, because I am a woman and a mother, why she isn’t happy that a new woman (me) is in her children’s life. I suppose, when and if I meet her, what I’d like to say is that I have no intention of taking over her role, that her children will be taken care of, and that I will make sure they are happy. I realize she may never like me. That is okay. For my part, I don’t really have any opinion of her, except that it does affect me when she upsets my boyfriend, because I love him.

My boyfriend, I know, is truly committed to me and, as I’ve explained to him, I need to take his ex-wife’s lead on whether she wants to meet me or not and when. At the end of the day, as mothers, we want what’s best for our children. I can only hope that she wants what’s best for her children, without bitterness getting in the way that her ex has moved on. One of my friends, who got married to a man with two children, received flowers one Mother’s Day, from his ex-wife. The card read, “Thank you for taking care of my children when they are with you.” I don’t expect flowers. But I do expect my boyfriend to bring me back a piece of cake from the birthday party that I will not attend.

(Photo: Andresr/Shutterstock)

You can reach this post's author, Rebecca Eckler, on twitter.
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  • Pix

    I think the fact that you are willing and able to be understanding about the ex-wife’s feelings is fantastic. And I can respect the hesitation to have someone that she has never met at her daughter’s birthday party. You’re right. The day is about the daughter and that probably is not the best time to meet the ex-wife.

    That said, if you’ve been with your boyfriend for a year, your families are blended and you have future plans to all live together, I don’t think you should take his ex-wife’s lead on whether or not she wants to meet you and when. If you wait for her, you’ll probably just end up missing out on more family events because she’s not comfortable. My personal opinion is that it’s time to respectfully but firmly insist that you two meet soon. If you care about these children and they want you around for the important events in their lives, the ex-wife is going to need to learn to deal with it.

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  • Lottie Mack

    I want to start by saying that you’re taking a very balanced view of the situation. Many women are not so understanding and would try and force the issue. However (you knew this was coming), I’m surprise that someone, with children of their own, would so quickly introduce and blend her family with her boyfriends family, especially as he as not yet established his independent routine with his children.
    I completely understand the ex-wife’s point of view. You are the “new woman” in her children’s life, the ex husband/boyfriend has jumped from one relationship to another, without consideration of his children adjusting to the fact that mommy and daddy are no longer together.
    Divorce and breakup are a tremendously stressful time on children and adults alike. Your serial monogamy and cohabitation lend me to believe that your own children are most likely suffering severe confusion and insecurity with all of the men and children in and out of their lives (complete supposition based on your own recounting of your relationship history).

    Being and ex-wife whose ex-husband made a similar move to your boyfriends move has perhaps jaded my perspective. I didn’t invite my ex-husband or his girlfriend to our daughters birthday party, she got two of them instead. I do know my ex-husband’s girlfriend, we’ve met, beyond that I don’t really feel the need to be her friend, confidant, or invite her to social events. I have enough faith in my ex-husband’s judgment that he is not going to be with anyone who is going to attempt to usurp my position, or, alternatively, ignore, dislike, or harm my daughter. I don’t have to like, be friends with, or be anything more than polite to my ex husband or his girlfriend.

    Yes, we live in a society of blended families, and it’s beneficial to the children when the families get along, however it takes more than a few months to make this happen. It takes 16-18 months for most people to get over the mourning period of a divorce, it takes much longer to stop seeing your ex spouse as a friend that you are concerned about and welcome them and their new partner into your life and social group

    • Pix

      So, I was about to ask how you know how long it’s been since the boyfriend and his wife split up. Then I went back to reread and realized that the phrase “soon-to-be ex-wife” had not sunk in the first time around. That does seem to suggest that this break-up is relatively recent.

      My original reply was based on the assumption that the ex-wife had actually been the ex-wife for a significant amount of time. So… yeah. Now I feel like there’s too many unknowns / too much gray area for any of my opinions to be reasonable.

    • rebecca eckler

      It’s up for debate how long one should wait before introducing the children. On my end, I thought it was fine. On my boyfriend’s end, it too was fine. And for the comment below, obviously you haven’t been through a divorce. They can take years. But the kids are all right!

    • Pix

      Rebecca,

      I’m really not sure which comment you’re referring to when you mention ‘the comment below.’ If you mean me, you are correct. I have not been through a divorce. But my current husband has and it took months, not years. (I also don’t recall my best friend’s parents divorce taking years, but I could, of course, be misremembering.) I’m not saying that it can’t take years, especially if there are children involved, just that in the case of my limited experiences they were not so drawn out.

      If you are referring to my statement that the phrase ‘soon to be ex-wife’ seems to suggest that this break-up was relatively recent, keep in mind, there’s a reason I used the word ‘relatively.’ Because the timing on these things, as you rightly mentioned, is always up for debate.

      Regardless, whatever happens in the end, I hope that you all eventually get to a place where you are comfortable and happy and I hope you don’t wind up missing too much due to the complications with the ex-wife.

  • MagPie

    What is the point of this post? I can’t help but see it as an opportunity to just bash the ex-wife of your previous boyfriend. (And by the way, you complain about how that lady “found him a place to live, along with a decorator.” Sorry but if your ex accepted these offerings from her isnt he to blame?”

    Anyway, I’m with the prior commenter. I’m surprised you’d be letting your boyfriend and his children move oin with you and your children when he’s not even divorced yet, and under a “Cohabilitation Agreement” no less. I dont know you, but my opinion based on the limited info is that this seems reckless. And your recounting of your ex’s ex seems somewhat immature on your end. All these relationships and exes, and exes of exes, is very convoluted and must be confusing to the children involved.

    • Nancy

      I was thinking the same thing! This post seems pointless…it’s like a transparent, childish rant designed to make her boyfriend’s soon-to-be-ex-wife look bad while praising herself up for being the bigger person. It’s passive-aggressive bashing, like when people say truths in an innocent, joking way, so they can still pretend to be nice. All her stories seem like a personal blog where she seeks validation for her spoiled and misguided ideas. This author is a published troll, she just wants to stir up posting drama again.

    • MD

      I was thinking about the same thing! Also, the author makes it a point to state that in a previous relationship the ex-wife thought she had stolen her husband, but the author admits that her boyfriend at the time was not divorced, only seperated. Rebecca, seperation isn’t divorce. Maybe the ex-wife had good reason to view you as a man stealer.

  • Rebecca

    Wow, tough crowd. They’ve been together for a year. Plenty of time IMO for the families to get to know each other. Wether they jumped into the relationship to soon is irrelevant. Obviously if they’re talking about moving in together they’re thinking about the future. And I think the point of this article is that we should all stop the drama and focus on the kids. She would rather her boyfriends daughter enjoy a tension free birthday then take the opportunity to elbow her way in, assert her new position in the girls life, and make sure the ex knows her place. Good for her. I wish everyone was that mature. So how about instead of making baseless judgements about the emotional well being of the authors children, we commend her for good sense, tact, and class. If you and your boyfriend end up together for the long haul she’ll have to deal with you eventually, if not then it really doesn’t matter. I wouldn’t push it either:)

    • rebecca eckler

      Above post is not from me – the author.

  • kate

    well at least she is saying ‘not ready’ and not, ‘never’ otherwise it’d be a bit much.
    but she is probably thinking of herself, not so much her daughter. i would probably do the same thing she is if in the situation, to be honest.

  • Maggie

    This is classic passive-aggressive behaviour!

    The author bashes the ex-wife (even worse, she refers to the boyfriend when bashing her, which would hurt even more). She’s done this in past articles too.

    No wonder this lady isn’t ready to meet you!

    Did it ever occur to you that she may not appreciate being written about (especially negatively!) for all to see?

    How would you feel if your Ex-fiance’s new girlfriend blogged about you and painted you in a negative light? Of course you’d be furious. (And by the way, I wonder whether YOUR Ex-fiance’s descriptions of you are “not glowing” too!)

    Sounds like your boyfriend was barely separated before you came into the picture. You’re the rebound girl. The ex-wife (and in reality, she’s not even the ex-wife yet since they aren’t divorced) probably figures this relationship will run its course because almost every rebound relationship ends badly.

    If you really were a classy person who didn’t want to cause tension, you would agree to meet at a later date AND NOT WRITE ABOUT IT!!

    Oh – and way to paint your boyfriend in a negative light. Saying that you want a cohabitation agreement so that your boyfriend can’t take your house or sue you for support. You’re basically telling the world that you make more than him. Again, classy.

    I’m sure you boyfriend will feel just great about that.

    • Alyssa

      I can certainly agree with your point about it not being the best move to write about this situation given the potential for the almost-ex-wife to read it and add to any existing tension. However, I also have to point out that if someone’s job is to write articles about topics that other moms can relate to or discuss, what else is she supposed to write about except topics she has personal experience with?

      Perhaps this is just my perspective, but I also don’t understand how a cohabitation agreement paints anyone in a bad light. In my understanding it simply makes things less messy if someday the two of you no longer wish to cohabitate. It means less arguing over “stuff” because it’s clearly stated who brought what to the table. And if she makes more than her boyfriend– so what? How is does that paint him negatively? That would only be seen as a negative if you hold people to old-fashioned gender roles that dictate a man should make more money than his female counterpart. I think this is an unhealthy view that limits both women and men in how they can define themselves and what they can achieve. (slightly off topic here, but…) I have met great forward thinking men… one who came to an agreement with his wife that whichever of them had the ability to make a better income at any given time would work outside the home and the other would stay at home with their children. Today we have amazing stay-at-home dads who are secure in contributing to their family in a different, and still incredibly important, way. I think it takes a bigger/more secure man to be able to redefine himself and not limit his contribution to his family to the archaic principle of having to be the “bread-winner”. Women are so much more than just mothers, and men are so much more than just an income. I hope someday our society will completely move past this idea and stop seeing successful women as a threat or men who make less than their wife or partner as a failure.

  • Alyssa

    Bravo for the maturity and putting the kids first. So often they are innocent victims of divorced parents bitterness and self-absorbed behavior. Glad to know there are people who have some sense when it comes to divorce & blended families and making sure the kids don’t end up being collateral damage… And thanks for sharing about your friend and the flowers she received from the ex-wife on Mother’s day. What a refreshing gesture. I’ve seen too many kids damaged by divorce and angry bitter adults. I love hearing about parents who choose to be great examples to their kids regarding how to deal with difficult situations with maturity and grace.

    • Alyssa

      I’d like to add that I think kids benefit immensely from mature parents who show respect, maybe not warm and fuzzy love and affection, but RESPECT for their exes and their new partners. Even just choosing not to say anything negative about them around the kids goes a long way. It creates less stress for the kids and creates an atmosphere more conducive to effective co-parenting. No one benefits when mom and dad are in opposite corners working against each other– and healthy kids do not result from having parents who allow themselves to be manipulated because they are too busy verbally bashing the other parent and trying to buy their children’s affection. Putting your kids’ health and development first and co-parenting despite any adverse feelings you have will be better for you and your children in the long run.

  • Andrea

    Really? Whether she’s completely justified, or stark raving mad, she doesn’t have to acknowledge her Ex husbands girlfriend. Get married, and then you’ll have an argument. Also, I wouldn’t be blending families just yet. It’s kind of jumping the gun if you don’t have a commitment. Adults playing house is one thing… but with kids? not a good idea.

  • Emma

    1. She’s not really the ex-wife yet, is she?
    2. Haven’t you bashed her in past columns and questioned her parenting technique?
    3. Haven’t you gone on and on about your sex life with this new guy (in writing) and even said that he claims you’re the best he’s ever had (which, by the way, every guy says to whichever chick he’s currently banging…)

    No wonder she wants nothing to do with you.

    Can’t believe this new guy hasn’t laid down the law and told you to quit writing about the mother of his children! Even if he hasn’t, you should know better.

  • Laura

    My dh is divorced but not divorced the judge got tired of his ex delaying everything and granted the divorce but she still has to sign the final divorce decree and of course she refuses too. What that means is they can go out and get married file single everything a divorced couple can do but the last of the paper work is not filed. It took the judge 4 years to say I’m tired of this and I’m granting the divorce. His ex wife still tells people they are married that him and I are not really married that we are living in sin and that our son is a sin. But wait she had a few bf had a baby but we are the one’s that are wrong, rebecca eckler as a mom and sm I get the point of your post it’s to show new sm that sometimes we have to give the bm’s space even if we are ok with her.

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