Ex-husband too involved with family

by Rod Smith

“I am dating a woman who has three children (8, 13, 15) from a marriage that ended long ago. She is determined to be a good friend to her ex-husband. This means the ex-husband is almost always in the picture and it seems like he is still part of the family. I am uncomfortable with this. It feels like they have never really divorced in some ways. Please help.” (Paraphrase of a much longer letter)

Get out of the middle!

Get out of the middle!

The ex-husband seems like part of the family because he is! He is an integral part of his children’s lives and shares significant history with the mother of his children. I’d suggest you try and get used to it. Dating a woman who has three children, and the wisdom and the courage to remain on friendly terms with her former husband, will be a challenge for any man not made of similar steel.

No matter how much love you may develop for each other, as father of the children, her ex is going to be a part of the family equation. Any attempts, on your part, to interfere, or restrict his involvement, will come back to haunt only you. If the day comes that she wants to lessen her contact with him, I’d suggest it be at her initiation, not yours. I am fully aware that this may seem “off the wall” to many, but if you, the new man in the children’s lives, try to construct the dynamics according to your will, it will all begin, over time, to cave in on you. Leave any social re-organizing to the woman whom you are dating and offer her all the support she needs in facing her very tough task.

35 Comments to “Ex-husband too involved with family”

  1. I’m sorry but your answer is off base to a degree. Yes, the dad is still the children’s family BUT he’s not the mother’s family any more…He’s her ex family. And Yes, the ex has to be somewhat in their lives but not to the point that this new husband feels he’s “always” there…There needs to be healthy boundaries. Perhaps this ex husband doesn’t have any and is intruding in this man’s new relationship.

  2. I’m in the same boat. My wife’s ex-husband calls up my wife, comes over for breakfast, goes places with us, etc, on issues not related to my step-daughter, who is 25 years old. Last week, my wife give her ex some of my clothes to wear, and this wasn’t my old clothes, but stuff I currently wear. Yesterday, my wife bought her ex a stove for $625. I feel like a second-class citizen in my home. My wife’s ex is not part of my family, and I do not like the ex coming over to eat dinner with us.

  3. I’m in the same boat. My wife’s ex-husband calls up my wife, comes over for breakfast, goes places with us, etc, on issues not related to my step-daughter, who is 25 years old. Last week, my wife gave her ex some of my clothes to wear, and this wasn’t my old clothes, but stuff I currently wear. Yesterday, my wife bought her ex a stove for $625, which is outrageous! I don’t work for the ex, and my paycheck should not be used to buy him stuff. I feel like a second-class citizen in my home. My wife’s ex is not part of my family, and I do not like the ex coming over to eat dinner with us – especially since it’s not a dinner with my wife and step-daughter, but a dinner with only my wife and myself.

  4. I disagree with the initial reply. My husband’s ex-wife seems to take their divorce lightly. There is a need for communication because of my step-daughter, however, she has become almost “too friendly” with me. For instance, she will call me up and say, “How is my ex-husband?” She is also cultivating an affection towards our kids, which makes it feel like she wants to create a psuedo family – that is, be divorced, but be a part of the entire system. In some ways, it is very difficult because it looks like it’s in the spirit of what is best for my step-daughter, yet it is quite awkward. It seems as if she (ex-wife) is needy and has definite boundary issues. I don’t know how to broach it – my husband simply ignores and detatches from her, but I don’t want her to feel rejected. We have common events to attend, not to mention friends from the same circle. Any insight would be appreciated.

  5. Your husband “ignores and detaches” from his ex-wife and you “don’t want her to feel rejected” but SHE is the one with the boundary issues! I’d suggest the “entire system” (of which she IS a part) could use a boundary tune up. I challenge you both to sit down with her at a venue other than your home and define your marital boundaries so she might reassess how to mother a daughter as one who is divorced from her daughter’s father. Resist blaming this woman for her boundary issues when you have not done too much better yourself.

    Thanks for writing,

    Rod Smith

  6. Good point. It’s difficult to get the entire picture in one paragraph. To clarify, in the context of an event where we are all together, it isn’t a cruel thing to detatch or ignore his ex-wife, nor is it the wrong thing to do. He has defined his boundaries and doesn’t encourage her or give any indication that he supports her actions, either. He remains neutral. In my interactions with her, I am cordial. She is being nice to my kids (2 and 3 years old) in the company of my step-daughter, and others in the same environment. It’s awkward to have her overwhelmingly involved with them and make statements that seem to want to keep their marital past alive. I am looking at my own boundaries and what I am doing to contirbute to this, however I am pretty much “nothing personal, just business” when it comes to our interactions. But, I will reassess them. I simply asked for some insight, maybe perspective, too. (Are you, Rod Smith, the only one who can respond to my comment/concern?)

  7. No…. anyone can respond and I hope lots of people do……


  8. We are post high-conflict divorce/custody battle. I am step-mom, with Dad having a 50/50 custody situation (hard won). For the last four years we have dealt with police questioning/harrassment because mom’s house was broken into and she was trying to pin it on dad, as much parental alienation she could get away with, kidnapping charges against mom, restraining order against mom, and a (not very funny) comedy of errors resulting in dad representing himself at the final hearing (3 years later). In light of this gross misconduct on her part it would seem pretty petty at this point, but I find myself so worn down that I can’t deal with the teeny things any more. She’s a deadbeat mom who will NOT honor ROFR that SHE insisted get written into the orders, will NOT provide employer information as requested (for wage assignment purposes), will not reciprocate and have the kids call every 48 hours when in her care, but INSISTS on whatever she can when they’re in our care.

    She was better when she had a boyfriend, but since that relationship ended she’s back to her boundary crossing behaviors. Like I said, it’s petty stuff but I think we’re suffering from PTS and the little stuff is gigantic now. She took the older son on a trip for a wedding with her, in which the son took one of our cell phones for contact with Dad. She kept using it to send text pictures to dad, and we found out later she tried to load her own ringtone on it. This is our phone that WE pay for.

    She will not send the kids in any clothes that she says are “hers”. They come back to us in the same clothes they were sent in last time. Without fail.

    Before school started this year I bought all the kids (including my own daughter) lunch boxes. Instead of being petty we decided to keep the boxes going with the kids regardless of who had them. Which seemed to be working just fine, mom was filling them, too. Well as I was filling them last night to be put in the fridge for the morning I discovered she had written their names on them with a Sharpie. This was not required by the school. There was no reason for it. But if there had been, the appropriate thing would be to ask us to do it since we bought them. So her presence is there indelibly.

    There are no boundaries here. I cannot remove it (or try to) for looking like a petty fool. I cannot replace the boxes for the same reason.

    This woman is a master manipulator. During the high-conflict proceedings she tried to have me fired (long story, but fellow church members of hers were in positions of authority over me). I have tried and tried to just move on, but these things still pop up and cause great strife, because it feels like we’re being pulled back into the battle. But over petty things we look like the idiots when it’s just on the tail of TOO many bigger issues. We want the restraining order put back in place because she came on MY property AGAIN to have a son drop something in our mailbox. Makes me nuts that she was on my property, but our lawyer says that the courts would wonder why we wouldn’t want contact from the kids. And that isn’t the point at all.

    Last week when we had the kids for our 2-day stint she mailed them letters. We sent them back with the kids in their backpacks to open with mom. We said we felt that since she sent them she would like to have them open them around her. Again, petty, but very purposeful to her to bring her back into our house.

    Help. I believe she’s a sociopath. And I’m the one losing my mind. There’s SO much more that I didn’t say here, like potty training issues, constipation/enema issues. It would take a book.

  9. I can totally relate. My husband’s ex comes over almost every day. Every since my husband and i had a child, his ex is in love with our child and wants to hang out at our house all the time. I really need to set some boundaries, but don’t know where to begin.

  10. I have huge problem with my soon to be ex, left him after 17 years of on/off impotency ,promises of I’ll get some help which never happened,my intense feelings of rejection as a woman which he completely ignored,my selfesteem & bodyimage at zero. met a wonderful man who adores me,he has 5 children between 12 & 25, I have legal responsibility for 2 of them as their mum has remarried an alcoholic & they won’t live with her & my partner works away Mon to Fri. I have an 8 yr old daughter who I share custody with my ex. I have tried so hard to have a civil relationship with him for my daughter but how can I deal with the fact that he has started going out with my partners 25 year old daughter? I have begged them both not to do it but apparantly their feelings are more important than anyone elses. I feel as if I have nowhere to turn,I want to get away from my ex to be able to deal with the end of my marriage & the pain of his rejection but I can’t, he will always be there. I am also having problems with my child as she resnts me having the 12 yr old girl 24/7 which means I can’t have individual time for her, I can see a situation where my ex & stepdaughter play mummy & daddy & I will have lost her because I have to look after the other one. All of this has happened in 8 months,we are supposed to be getting married in July but most of the time I feel like suicide is my only way to find peace,my partner loves me,I love him & he grounds me but he just can’t be there during the week to help me with this.

  11. I don’t have a question anymore because I am getting a divorce but I’d like to comment on your advice to question “Ex husband too involved with my family”.
    I married an amazing woman that has 2 kids from her first marriage. Ever since we started to date her Ex was still being invited to her family get-together meetings. Once on 4th of July I had to work and my wife ( girlfriend at that time) with kids and her sister with her husband and kids were invited by their parents to spend the weekend at a lake side hotel. My girlfriend’s Ex was invited too and he spent the weekend there. Every time we would come over to my wifes’ sister the Ex was there on almost any given weekend. Just hanging out. It did not matter that he was making me uncomfortable, that I felt weird about it and said that to my wife. The answer was he is the father of my kids and they don’t get to see him much and that her Ex and her brother in law are friends and she can do nothing about that. I told my wife a few times that it feels like there are 3 of us in our marriage – me, her and her Ex. He was still involved with my wife’s family. Hanging out with her sister and parents and nobody was respecting the fact that their daughter and sister has a new husband that she loves. Nobody cared. After 2 years of dating and 1 year of marriage my wife finally told her family to respect her new husband and tone their relationship with her Ex. They did. A little bit. But the years of no respect from her family and her Ex took toll on me. I become resentful. He even cornered my wife in our apartment when I was on a business trip. She was furious. I was angry but could not do much about it. At some point we separated for 4 months and during that time she and her Ex slept together. After she found out that he is still into internet porn and that he was looking at pictures of teenage girls she kicked him out and somehow we ended up together. She told me what happened between her and her Ex and I forgave her. But I could not forget. I was having some nightmares and ended up taking some prescription pills and drinking some alcohol on top of that. I blacked out and was arrested for drunk in public because my wife called cops because we argued and she got scared. I moved out but a few weeks later we got back together. In time I grew angry and turned cold towards her because of her sleeping with her Ex made me question our marriage and even though I loved my wife very much and wanted to be with her and grow old together with her I could not forget her sleeping with her Ex. He was still in our lives. Then we had to sign a new 6 month lease or decide to move out. We made a decision to buy a house and live happily ever after and forgrt the past. I bought a house she wanted and we moved in. 4 weeks later everything got to me so much that I went overboard and things happened. My wife left and the next day she moved-in with her Ex. Now I’m stuck with house payments and broken heart. She blames a lot on me and to a point I agree with her but the truth is that if it wasn’t for her Ex being involved in our lives then I believe our marriage would have some chance. Over the years I never got any respect from her family as being her husband and me and my wife never got any respect from her Ex. He never respected that she fell in love with someone else and he never had and respect towards me or my wife.
    Now, that is why I think that your advice to someone that Exs will always be part of the family is wrong. Most of the time there is a court order that says what are their visitation rights with their kids and that should be enough. They are not part of the family. They are only part of their kids lives. But not part of of the new family or part of their ex-wife’s family. Maybe I’m saying it because I’m hurt but that’s the way I see it.

  12. To Jerry
    I can hear you´re deeply hurt. Drinking and pills won´t help, though. Find ways to kick them or else, as you put it. more “things will happen”.

    Hope you find ways to give yourself the respect you need.

  13. Interesting comments from above. I am divorced and in a serious relationship with a woman with three children (12, 10, 8). She was married to a very controlling and jealous man who refused to acknowledge the divorce, and continued to live with her and the children for one year after the divorce was final. Now, he has moved out, and had begun a serious relationship with another woman. There is no visitation, and the only time the father see his children is when my girlfriend is involved. She is intent on keep a friendly relationship with her ex, which I think is good, But, there are no boundaries. He sleeps over at her house on a semi-regular basis, she continues to vacation with his family, they spend Christmas together (and all holidays), and travel as a family unit to soccer tournaments and such.

    The ex has expressed anger over our relationship to the point that he has threatened me. So, the children are terrified of me and him being in the same place. This pretty much locks me out of any family oriented activity with her if he chooses to be involved. His girlfriend is bothered by the same issues, and wants to move on with him but feels like my girlfriend is present too much in his life.

    I am in love with this woman, and want to move forward, but am beginning to feel like it will not happen the way the current situation is. As I type this, she and the children are over at this parent’s house playing in the pool and sleeping over I suppose. I am sure the ex is there. Any comments would be appreciated.

  14. I have 50/50 custody of my two children 5 and 7. I have had this arrangement since my Daughter was 18 months old.
    The children come in my care on a school day so arrive in school clothes. They are returned to the mother on Saturday evenings so are wearing normal clothes. Each week i wash and return to the mother the school clothes they arrive in but never get the clothes i deliver them in back. I also give the mother $550 per fortnight in child support. We earn about the same but her income is largely ‘under the radar’ so not taxed or included on her child support assesment.

    Today for the first time i returned the children in the same school clothes they arrived in. She went ballistic and called me everything under the sun in front of the children. It was painfull.

    Most people fall into one of two categories, givers or takers. I hope that all you people readng this stop and think which category you belong to!

    Neil – Australia

  15. There’s a difference between being involved in public events and being voluntarily invited to private events. You don’t mention what the situation is and the sort of involvement you are uncomfortable with

    I feel there needs to be some boundaries in order for the two families to move on in new relationships. I think people who date SO’s with kids often are looking for that family atmosphere, but when the ex is constantly involved, it can make the new husband/wife feel like an outsider.

    If he’s heavily involved in your daily life, and it makes the kids happy but you extremely unhappy, then that unhappiness is bound to indirectly affect the kids. Better to set the boundaries that everyone can work with or move on.

  16. Reading your posts, I feel somehow close to you. Even though my case is different and more complecated. I would like to share it as I feel misunderstood by my friends and boyfriend.

    I am dating him for almost 3 years now. He’s older than me with 14 years. He was in a relationship before with a woman that is mother to 3 children. One of the kids is my boyfriend’s but noone knows about it. The kids are raised by a different man that this woman lied for the past 10 years (and they are not together either).

    My problem is that my boyfriend has to stay in touch with his ex in order to find out about the kid. Now, it seems that the holidays are always an issue. My boyfriend is planning them always with his ex, in order to see the kid. So, they (my bf and his ex) fly to various countries for holidays, away from me and the “father” of the some kids.

    It has been an issue for some time now. I love my boyfriend a lot, but I dont know if this will ever work.
    When I asked my bf how long will these lies continue, he said until the boy will be 18 and can take a decision himself.
    But this is another 10 years!!!!

    • I would ask to see a paternity test to validate he is in fact the Father. If he is the lies should stop now it isn’t fair to him. As for going away for Holidays without you that is ridiculous. He can celebrate at another time. He is manipulating you.

  17. I am divorced with two children and in 11 days about to marry a man with two teenage daughters. I have read everyone’s postings and I can feel a lot of hurt from everyone. The original posting about a man whose married and has an ex-spouse drew me into this reading. I am in a somehwat similar situtation that I just hate. My fiance, has a very good relationship with his ex-wife, so much so, that he goes over to her home and hangs out with her and her daughters. He even goes over to her sister’s home and hangs out with their family. In addition, he goes up to their families Summer home on weekend’s with his ex’s entire extended family. Now, this has caused some serious disagreements between us, because it appears like they are not really divorced. His reasoning is that he does this for the “girls” so that they are happy. Even the visitation to the ex’s home on a weekly basis, for me-his future wife; it’s a little unnerving. I have an ex, but we have set boundaries on things of this nature. And as far as our families, well, they’re divorced too as we see it. Do we hate each other, absolutely not. We are very amicable. We just no longer interfere in each other’s life other than children being delivered door to door and the occasional call to discuss the child. Very different.

    In any case, I’m have some serious doubts that I want to go any further and it is do to his overinvolvement with his ex’s family and his ex. I am fine with him being there for his children at their events and for them; but I ask everyone, does it have to be at and inside his ex’s home? and his ex’s family?

  18. Set boundaries and enforce them. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you want and be prepared to walk away if nobody listens. Keep your priorities in line and in mind. Speak your mind.

    My lady has 2 children from her prior, hi-conflict marriage. Her ex husband beat her, is a pathological liar, malignant narcissist and covers his ugliness with a born-again veneer. He threatened me, although in private where there would be no witnesses. He knows all too well how to use the system (courts, police). He has a previous divorce besides that with my lady (kids there, too) and other kids out of wedlock. The court sees no reason to make him pay child support, and gives him every right of visitation he files for. The children are shuffled back and forth between homes and exhibit the usual symptoms associated with that schedule…they also exhibit behavioral and emotional problems since this schedule started. Our courts are remarkably stupid and usually miss the boat entirely if the actual welfare of the children is taken into account which isn’t often.

    People like this loser who insist on such visitation schedules are NOT looking after their children’s well-being…they are merely forcing their agenda. When they start insinuating themselves into family gatherings where they are in contact with a new spouse with their ex SOMETHING has to be done. A new wife or husband who assumes a parental role for children in divorced families should be honored with, at the very least, the courtesy of NOT having the ex-spouse shoved down their throats. Moreover, you deserve their support and that includes the civility of allowing you to have YOUR relationships with the people involved without the ex-spouse’s interference. If they can’t see that, they’re probably dead from the neck up and not worth your time.

    If the other family members can’t even extend that common courtesy, well, it’s your call. I wouldn’t stand for it. I’d say something first to my spouse, and if they didn’t agree, try bowing out of any gatherings where you have to be exposed to the ex. Your spouse won’t like that…eventually you’ll have a fight about it, and if your spouse won’t give you any support, leave. Immedeately. Count your losses and blessings and get out. Find someone who will be a good partner for you.

    If spousie IS supportive, let yer spouse tell the family that this ex thing is going to be modified. SInce you and your partner are the principals, the extended family can play by YOUR rules if they wanna interact with you.

    You have a right to reduce the amount of stupid commotion in your life; if someone else doesn’t like it…what are YOU gonna do about it? Be a sad sack and take the abuse?

  19. Right now as I am writing this my girlfriend of 10 months is on vacation with her 2 daughters…and her ex. She planned the trip to be with hust her and the girls. When they came to pick up something from the ex’s house, he was already packed and asked to leave with them. She said “no, its just us me and the girls”, he insisted. Not wanting to cause a fight in front of the girls, she said it was fine, and they left together. He bought a ticket when they arrived, and they left together. They are there now. She tells me that there are no feelings between the ex and herself, and that she wishes I was there instead. She says she looks at him and feels she is with the right man, me. She says that there is nothing to worry about, that it was not planned, and that this will never happen again, that the only trips she ever takes with the girls will be planned and with me. She says that although it is hard on me, that she is happy that the man she has chosen, me, is understanding, that she would never hurt me, and again, that I have nothing to fear, her heart is mine, and vice versa. She wants to have a good relationship with the ex for the sake of the girls. He is very rich, is an addict, and has no respect. She does not mind, nor do I, that he goes to their recitals, or that they may do lunch with him and the girls…but she does not think that it is appropriate for them to see each other just by themselves. She also does not think it is appropriate that they take trips together, but that this one, he forced himself to go. She did not want to back out for the girls sake…she feels fine about it because, as she tells me, if I could just see inside her heart, I would know there is nothing to worry about. My view is this: I will pray to God and let Him guide me as He always has. If she is truthful, then everything is fine. In my gut, I know that boundaries take time to establish themselves. Since I have only known her since February, I have been trying to take my mom’s advice”get to know her, focus on yourself”. I feel at peace with everything because, in the end, only I can decide to be happy with myself and my situation. We are neither married, nor engaged. We can change our minds at anytime. She has helped me when I moved here, and I have grown closer to her. If I find that she has lied, or is untrustworthy in anyway, I will move on, having conducted myself in a kind, and unselfish way. I will pray that the binds that tie her, become loosed, and that God will show her heart the way to happiness by letting go of a bad man. It is not an easy thing to do. So, as we say our goodnights, I will pray for healing of her heart, and strength in mine, and always look at her and others as people who are not perfect, but are trying. I do feel like she is trying, as am I. I trust her, but as always, I trust God more. In Him I will not fail in my relationships and in my life. So I go to sleep knowing that I am doing what I was put here to do…to trust in Him and not worry. Like I said, we are not married, and if she is as honest a person as I think she is, she will tell me her true feelings, and I will make my decision, with God’s help based on that. No worries.

    • Be careful of this. Protect your heart. You should let her know that you don’t approve of this trip. If he can insist and she can’t say no then maybe she should wait in the car or have you drive the group to the airport. I would let her know that if this happens again it will be an issue for you. How would she feel if this was reversed. My husband’s Ex-girlfriend wouldn’t leave him alone (no children involved!) and he couldn’t say no. They hadn’t been a couple for 15 years yet she was involved with him through all the different girlfriends he had. After a year and a half of this bull I finally started to analyze the situation. I told him I was losing interest and I was tired of sharing him. I could only see a future with her around all the time and I broke it off. Then I started dating. He let go of her immediately and things couln’t be better. We have been married 5 1/2 years. I know there are children involved but those boundaries should be set. Kids understand.

  20. Dear Harvey:

    I LOVE your attitude and I love the advice given by your mother. This is a very tough situation to be in and I will not be surprised if you are having a very difficult time at the moment.

    Write more. What you write is helpful to other men.

    Rod Smith

  21. Do not trust ex- wives/ex-husbands! If you are single, do not get involved with divorce baggage. It can ruin your life. ivorced people shld not remarry as they want their cake and will eat it too. It will always be “the children” as the reason to see ex so much. Also be wary of ex’s maintaining the same relationship with in-laws as they will gang up on the newcomer and you will never be welcome. Their allegiance is always to their first. Ex-wives use their husbands by letting their kids stay over every weekend to cause strain in the newlyweds marriage while they are in a relationship themselves and have the freedom of sexual bliss of weekends to themselves. Sooner or later the new partner will wake up that husbands ex is using them and hubby is going along with it. People talk of boundaries. IT is just that – TALK. Second marriage suffer because their partners still want control of each other. My advice to young single, men and women out there – marry a single person with no baggage. Afterall marriage is not for sissies. It is hard work and with other spouse children thrown into the mix – you will end up being a maid/servant/financial contributer to their extravagent needs. Divorced children are spoilt brats having all the sympathy directed around and for them. Most kids in a marriage do not get as much attention under normal circumstances as divorced children do. When more children are born unto these new marriages – the children of a second marriage takes a back seat and everything is still seen as entitlement for the children of the first marriage. In the end, these children will have nothing to do with parent of a divorced setup. Most men are selfish and will use any excuse to control their second wives – you knew I had children. Yes, true, but then he shld have remained married and worked on that marriage instead of working so hard on first marriage now than the second. I mean, really, how much emotional, mental abuse and neglect can a partner take!!!!

  22. I do not totally agree with the therapist answer here. And I am actually going through becoming a therapist as well. On the issue that I agree with him is that it is imperative she has contact with him regarding the CHILDREN ONLY. There should not be any other relationship here but a cordial one. I am actually in the same situation as well. I have a blended family but my husbands ex is wayyy to involved. She tells him her sex life, personal issues, and now is seeking his family on facebook. There should be boundaries set up, starting with your significant other setting up those boundaries. I think if you do not do that, you are opening your life up to possible infidelity. Especially since that person had at one point an intimate relationship with that ex. Its crucial to stay in contact with ex, but it is also crucial to protect your relationship. THIS IS WHY SO MANY PEOPLE ARE DIVORCED… TOO MANY PEOPLE PLACE KIDS ABOVE MARRIAGES

  23. My wife and her daughter’s father (her ex) started out on rocky terms. Through time they have gotten to the point of being nice just so their kid wouldn’t see any tension. My in-laws encourage him in a lot of family functions and tell us that he is family. A few weeks ago he showed up to their house and spent time with my wife and in-laws. I found a picture of all of them together and my wife said that she didn’t realize that it would look “that” way. Since that weekend our marriage has gotten worse. Everyday they talk and it’s not like the typical 5 minute conversation, it’s 25+ minutes and 2-4 times a day. He finds out stuff before I do. I don’t get it. But when I say anything about it, I am wrong. I have to adjust to this or we are divorcing.

  24. I have to say – I totally disagree with this opinion! My parents are divorced and from time to time they spend time together for the sake of the “family” and I find it CREEPY! I am 36. I can see how blurred boundries with exes can be confusing and even depressing for children. You can NEVER build a new relationship if your old one is never done. The kids will never learn how to have a happy, loving relationship between 2 adults if they never see a real one.

    Sorry – this is completely bad advice. If I was to respond to the write by saying “get out – this woman has no interest in a new relationship. She is still with her so-called ex”

    • That’s the joy of this being a conversation. Thanks for your view. I trust it will help others.

      (As I write, I am in a home where a man and his ex and his new wife are all present for the marriage of a daughter the man and ex-wife share. Nothing could be more cordial and respectful.)

  25. Every weekend my partner (we are not married) stays with her ex husband because that is where her horses are and it is also nearer where she works on Fridays and Mondays. I have had nearly enough. She says she loves me but we never have weekends together in over 8 months. I think the universe is saying something loudly to me but whenever I try to talk about this I get tears and anger and ‘we will talk next week’ and ‘I love you but I am busy and I am tired and I am looking after the horses.’ I don’t know what to do anymore. Please help.

    • Join her. Go to her. I am sure you can offer her help in caring for the horses. An ex-husband who is sufficiently hospitable to house your partner’s horses will surely also welcome you. This will give you time to be together as a couple, the horses will get more attention, and your partner will presumably get more rest given your assistance. “Pushing the system” in such a manner will expose, not what the universe is saying to you, but what kind of a relationship you have with your partner and what kind of relationship she has with her ex-husband.

  26. Intersting topic now that I found myself in the middle of a relationship with similar struggles. I believe the involvement with the ex is important for the kids but not to the point where i feel like a part time boyfriend. i constantly tell her how i dont want her to change for me but find myself defining my own boundaries to the situation. it is up to me to accept the situation. her kids are 17, 18 and 20 and have been conditioned over the past 7 years to remain involved thru not only holidays but for everyday situations. if I were a selfish man it would be a perfect situation as i would have plenty of time for independence and take advantage. the one poster who said the kids will never see how a real relationship between 2 people can flourish was awsome wisdom. i can say for myself while the status is quo allowing this so called family time with an ex (to the extreme) is an awful idea. i think the therapist who wrote the original topic is way off base or the masses. that type of relationship for on couple might work but not for the masses as described by the many thoughts and feelings here, not to mention the examples. sometimes i think this new relationship i am in is just a stepping stone. Someone to have fun with time to time. i know one day it is my choice to accept it or not and that is all i can control anyway, until then it is always a topic for us which will only get old in time.

  27. You are full of it!!!! The relationship between the biological parents should be a business relationship only. That is how the kids will adjust to the divorce. Mommy and daddy are friendly but not friends and they provide together what I need. Otherwise it is confusing to the kids and will ruin a new marriage.

  28. I’m in the same boat somewhat. Ok so I’ve been head over heels for the same girl on again off again for like the past 8 and a half years or so. We got back together 6 months ago or so. In the beginning she spoke of her ex as if she was done with him. She sounded as if she had given him all she could. Which she did she gave him 2 beautiful boys. She gave so much she can’t give another man some of the things she’s given him. What I mean by that is she can no longer have children. She gave him a level of intimacy that I can no longer ever have. So I digress and try to work with what I have. I do love her and her children greatly. I try to fill in the gaps left by him as best to my ability. For 2-3 years he never went to see her or the kids. He never even met his 2 year old son until about 3-4 weeks ago. He was one state away and no effort was made. She even said she thought being as close as he was he would’ve tried. But no. So when we got back into contact she seemed like as if the ties that bound her to him were undone. She talked to him on the phone about the kids and that was it. And that’s how it should be. About the kids. And in the time before us just recently she dated other men of course. And he didn’t interfere then. He didn’t even make an effort to meet his 2 year old for crying out loud. Now she has moved back here to Texas. Got back together with me. She apologized for choosing to be with him. And that she wishes she would’ve chosen me as the father of her kids. Well he got word that she was back with me. And suddenly he has made the 2500 mile or so trip from several states away. To come down and play daddy. At least that’s what it feels like. His visits with the kids occurs under our roof. In our household amongst what family unit i still have and try to maintain. She becomes martha stewart in the kitchen cooking a dinner for him that i have to partake in. She does not do that for me. She claims it’s because i won’t eat what she cooks. Where as he’ll eat anything. My view is even if that’s the case if she truly loves me. She’ll cook what i like the same as she does for him. But she doesn’t cook at all. I do the cooking in the house because the kids have to be fed. She thinks that i don’t want him to see his kids. Let me state unequivocally that is not my stance. My stance is if he wants to see his kids bad enough he’ll want to take them elsewhere on his visits. She says because he doesn’t have proper housing (he’s staying with his other baby’s mom) and doesn’t have a car. That it has to occur under our household. Now from my experiences and they are many believe me. I pulled myself outta being homeless with nothing to show. To a 3 bedroom house with a 2002 truck in my driveway. I know what it means to do what you have to do when you WANT to do it. So I feel that I’m not at fault for his shortcomings. He has to want it. And if he wants it bad enough he’ll figure out how to father his children as one who is not with the mother of his children. See i read all the posts before i respond. Back to the point. She sounded like she was done in the beginning. Then once word got to her that he was coming down to see the kids. He suddenly has passed the bar in her eyes. Just for showing up! Now they seem buddy buddy again. I feel like i’ve raised the bar for myself with her so high that I have nowhere to go but down.
    Where as he has kept the bar so low all he has to do is show up and he passes the grade. I feel undermined by this. It feels like a handicap for me. I could give her the world which i try to do because i feel she and the kids have been through a lot because of him. So they deserve someone trying to give them the world. Where as all he has to do is give a flower a small insignificant piece of the world. And to her it seems like he’s just moved a mountain. I don’t feel as significant to her as him. I share the same history with her as I was there this whole time that she had kids with him. I went to the ultrasounds for her first child with him. He didn’t go to not one. I went and saw her in the hospital after the first was born. Did He? Nope. I’ve been here all along even when she wasn’t. He comes and goes as he pleases. He’s there when it’s convenient for him. I don’t know anymore. Rod if you would please respond ASAP i’d appreciate it. I don’t agree with your initial answer. But that maybe based solely on the fact that all relationships are different. But I’m still turning to you for professional advice Thank You

    • I guess the advice I’m looking for isn’t so much advice. Just want to know if it seems like I’m getting the short end of the stick. Thanks again

  29. My husband’s adult daughter and granddaughter just moved back home to mother’s after ending her relationship. My husand never babysat his daughter during the 17 years we have been together at his ex’s house, she always stayed at our house. Now he has been asked and does babysit his granddaughter at his ex’s house (his ex just divorced her second husband). While there, he cleans dishes, etc. I am having trouble accepting this as I feel it is disrespectful to me. I love both his daughter and granddaughter, but feel his daughter should bring the baby to us. Am I being unreasonable.

  30. Really would appreciate any advise if someone is in the same position I wrote about above. Just a side bar to my first comment. When we visit his son’s family for events, birthday, etc we are all there and there is no tension; but that his his son and he invites who he wants and we all are adults and get along for the little ones. I just feel uncomfortable him babysitting at the ex’s house.

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