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My g/f hates my ex wife and its almost destroyed our relationship

Tagged as: The ex-factor, Troubled relationships<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (21 January 2009) 9 Answers - (Newest, 22 January 2009)
A male United States age 36-40, *elts writes:

Hello,

I'm a divorced father of three girls. I have known my ex wife for over 18 years. We vowed to stay friends after the divorce for the sake of the kids. We talk on a daily basis about the goings on with our girls. They are in many activities and we are constantly going back and forth about schedules and what not. Every now and then she may ask me how I'm doing and I may ask her the same. I have absolutely no emotional attachment to her, but I do consider her a friend. My problem is my current girlfriend. She is an amazing woman and I know she is my soul mate without question. However, she absolutely hates my ex wife. She sees her as a manipulating evil doer who uses her kindness and our children to stay connected with me. I don't see it, but I know that doesn't mean it isn't there. My girls are old enough to tell me about most things that are going on in their life, but some I want to hear from their mother's point of view. My communication with my ex has almost destroyed my current relationship and I don't know what to do. This is all new to me and I need to know what the "proper" way of communicating with my ex should be. My girlfriend feels that we should only talk twice a week at most and schedules should be carved in stone and left that way. I'm open to any suggestions. Thank you in advance.

View related questions: divorce, ex-wife, my ex, soulmate

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (22 January 2009):

While its important to keep an open communication with your ex wife you must remember that you and she are no longer together therefore no need to communicate with her on a daily basis. If your girls are old enough to tell you about their day then why include their mother? Of course it would make your current girlfriend feel like you have not closed the door on that chapter of your life. She could very well leave you, feeling as though you are not 100% available to her completely. Your communication should be kept to a minimum and twice a week is more than sufficient in my opinion. You cant have your cake and eat it too, so find a compromise. Harsh perhaps but true.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (22 January 2009):

I agree with the part that the ex should not be part of the Christmas, but I do not totally agree with the part that the girlfriend should not be part of the parent teachers, conference.

If the girlfriend and the father are just dating, then I agree with you fully! If the girlfriend is living with the father or has became his wife and is involved with helping the kids with their homework in the evening, then I strongly disagree. If the new partner is helping the kids with their homework, then I do not think it is fair to leave the new partner out. If the new partner is helping the kids with their homework, it would benefit the kids for her to be at the parent teachers’ conferences! And don’t we as the new partner hear that line over and over “it’s for the kids”! You can’t expect the new partner to only be partly involved, because this just looks like she is being used. If I was helping the kids with their homework and then was told I could not go to parent teachers’ conferences, I would just refuse to help the kids anymore, because I would refuse to be used! And I would like to repeat what is in the post below, most of the time, parents use the line, “it is for the kids”, as an excuse to get what they really want!

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A female reader, Too Sensitive United States +, writes (22 January 2009):

Wow, this is a tough one. On one hand, it is great that you have such a civil relationship with your ex, for that is best for your girls. On the other hand, your gf suffers for it. It is difficult to find a happy medium.

I think cutting back the number of weekly conversations is a start. And can you tell your ex you need to limit the amount of time on the phone? You can tell her it's not that you don't want to talk to her, and it's not that the kids aren't important, but that you have your own things to tend to and need to spend more time on them (namely your relationship with your gf, but your ex doesn't need to have this piece of information). Also, as far as schedules, there are ways of streamlining all that. Ask your ex to make you copies of the sports schedules, or dance class schedules, or whatever. Have it on paper. Decide in advance who will provide transportation for what. Maybe you could make all the trips one week, your ex the next, and so on. Or, you could handle Mon. & Wed., your ex could handle Tues. & Thurs., etc. Instead of trying to work it out one day at a time, the day before, in which case yes, you will be on the phone everyday. There will be exceptions and changes along the way, i.e., you can't do Mon. as usual b/c you have to work late that night, etc. But for the most part, I tend to think a routine can be worked out and adhered to.

In the best interest of the girls, you have remained friends with your ex, but perhaps too friendly from your gf's perspective. Not that you want to get back with her or have sexual relations with her, but still, on the surface, there is some dynamic going on in the relationship with the ex, that perhaps is missing from your relationship with your gf? She will need reassurance from you, as to your lack of feelings for your ex, and as to your presence of feelings for your gf.

Sit down and talk with your gf. Tell her that you can see that your interaction with your ex bothers her, and that you understand this, but that it is all in the interest of the girls. Tell her your genuinely have no hard feelings toward your ex any longer, you have gotten over them, and that is why it is so easy for you to remain friendly with her. It makes your life easier when having to communicate with her, and it makes your girls' lives easier, and makes for a much more healthy upbringing for them.

Reassure her you have no romantic feelings for your ex. But, she is the mother of your children, and they live with her, and it makes life so much more pleasurable all the way around when the two of you can be friends.

Reassure her of your feelings for her - speak from your heart, and tell her you value your relationship with her, that she is the greatest woman you've ever had in your life, whatever it is, however you truly feel. Tell her to please be understanding of your interaction with your ex and the necessity of it.

Previous I mentioned that maybe there is some dynamic between you and your ex that your gf sees going on, that is not present in your relationship with your gf? I.e., do you laugh and joke alot with your ex, but not with your gf? If something like this is the case, you will need to work on bringing that element to your relationship with your gf. Maybe you never call your gf during the middle of the workday just to say hello, just to say I Love You, but your gf sees you calling your ex, and says in her head, "wait a minute, he never calls me!". You may arrive at the answer on your own, but you may also need to discuss your gf's needs with her to find out what may be missing.

I say this b/c, as an example, my fiance never ever flirted with me, and was so guarded at times that he was actually afraid to joke with me or laugh with me or tease with me. When I saw him flirting with my friend's gf, you can imagine how this made me feel. It hurt me that he could act this way with another woman he just met, yet he couldn't act this way with me, someone with whom he was trying to build a serious long-term relationship. My point is this was an important element (to me) lacking in our relationship, yet I discovered he was capable of being like this, when I saw him doing so with someone else. I knew that if he were like that also with me, then I would not have felt threatened by him flirting with someone else, but rather would have just dismissed it. This is an indirect comparison, I realize, but I am trying to make a point. All I am saying is think about your interactions with your gf, and see if there is some way you are being with your ex that you are not being with your gf. This may or may not be the case, but if it is the case, it is just adding fuel to the fire.

All this being said, it is difficult to be in your gf's shoes, and it takes alot of strength, confidence, and security for a woman not to feel threatened on some level by your friendliness with your ex.

My ex and I were always friendly and civil to one another after our breakup. We decided we wanted to be that way mostly for our son's sake, but also for our own sakes. It even went so far that his new gf would come to pick up our son for the weekend visits. She and I became friends even for a time! She invited me to dinners and parties and such. When a later gf came along, she and I also became friends (and still are to this day). I was even invited to their subsequent wedding, believe it or not. I am in some of the pictures in the wedding album! I was greatly appreciative that I was invited, for our son was the best man, and I wouldn't wanted to have missed that for the world. They (my ex and his 2nd wife) have also had me over for different parties, birthday, adoption (she was not able to get pregnant). She and I are still friends to this day. Though we don't speak that often any more, we do e-mail each other occasionally. She sends me pictures of the two boys they've adopted. We have had fights over the years, just as anyone in any type of relationship would from time to time. We've always managed to work through them! I realize my situation is uncommon, but all any of us wants - me, my ex, his 2nd wife - is to get along. We don't want, nor do we need, the negativity in our lives. And we all genuinely like each other. If and when I do ever get married again, my ex and his 2nd wife will be on the guest list! I know how lucky I am to have these circumstances, and only wish everyone could manage to have this too.

On the flip side, I was going with a guy who had children with a woman he never married. But, she was the ex nonetheless, and I was the gf. I never minded his talking with her and being friends with her, and always got along with her face-to-face, until I discovered she was speaking badly about me behind my back. He continued to allow her to get away with this, never standing up for me, until it got to the point where it did, yes, destroy our relationship. He didn't even try to put a stop to it, and that did not make me feel very worthwhile. I'd like to think nothing like this is going on with your situation!

I am assuming you have visitation with your girls, and I am assuming you do things that include both your girls and your gf? So that your gf will feel part of the girls' lives too? Do you give your gf the option of coming along for the ride when you provide the transportation to your girls' activities? I think the more she is involved, the more chance she has of forming her own relationships with your girls, the less threatened she will feel. Of course, there will be certain things that she should not be part of, such as parent-teacher conferences. That's just the way it is. Just as there are things that your ex should not be part of, such as Christmas dinner at your house when it is your year to have the girls. There are lines that should not be crossed by ex, and there are lines that should not be crossed by gf. Everyone needs to know their place and their role. But there are plenty of other things your gf can and should be a part of. If she is shut out much of the time or even completely, then yes, she will feel threatened.

Good luck - I hope you can get this worked out somehow. Get your gf to talk about how she's really feeling, and ask her to do so without anger on your part or hers.

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A male reader, Delts United States +, writes (22 January 2009):

Delts is verified as being by the original poster of the question

The deep seated anger from (anonymous)is the exact anger that gets shot at me everyday from my other half. She came from a family with multiple very nasty divorces. Her and her entire family feel this very same way. I'm very willing to change whatever I'm doing wrong to make this work. I've suggested counseling. My ex and I don't share holidays or family events. I played my g\f's game and was cold and distant with my ex for about two months. I noticed substantial differences in how my 3 little girls behaved and in their emotional stability. I went to open but regulated communication (sometimes my ex can't stop talking) and watched the unnecessary tension wash from my girls faces. I want to find a balance that will make my g\f happy and yet be free to get information or have a conversation with my ex about the last basketball game my daughter was in, without getting eaten alive for it. I know it takes an incredibly secure woman to take on the role of my new love considering the baggage I carry. I thought I had found her. Thanks again for all the feedback.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (22 January 2009):

Wow.. sounds like someone has some big issues, and is feeling really bitter. Perhaps if she had kids of her own, that might help her understand a little more from a parents point of view. Mr Deltz, she probably sounds similar to your girlfriend. You have two choices, either your girlfriend continues to suffer, or you distance yourself from you ex wife and kids and your children suffer. Personally, I don't think women should ask men to make such sacrifices, especially when it's the kids and only the kids who loose out. But that's me. Cut down contact with your ex-wife, your woman seems to need you more, I'm sure your kids will understand. In cases like this kids can be more grown up than adults can.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (22 January 2009):

A man should not spend time with the ex-wife at events and holidays that are for family. I get tired of hearing it is for the kids. That is bull and we all know it, it is just an excuse for the parents who never want to miss seeing the kids! The kids do just fine with one parent throughout the year, so what makes you think it will hurt them at Christmas. If parents really considered the kids, they would not have got divorced in the first place. If it was so important to tthe parents for their kids to have the Mom and Dad experience, then they should not have got divorced in the first place. The kids are with only one parent the rest of the year, why should they think it will be any different at Christmas, any other holiday or any other faimily event.

Things like Christmas and other holidays are time for family and friends. Guess what, the ex is no longer a man's family just because the ex is the mother of his child. By having an ex over, you are being unfair to the new partner. A new partner wants to build a life of memmories with her new boyfriend or husband, not him and the last women he screwed! How do you think it makes the new partner in the man's life feel when his family is talking to the ex about old memories........like an outsider that does not belong, that is how. It does not give the new partner a chance to build a relationship with her new partners family.

So, all the bull I constantly hear about it is for the kids, makes me sick because the truth is that it is for the parents to try and reduce their guilt and because niether one of them want be without the kids on the holidays. Guess what folks?.... They should have thought about it before they got divorced! Now that the man has a new partner, he should start thinking about her not his selfish feelings.

I do realized there has to be contact between the man and his ex for critical decisions regarding the kids and pickup / dropoff schedules, and this contact should be civil for the kids. There will also be school events that all will attend, and when in contact with each other, all should be civil for the kids. This does not mean you have to ride to the events together, or sit next to each other.

I will add, if infidelity or abuse were in the marriage, then the spouse on the short end of that deal did not have any choice but to get a divorce. And, it is too bad that our court system will not make decisions based on morals, because if that was the case, then the spouse that was abused or cheated on, if I were the judge, would get all the rights to the kids and it would be up to that pareent if and when the other parent got to see the kids. Why would we want someone with such poor judgment having any say over kids in the first place.

If the mans family thinks it is not big deal for the ex wife to be at holidays and other events that are for the family, then they are not being inconsiderate of the new partner in the man,s life. If the ex is there, it is easy for everyone,but the new partner, because they are not outsiders. The man's family should realize that the new partner wants to start building her own memories without the ex wife and the past included.  If the man's family wants to do things with the ex when the new partner or the man are not there, that is their choice.  I feel that on holidays, drop offs and pickups should not be done on the day of the holiday.  One gets the kid one year, and the other then next.  It is just too awkward when the ex drops the kid off because the family feels they have to be nice to the ex and then all the talking goes on and they start going down memory lane where the new partner does not belong and feels like an outsider.  I also feel that if the man's mother wants her grandchildren to visit for a week in the summer, it should be arranged with her son, not the ex.  A man needs to be man enough to tell his mom that he is the father and he will make the rules and decisions that are best for his kids and his new partner because these are the people he is building his life around not his ex. 

Why the hell is it so hard for people to understand........why do you think they started calling them ex's in the first place.  FYI for those who just do not get it, here is the definition of ex from the dictionary without, not including, or without the right to have.  

 

I also get tired of hearing the new partner feelst his way because they are jealous.  This is just another excuse parents use to get what they want.  It has nothing to do with jealousy, why can't people get it. New partners just want to build their own life and memories without the ex being there.   It does not mean that the new partner hates the ex or does not wish her the best.  The new partner should not have a problem being civil with the ex when those circumstances arrive where it is necessary.  I just do not want to be an ex's friend.  There is something about being friends with someone that I can discuss the size of my partners penis with that just does not set right with me. 

 By the way, what is this new term I have learned lately........stepwife!  This is a crock of Sh**!  It is inferring that the new wife is not the real wife but the ex wife is still the real wife just because the man happened to get her knocked up!  If the man never got the first wife knocked up, then the new wife would not be a step and she would be the real thing?  Sorry to tell you ex's you are never going to be the real thing again and the new wife is the real and only wife in your ex's life!  Yes girls, he is your ex and for those of you that do not remember, the definition of ex, it is... without, not including, or without the right to have.  And by the way ex's, getting pregnant is not a real big deal.  Anyone can do it!  Unfortunately!

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (21 January 2009):

how long have you been together? If less than two years, I would give her time. If longer, go get counseling.

I am dating a divorced man with two boys. I was extremely jealous of his ex in the beginning only because he talked about her so much. This has passed and I no longer feel like he might leave me to go back to her. Unlike your situation, she is a very nasty woman. She uses the children to control him; she agreed to let him call to talk to them once a night, but now rarely answers the phone. I was actually hoping to get along with her.

I would just take some time to see it from your girlfriend's perspective, especially if you haven't been dating long, and do what you can to make sure she feels more comfortable. Reassuring her daily is a good way to start, but also, don't mention your ex unless necessary.

Honestly, I might be upset if my boyfriend talked to the ex every day. A relationship should be maintained, the children should be a focus, but some ties do need to be cut to make room for a new relationship. Telling you that you can't talk to her more than twice a week seems uncalled for; however, maybe you could cut it down some. I don't have any friend other than my boyfriend whom I feel I need to contact every day of the week.

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A female reader, SoftlyCaress United States +, writes (21 January 2009):

SoftlyCaress agony auntWell Im in the same place as you but i am the ex wife .Its very cool you and her are still friends you have shared life together and should keep it friends for you and the kids sake. My ex hubby and me are best friends we have shared 26 yrs together and still share times together as a family .All you can do is tell her that your not in love with your ex and that you are just friends and if she cant get over that then you might have to walk away from the girlfriend not the ex the relationship there is fine. As a matter of fact if more couples would stay friends when they get a divorce then the kids would be able to except it better.Its clear that you think this is your new soul mate but you have to make it clear that you and your ex have kids together and will continue to keep a good relationship and as long as it isnt all flirtatious and all she shouldnt mind it at all .Let her know and show her that you and her are mates and you will do nothing to mess that up and I know as strange as it feels you need to carry on your conversations with your ex in the same room with her and keep her close never fell to show her affection in front of your ex just dont over do it as it might bother your ex to some degree.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (21 January 2009):

She is feeling threatened and insecure. Which is understandable. You have known your ex for over 18 years. Communication with your ex is absoulutly important and must be maintained. If you truly love your gf you will sit down and reassure her. on a day to day basis if necessary. You are doing nothing wrong! Most women feel threatened by any other female involvment. Your gf has probably had someone cheat on her or have had something bad happen for her to react this much. I mean after all your divorced from her for a reason. Some exs are manipulating, but if you are happy with the arrangments then that is all that matters. My advise is to get counseling so she can learn how to deal with her insecurities involving your ex wife and you can learn to help her overcome this issue and save a promising relationship.

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