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  • November 21, 2017, 08:18:51 AM

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Author Topic: Ex-wife still included in holidays  (Read 8884 times)

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Queenbee123

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Re: Ex-wife still included in holidays
« Reply #60 on: November 10, 2017, 02:28:15 PM »
I think I would be more concerned about a live-in girlfriend who wanted no responsibility or accountability to the kids. I knew he was a package deal and I accepted him with kids and all, and have done everything to make sure they are happy and well-adjusted.

To be clear, I am not saying that you should not interact with the kids or that you do not have a loving relationship with them. I am saying that, especially this early on in your relationship with them (only a few months) I would personally be careful publicly disparaging the ex-wife or asserting your perceived dominance in the lives of the kids. Not saying you are doing this, exactly, but your posts make me think you could be perceived as doing this. I am cautioning you not to, both for your own relationships sake and for the sake of the kids. The kids being happy and well-adjusted hinges more on their relationships with each of their parents than it does with you. Especially so early on in your relationship, I would do what I could to smooth over all of the relationships and definitely recognize that the ex-wife is likely hurting. Are you allowed to be happy with your BF? Absolutely. But I would really dial back any projection of "I am just as much of a mom to those kids as the ex-wife is."

You sure seem to be making a lot of assumptions. Nobody is publicly (or privately) disparaging the ex-wife. Nor is anyone asserting or trying to assert dominance, perceived or real. And your last comment of "I am just as much of a mom to those kids as the ex-wife is" mystifies me. I never said any such thing.

None of this has anything to do with the ex-wife's actions or behaviors. She is fine. It is his parents that are inviting her around and basically forcing my boyfriend to spend his family time with her. They are divorced. He does not want to be with her on holidays, He wants to move on with a new chapter in his life. I feel awkward and uncomfortable having to spend our holidays with her.

And yes, of course I realize she must be hurting. I am pretty sure that I mentioned how I am usually sensitive to her presence and feelings and find myself scaling back on affection toward my boyfriend while she is around. I can imagine it is difficult for her to see her ex-husband happy and with someone new.


cross_patch

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Re: Ex-wife still included in holidays
« Reply #61 on: November 10, 2017, 02:44:02 PM »
I think I would be more concerned about a live-in girlfriend who wanted no responsibility or accountability to the kids. I knew he was a package deal and I accepted him with kids and all, and have done everything to make sure they are happy and well-adjusted.

To be clear, I am not saying that you should not interact with the kids or that you do not have a loving relationship with them. I am saying that, especially this early on in your relationship with them (only a few months) I would personally be careful publicly disparaging the ex-wife or asserting your perceived dominance in the lives of the kids. Not saying you are doing this, exactly, but your posts make me think you could be perceived as doing this. I am cautioning you not to, both for your own relationships sake and for the sake of the kids. The kids being happy and well-adjusted hinges more on their relationships with each of their parents than it does with you. Especially so early on in your relationship, I would do what I could to smooth over all of the relationships and definitely recognize that the ex-wife is likely hurting. Are you allowed to be happy with your BF? Absolutely. But I would really dial back any projection of "I am just as much of a mom to those kids as the ex-wife is."

Literally nowhere is there any indication she has done any of this, and as seems to be so frequently the case with any mention of step parenting in threads you seem to be bringing a lot of assumptions and baggage to any interpretation of the OPís behaviour.

MagnesiumOxide

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Re: Ex-wife still included in holidays
« Reply #62 on: November 10, 2017, 02:48:38 PM »
I think I would be more concerned about a live-in girlfriend who wanted no responsibility or accountability to the kids. I knew he was a package deal and I accepted him with kids and all, and have done everything to make sure they are happy and well-adjusted.

To be clear, I am not saying that you should not interact with the kids or that you do not have a loving relationship with them. I am saying that, especially this early on in your relationship with them (only a few months) I would personally be careful publicly disparaging the ex-wife or asserting your perceived dominance in the lives of the kids. Not saying you are doing this, exactly, but your posts make me think you could be perceived as doing this. I am cautioning you not to, both for your own relationships sake and for the sake of the kids. The kids being happy and well-adjusted hinges more on their relationships with each of their parents than it does with you. Especially so early on in your relationship, I would do what I could to smooth over all of the relationships and definitely recognize that the ex-wife is likely hurting. Are you allowed to be happy with your BF? Absolutely. But I would really dial back any projection of "I am just as much of a mom to those kids as the ex-wife is."

You sure seem to be making a lot of assumptions. Nobody is publicly (or privately) disparaging the ex-wife. Nor is anyone asserting or trying to assert dominance, perceived or real. And your last comment of "I am just as much of a mom to those kids as the ex-wife is" mystifies me. I never said any such thing.

None of this has anything to do with the ex-wife's actions or behaviors. She is fine. It is his parents that are inviting her around and basically forcing my boyfriend to spend his family time with her. They are divorced. He does not want to be with her on holidays, He wants to move on with a new chapter in his life. I feel awkward and uncomfortable having to spend our holidays with her.

And yes, of course I realize she must be hurting. I am pretty sure that I mentioned how I am usually sensitive to her presence and feelings and find myself scaling back on affection toward my boyfriend while she is around. I can imagine it is difficult for her to see her ex-husband happy and with someone new.

Regarding the bolded:  Your boyfriend is going to need to have a frank discussion with his parents and then make some decisions accordingly.  If he's had this conversation with his parents and nothing has changed - including his own behaviors and choices - then the "problem" isn't the parents anymore.

miranova

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Re: Ex-wife still included in holidays
« Reply #63 on: November 10, 2017, 03:01:41 PM »
I agree that something is going to have to change, even if that means they don't attend any more.  I am not sure when the right time is to pull the trigger on not attending if ex is going to continue to be there, but it will probably need to happen someday.

OP, be prepared, it will be your fault in their eyes.  It's not fair, but you will likely be blamed for any fallout. 




AustenFan

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Re: Ex-wife still included in holidays
« Reply #64 on: November 10, 2017, 03:32:46 PM »
If people want to be friends after they are divorced and it works for them, that's one thing.  It's completely different when the OP's boyfriend parents have little to no contact with their own son and invite his ex wife to events against his will.  Whatever the two divorced parents decide is fine, but the parents should not be doing this if their own son is against it.

I don't disagree, and I wouldn't put my child in that situation, but boyfriend's parents haven't asked for advice. OP is in control of her actions, not theirs.

Yes, that's true.  She can't stop the in laws from inviting the ex, I get that. 

But I don't think it's as easy as "suck it up for the kids"(paraphrased I know). There are far more dynamics at play here.  I do believe in putting the kids first. I have to see my ex at every soccer game, every recital, graduation, etc and I force myself to be civil.  But I would absolutely draw the line at important holidays.  I am not going to spend Christmas morning with him "for the kids".  I believe that's a valid choice so I was just giving another perspective.  I don't think it has to be all or nothing.  They invite her to EVERY family holiday.  So their son never gets to have a holiday without her?  He can't change his parents but has he tried talking to them?  I don't think we need to go straight to say nothing and suck it up.  It's certainly worth a conversation or two.

I have to be honest if I were OP, and she is the one posting asking for advice, I might get couples counseling to work through this. It's not a normal situation, it's awkward that his parents are making these decisions without speaking to him.  I would never EVER invite one of my child's exes to a holiday without speaking to them first and making sure it was 100% ok with them.  To me this signals trouble.

Neither OP not get BF get to dictate who other people host, though. If they want to control the guest list they need to host their own events and can exclude the ex wife.

I think the parents are trying to establish and maintain their own relationship with ex so that if things become contentious between boyfriend and ex they aren't subject to seeing the kids only when the boyfriend has access.

OP says the divorce was a year ago but she is in an established relationship and living with her BF. There may be residual feelings on the timeline that are affecting how the in-laws are behaving. Maybe they view the ex as a permanent part of their lives through the kids and OP,  as girlfriend, may not be viewed with the same permanency.

Whatever the situation, I think the real question is 'what consequences are acceptable to me?'. Is looking difficult to your potential future in-laws and affecting the relationship with the kids grandparents worth it? Are you willing to potentially hurt the kids by excluding their mother? Are you willing to excuse their mother from also excluding you from their future events? Is your bf being stressed and unsure where to spend his holiday time ok with you?

I also wanted to comment on your statement that you wouldn't force bf to not attend without you. I really hope you aren't suggesting that you considered insisting he spend holidays without his kids for your temporary comfort.

Where exactly did I say I wouldn't "FORCE" my boyfriend to do anything? That seems like a total stretch....

They were living in separate rooms for over a year before they officially separated and divorced because his ex didn't want to move out. Technically, they have been split up for over 2 years.  I already knew my boyfriend for 3 years before we began dating, so that is why it seems like our relationship moved fast.

I don't think I am being difficult at all. If my potential in-laws want to view me as such because I'd rather not spend all of my holidays hanging out with my partner's ex, then in my mind, they are the unreasonable ones.

Obviously I am asking the question because I am NOT ok with my poor boyfriend being stressed about this. Not sure why you would think that??

Your OP said "I would not insist that he not attend without me". I'm not sure how pointing out the implications that you considered insisting that your ex not attend family events is offensive, but apologize for the offense caused. 

I never said you were being difficult, I asked what consequences you are willing to accept and threw out a couple potential scenarios. If you refuse to attend events the ex is at, how are your future in laws going to interpret that? I never thought you were ok with your bf being torn about where to spend holidays (you wouldn't be here asking if you were), but in your OP you stated that your bf is stressed out as he wants to please you. If the focus wasn't on you presumably he could deal with other issues, like addressing with his parents why his ex's attendance upsets him, which is much more likely to be a conversation his parents will be open to.

Other posters have done a great job trying to point out how your in laws potentially see your relationship and why this could be an issue for them, you don't seem to be open to looking at their view, and I think between that discussion and people's rigidity based on their own experience it's derailing the thread, so I'm going to ask...what are you looking for? Do you want etiquette approved ways to not attend? Do you want to help your bf with wording to ask his parents not to invite ex? Do you want ideas to improve the relationship with the ex to make events easier? Would ideas for other events you could host to establish a relationship with his parents without ex there help?

AustenFan

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Re: Ex-wife still included in holidays
« Reply #65 on: November 10, 2017, 03:41:59 PM »
I agree that something is going to have to change, even if that means they don't attend any more.  I am not sure when the right time is to pull the trigger on not attending if ex is going to continue to be there, but it will probably need to happen someday.

OP, be prepared, it will be your fault in their eyes.  It's not fair, but you will likely be blamed for any fallout.

Posted while I was typing. I don't think the bolded is necessarily true. If bf can have a conversation that focuses on how he feels, not OP, and is willing to have an calm discussion about why his parents include ex, is respectful of their position and opinions instead of trying to justify and make them see his side I can't see how OP could get blamed.

That said, that's supposing the parents are normal, rational people. It's entirely possible the parents are crazy, but from what OP has described there has been more going on than she may know about. It's not normal for parents to come into town, lie to their son about it and stay with his ex if there's not something else going on.

miranova

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Re: Ex-wife still included in holidays
« Reply #66 on: November 10, 2017, 04:00:07 PM »
I agree that something is going to have to change, even if that means they don't attend any more.  I am not sure when the right time is to pull the trigger on not attending if ex is going to continue to be there, but it will probably need to happen someday.

OP, be prepared, it will be your fault in their eyes.  It's not fair, but you will likely be blamed for any fallout.

Posted while I was typing. I don't think the bolded is necessarily true. If bf can have a conversation that focuses on how he feels, not OP, and is willing to have an calm discussion about why his parents include ex, is respectful of their position and opinions instead of trying to justify and make them see his side I can't see how OP could get blamed.

That said, that's supposing the parents are normal, rational people. It's entirely possible the parents are crazy, but from what OP has described there has been more going on than she may know about. It's not normal for parents to come into town, lie to their son about it and stay with his ex if there's not something else going on.

And yet, I have experienced this very thing. After being with my husband for 8 years, I think I would know by now if there is something else going on.  I agree it isn't normal, but it's their dysfunction, not ours.

LadyL

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Re: Ex-wife still included in holidays
« Reply #67 on: November 10, 2017, 04:27:51 PM »
 It certainly seems the in-laws are not going to give up their relationship with the ex-wife, and that I think you have to accept that. They are free to have whatever "family friends" they like at their own events. Attend however many events you can without feeling majorly put out. Maybe skip every 3rd one and just send your boyfriend. Inviting her to things make make your life awkward but it is not rude or wrong of them.

However - you also mentioned your in-laws are religious and may not not approve of the divorce. You said you can't imagine them seeing you as temporary since you own a home together. I thought the same thing when I was dating LordL, especially when we moved in together, and when it had been 5, 6, 7 years together. I didn't find out until we got married after 9 years dating, that they had treated me as potentially temporary that whole time. Once we were married all of a sudden I was treated like a family member, and it was so jarring that I actually found it off-putting, like I wasn't worth having a closer relationship with until the marriage license was signed. I eventually realized this was a religious viewpoint for them, but it really surprised me. Just putting it out there as to one reason they might not take you as seriously as you or your BF would like them to, and would be prioritizing the ex-wife so much.

MurPl1

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Re: Ex-wife still included in holidays
« Reply #68 on: November 10, 2017, 04:37:40 PM »
Key point.  She bought the ex wife's portion of a home the BF owned with his wife.  The in-laws may not believe that she is actually an owner and it's not just a story the BF put forth to add legitimacy to the relationship.

Tea Drinker

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Re: Ex-wife still included in holidays
« Reply #69 on: November 10, 2017, 04:38:07 PM »
I agree that something is going to have to change, even if that means they don't attend any more.  I am not sure when the right time is to pull the trigger on not attending if ex is going to continue to be there, but it will probably need to happen someday.

OP, be prepared, it will be your fault in their eyes.  It's not fair, but you will likely be blamed for any fallout.

Posted while I was typing. I don't think the bolded is necessarily true. If bf can have a conversation that focuses on how he feels, not OP, and is willing to have an calm discussion about why his parents include ex, is respectful of their position and opinions instead of trying to justify and make them see his side I can't see how OP could get blamed.

That said, that's supposing the parents are normal, rational people. It's entirely possible the parents are crazy, but from what OP has described there has been more going on than she may know about. It's not normal for parents to come into town, lie to their son about it and stay with his ex if there's not something else going on.

And yet, I have experienced this very thing. After being with my husband for 8 years, I think I would know by now if there is something else going on.  I agree it isn't normal, but it's their dysfunction, not ours.

I don't think AustenFan was suggesting that either you or the OP were telling less than the truth, but suggesting that there's something weird going on here, such that advice that would work in more usual circumstances might not apply here.

The OP has come back and explained some of the weirdness here: that her boyfriend's parents "don't believe in divorce" in a way somewhere between disapproving of it, and not believing that a marriage can "really" be dissolved, no matter what the people involved or the legal system think or do. Someone who thinks that way, and blames their son for the break-up, may believe "of course we're staying with our daughter-in-law, she invited us." Though that doesn't explain lying to their son about it, rather than saying outright "we don't believe in divorce. Ex will always be our daughter-in-law, and I'm glad she isn't blaming us for the way you treated her." (That's the notional thinking of someone who thinks asking for a divorce is itself treating someone badly, almost regardless of the reasons--I don't share or even comprehend that mindset, but I know it exists.)

I have a friend whose mother-in-law made it very clear to her son that if the relationship ended, she was going to keep being friends with his wife: but that's a different shape of thing, because the two women were good friends before my friend met her now-husband. The message was something like "It's okay if you date my friend, but I'm not letting any man come between us, not even you."
Any advice that requires the use of a time machine may safely be ignored.

miranova

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Re: Ex-wife still included in holidays
« Reply #70 on: November 10, 2017, 04:49:34 PM »
I didn't think anyone was accusing anyone of lying.

I'm just saying no matter how much we want it to be so, sometimes there ISN'T a rational explanation for someone's behavior.  At least, not one they will admit to.  I would give anything to understand some people, but no matter how hard I try, no explanation comes forth.  So, in other words, there may not be more to the story.  That's the frustrating part about life sometimes, sometimes there is no answer.

AustenFan

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Re: Ex-wife still included in holidays
« Reply #71 on: November 10, 2017, 04:53:45 PM »
I agree that something is going to have to change, even if that means they don't attend any more.  I am not sure when the right time is to pull the trigger on not attending if ex is going to continue to be there, but it will probably need to happen someday.

OP, be prepared, it will be your fault in their eyes.  It's not fair, but you will likely be blamed for any fallout.

Posted while I was typing. I don't think the bolded is necessarily true. If bf can have a conversation that focuses on how he feels, not OP, and is willing to have an calm discussion about why his parents include ex, is respectful of their position and opinions instead of trying to justify and make them see his side I can't see how OP could get blamed.

That said, that's supposing the parents are normal, rational people. It's entirely possible the parents are crazy, but from what OP has described there has been more going on than she may know about. It's not normal for parents to come into town, lie to their son about it and stay with his ex if there's not something else going on.

And yet, I have experienced this very thing. After being with my husband for 8 years, I think I would know by now if there is something else going on.  I agree it isn't normal, but it's their dysfunction, not ours.

I don't think AustenFan was suggesting that either you or the OP were telling less than the truth, but suggesting that there's something weird going on here, such that advice that would work in more usual circumstances might not apply here.

Exactly, thank you Tea Drinker!

QueenfaninCA

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Re: Ex-wife still included in holidays
« Reply #72 on: November 10, 2017, 05:05:20 PM »
My advice would be to step back a bit, and let your boyfriend sort out more of his own relationship with his parents.

Yes, you can turn down invitations when his ex is going to be there, especially if the children aren't--or if you're being drafted to watch the children so neither of their parents have to. But if he wants to see his parents without his ex-wife being there, that's something he needs to talk to them about. Partly that's practical: they like her, so they might react poorly if they think you're trying to take her place in their lives.

If your boyfriend expects you to handle the interactions with his parents now, I suspect he expected his ex-wife to do the same when they were married, and that might be part of why they've stayed close to her. This is speculation, please feel free to correct me, but they may have spent years accepting invitations from Ex of the form "Matt and I are hosting Thanksgiving, please come over" and getting cards and gifts that were signed "Matt, Jane, and Thing 1 and Thing 2" in her handwriting. That would make it easy to keep accepting invitations from her. Is he just complaining to you about "my parents always stay with Ex", or has he tried calling them and saying something like "I'd like to see you more often. Please come stay with me and princess91765" or "Come have Thanksgiving dinner with me and princess91765. I'm going to roast a turkey and make baked yams"?

Stepping back would mean telling your boyfriend that you're staying out of it except for discussing with him what might be a good time for them to visit: let him find a time that works for the two of you and make the arrangements, whether that's inviting them for a week and cleaning the house, or taking them and the kids to the zoo for an afternoon. It can be tricky, with unspoken expectations: he may never have said "it's your job to buy Christmas presents for the kids" or "keeping in touch with everyone's family is a woman's job," but stepped back without thinking and said "what do you think we should get them?" when you said "have you bought Thing 1 a birthday present yet?" or "here are my family's addresses" if you said something about holiday cards. (If you and he agreed that holiday cards are your job that's slightly different--but not only is it work, but in this specific case might be sending the wrong signal.)

POD.

Oh Joy

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Re: Ex-wife still included in holidays
« Reply #73 on: November 10, 2017, 08:41:34 PM »
OP, it sounds like you're prepared to take on the responsibilities of being the stepmother in a changed family.  But factually you are the girlfriend who moved into the father and young childrens' home shortly after a divorce, and a marriage to the father isn't imminent because you are still married to someone else.

There seem to be broader issues and family dynamics at play than the ex being invited to events, and I understand why your boyfriends' parents may not be comfortable staying at the house.  Rather than a single-topic issue for an etiquette forum, this may be better suited to professional therapists who are experienced in guiding families through transitions.

Best wishes.

Semperviren

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Re: Ex-wife still included in holidays
« Reply #74 on: November 10, 2017, 09:48:59 PM »
OP, Iím a little curious why your BFís parents have quite so much influence over where events are held and who is invited when they are living out of state? Given that this is a fairly recent move, this may be a somewhat self-solving problem in time; when they are visiting your area, they will be largely guests and canít control the guest list. Re: their upcoming holiday party: will this be held at their home in Idaho?