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This Exchange simulates the original Couples Coping Support Group. It is designed to help persons with concerns in their relationships, family, marriage, seperation, divorce, etc.Offering a wide range of real world, personal experiences, information, knowledge, suggestions, & views from real people.
How much should you share with your partner about your interactions with your soon to be ex?
The entire time I have been dating my boyfriend, he has been in a bitter divorce and custody battle. Before anybody scolds me about getting involved in such a complicated situation, let me tell you that there was a major head vs heart battle within me, and ultimately my heart won. I love my boyfriend and for the first time in my life have felt that I've met "the one". So I certainly understood the challenges going into it, but lately I have been gripped with major anxiety and insecurities about his relationship with his soon to be ex.
As info: he and his wife share placement of their 12 year old son, one week on, one week off. She lives with her boyfriend. My boyfriend and I do not live together, but over the past year have been spending nearly every night together - at my house when he doesn't have his son and at his house when he does. I did not start staying at his house with the son until his father and I had been dating for nearly a year. It was important to us to allow his son to come to terms with all the changes in his life in a healthy manner. Over the past year, his son and I have gotten quite close - he now gives me goodnight hugs along with his dad (unsolicited) and he has made multiple comments about our "family". He is a happy, wonderful, well-adjusted kid and I'm honored to have him in my life.
Recently, his music teacher sent an email to parents asking for family photos to include on a slide show for the school musical. My boyfriend submitted photos of us. I did not know about this.
Last weekend, my boyfriend and I were at his son's hockey game. It was the mom's week with the son, but my boyfriend and I like to go to every game he has whether or not he is with us that week. His wife's boyfriend and his parents also attend the games. My boyfriend and I were in the lobby after the game, waiting for his son to come out of the locker room so we could congratulate him on a good game.
Out of nowhere, my boyfriend's wife approaches us and remarks that it was "completely inappropriate" of him to submit a photo and then she proceeds to berate me calling me a whore, skank, etc. "She is not his family. I'm his mom!" Meanwhile I have no idea what she's talking about and I stand there idiotically asking "what photo? what are you talking about?" She threatens me that if I come to any more hockey games, she'll tell "the other wives" who I really am (she blames me for the end of their marriage). I was stunned. After that experience, my boyfriend filled me in about why she was so angry. They had texted about it earlier in the week. Apparently she never submitted her own photo so I'm sure part of the sting was not seeing a representation of herself at the musical. Anyhow, after the dust settled, I am now feeling very angry toward my boyfriend. I feel like it was irresponsible, unfair and disrespectful for him to have kept me in the dark about what was going on. I realize he couldn't have prevented her irrational behavior, but he could have spared me the embarrassment of not knowing what was going on. It showed her (and others within ear shot) that we don't really have a united front and that we don't communicate well. I'm also struggling with why she is lashing out now, two years post separation. She lives with her boyfriend and has for the past year. It makes me insecure and wonder what else my boyfriend might be hiding from me. I got so upset that I told my boyfriend not to call me again, and now we are in the midst of a 3 day cold war. I miss him terribly but I'm afraid. He says he didn't tell me about their interactions because he didn't want it to ruin our time together and also that he didn't know she'd act so inappropriately. But my position is that he should have told me regardless. Am I overreacting? Do I have a reason to be worried?
I agree with Gail, except that obviously his ex-wife overreacted, also (or, acted in a grossly inappropriate manner, anyway). Her sentiments should have been expressed in a more private manner.
Keeping the other person in the loop as to what is going on is *such* an important thing in a relationship. In fact, I just got done having a huge fight with my wife over this exact issue. (And we have been married 25 years.) It's just basic courtesy to communicate to your SO anything that effects them.
I actually don't agree. He could have told you, but it does not seem like that big of a deal that you would say dont call you again and end everything. Is this usual behavior- you finding things out or him keeping things from you? From what you describe everything else seems to be going great. Unless I am missing something, I think I would be happy he submitted photos of you - and too bad for her she didn't. She is probably just taking that out on you - which is inappropriate.
I guess what I am trying to say is - if your boyfriend was just letting it go, not intentionally keeping something from you that didnt directly involve you, I'd give him a break. I think at this point he should be telling HER that it is not OK to treat you that way but thats all he really had to do with the situation.BTW I am not saying it is okay to keep things from you, cause it isn't,(and I deal with A LOT of that from my husband) but I think some things are understandable....and this may be one of them.
Thanks for the replies. I really appreciate them. After thinking about things a bit, I do think I overreacted somewhat. I felt pretty embarrassed to be ambushed like that. I think it was the straw that broke the camel's back - my boyfriend has a history of not telling me things in a timely enough (imo) manner. It's a bit of a personality conflict we have - I like to take care of things immediately whereas he's much more easygoing. Unfortunately, I think his carefree, issue-avoiding personality has created a lot of problems in his life, and now I'm dealing with the consequences. This episode with the photos was a symptom of a larger problem. And of course there was the aspect of jealousy rearing its ugly head. I often feel threatened by their relationship so when this situation arose, it made me feel like she and he have the primary relationship while I'm just an outsider. The way she used the phrase "the other wives" made me feel like she still sees herself as his "wife" (and, thus, by extension me as the "mistress"). I wonder if her boyfriend is bothered by the fact that she's still so emotionally invested in her soon to be dissolved marriage. Again, thanks for the support.
He also could have been trying to be sweet and not tell you about the photo because it was supposed to be a surprise, at the musical. Now after he had it out with his Ex earlier that week a heads up would have been nice. He may have had other things on his mind...work, knowing he was going to be seeing his ex that weekend and he could have just flat out forgot. He is after all human, we make mistakes.
The way his ex reacted albeit loud and perhaps over the top, could as well be justified. Her seeing that photo of the 3 of you together, was a wake up call that even though she is "his mom" she could be having a hard time dealing with the reality of herself being somewhat replaced. A private conversation would have been the best venue for that type of topic...but lets be honest she reacted the way she did to create a scene. Your worried about the on lookers seeing your "lack" of communication...if i was there all i would have seen was some lady going banana's and if i knew the situation i would have thought...he made the right move by leaving that nut job behind.
Point being even though its been two years since their seperation, its obvious that she loves and cares for her son. Its a very harsh reality when you realize that you have been replaced. Did she snap? You betcha. But she was also extremely hurt by that photo...like your bf, she is human too. Hopefully moving forward he will give you that much needed heads up. And that she will be somewhat civil moving forward.
Thanks, IC. That's a very sensitive and wonderful response. I do feel for her, to an extent, if she weren't seemingly hell-bent on making everybody's lives miserable. I could write an entire new post on her shenanigans other than this one But the truth is, she lost something good. Hopefully she can channel her energies into building a happy, healthy home with her new bf and her children. If she were able to see the big picture more clearly, she'd embrace the fact that her son is loved doubly now. But you're right, she's human and who knows how I would feel or act in her position. Thank you.
I think IC nailed it as to why she reacted the way she did and confronted you. I recall that about 9 months after my divorce, I had similar feelings when my ex-husband took my son and his girlfriend to New Zealand for vacation. It is a hard thing to see your child in a new family setting and brings up all kinds of difficult feelings, such as feeling like being replaced, sadness at the loss of the initial family unit, thinking that your child may form more of an attachment with the girlfriend, etc. Some of those feelings are not really very logical or reasonable, like feeling that your child will love the girlfriend more than you as the mom, but nevertheless they occur.
However, I never confronted my ex's girlfriend about it nor did I confront my ex-husband either. It was just one of the things to get used to after divorce. I have subsequently met my ex's girlfriend several times and she seems nice, and is good to my son.
I suspect that over time as both your boyfriend and his soon to be ex-wife get used to being separated and eventually settle their divorce and custody disputes those strong feelings will reduce and dissipate as they do for most people with or without counseling. Take care & good luck. Judy
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