Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“His Ex-Wife is ALWAYS Around”

Heart shaped rope on white

My boyfriend and I met at a birthday party in October of 2014. We lived in different states and at first just kept in contact. We went on vacation together a few times and did the long-distance thing. Then he asked me to move to his hometown this past July. I had just finished college and he had a growing business and a more steady life, so it made more sense for me to move to him. He lives in a very small town where everyone knows him. Only after moving here did I quickly start to realize how much his ex-wife is around.

My boyfriend’s ex is everywhere. Granted, they were married for fifteen years and have three children, so I am somewhat understanding of the circumstances. She is in a relationship and talking about getting married, but she always texts, calls, and talks to my boyfriend about unnecessary stuff. I understand if it’s about the kids, but she talks about random stuff with him. It is a small town, so she is at every event he is at. She seems very nice, but she is overcrowding at times. For example, if I am at the kids’ basketball game, she will come and sit in front of me even though a majority of the gym is empty. She talks to my boyfriend after every game and whenever she can catch his attention to chat. The only time she isn’t chatty is when her boyfriend is around. I am constantly annoyed with her presence because she always seems to be seeking attention from my boyfriend.

What makes things worse is that he gives in to her. If she asks for something, he does it whether or not it has to do with the kids. He still keeps boxes, pictures, love notes, and cards from her in his closet. I have mentioned to him that it bothers me and makes it seem as if he hasn’t moved on, but he still has done nothing about the stuff.

While this is all going on, I have also been having trouble finding a job because the area is so rural, and that adds extra strain on me. We live separately since there are kids involved, but it’s getting to the point of my wanting to move things along while he still is not ready. We hang out every day. Our kids get along most of the time, with only occasional arguing between his younger daughter and mine. Even though we live separately, I cook and clean for him and I help with his kids. Am I doing too much?

I have picked up my whole life to give this one with him a try, and sometimes it seems as if I am putting the most effort in. Am I naive to think that this will change over time and that I should keep trying? I don’t want to feel like I did all this for nothing, but at times I feel like it’s time to move on. Any suggestions? — Tired of the Ex-Wife

I’m in a rush this morning, so forgive me for keeping this short and sweet. YES, you are being naive to think this situation, which was set before you were in the picture, is going to change any time soon. You are ridiculous for cooking and cleaning for a man you don’t even live with. I mean, WHAT? You were foolish to move for someone without having a job lined up, or at least some idea of how long it would take to find a job (especially considering this is a rural area where jobs are apparently hard to come by, and especially considering you have kids! Or, at least one kid. Talk about burying the lede!!). How are you supporting your kid(s) without a job? I assume you’re living off savings? (Maybe, hopefully?). What’s the plan when savings run out?

All of this sounds so irresponsible for a couple of parents. You’ve spent so little time in this man’s world that you didn’t even have any clue how often his ex-wife is around (which is, apparently, always). And then, without knowing very much about this man’s world, you moved there without a job, with a kid in tow, without a plan or idea or time frame for a long-term commitment with this guy. I wouldn’t even pull that shit with NO kids involved, let alone multiple children. (For the record, here are the eight most important things you should do before moving for love).

Honestly, finding a job should be your top priority at this point. Cast a wide net and look anywhere you would feel comfortable living, including wherever it was you lived before you moved. What about your child’s father? Is he still in the picture? Maybe he would like for his kid(s) to live close to him (and vice versa). If so, look for work near where he lives. Look for work where you have friends and family and a support system. Don’t think this man you moved for is going to be your meal ticket if you don’t ever find a job. Don’t think that, just because you’re doing his cooking and cleaning and helping with his kids, he’s going to tell you not to worry about finding work, move you in, and support you and your kid(s). Even if that did happen, what’s your plan for when it no longer works out? I predict you’ll be like the countless number of women who email me saying they rushed into marriage with someone they didn’t know very well and now they’re miserable and want out but their husbands fully support them, they haven’t worked in years, and they don’t have a clue how to find a job.

Come on, you finished college as a single mom (a feat, I imagine wasn’t easy). And for what? So you could move to some small, hick town and cook and clean for some guy who has a closet full of photos and love notes from his ex-wife whom he sees and talks to every day while you take care of his kids?

MOA.

(Also, so much for being short and sweet. Oops).

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

40 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Essie January 26, 2016, 9:35 am

    Aside from all of the excellent points that Wendy made….no, she’s not going away. Not ever. If you can’t deal with that, then you need to find a different boyfriend.

    Some people have amicable divorces, and remain friends afterwards. When there are kids involved, it’s very hard to make the argument that parents shouldn’t get along well. Because that’s what you’re wanting to do. Take a situation that seems to be working well for him, his ex, and the kids, and bust it up.

    When you start a new relationship, you can’t purge people you don’t like out of your partner’s life and rearrange his relationships to your liking. You look at his world and the people in it, and if you don’t like what you see, you move on.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      SpaceySteph January 26, 2016, 9:52 am

      Amen to your second paragraph in particular. We see so many LWs who are mad that their bf/fiance/husband’s ex-wife and mother of his children is still around and it’s so upsetting. Honestly, it’s SO GREAT for the children that their parents have an amicable divorce and are able to both be there for the kids and that should be priority one. If you can’t deal with it, fine, go find a dude who has a horrible relationship with his ex (ew), but stop trying to destroy this happy family just for your own comfort.

      Reply Link
    • avatar

      keyblade January 26, 2016, 10:54 am

      “When you start a new relationship, you can’t purge people you don’t like out of your partner’s life and rearrange his relationships to your liking.”

      Fuckin’ A. Well said, Essie.

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    artsygirl January 26, 2016, 10:07 am

    /OK quick rant/ LW, I thought at first you were a woman in her 20s who had fallen for an older guy. When you mentioned you had children in the 4th paragraph (and no mention of the number of kids or the ages) – I was a bit flabbergasted. You moved your children for a long distance relationship that was only about 8 months old? Now because you are unable to find work and are unhappy, you might have to move again. Please, this time really investigate your next move and make sure it is a place you can stay long term so your kids don’t constantly have to start at new schools, make new friends, and in general have a lack of stability in their lives.
    /end rant/

    LW – it sounds like you are not 100% confident in your relationship, and the constant presence of the ex is feeding into your insecurity (after all you admit that she is nice and in another committed relationship). If you felt more stable both professionally and personally it likely would not bother you as much, but you have had a lot of upheaval (finishing school, moving, and still trying to negotiate what is ultimately a new relationship). It sounds like both your BF and his ex are locals to this community so besides being married for 15 years, they have likely known and dated each other for most of their lives and breaking a lifelong habit of contacting each other will be hard if not impossible. So where does that leave you? I think you have a few choices:
    A) You can stay in the small town and hope to eventually find a job. If this is the case you need to accept that his relationship with his ex is friendly and will likely continue to be friendly even if both of them marry other people.
    B) You can look for a job and housing elsewhere and move there and continue to see your BF long distance. Maybe with more breathing space you will be better able to decide if his closeness to his ex is a deal breaker.
    C) You can end the relationship and move to a town/city that is better suited for you and your children’s needs
    I think in your shoes, I would take option C. It sounds like you are very unhappy in your relationship and there is likely no chance it will change. You stated that you told your BF that the mementos of his ex bother you, but he obviously is not empathetic and unwilling to find a solution to your discomfort. You state that you cook and clean for his (actually that is a huge WTF for me), but it sounds like there is no date for you actually being able to move in.

    Reply Link
  • Miss MJ

    Miss MJ January 26, 2016, 10:09 am

    1. No, the mother of his kids is not ever going away. She’s there for the long haul. If that’s a deal breaker, MOA.

    2. Yes you are more invested in this relationship than he is. You moved yourself and your kid(s) to a new town without having a job or knowing the situation. So you have up your old life, maybe family, and friends where you moved from for him. You now can’t find a job that you worked hard to go to college to qualify for. So you’ve dampened your career prospects for him. You haven’t made a life for yourself and have instead put everything on hold until this man is ready, and in the meantime you spend your days cleaning his house, cooking for him and watching his kids, I’m
    assuming for free. What a nice set up for him.
    .
    What’s he do for you? Not much, according to your letter. Despite presumably knowing you were moving to his hometown with the intention of moving this relationship forward, he is dragging his feet on doing just that. He won’t even get rid of, or at least move, his box of things related to his ex. Now, maybe he has good reasons for those all of things. Maybe things aren’t going as well as he had hoped and he doesn’t want to bring the instability of girlfriend/ex-wife drama to what was a stable situation. Maybe he doesn’t want to support you and your kids and he worries that’s what you have in mind since you’re not working. Maybe he’s just afraid of change. And, maybe he’s saving the stuff from his ex for his kids. I don’t know. Neither do you. I can’t tell from your letter whether that’s because you aren’t asking or aren’t asking the right questions or whether he’s stonewalling you. Either way, it is not good.
    .
    Take Wendy’s advice. Change your priorities. Stop letting your life revolve around a relationship that doesn’t sound worth it and start making it revolve around creating a new life for you and your child(ren). First step, find a job you want, even if you have to move. Second step, make sure your kids have stability; this can’t have been easy on them. Third step, focus on getting yourself in a good place – hobbies, friends, a support system, maybe therapy – even a few sessions can be beneficial; you don’t have to be in crisis to go. Then and only then, consider adding a man to that mix. Whether it’s this one or another one will become very clear by the time Steps 1-3 are completed.
    .
    Good luck!

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    csp January 26, 2016, 10:31 am

    LW, I wonder how far away you are from a city. Is it an hour? 2 hours? Maybe you could move 20 minutes away and have more job prospects. Then you aren’t long distance but you can have more stability on your own. Also, have you looked into remote work or working from home? I feel a sense of powerlessness in your letter. I feel like you need to take control of yourself then see if your relationship can stand when you are both equals.

    Reply Link
  • Raccoon eyes

    Raccoon eyes January 26, 2016, 11:04 am

    Holy moly, LW! (ppl still say that, right? Eh, whatever.) I also took you for a naive 22ish year old that up and moved to her 35ish year old’s rural area. Buuuuut, that is not the case.
    *
    Really, while it sounds like you got swept up in some grand “moving for love” epic, your BF just thought it would be nice for you to be NOT long-distance, and BOOM he gets a nanny/cleaning person at his beck and call. So, time to extricate yourself from this. Next time, definitely think MORE about your kid(s) before setting off on some grand adventure (that will likely, like this scenario, end up as a grand drudgery or something).
    *
    Also, the ex comes and sits by you at a game…where is the problem here? Unless she pointedly sits in front of you, ignores you, and drapes herself all over your BF, I dont really see how this is bad. I think that would be super-awesome if ex-wife/mom and new GF sat together at a kids game. Because that is how adults should be- cordial at least, when circumstances dictate (such as your situation).

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    keyblade January 26, 2016, 11:19 am

    My boyfriend and I met at a birthday party in October of 2014. We lived in different states and at first just kept in contact. We went on vacation together a few times and did the long-distance thing. Then he asked me to move to his hometown this past July.

    With college and a kid, I can’t image you had a lot of time to actually visit each other in person before the move. It sounds like you moved to just to start dating each other and see where things could go. It’s only been six months. You don’t like how he co-parents with his ex of 15 years (or longer). Why would you want to move in with him?

    Even though we live separately, I cook and clean for him and I help with his kids. Am I doing too much?
    If you are resentful because of how much you are giving, then you are doing too much. It sounds like you are cooking, cleaning, and helping not because you are testing things out but because you are trying to push yourself into a single family unit. I wonder how much time is going into creating your own friendships and investing in your time with your daughter and in your career? You just supplanted your old life for this new one. What are you doing to create a good one for yourself that isn’t fully dependent on your boyfriend?
    Whether things work out or not, you are out of balance. If I were your boyfriend I would notice and be riding the break petal, too. He asked you to move because he knew he wasn’t going to. People are going to ask for what they want. You need to have a better idea of your own comfort limits so you can own your choices, more. Your boyfriend sounds like he has a full, rounded life without you. You need to get your own instead of trying to arm-wrestle your way into all the corners of his. You’ll be invited into the spaces when he’s more comfortable. Personally, I think it’s weird that you would expect his child’s mother not to sit with you and be social at the child’s events. If your ex is comfortable with that, that’s awesome for his kid! You’re the newcomer. I can’t imagine his daughter would thank you for creating a bunch of unnecessary space between her parents so you feel more secure.

    I think you need more than this relationship to ride your happiness and peace of mind on.

    Reply Link
  • findingtheearth

    findingtheearth January 26, 2016, 12:01 pm

    I live in a small hick town, and it’s tough. I have lived here since I was 11, and I am still an “outsider.” If you are going to stay there, get used to always seeing the ex-wife. It is what it is. If you can’t deal with it, then I agree you need to MOA. As for work, it can be tough as a newcomer.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    MuddyBoots January 26, 2016, 12:35 pm

    I am also from a small town and can tell you that the ex is always going to be there, and if there is tension (it sounds like there is) you can bet it’ll build as time goes on. It may be harder because everyone knows everyone and has a friendship/history/tie to everyone else or their family. While I love that about small towns, it would be very difficult to adjust to that and see the ex all the time, especially if he didn’t mention that before your move (I’m assuming he didn’t). Also, if he is not helping you be comfortable in the situation then there is a problem because although he has to have his kids in mind first, you should be a close second. If he isn’t ready to move on, you’re wasting you own precious time instead if him wasting it.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    MuddyBoots January 26, 2016, 12:43 pm

    Tell him what you think. He may see your points. No one that is really DONE wants their ex around all the time, either. See if he gives you enough insight. If not, and you think he isn’t over their relationship, you can consider your options and make arrangements.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    keyblade January 26, 2016, 1:02 pm

    I’m curious. Do people who divorce on good terms after a couple decades together need to purge mementos of their love history? I can see why someone would to move forward but how much purging is necessary?

    When we first moved in together, I put a bunch of my husband’s old love letters and pics in an acid-free box for him. I didn’t love looking through his old photos and seeing a bunch of personal stuff so I organized them and put the box up in a closet. I wouldn’t have been comfortable asking him to get rid of his old stuff after six months. I wouldn’t even feel comfortable with that now.

    But I see how it might be different if I had to interact with someone he had a couple decades of history with on a regular basis. I could see how easily someone could end up feeling the forever outsider.

    I don’t think this guy has actually done anything wrong. Who wouldn’t eat a meal their boyfriend cooked for them? Or accept help with the kids that was freely offered? Who would demand their boyfriend to stop cleaning for them? But the boyfriend does have a major home court advantage. He knows all the watering holes. He’s comfortable. I’m not sure it’s on him to give it up to make the letter writer feel like she is on equal footing. Still, that does beg the question if he will be willing to adapt and make compromises that aren’t fully on his terms. I think she has to know her limits. She put in a lot upfront hoping for a large payout. My guess is any payout in this relationship is going to take a long, time to see.
    But what do people think about purging history? Let go of old energy or preserve the memories?

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover January 26, 2016, 2:24 pm

      I think he kinda did do something wrong. He asked her to move there, and then apparently has done absolutely nothing to make sure she’s settled and comfortable. If I’d asked a boyfriend to move from his home to my BFN hick town, I’d sure as hell look around for job prospects for him, and not let him come unless we found something (or at least a decent indication that he’d be able to get something). I also wouldn’t reply to his concerns about all my ex’s stuff lying around with “whatever”, which it sounds like this guy basically did. I mean, obviously we’re only seeing one side here, and maybe he did a lot that isn’t mentioned, but from the info here it sounds like he left it all to her.
      .
      That being said, most of this could have been completely avoided by the LW if they’d talked about the kind of stuff on Wendy’s list, which clearly they didn’t. So I’m not saying it’s all on him, I agree she shouldn’t have moved so soon. But he could at least try to help her build her new life, and it doesn’t sound like he’s doing that.
      .
      As to your question about memories, Wendy had a poll on here awhile back about that. Personally I don’t care, I have pics of exes in boxes somewhere, and so does my husband. I think leaving wedding photos and stuff up on the walls is a bit weird, but maybe acceptable if there are kids involved who would like the family photos still up. If my SO was bothered by it, I would pack it away though, except for stuff that the kids wanted around.

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        keyblade January 26, 2016, 3:50 pm

        He did ask her to move and give it a shot with him. That was probably ill-though out and selfish. But if he has a stable career and a child he is raising with his ex in a tight knit community, I’m not surprised he wouldn’t be willing to move. I don’t think selfish is really that bad if it’s about your own kid and security first. I think the worst you can say about it is that he should have prepared the letter writer better. He should have realized finding a job would be hard and really given her a fair warning of what the job market looked like in his area. But he didn’t ask her to give up a career where she was earning money, he asked her to move and look for one in his area. How is he supposed to find a job for her? It’s not like she wrote that they are in the same career. He works and has kids. I suppose he could be job hunting but ultimately she’s the one who needs to think about what she’s qualified to do and send out resumes. And they aren’t married. I almost think it’s a little unfair to make him responsible for creating a life for the letter writer. Yes, he asked her to move but she was still the one responsible for her choice to do so. She should think for herself and on behalf of her daughter. She does say she and the boyfriend are together every single day so It isn’t as though he left her high and dry as soon as she moved. He just hasn’t taken financial responsibility for her.

        “I also wouldn’t reply to his concerns about all my ex’s stuff lying around with “whatever”, which it sounds like this guy basically did”
        That’s true. If he has thought if through and he isn’t planning to give up his old stuff he should talk to his girlfriend about it so she can move on if it’s a deal breaker. But I didn’t get the impression there was a bunch of stuff lying around. It sounds like he has a bunch of old things in his closet. I’ve never been through a divorce but fifteen married years is a long time. Even if a marriage doesn’t work out that’s a huge chunk of your life to not think about anymore. That includes the baby years and all those firsts. I can see how it wouldn’t work for a new girlfriend, though. Mid-life dating after a long-marriage with kids must be tough. It’s not like when you’re younger and you can just start all over after a break-up.

        Link
      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover January 26, 2016, 4:06 pm

        I agree it was her choice, and I don’t think she should have done it. But he doesn’t seem to be helping, really. Skyblossom said it better than I did below.

        Link
  • avatar

    dinoceros January 26, 2016, 2:38 pm

    You two just sound like you aren’t compatible. You’re stuck in a small town without career opportunities. You’re stuck with his ex-wife everywhere. He apparently doesn’t care that you don’t like that. You apparently have children who got uprooted for someone who you didn’t know that well (since you didn’t know what his town was like or that his ex-wife is in his life that much).
    .
    I also think that you have to consider that it’s impossible for you to know exactly how he feels about the relationship because you’re doing all his chores. Because even if he wasn’t feeling it, why would he ever give up having a housekeeper and cook that he doesn’t even live with? Typically, the reason that partners share chores is that they are in the same household. A lot of women will ask why someone sticks around if they’re not that into it, and this would be one of those reasons. And honestly, a guy who sees that you’ll do all that for them, they’re not going to expect you to be the type to make a fuss if they repeatedly ignore your requests to be less chummy with their ex.

    Reply Link
  • Monkeysmommy

    Monkeysmommy January 26, 2016, 3:07 pm

    Oh, LW, I am sorry. I am actually not going to be hard on you today… Something not common for me! 🙂
    *
    Look, you made a mistake. You moved too fast with a guy who isn’t really as ready as he led you to believe. It is okay. Shake it off, and plan the next step. Find a job in your field, like Wendy said, and go anywhere you want. Or somewhere with support. Don’t stick around waiting for this guy. He should never have encouraged the move if he wasn’t ready for a serious commitment.
    *
    As for the ex, I would be putting my foot down. I divorced husband number 1 eight years ago. I don’t have a damn thing from him, material wise. No love letters hidden away. Only the occasional photo in a photo album here and here that I may have overlooked. And we are amicable! I would be telling him to throw it out, or I would. And if he didn’t like that, it might tell me where I stood. Same with her constant presence- he would be told to back her off or I would help with it. I know there are kids in the picture you need to be considerate of, but this is over the top. Next time she calls for a favor, grab the phone from your boyfriend and tell her to have hers come snake her pipes, or plug her drain- whatever it is she needs.

    Reply Link
    • LadyinPurpleNotRed

      LadyinPurpleNotRed January 26, 2016, 3:16 pm

      Whoa! Crazy alert if she grabs the phone away and basically starts a fight with the ex wife. It’s not her place. She needs to talk to bf about it. THERE’S her answer. Leave the ex-wife out of it. If she doesn’t reach her bf, it doesn’t matter what she tells the ex-wife. The problem of boundaries will always be there.

      Reply Link
    • Monkeysmommy

      Monkeysmommy January 26, 2016, 3:18 pm

      Also, understand she will always be around for the kids- that doesn’t change. Her needing to co-parent doesn’t change with him. She IS the mother and they had 15 years together. I just understand how you feel on the personal mementos. I have never understood keeping them for a dead relationship.

      Reply Link
      • Stonegypsy

        Stonegypsy January 27, 2016, 12:11 pm

        It’s also clearly not a dead relationship. It’s a marriage that evolved into a friendship. Lots of people stay friends with their exes (my ex husband is one of my very best friends in the world), and she doesn’t have to be okay with that but if she isn’t then the answer isn’t for her to demand he cut non-kid-related ties with his ex, the answer is for her to move on because this isn’t the right relationship for her.

        Link
    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom January 26, 2016, 3:27 pm

      It can mean a tremendous amount to the kids to have the mementos of their parent’s relationship. The kids will always identify with their parent’s marriage and it is good for them to see that there was a happy time when the parents did love each other and did want to live together and be married.

      The only reason those mementos would be a worry to the new girlfriend is if she felt insecure in the relationship and was looking for clues as to where she stands. She doesn’t live in his house and it really is none of her business what he keeps in his closet. It is his closet. We still have a few mementos around from prior relationships and neither of us has ever worried about them. They are history. They aren’t a sign of where the heart currently lies. Making him get rid of all of that stuff doesn’t change a bit of the history between him and his ex wife but it would destroy the physical history that would be invaluable to the children. The LW has valid complaints about the relationship but searching his closet to see what mementos he may have kept isn’t one of them.

      Reply Link
    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom January 26, 2016, 4:48 pm

      If you follow this advice, in the second paragraph, you may as well leave the town immediately. Small towns have a limited tolerance for dramatic, controlling outsiders. If you do this that would be you. If you followed this advice within 24 hours everyone in the town would have heard about it and they would be mocking you. I can’t think of a better way to make sure you never fit in. If she is needing things done at her house and your boyfriend does them you can assume he is doing them for his kids more than for the ex.

      Reply Link
  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom January 26, 2016, 3:36 pm

    You leaped without looking to see where you would land. You moved without visiting enough to know the job situation or the ex wife situation. You went in good faith but you were also way to naive for your age. Your boyfriend had to know the job situation in his town so it is disappointing and a more troubling sign than what mementos are in his closet that he didn’t warn you that there would be no jobs in your field where he lives. I grew up in a very rural area. A rural enough area that there are no traffic lights and no fast food restaurants in the entire county. College educated jobs are few and far between unless you are a nurse or a teacher. Your boyfriend knew that and yet he encouraged you to move to his town. That says far more about him than the fact that he has mementos of his marriage. He didn’t care whether you found a job or not. He didn’t care whether you could work and support yourself. He didn’t care. That’s all you really need to know. Instead of asking about the stuff in his closet ask him where he thought you could get a job.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover January 26, 2016, 3:46 pm

      My thoughts exactly. He seems to just expect her to fit into his life, and if she can’t find a job and can’t handle his ex around all the time, oh well. Not his problem.

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    keyblade January 26, 2016, 4:23 pm

    What’s funny to me is that the letter writer doesn’t seem to care that much about finding work and supporting herself. I would think that would be the main focus of the letter but it’s on the ex-wife being around and things not moving fast enough. I wouldn’t be surprised if this letter writer is upset because she was hoping her boyfriend would be moving her right in and she wouldn’t have to worry about finding work.

    Reply Link
    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom January 26, 2016, 4:44 pm

      Yes! It seems odd that her main concern is that he has mementos and the ex is around not that she hasn’t found a job and that there don’t appear to be any jobs in her field. I was shocked that she would want to move things along in the relationship. What about this situation would indicate that it is ready to move along? Nothing is working but she wants to move it along. It is a good thing that the boyfriend is holding back. Someone needs to slow this train wreck down. She has had at least one failed relationship so should know enough to proceed with caution, a caution she hasn’t shown yet.
      .
      His ex will be around whether he talks to her a lot or a little. It is a small town and they will bump into each other all the time. It’s probably nice that the ex is coming to sit near her at games because that indicates to everyone that she is accepting the new girlfriend. That will set the tone for everyone else. The seal of approval from the ex is important. If the LW comes off as an insecure control freak who tries to cut out the ex the entire town will know about it immediately. They will talk about her and she will have no future there. She needs to be as gracious with the ex as the ex is with her. The ex probably grew up in this community or a nearby community. Everyone knows her and her parents and her siblings and her grandparents. They know who her childhood friends were and if they still live in the area. The roots go deep and the LW shouldn’t try to rock the boat. If she does she’ll be the one who falls overboard. In small towns people help people. There is no one else so you depend on your neighbors and they depend on you. If the LW intends to live there she needs to be a good neighbor and that means getting along with the ex and not begrudging her help when she needs it. Someday it may be the ex helping the LW. That’s how small towns work. They have their own rules and the LW needs to learn them fast and follow them.

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    fairhairedchild January 26, 2016, 7:29 pm

    I believe I mentioned this on a previous letter, because as Wendy said, there’s a ton of letters that we see (and more she probably doesn’t post) of people who are unhappy with their significant other’s ex being still in the picture. I’ll mention it again anyway:

    My sister-in-law has divorced parents from a small town, where the parents dated since like middle school. They were married for 10 years, got divorced BUT are still best friends. She’s incredibly lucky that as an child, and an adult, that her parents are still very amicable and friendly towards each other. They just realized they were better friends then they were as a couple. They both re-married and are happier with their new spouses. However, they still talk frequently, and not all of it is about the “kids” (my sister-in-law is in her 30s).

    It’s great when all of us get together, I love both her parents, and their spouses. Our families will go on vacations together, and the second marriage spouses are on board with larger family vacations. So both her parents, their spouses, my brother, sister-in-law, her brother, our mom, my brother’s dad, and my brother’s dad’s wife (whew) all will spend time together. And it’s great, that we can all do this and have a larger support system.

    Like everyone else said, the ex will forever be in his life. And yes, he could slow down helping out his ex on smaller trivial things, but you can’t change his amicable friendly relationship with her. I think Essie said it perfectly: You can’t purge people from your significant other’s life and you shouldn’t bust up something that is a healthy support system for the kids. They’ll end up resenting you, and so will the ex wife. Everyone else mentioned also that in a small town, you’ll be seen as creating the drama and more people are going to support the ex wife and the kids than you.

    I do wish you the best of luck, and I feel that you should have waited to find a job first before moving, as well as visited enough to find out more about his lifestyle and socialization as a whole before moving. Someone else suggested moving 20 minutes away towards more job opportunities and making your own social network and support system for you and your own kids there if you want to keep working on this relationship. But right now it looks like you are making a harder time for not only your kid, but his kids, and yourself with how stressed out you are about the ex .

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    d2 January 26, 2016, 10:42 pm

    LW, getting a job related to your college education should be your primary goal right now – even if that means moving away. You worked hard to earn that degree. Don’t sit idle and waste the opportunity to capitalize on it. Make use of that to support both you and your child.

    Reply Link
  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom January 27, 2016, 12:24 pm

    I think you’re not feeling secure in your relationship. You don’t feel like it is in a good place and so you look around for reasons and you’ve latched onto him helping his ex and her sitting near you at games and his having mementos in his closet. The fundamental problem is none of those things. The fact that they bother you is a sign of an underlying problem in your relationship. Some people have excellent relationships with their ex and their current partner doesn’t mind. You mind because there is a problem in the relationship that you need to work on. I’m guessing you don’t feel valued. You don’t feel safe in this relationship. You don’t feel like he is interested in a future any time soon. You probably feel like you are giving more than you are receiving. I think the bottom line is that you don’t feel that he is as invested in the relationship as you are. That’s the problem you need to discuss with him. You need to find out what he wants from your relationship. Does he see it progressing or does he like the status quo. Does he see it leading to marriage or does he see it as more of good friends who have an intimate relationship. Does he want a second marriage? It’s okay if he isn’t sure because you haven’t been around each other long enough to have a certainty and make a commitment, especially since both of you have kids. But if he isn’t certain you do need to know and you need to base your decisions on what you need and what your kids need. How long can you wait for him to make up his mind? How long are you willing to look for a job without finding one? How far would you need to move to find a job in your field? Besides having jobs like teacher, nurse, doctor, or lawyer do most of the women in the area have jobs working at a grocery store, convenience store, nursing home, hospital or restaurant doing cooking, cleaning, stocking and waitressing. He may have assumed that you would get a job like that and not get it that you want a job in your career field. He may not be used to the idea of a career if you aren’t a doctor or lawyer or nurse or teacher. He may not think of a job as being anything but a job and one is as good as another. Think about your needs and your wants and see if your current situation can meet them. If you felt good about your relationship you wouldn’t care what mementos were in his closet because that has no relevance to your relationship.

    Reply Link
    • Monkeysmommy

      Monkeysmommy January 27, 2016, 1:23 pm

      Lol okay, OP, I was feeling a bit mischievous yesterday; you probably should not tell his wife off or burn his belongings. But you should really have a frank and serious talk with the guy. Know what you are willing to accept and put up with, what is a deal breaker for you, and stick with it. I will say this- ignore all of the “it’s a small town, outsiders will not like you” shit. Who cares?! Those people aren’t the ones that have to live with your relationship, you are. And like all small town busy bodies, they will forget it and move on to the next hot thing in due time. Do what makes you happy- if this guy isn’t it, move on.

      Reply Link
      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom January 27, 2016, 1:30 pm

        Nothing in what she wrote makes his ex a busy body. If anything she is trying to be kind and inclusive by sitting near the LW at games. She isn’t giving her the cold shoulder that the LW seems to want.
        .
        If anyone is being a busy body it is the LW going through the boyfriend’s things in his closet. They don’t live together. It isn’t a shared closet. What he has in his closet is his own business. I never looked through my husband’s closet before we were married. I grew up with the idea that it is rude to snoop and looking through his closet is snooping. If anyone is being a busy body it is the person who is snooping.

        Link
      • avatar

        dinoceros January 27, 2016, 1:37 pm

        Yeah, I mean, I definitely wouldn’t go sit with my ex and his girlfriend at an event because I would assume that it’s intrusive. But I can see how maybe if she’s trying to be friendly, it would make sense to do it. It would be equally rude to come into a room where you know people and sit far away from them. Maybe she even isn’t sure of the etiquette but feels like erring on the safe side and not committing a faux pas.

        Link
      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom January 27, 2016, 1:57 pm

        I assume they are all trying to feel their way through this. If the ex knows that the LW knows no one at the game she may feel the need to go and sit near her so that she isn’t alone. The ex probably knows almost everyone at the game but also realizes that the LW doesn’t know anyone.

        Link
      • avatar

        jlyfsh January 27, 2016, 5:02 pm

        Hmm I don’t know if the bf and ex are friends and they are all their for the kids, I don’t know that it’s odd. If anything they are showing the kids that they can all get along. Seems healthy for the family to me. I could understand the LW not being comfortable with the situation, but I think it’s unfair, especially for the children for her to ask for that to change.

        Link
      • avatar

        dinoceros January 28, 2016, 9:39 am

        Yeah, that’s what my point was. There are a lot of logical reasons why the ex was doing that. I mean, not everyone would do it and that’s OK, but it’s definitely not weird that she is.

        Link
      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom January 27, 2016, 1:34 pm

        Also, no one said it is a small town and so no one will like you. Small towns can be very welcoming but if you act like a crazy, controlling bitch they certainly won’t like you. If you are friendly, warm, thoughtful and helpful they will probably like you. If the LW and the ex get into a fight everyone is already friends with the ex so they will take her side. That is really a fact of life no matter where you live, friends usually take the side of their friend. These are friendships that go back to the day they were born.
        .
        None of that means this is a good relationship for the LW. She isn’t happy in it and I hope that she doesn’t push to move it forward. She needs to figure out why she isn’t happy in it and then decide whether it has any possibility of working long term.

        Link
      • Monkeysmommy

        Monkeysmommy January 28, 2016, 12:22 pm

        I interpreted the letter as LW saying the wife is deliberately sitting in front of her but not being friendly, and that she is still communicating with her ex in a way that is too comfortable for divorced spouses, so maybe I am reading too much into it! I suspect she thinks there are unresolved feelings on one or both parts, but i could be wrong!
        As far as the small town thing does go, I am from one originally (one red light and three gas stations!) so I know people can be rude or intrusive. The thing is, LW may have a point with the ex, and shouldn’t feel that she will be alienated for pointing it out.

        Link
  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom January 27, 2016, 1:24 pm

    It’s time for self-reflection. Spend some time understanding why you thought it was a good idea to move to this town without having any knowledge of the job situation. Why was that irrelevant in your decision making? Why are you wanting to move your relationship forward when you are obviously not happy with it? Do you think that if the two of you got engaged he would suddenly throw away the mementos and quit helping the ex? If you do you can give that up. He is who he is and you are seeing the real him, the person he will be if you get engaged and the person he will be if you get married. Grow from your mistakes.
    .
    It’s also a good time for you to learn more about relationships.
    .
    To learn about choosing the right partner try “Is He Mr. Right?: Everything You Need to Know Before You Commit” by Mira Kirshenbaum. http://www.amazon.com/He-Mr-Right-Everything-Before-ebook/dp/B000GCFWPK/ref=sr_1_11?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1453918506&sr=1-11&keywords=mira+kirshenbaum
    .
    To better understand your emotional needs and figure out what you need from a partner read “Fall in Love: Stay in Love” by Willard F. Harley. http://www.amazon.com/Fall-Love-Stay-Willard-Harley/dp/0800717937/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1453918682&sr=1-4&keywords=willard+f+harley
    .
    To better understand marriage and relationships read any books by John Gottman. Especially, “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert” http://www.amazon.com/Seven-Principles-Making-Marriage-Work/dp/0553447718/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1453918793&sr=1-1&keywords=gottman
    .
    Learning more about relationships and how to choose a good one and how to keep that relationship healthy should be invaluable. See if your local library has any of these or for your own privacy order them.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      Ginger January 28, 2016, 12:44 pm

      I agree monkeysmommy. I also got the idea that she was sitting next to her and possibly being rude otherwise I don’t think her being friendly would matter. I also think there are unresolved issues and maybe more details to this story that we are not seeing as to why it is bothering the LW so much.
      It also sounds like the ex is being sneaky- she talks to him only when her boyfriend isn’t around? That seems a little odd to me.
      I agree her goal should be more focused on finding a job and herself but I wouldn’t necessarily write it off that the LW wasn’t trying. She did say she was having trouble finding sow thing not that she wasn’t looking.
      The LW should look to find a hobby and be more independent. Try and separate yourself from him a little. A little distance can go a long way. Good luck!

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    MuddyBoots January 28, 2016, 12:45 pm

    More details needed, LW. I know you’re reading these…

    Reply Link

Leave a Comment