[Supposedly] his ex initiated contact with him through text messages a little before we met, and she texts him every two to three weeks. He says they don’t talk about personal stuff, but, I wonder, what in the world divorcees with no children can talk about? And more questionably: Why is she contacting him when she is living with another man? When I asked him, he — rather passionately — said that he will be there any time she needs him. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and went through a mastectomy. He was crying when he told me the bad news; we prayed together for her. As a Christian woman I pray everyday for her; as his girlfriend I don’t see the logic of their keeping in touch when there is no reason to since they had no children.
I have researched online, and most divorce counselors and psychologists advice that the healthiest way to find closure after divorce is to cut ALL ties with your ex, unless there are children involved. I haven’t told him anything, but one day, when I stayed over, I was looking for socks in his drawers and found pictures of his ex. Why does he keep them? Does he look at them every now and then? I destroyed all the pictures of my ex, not out of anger but because that part of my life is over. When I mentioned that to him, he seemed confused and said that pictures are part of your history and should be kept.
Another thing that I think is not helpful in his getting finally over his ex is the fact that he keeps a very close friendship with his ex-sister-in-law. He says she is one of his best friends, she has been very good to him, and he will not be ungrateful to her only because her sister divorced him. This is not healthy because, every time he would visit his ex-SIL, undoubtedly all the memories – happy and sad – would come to the “front” of his mind, making it hard for him to once and for all “forget” his ex. He says they never talk about his ex, but I am not so sure about that, especially because of the cancer situation.
His ex-SIL invited us to dinner one day. She was polite and nice, but we didn’t talk much, and right after dinner she suggested we watch a movie. Where I come from, you NEVER watch TV with your guests; that is rude. I keep wondering why she did this.
He has told me I am the best lover – in all dimensions – he has ever had, and that he will never go back with his ex. I do believe him. Should I keep quiet and suffer in silence his relationship with both his ex and her sister? Should I have to accept he will forever be attached to them? Know(or understand) his friendship with his ex, but I will have to tolerate the friendship with his ex-SIL. Compromise. I guess that is one of the important keys for a successful relationship/partnership/marriage. — Not Into His Friendship With His Ex
What makes you think there’s only one correct way to divorce? Who are you to judge the way someone divorces? You think because he’s on friendly terms with his ex and that he didn’t destroy his photos of her tucked away in a drawer that he didn’t find “closure”? They’ve been divorced for three years! And who knows how long before that the marriage started falling apart. Maybe he got closure right away, which is why he’s able to be friends with her now and mean it when he says he’d never go back to her (which you say you believe). Maybe he cut ties long enough to heal and move to the next chapter. Maybe, after being family for fourteen years, he wasn’t willing to lose his former in-laws and, fortunately, everyone is ok with him remaining close to them. Everyone but you, that is.
Apparently, it eats you up thinking about your boyfriend being “attached” to his former in-laws in any way, and the idea of his discussing his ex-wife’s cancer with her sister? “Not healthy,” according to you. Not healthy to have all those memories of his marriage come flooding back every time he talks to his ex-SIL, because, of course, he’s unable to maintain any kind of conversation with this person he considers a “best friend,” without constantly thinking about his marriage. (Spoiler alert: People who actually have closure from their relationships and move on are more than capable of talking with someone who knows their ex or is even related to their ex without crashing out on memories of said ex; maybe YOU are the one who hasn’t gotten closure if you think such a thing is so far-fetched.)
And so, you both are faced with some decisions. You have to decide if his being on friendly terms with his ex-wife, and remaining close to his ex-SIL, is a deal-breaker for you. You say that, deep down, you know you will never accept or understand his friendship with his ex, so I would say that’s a deal-breaker. That’s your decision. You need to share that with your boyfriend, and then he needs to make a decision. He can either give up his friendship with his ex-wife and his relationship with his former in-laws, or he can give you up — a woman who thinks any relics of, or friendships fostered by, one’s personal romantic histories should be destroyed as if they never existed (and also that watching TV with one’s guests is uncouth).
I guess you’re about to find out just how great a lover he really thinks you are.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.