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Your Turn: “I’m Tired of His Ex-Wife In My Face All the Time!”

In a feature I call “Your Turn,” in which you, the readers, get to answer the question, I’m presenting the following letter without commentary from me:

My boyfriend has introduced me to all his friends and family as his girlfriend, but we’re taking things slow as not to make mistakes (i.e. we’re not moving in together or sleeping together too quickly). We both have grown children — the youngest being my 17-year-old daughter — who, for the most part, get along. The problem is his ex-wife. She cheated on him which is why the marriage ended in divorce. A week after the divorce was final, she moved the children to another country without his knowledge and got married. Then she sent his daughter back with less than 24 hours’ notice when she was 11 years old. His son came for a visit and stayed at the age of 16.

I get along great with the son, but the daughter is somewhat leery of me still which is understandable as she has been the lady of the house for a long time. But we do get along. Now his ex-wife is back in the country, back in the same town and is continuously going to my boyfriend’s mother’s and sister’s homes. I went over to visit the sister and she was showing me photos on her phone of her weekend with my boyfriend’s ex. Sigh. It started off as “look at the boys” and than “pop, there is the ex wife in there too.”

I’m sure she is a nice enough person (I was not her friend in school, though; we didnt run with the same crowd). But it is disheartening to have her in my face all the time. I mentioned to my boyfriend that I had gone to visit his sister, and he asked me if I ran into his ex while I was there. Now I wonder if she was hiding in the bedroom. The sister went in there a few times. Don’t get me wrong — my boyfriend has stated to me many times that he can’t stand to be around his ex. He is polite for the kids’ sake, but has stated how much it bothers him that she won’t just go away and leave his family alone. He suffers from depression over her taking off with the kids (the kids were his life) and he is still dealing with the anger he has towards her. Oh, and another problem: his sister, whom I do get on with, still introduces me to her friends as her “brother’s friend.”

To be honest, it all really hurts — not just me but my boyfriend as well. I dislike seeing him so upset over the situation. — In the Ex’s Shadow

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

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

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Comments on this entry are closed.

avatar lets_be_honest March 12, 2013, 9:11 am

Maybe you’re leaving things out because it sounds like you’ve only been shown a photo of her. That’s not really ‘in your face all the time.’ If your boyfriend is so bothered by her, he should be asking his family not to have her over, which is weird anyway if this woman basically kidnapped her nieces and nephews.
It’ll take time for the daughter to get used to her. Be patient with that.

avatar sarolabelle March 12, 2013, 9:24 am

I think she took her own kids….where does it say they were the nieces and nephews?

avatar lets_be_honest March 12, 2013, 9:29 am

sorry, I meant the sister’s nieces and nephews (her brother’s/the boyfriend’s kids). I just can’t imagine wanting to spend time with someone who took my brother’s children to another country without asking.

avatar bethany March 12, 2013, 9:21 am

LW- you never really asked a question, so I’m not sure what you’re looking for advice about. But here’s what stood out the most to me. You make a point in the beginning to say that you’re purposefully not moving too quickly, but it seems to me like you are. You don’t mention how long you’ve been dating, but your kids have met him, his kids have met you, all the kids have met eachother and you’re stopping by his sister’s house to hang out without him. It seems to me likeyou think you’re already a part of this family. You’re certainly acting like it. But the problem is, you’re not. You’re not his wife. By some accounts (like his sisters), you’re not even his girlfriend! His x-wife is the mother of his children. She’s going to be around. And she’s going to be around for a long time. And until the kids are fully grown (and probably even after), there are going to be occasions where she takes priority over you. Especially when you’re just his girlfriend.

You need to understand that this situation with the x-wife is not going to change. She’s going to be there. She was part of the family for a LONG time, and some people (like his sister or parents) might always consider her part of the family. You need to decide if you’re ok with that or not. If you’re not, then it might be time to MOA.

avatar lets_be_honest March 12, 2013, 9:31 am

I sorta get the sister saying “brother’s friend.” I’m always hesitant to call someone my brother’s girlfriend (well, mostly because he’s got a lot of ‘em), but they’re older so maybe she just feels weird calling a grown woman a girlfriend.

avatar kerrycontrary March 12, 2013, 9:37 am

I agree. Many people that I know who are in their late thirties or forties refer to their romantic partner as a “friend”.

avatar Christy March 12, 2013, 9:46 am

Hah, Kerry, you ever work in McKeldin? Paula, the staff member from Periodicals, where my gf works, refers to me as her “friend.” Clearly it’s just Paula’s way.

Sorry to hijack, but I thought you might appreciate that.

avatar kerrycontrary March 12, 2013, 10:01 am

No I only worked in Hornbake (archives yayyy). But it’s pretty common at my workplace to say ‘friend’ instead of ‘boyfriend’.

avatar ktfran March 12, 2013, 9:41 am

Agreed. Even when I do finally have a boyfriend, I’m not sure I would introduce him as my boyfriend. To me, it just seems childish. Now I understand others feel differently than I do and labels are a huge deal. But maybe this dude’s sister is more like me? I honestly wouldn’t read too much into that because if she treats you appropriately, i.e., like you’re dating her bro, then that’s all that should matter.

avatar GatorGirl March 12, 2013, 9:48 am

I totally agree with you LBH- I was introduced to a co-workers live-in “boyfriend” as her friend, and it took me a few weeks to figure out she meant romantic friend, not buddy. They are both over 45 and have teenage children. I’m thinking the same thing is going on in this situation. Even at 27, I felt silly calling my now-fiance “boyfriend” when we’d been together 4 years and lived together.

We need to invent a grown up word for boyfriend.

avatar ktfran March 12, 2013, 9:53 am

Ooh, I like that! Wasn’t there a similar conversation on here a long while ago? I’m too lazy to go find it. I’m also too lazy to think of a clever name at the moment.

avatar lets_be_honest March 12, 2013, 9:58 am

Yup, I think we all decided Lovah would be good.

avatar lets_be_honest March 12, 2013, 9:58 am

speaking of funny words/phrases, my boyfriend told me to “step off” last night. I almost died laughing.

avatar ktfran March 12, 2013, 10:03 am

Yesterday I saw and pinned to my pinterest board a picture of a pickle that says “I’m kind of a big dill.”

That had me cracking up for hours. No idea why. But it did. I’m still smiling thinking about it.

avatar lets_be_honest March 12, 2013, 10:06 am

Love it!

avatar GatorGirl March 12, 2013, 10:17 am

hahaha I love pickles! and pickle jokes!

cmary cmary March 12, 2013, 10:18 am

I just full on snorted a laugh at my desk at that. Step off. I’ll have to remember use that. It’s so perfect sometimes.

avatar ktfran March 12, 2013, 10:00 am

Ha! That’s right. And I distinctly remember AP being involved in this conversation and coming up with that name.

avatar GatorGirl March 12, 2013, 10:27 am

I use manfriend sometimes. It sounds pretty silly but I don’t like using BF either.

iwannatalktosampson Iwannatalktosampson March 12, 2013, 2:23 pm

Oh I like manfriend! I hated fiance and chose never to use it. Barf face. I could never say lovah and keep a straight face – so it seems manfriend is my favorite. It doesn’t sound pretentious or annoying and doesn’t make me blush. Win!

avatar TheGirlinME March 12, 2013, 2:19 pm

@ kt, there was. I think “gentleman caller” was thrown in there, too?

avatar MissDre March 12, 2013, 11:27 am

I have a co-worker… the first time I met him he referred to his live-in girlfriend as his partner and my first thought when he said it was that he was gay. Not sure why that was my first instinct, buy now that I think about it, I like “partner” as a grown up word for boyfriend or girlfriend.

suzyinthesky euphemia March 12, 2013, 2:55 pm

Hey I’ve always used “partner”! When I read GG’s comment I immediately skimmed through all the replies to see if anyone had said something about it. I suppose perhaps it’s different in Britain than the US, but I use the phrase to mean someone with whom I’m in a serious relationship (if not living together, then it’s happening at a definite point in the near future). to me, “partner” always meant “live-in man-/boyfriend” but as I grow older (and wiser?) it also means “life-partner”.

avatar GatorGirl March 12, 2013, 3:57 pm

I think to a lot of people here (in the US) partner refers to a same sex relationship. Nothing wrong with using the word obviously, I just hear it almost exclusively used in same sex relationships.

avatar kristenmichelle March 12, 2013, 8:38 pm

I refer to my boyfriend as my “partner.” My job/training is in social work and mental health and it’s a more inclusive term. And I agree that it sounds more grown up, which is why I use it!

katie katie March 12, 2013, 10:44 am

random shoutout to LBH- i just created a pink fondant color that we are making cakes out of and sending to mr cake boss himself… haha. i thought of you.

avatar lets_be_honest March 12, 2013, 11:06 am

Love him!

avatar jlyfsh March 12, 2013, 9:57 am

I kind of got the impression that his children were grown, the oldest child is 17. that would mean that his daughter at this point would be an adult (obviously she could still be in college and not living on her own, etc). so i agree she’s going to be around forever but at this point the children are grown.

i also read that they maybe all went to school together (even if they weren’t friends?) perhaps that adds to her familiarity with the family? because of that maybe the sister and the ex-wife were friends growing up? which we can’t expect our so’s family’s to drop friends they’ve had for years. it’s probably something she’s just going to have to get over.

and personally i think often female children have bigger issues with parents dating again than male children do, or maybe they just show it in a different way so it’s more obvious? my sister has always had a harder time with my Mom dating (which she didn’t start until my sister was an adult, she still has issues with it now at 27, definitely time for her to grow up and put her big girl panties on and realize mom deserves to dates!, but that’s another story :)) and the last man she dated (whose daughter was 30 and married with kids, and whose mother (his ex-wife) had remarried) definitely wasn’t as welcoming as his son. and as aside i think being the youngest child also changed the way she reacting to my Mom dating, but that’s just a personal opinion too :)

that being said i think the problem is probably with the boyfriend. they probably aren’t on the same page and maybe his sister doesn’t think they are dating based on what he’s said. or the impression she has of their relationship. if i were her, i would just treat her problems as separate issues. give the daughter time and realize that the ex isn’t going anywhere.

bagge72 bagge72 March 12, 2013, 10:15 am

I get that the mother of his children is always going to be around, but she doesn’t have to be around to this extent, his children are grown ups now, and there is no need for his ex-wife to be going to his family’s house, and hanging out with his sister. It sounds to me like this guy doesn’t have enough back bone to tell his family, and his ex-wife to stop hanging around with each other, which to me is perfectly expectable considering how she treated him.

I do believe the LW is a little overboard though, with saying she is always around in and her face, when it doesn’t even sound like she has met the women though.

avatar oldie March 12, 2013, 11:43 am

Huh? His daughter is 11. And what’s with ‘no reason to go to his families’ house and hang out with his sister?’ His sister is entitled to choose her own friends and is allowed to hang out with whomever she wishes. As the new gf, LW does not get to decide who her bfs sister is allowed to pal around with. Ex-wife has been in the family at least 16 years and grew up in the same town as bf’s sister, possibly was even friends with sister going back to before the marriage.

LW is off the wall in trying to stake her claim to this guy, who she hasn’t even had sex with. His ex-wife isn’t going to evaporate. They share custody of children still living at home. She is friends with her ex-husband’s family. It is an unreasonable expectation on the part of any gf that she will never see a picture of an ex when she visits her bf’s family. They do not need to lead their lives to accomodate her insecurities. They seem to all live in a small community, where they can expect to run across each other with some frequency.

LW is going to earn ex-gf status for herself if she continues to be this pushy.

avatar 6napkinburger March 12, 2013, 11:48 am

His daughter isn’t 11; she WAS 11 when she returned to her father/the US (presumably from being taken somewhere else with the mother). All his children are adults; the youngest is HER daughter, who is 17. It is confusing though…

avatar oldie March 12, 2013, 12:39 pm

Okay, I misread that part. That makes her rant even stranger. Why is she so bent out of shape about something her bf’s ex did to her bf at least 6 years ago? LW seems weird to me. There is also something off about her description of the heinous sins of the ex. If the ex was so clearly in the wrong, it seems strange that bf’s family is still on intimate terms with her. If LW and bf are taking things so slow, why is LW getting so enmeshed in bf’s family and feeling she has the right to squeeze out the ex? Bf’s sister was showing her pictures on her cellphone and the last one happened to be of the ex? What a criminal act! It frankly is paranoid to assume that the ex was hiding in the other room.

avatar lets_be_honest March 12, 2013, 11:48 am

The daughter isn’t 11 anymore. She was talking about her age when the parents divorced I think.
Odd that you think the way to ‘stake your claim’ is by having sex though. Maybe I’m reading your comment wrong?

I do agree she needs to overcome this insecurity though.

avatar oldie March 12, 2013, 12:41 pm

No, that’s not a way to stake your claim. It is an indication of how relatively early she still is in relationship with her bf. Is she insecure or is she so bubbling over with security that she feels entitled to tell bf’s family how they must behave with his ex?

avatar jlyfsh March 12, 2013, 11:49 am

the daughter was 11 at the time of the divorce, which was an undetermined number of years ago. the LW also says that the youngest child between them is now 17 (her daughter). so his daughter is presumably at least 18 at this point if her daughter is the youngest.

(i feel like figuring out that from her letter was kind of like one of those awful math word problems)

avatar jlyfsh March 12, 2013, 11:51 am

or not divorce when she was ‘sent back’ to him at age 11. who knows how old she was at the divorce…

avatar iseeshiny March 12, 2013, 1:00 pm

If Train A is traveling 30 mph with her boyfriend’s sister’s bff, and Train B is traveling from the opposite direction at 45 mph with her ex mother in law, how many people will stop to watch the resulting collision if the ex mother in law has had eight vodka gimlets and still resents her for suing for custody of the children?

avatar MMcG March 12, 2013, 1:31 pm

The answer is Pi = 3.14159265359

avatar ktfran March 12, 2013, 3:32 pm

Thursday is national pi day or something. I think.

avatar iseeshiny March 12, 2013, 3:52 pm

Mmmm. Pie.

bagge72 bagge72 March 12, 2013, 12:23 pm

Like everyone else said, the youngest of the kids is 17, his daughter moved back in with him when she was 11. I personally think that with the way this women treated him, he has every right to ask his sister not to hangout with her, and every right to ask his ex to not hangout with his family. I never said the LW gets to decide that, and I said she went overboard with what she saw, but if it makes it easier for your rant by all means putt words in my mouth.

I also think the guys sister is pretty shitty for being friends with this women, because I know that someone in my family would not be very nice to a women who cheated on me, and then in the middle of the night moved to a different country with my children.

avatar oldie March 12, 2013, 12:45 pm

Well, with that timing the ex has likely been hanging out with bf’s sister for at least six years. Sister clearly doesn’t see the ex as an awful person. It really isn’t any of LW’s business to intrude in a family friendship, which her bf has at least tolerated for a long time before she became his gf.

bagge72 bagge72 March 12, 2013, 1:14 pm

The daughter moved back when she was 11 not the mother, she stayed where ever she was, and his daughter is older than 17. The LW’s daughter is 17 and the youngest, so his daughter is older than that.
I think you are looking way too much into this. You are acting like the LW is calling her BF every day, and telling him that he needs to get his ex-wife out of his life now or else she is leaving. It doesn’t seem like she made any request like that at all (thank god since she is overreacting), she is writing in to ask how to handle the situation though.

She is clearly insecure in her new relationship, and just worried about the relationship she is going to have with this women she probably dislikes because of how bad she treated her ex-husband. All the stuff about their kids ages was just a back story to show when, and how bad the ex-wife treated her ex-husband.

Fabelle Fabelle March 12, 2013, 9:26 am

I have several questions, to start. Some pertain to ways you’ve written this out, & some are about the actual details of the situation (that don’t make any sense)

-If the ex-wife ran off to another country with the kids, without telling your boyfriend or anything—what was the timeline? How long did she stay (just long enough to get married)? She sounds impulsive as hell & selfish, BUT to me, “taking off with the kids” means they left without telling anyone, & had no contact during the time they were gone? I don’t know, I just need more details about this part of the story.

-“I was not her friend in school…” Okay. You have a seventeen-year-old daughter. Why are you still talking about things in terms of “school”?

-Look, regardless of what happened with the kids…this woman is the mother of your boyfriend’s children, & even if he’s still angry at her, she is very much immersed in his family. That’s because your boyfriend’s mother & sister are the children’s AUNT & GRANDMA. So try to start thinking of it that way. (Also, oops, I guess this wasn’t a question)

-” it is disheartening to have her in my face all the time.” But, how is she in your face? She has a relationship with the sister, who you also have a relationship with. You saw a PHOTO on her on a phone—you’re not actually running into her in person everywhere. This is all your issue. She’s not “in your face” in any way; she’s just a presence in the lives of people you know.

Eh. That’s all I’ve got…both you AND your boyfriend (if he’s as upset as you say) need to starting looking at this differently.

avatar CG March 12, 2013, 10:43 am

I don’t get the thing about taking the kids to another country, either. Depending on their custody arrangement, wouldn’t she have needed permission (I hate that word but can’t think of a better one to describe what I mean) to move with the kids? So if that was done without his knowledge or consent, wouldn’t that have ended up in a court battle and she could have gotten arrested for custodial interference, etc? But now she’s back and is besties with his sister and no one in his family is raising hell about her kidnapping the kids and generally being a shitty parent. IDK, that part just doesn’t make sense to me.

avatar lets_be_honest March 12, 2013, 10:45 am

Yes, absolutely she would need permission from the children’s father. Otherwise its called kidnapping. Its very strange.

avatar GatorGirl March 12, 2013, 11:14 am

I wrote up a longer thing but DW froze. Boo.

If they hadn’t finalized a custody agreement, would she need permission? It probably varies greatly depending on the state etc. but don’t mothers usually get preferential treatment?

And, as sad as it sounds, it doesn’t suprize me that this guy’s sister is friends with his kidnapper ex. People are terribly judges of character and often live life with little regard for others.

avatar lets_be_honest March 12, 2013, 11:17 am

Mothers don’t get preferential treatment. That’s such a load of bs, probably stemming from deadbeat fathers.

(dw is weird today)

avatar GatorGirl March 12, 2013, 11:51 am

I didn’t word that very well. Based on my more limited knowledge- women usually win primary custody (baring abuse, drugs, the like) (I am completely aware that this is skewed by the number of men who flake out on their children). Yes, legally speaking women are no longer supposed to be given preferential treatment while going through the court system. But I find it hard to beleive that there isn’t a least a little bias in awarding the children to the mother rather than the fater.

I have two uncles who are prime examples. Both of them are in the midst of lengthly custody battles with their ex’s. In one example the mother of the children repeatedly leaves the 3 and 5 year old at home with the 13 year old (different father) while she works late nights, the children are constantly dirty and lice infested (we’re talking a year long lice problem), and are laging in school. The father is independently wealthy and is essentially at home all of the time, but she was awarded primary custody. My other uncle’s soon to be ex wife has decided visitation should be supervised (it is NOT court mandated) and refuses to drop the children off unless there is an “approved” third party there. She’s in contempt of court for breaking the custody agreement, refusing to provide her address to the court (or her place of work), etc etc. But even though she is in contempt of court she still get’s primary custody- for what reason I can not figure out.

So, yes legally speaking you can not give women preferential treatement in custody cases but I’d wager it’s still a pretty pervasive thought in our culture. (The thought that children should be with the mother.)

avatar lets_be_honest March 12, 2013, 11:56 am

I do not think that’s true, legally or otherwise. I say this from my experience, and general knowledge too.
I think it often turns out that way, yes, but not because the court favors one or the other.

avatar GatorGirl March 12, 2013, 12:09 pm

In my experience mothers do get preferential treatement- my two uncles are examples. Mother’s doing a half assed job (or blantantly breaking the law) but still be awarded primary custody, when there are men fighting to just be able to visit the children.

avatar lets_be_honest March 12, 2013, 12:20 pm

For whatever reason, quite possibly unknown to you (not like your uncles would tell you if there is a negative side to them which was the reason they didn’t get custody), the courts felt the children would be better off with their mom full time.
I’ve been trying to find a great article I read on this once, but I can’t. It pisses me off a lot when I hear comments like that, and I’m surprised you and I disagree on this.
Going to keep looking for that article.

avatar lets_be_honest March 12, 2013, 12:37 pm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cathy-meyer/dispelling-the-myth-of-ge_b_1617115.html

FOUND IT! The highlight…91 percent of child custody after divorce is decided with no interference from the family court system.

avatar Grilledcheesecalliope March 12, 2013, 1:03 pm

Thats interesting but I think what GG is talking about and what I mean is when a father does want primary custody or when the mutually agreed upon arrangement no longer works and courts have to be involved that’s where a bias comes in. It seems that in order to deprive a mother of primary custody you basically have to prove she is a crack ho, while retaining primary custody even if the father wants it is much easier. Personally I think if more fathers went to court in the beginning and got joint custody a bias wouldn’t be a problem.

avatar lets_be_honest March 12, 2013, 1:12 pm

The stats just don’t agree with that though. My personal experience as well as my experience in the field and in the courts also don’t. I hate to just offer one story of one person, because its only one instance disproving something, but a girlfriend of mine lost custody simply because she got a DUI (when the kids were not in her care).

avatar BreezyAM March 13, 2013, 1:00 am

Like LBH, IME when a man claims he has been biased against… he has not done the filing he claims or he has some other nefarious shit going on you do not know about. In fact, in my observations, when a man makes a slight cough toward wanting custody, judges bend over backasswards for him.

avatar Grilledcheesecalliope March 12, 2013, 12:53 pm

Im pretty sure mothers do get preference based on the perception that a mother is more important. Some states are less preferential, Utah for example, but other states like Colorado specifically have lawyers who represent men in family law because of that issue. Maybe other countries are different.

avatar BreezyAM March 13, 2013, 1:01 am

Yes and those lawyers are misogynist asshats. You seriously need to research this more. Lord have mercy I expect more from DW…

avatar kerrycontrary March 12, 2013, 12:12 pm

As far as I understand it, it’s who the primary caretaker is before the divorce. So father is working and the mother isn’t? Mother usually gets primary custody. Both parents work but the mother does most of household duties/childcare on top of her job, mother gets primary custody. Depending on the state some children can “choose” after the age of 12-13.

avatar *HmC* March 13, 2013, 1:25 am

Bias my foot. I’m with Breezy all the way here. I have a few years of experience in family court and I can tell you that the men actually attempting to gain any form of custody is a negligible minority. Exceptions don’t disprove this, especially people that you know personally and thus only know their side of the story (as lbh pointed out below)…

avatar *HmC* March 13, 2013, 1:30 am

And to be clear, I’m not saying that most fathers in general don’t have custody of their kids, I’m talking about court-orders here. In cases where the court had to get involved and declare custody (which means the parents couldn’t come to an informal agreement that worked for them), it is extremely rare to have a man that requests full custody. And in those cases, I have not seen a bias against them. It’s that none of them ask for it. Breezy is right. If a guy is whining about bias and not getting custody, I’d bet dollars to donuts you’re getting the whole story.

avatar *HmC* March 13, 2013, 1:31 am

“you’re NOT getting the whole story”

avatar sarolabelle March 12, 2013, 9:29 am

I just am confused by how the youngest of all the children is 17 and then the 11 year old was sent back. I’m going to think that this 11 year old is now about 20…..

You really don’t have a problem LW. She was a part of the family for a while. His sister and her are friends….she is the mother of his kids. She is going to be around.

avatar MissDre March 12, 2013, 9:41 am

She’s saying it all happened in the past. The daughter was sent back at the age of 11, then stayed with her father and was “the lady of the house” for a long time. This was all years ago.

avatar Ladybug March 12, 2013, 9:29 am

Honestly, this sounds like an issue that your boyfriend needs to raise with his family. I know it has to be frustrating for you to know that the ex-wife is hanging around, but it’s definitley not your place to ask the mother and sister to quit seeing her so much. Considering the history, I don’t think it would be out of life for your boyfriend to ask his mother and sister to be civil to his ex-wife for the sake of the kids but remind them of how painful her presence is to him and ask that they not pal around with her so much. But again, that needs to be his call, not yours.

avatar Ladybug March 12, 2013, 10:04 am

*out of LINE, not life. I really shouldn’t be allowed near a keyboard before the coffee kicks in.

avatar kerrycontrary March 12, 2013, 9:44 am

LW, I sort of get where you are coming from. My boyfriend’s ex is still in contact with his family, even though my boyfriend has no contact with her (been broken up for 5+ years now). She hangs out with my boyfriend’s sister on occasion, still talks to the family. This annoys both of us because she treated my boyfriend poorly and I never got a very good impression of her when I had to be around. But whatever. We can’t control who his sister hangs out with–she’s a grown woman and you can’t tell other people who they don’t spend time with. Your boyfriend has children with this woman, and as crazy as she may be she is always going to be around because they share children (warning: be careful who you procreate with!). I think you are upset because his family spending time with this woman makes you feel insecure about your position in his life. Maybe you are wondering if his family likes you, if they are accepting of you, if they wish he was still with his ex? But you have no say over who your boyfriend’s family spends time with, so I would just put on a shitty grin and deal with it. Your boyfriend needs to address this with his family if it gets brought up at all because it’s not your place right now.

avatar Christy March 12, 2013, 9:48 am

Kerry, love the response.

Wendy, LOVE the thumbs!

Lianne Lianne March 12, 2013, 9:57 am

Yeah, I am going with the majority on this one. She will never be out of your boyfriend’s life, or your boyfriend’s family’s lives. The kids have sealed that, whether you like it or not. The type of “in your face” activity you describe sounds like the normal course of that fact. So really you need to decide if you’re ok with it and if you really want to be in this relationship.

If not, MOA!

katie katie March 12, 2013, 10:18 am

i dont have time to type out a whole reply- i just agree with this and ill add that 1. you sound very immature for what i assume is a grown woman with a 17 year old, 2. you sound like you live in a small town where everyone knows everyone’s business, and if thats the case, get used to it or move, and then 3. its a red flag, to me anyway, that your boyfriend “cant stand” to be around the woman he had children with, and 4. WLS.

avatar T_explainsitall March 12, 2013, 10:25 am

When I read the title of this letter I was expecting something along the lines of actual direct contact with your boyfriend’s ex. Nothing you mentioned here seems anywhere near that, so I’m not sure exactly what you want? She’s not going to go away completely as she is the mother of your boyfriend’s children, as a mother yourself, I’m sure you’d understand.
Maybe this woman is “crazy” for picking up & taking off with your bf’s kids, etc… But again, none of that has been a direct attack on you. Yeah, it sucks she’s friend’s with your bf’s family, but there’s not much you can do about it.
At the end of the day, any changes that could be made regarding you bf’s family’s relationship with his ex has to come from him. If he really “can’t stand her around” & is so bothered by her presence in his life, well then he needs to be the one to speak with her or his family.
As long as you’re with this man, this woman will be in your life. How much is up to your boyfriend to decide. If it gets too out of hand that you’re no longer comfortable with her, well then, that’s on you & you need to reevaluate your relationship.
As for the sister introducing you as your bf’s “friend,” well that is disrespectful & def. something you should talk to her about! Not in a confrontational way, however, but stay firm.
It’s not really clear how long you’ve been with your bf so if it’s been a few months, that could explain a lot!

avatar Sophronisba March 12, 2013, 11:55 am

It does sound like your insecurity is talking, and an attempt to regulate other people’s actions to relieve your anxiety cannot work. A cheating, kidnapping, trouble-making vixen is no competition for you, so quit giving her power in your life..

avatar oldie March 12, 2013, 12:57 pm

Well we really don’t know that the ex is ‘a cheating, kidnapping, trouble-making vixen’, do we? If she kidnapped, then the bf could have had her charged, but apparently he didn’t. We have only bf’s word relayed through LW that bf got divorced over 6 years ago, because his ex cheated on him. May or may not be true, he may also have cheated, the divorce could in fact have been due to his awful behavior. All we know is that bf’s family is still very friendly with the ex and don’t appear to see her as ‘a cheating, kidnapping, trouble-making vixen’. That letter writer apparently feels the need to rehash her bf’s divorce and prove how totally, royally screwed he was by his ex is odd. There isn’t even any evidence in letter of the ex being a trouble maker. Remaining friendly with your ex-sister-in-law who was and is from your home town does not a trouble maker make. LW tries to make the LW sound nuts, while writing a letter, which makes herself sound nuts.

avatar oldie March 12, 2013, 1:30 pm

But I’m sure this makes no sense: “He suffers from depression over her taking off with the kids (the kids were his life) and he is still dealing with the anger he has towards her. ”

So… at least six years later he’s still depressed because she temporarily ran off with the kids? It sounds like he’s depressed because he is suffering from clinical depression and isn’t being treated. He’s still this angry after six years, but ‘talks to her politely for the kids’ sake’ ?

There is a lot of fantasy in this letter.

redessa redessa March 12, 2013, 11:55 am

On the “friend” thing… Years ago, my best friend – let’s call her Amy – had been married about 3 or 4 years to “Tim” and they’d just had their first baby. They went to visit his parents one weekend and went to church with them. Amy went to the women’s meeting wither her MIL who proceeded to introduce her as “Tim’s friend, Amy.” She’s his WIFE who was holding the baby and wearing a wedding ring.

And you know what she did about it? Nothing. Okay, she told a few friends and we laughed about how nutty her MIL is (and she is!). But it doesn’t matter how anyone else defines your relationship as long as the two of you are on the same page.

BTW, Amy and Tim are still married, 18 yrs now, have 6 kids and his mother is still nuts. Some things just aren’t worth getting worked up over.

avatar lets_be_honest March 12, 2013, 12:05 pm

That’s hilarious(ly f’d up)!

FireStar FireStar March 12, 2013, 12:11 pm

Accept you have no control over other’s people actions and your life will be easier. The ex is free to befriend who she wants to, to live where she wants, the sister is free to have her over – irrespective of how her brother feels. If she was an in-law for a long time – it makes sense that she is close to her in-laws – they have history together….and are family since there are kids in the mix.
Stop acting like she is raining on your parade. She is the mother of your boyfriend’s children no matter how much you wish it wasn’t so and she didn’t exist. Either accept her presence or leave. Stop stoking the flames of anger/annoyance in your boyfriend towards this woman with your petty grievances – no good will come out of it.

avatar Lindsay March 12, 2013, 1:32 pm

I really thought I commented on this. Oh well.

I don’t really understand what the problem is. Yes, it was bad that the ex took the kids. Yes, I’m sure it sucks to see her pic. But I wouldn’t define this as “in your face,” unless you’re leaving something out, like a lot. When you date a divorced man with children, the ex is going to be around. It’s just how it works. And you can’t control what sort of family he’s got or what sort of ex he’s got to where you are guaranteed no issues.

If the kids are back with the dad, I’m not sure why he’s “depressed” over it. I guess, to me, I’d be angry, but the problem’s been solved, right? Also, I wouldn’t be so happy over him being angry at his ex. Yes, it means that he’s not going to try to keep her around, but it’s hard to move on with your life with someone else if you’re consumed with anger.

avatar painted_lady March 12, 2013, 1:56 pm

As shitty and unfair as it may seem, when you introduce a romantic partner to the people in your life, there’s always the chance that they forge a relationship with that person that goes beyond just “brother’s (ex) wife” or “friend’s boyfriend.” My mom stays in touch with my uncle’s ex-boyfriend, and has even gone to visit him. She loves my uncle, and she understands there was some shitty stuff that went down, but she also loves this guy a lot and they have a lot in common. A good friend of mine was introduced to my last ex while we were dating, and when we broke up, the friend switched loyalties. As in, my ex was invited to his wedding and I wasn’t. As in, I used to go out with this guy every other weekend in a big group, and I saw him at a mutual friend’s wedding in January for the first time in a year. My mom’s cousin divorced his wife Jodi and almost immediately after married Nancy. Not Nancy’s fault, but the entire family adored Jodi, and they maintain ties with her to this day, nearly thirty years later. Not just out of obligation because there were kids, but Jodi and her ex-MIL go to lunch often, and the cousins invite her to christenings and weddings and such…and at first, Nancy HATED it – felt like she was always being compared, wanted that part of her husband’s life to be over, wanted the family to embrace her like they embraced Jodi. You know when it happened? When Nancy accepted that just because they loved Jodi doesn’t mean they couldn’t also love her. She quit complaining about it and befriended her MIL and the rest of the family…and my aunt – her MIL – adores her now, depends on her, enjoys her, travels with her – she loves Jodi, too, but it isn’t a contest. It isn’t for you, either. Don’t turn it into one.

avatar oldie March 12, 2013, 6:36 pm

It’s not shitty at all. You bring home a SO with a comment/attitude like ‘I hope you will love him/her as much as I do’. If you’re lucky, your family does. They don’t have to share your delight in the personality/outlook of your SO, but they have done so and truly welcomed him/her into the larger family. Your SO is an integral and loved part of the family for years. You and your SO have kids together. Your family loves your kids. They think you have a great family. Then you decide to change how you think of your SO. Perhaps you just lost interest, found someone else, or dislike something they did, or just that they gained weight. Now your family is supposed to just throw a switch and unlove the person that, with your strong encouragement, they have loved for years. Nope! You may reasonably ask your family to welcome and love this new SO that you are so smitten with, but it is unreasonable to expect them to share your hate of your ex. If they’re not inviting your ex to functions that you and new SO attend, consider yourself blessed. If they want to visit privately with your ex, who is now their loved friend, then that doesn’t really harm you or your new SO. Acceptance of your new SO, does not require hatred for or abandoning of your ex. Yes, they know what trangsgressions you claim your ex is guilty of in your relationship. But then, they also likely know what transgressions you were guilty of, or at least the rude/insulting/bad behavior that you displayed in front of them.

You don’t own your exes. YOur friends and relatives are free to befriend them, date them, marry them, whatever they choose. If you think that is wrong, you are being controlling.

P.S. Not suggesting at all that the person who posted comment to which I replied is controlling, simply that I reject notion that it is shitty for friends or family to choose to remain friends with an ex.

sobriquet sobriquet March 12, 2013, 2:50 pm

I was in a kind of sort of similar situation with my boyfriend when we first met. The situation ended in a mess of drama in early January with him emailing his ex that it was time for her to move on and having his entire family remove her on Facebook! So maybe I can offer some advice.

I actually think it’s very inappropriate for family members to stay closely entwined with ex’s unless everyone is friendly and happy with the arrangement, but what are you gonna do? Let your boyfriend know that her presence makes you uncomfortable and then be specific. Does it make you feel like his family prefers her over you? Does it make you feel uncomfortable that someone he has slept with is constantly popping into your life? Is she a constant reminder that he was once married and you have a hard time with that thought? Did he relay so much negative info about her that you genuinely dislike her as a person? Whatever it is, tell him.

You can’t control what his family does, though, and you certainly can’t control what SHE does, so try not to let it bother you too much. The next time she pops into your life (in whatever venue, I understand that it doesn’t have to be in person to trigger an emotion), tell yourself that it didn’t work out with them, or that she’s a good person who made some mistakes, or that his family really does like you (or whatever it is to make you feel better) and then immediately move on to something else.

As long as you feel like your boyfriend is on your side and understands how you’re feeling, that should be enough.

avatar oldie March 12, 2013, 5:00 pm

This guy split with his wife at least six years ago. I feel confident in saying that LW is not the first woman he has introduced to his family as his gf since that day. In 6+ years, others have come and gone. LW says they’re moving slowly by design. They aren’t engaged. They aren’t living together. They haven’t had sex. Is there really any reason his family should regard her as super special and permanent. His sister seems willing to be a friend to LW. She seems to return that favor by feeling that she can be offended that the sister still has a relationship with his ex and that, heinous crime to top all, she has the ex’s photo on her phone, probably along with one or both kids in the same photo. As BGM says, when you marry someone with kids, grown or not, you have to expect some contact with your SO’s ex. LW is nowhere near wife category.

bittergaymark bittergaymark March 12, 2013, 3:21 pm

You know what? When you date somebody who already has children with somebody else — you need to just accept the cold hard fact that that person is going to be in your face from time to time. It’s simply inevitable. And if you can’t be a big girl (or boy) and just accept it graciously — without continually getting your panties in a wad — well, then you need to simply MOI. Not Move On Already — but Move On Immediately.

It constantly AMAZES me how so many adults out there simply can NOT stopping acting like children. You know, for the sake of the REAL children, could everybody please just grow the fuck up? Letters like this are simply PATHETIC.

iwannatalktosampson Iwannatalktosampson March 12, 2013, 3:40 pm

I agree. I’m shocked at the number of people in relationships with people with kids that DON’T want their significant other speaking to their children’s mother/father. In fact if someone didn’t have a good relationship with their children’s other parent I would consider that a red flag. It is so crazy to me that this is somehow expected as the norm.

iwannatalktosampson Iwannatalktosampson March 12, 2013, 3:49 pm

And by shocked I mean totally used to it in crazy insecure DW land – but shocked that people in real life think it’s okay to think this way.

sobriquet sobriquet March 12, 2013, 4:06 pm

I definitely agree when there are kids involved, but isn’t it kind of weird that his family is hanging out with his ex after things ended so terribly? I can understand if things ended amicably, but it doesn’t sound like they did. I mean, she cheated on him and moved the kids away! The family can obviously still have an active role in the children’s lives without being buddy-buddy with the ex-wife. They’ll see each other at graduations and weddings and that’s it. I just cannot imagine spending time with my brother’s cheating ex-wife.

Maybe there’s more to the story here. Or maybe it’s just a small ass town and everyone hangs out with everyone.

avatar oldie March 12, 2013, 4:54 pm

This can also be seen as an indication that the rest of the family isn’t buying LW/her bfs view on the reason his marriage ended and what happened after that. If the ex wrote in, we’d likely learn that it was the LW’s bf who cheated and was abusive, that the ex had full custody and was fully within her rights to move away with her kids, and that the rest of the family views LW’s bf as something of a head case. Not necessarily all of this is accurate, but the letter is sketchy, to say the least. The guy is depressed and angry and blames it on stuff that happened at least six years ago? Or his ex left him because he was always angry/depressed/whatever else? I’ve had members of my extended family remain friendly/in contact with a divorced ex, because they knew full well all the problems that the family member caused her.

avatar Sue Jones March 13, 2013, 12:56 pm

The cold hard truth is, once someone breeds with someone else, they will always be in their life to some extent. New partners need to suck it up and at least be gracious and not act like a middle school mean girl.

avatar Sue Jones March 13, 2013, 12:59 pm

And I should add that I am a stepmom. My husband’s ex and I mostly get along and are civil to each other but there have been a lot of issues over the past 18 years or so that I have been a stepmom, and sometimes she annoys the crap out of me, but really, what is best is to let it all roll off your back. And not creating unnecessary drama. Could you just accept the fact that you got the guy and that she will pop up every now and then? Because that is what you will have to do.