Mary’s ex has their daughter every other weekend and drops her back off at Mary’s house every other Sunday at 8:30. When he drops her off, he brings her in and puts her to bed and then wants to hang for sometimes an hour or two until 10:30-11:00 after their daughter has gone to bed. Mary tells me this is what they have to do to maintain their friendship. If she says anything to him, he then gets all pissed off and they end up in some long-heated conversation. Also, I was told that her ex has their daughter on Christmas Eve and will drop her off that night. He then comes back Christmas morning for just the three of them to open presents together. I also have my daughter on Christmas Eve and drop her off at her mom’s Christmas morning. I asked Mary if I could come straight there after dropping off my daughter and was told to wait because she doesn’t know how long her ex will be there. I then told her I don’t feel like it’s right that I have to sit at home and wait for her ex to leave in order to come over or that I have to leave her house on Sundays and then he shows up after that to just hang out after their daughter goes to bed.
Then she tells me that every year on their daughter’s birthday the three of them — just the three of them — go to Disneyland (her ex and her daughter share a birthday), and Mary asked me if I am going to have a problem with that. Well, I kinda do; I don’t think that’s right and I feel like that’s disrespectful.
Again, I totally understand the whole keeping things good between her and her ex, but I think their hanging out alone after her daughter goes to bed as well as a day at Disneyland as a family is all a little too much. I honestly feel that if I were to take a day to hang out with my ex and my daughter at Disneyland, as though we were still a family, I wouldn’t feel right about it because I would feel I was being disrespectful to Mary.
Please give me your input on this. — Feeling Disrespected
I agree with you that all this alone time and exclusive family time between Mary and her ex is a bit much. I would have a problem with it if I were dating someone who spent so much time with an ex. But I also don’t think it’s “wrong,” per se. Apparently, it’s what works for Mary and her ex (and their daughter). It doesn’t work for you, though, and it’s absolutely fair of you to express your discomfort. It’s rude that you have been told you can’t come over Christmas morning until her ex leaves, and that you have to leave early on Sundays so Mary’s ex can hang out with her one-on-one for one or two hours. You have every right to tell Mary how rude and disrespectful it is. You have every right to ask her to be included more and for her to limit her one-on-one time with her ex because you are uncomfortable with it (I mean, at least she could be including you more often!). If she’s afraid doing so will cause her ex to explode, you might suggest she find a mediator to have on hand, and to re-visit the terms of their custody agreement.
It sounds like you’ve started expressing your concerns, but I would be very explicit if you haven’t yet, and let her know in no uncertain terms exactly how you’re feeling. If she makes zero attempt to change things to better meet your needs and to show you and your relationship some respect, I would take the hint that you and your feelings are not a priority to her. It sounds like your relationship is fairly new — like this is the first holiday season you’ve been with her and maybe you haven’t yet been with her through her daughter’s birthday so she’s warning you ahead of time how it’s celebrated; maybe this is one of her first serious relationships post-divorce and she’s still trying to figure out how to navigate the different dynamics without offending anyone. Be sensitive to the juggling act while still maintaining your own boundaries. I think you will have a clearer idea in a month or two where you stand with Mary. If she continues to disregard you and your feelings, I’d move on.
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