It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today we hear from “Agreement Broached!” who wanted to clarify some things about his letter I posted and answered on Tuesday in which he complains that his ex introduced her new boyfriend to their shared son before introducing him to the LW. Warning: it’s long. Maybe grab some coffee. Or some bourbon. Or pour bourbon in your coffee.
Karen and I have been separated for 15 months and up until March we attended counselling once per month. We worked on having an amicable divorce, guiding our son through the divorce, dating, co-parenting, apologizing, and forgiveness. Of course emotions, anger, and misunderstanding came up, too.
In the dating session we agreed we would do it the “right way” as Karen said. This agreement was that the parent who finds a SO will introduce the SO to the other parent before introducing them to our son. We talked about it and read articles that by doing so it would be respectful, reduce tension, create a bond with three adults in our son’s life, and help make times we are all in the same room more pleasant. Controlling, vetting, or being intrusive was not in the equation — only respect was.
I knew Karen would be dating well before me, find a SO before me, and move on faster than me. She was in a position to do that; I was not. Now, I have a “friend only” with whom I enjoy going to dinner, movies, walking the dog, supporting each other, but we are not “SO’s” in the romantic sense. However, since my son and I would be spending time together, I told Karen about her and asked when we could set up some time for them to meet. She refused.
Karen made it clear she was dating but nothing serious. She said she wanted to find happiness with someone at some point but was enjoying her freedom too much for that now.
Then, on Easter weekend in the home driveway, with windows down, phone speaker up high, she was heard in a lovey-dovey conversation with a guy that ended with I love you’s. Maybe I should have calmly, caringly, and patiently let her know I learned of the Easter Weekend call, but the person who told me about it swore me to secrecy. Instead, I texted Karen reminding her of our agreement and to be honest if she was in a serious relationship because I suspected she was. She said again that it was “nothing serious.”
Six weeks after the “I love you” call, I wanted to end her lying, deceit, and dishonesty. I was made aware that that weekend she was not going out with her friends to watch the game like she said but was going away with a guy whom I assumed was her SO.
When I dropped off our son on Sunday, I asked Karen if we could go to the coffee shop and talk for 15 minutes. She refused. I asked again and she made up excuse after excuse before our son piped up and said, “Mom, just go out with Dad. Isn’t that what parents do is talk?”
Very begrudgingly, she said fine. Just as we got in the car, she went ballistic. “Don’t ever put me in that position again; we have nothing to talk about and I hate you,” she said.
I was shocked and disappointed that this conversation didn’t seem like it would be pleasant or productive and I was upset from hearing the words she said.
We did make it to the coffee shop, but she refused to go in. She had more yelling and screaming to do. I stayed with my goal of “why don’t you just be honest as it is clear to me you have a SO.” At some point, she said, “Okay, I do. I was dating a number of guys but narrowed it down to one and we fell in love.” I said, “See, now that wasn’t too hard, was it?” She didn’t like that. I asked some general questions and she said he is more respectful than the other guys, is good-looking, takes care of himself, played some high-level hockey, is my age, has introduced her to his kids, and has met Karen’s 23-year-old (whom I supported and raised since she was 6). She told me his name and where he lives. I said, “Congratulations, sounds like you met a good catch and, of course, he is the luckiest man alive. I would like to congratulate him when I meet him.”
We talked about our son and how that was going to be handled and we agreed that with we three together I would tell him Mommy has met someone she really likes, Mommy says he is really nice, Mommy will be spending time with him, and Daddy is happy for Mommy finding a good guy.
I brought up: “Should we tell him that I will meet him first and then introduce him to him?” She said she’d need to think about it. She said to tell her when I was ready to get together and do this.
The next day she texted and told me that she is not waiting too long for me to be ready to tell our son. So we had gone from her lying, to being in love, to rushing into her SO meeting with our son, to hostility and backing out of our agreements.
I told her I am totally ready to meet her SO, but I got no reply for a number of days and then when I reached out again, she said: “He refuses to meet you and I am not putting him in an awkward position.”
Time marched on, but she would not reply when I asked her when we would be telling our son about her SO.
So…I asked our son if Mommy had introduced him to a guy. He said no. I let it go, but two weeks later I asked again, a little more meaningfully, telling him lying will hurt and no matter what I won’t be mad. He then said yes, accidentally, he’s met him a few times now. I was not the slightest bit mad and have not brought it up again.
So two or three agreements were broken not to mention a few more before all this.
Then my being told the new boyfriend is now sleeping in the matrimonial home I still own half of when it says in the pre-nup only mom, daughter, and son can have occupation of it without my written consent? It goes beyond being disrespectful in my opinion.
Would it not have been less intrusive to our son if Karen even texted me that she had gone ahead and introduced our son to her SO??
It is hopeful now that you see I am over Karen: Although I enjoyed many good years with an amazing-looking woman and one as amazing on the inside, it is well over.
Although I did put my son in the middle a bit and I know I am wrong for that and need to apologize, am I wrong to think that Karen’s slide from a fairly good place we had in March all started around the time she got this boyfriend? Am I wrong to be somewhat angry and disappointed from the dishonesty? Can I not be disappointed that this guy will be spending time with my son but refuses to meet his father? If we do ever meet, does this set things up on the right foot? Am I wrong to feel that perhaps these things were done on purpose to hurt me and get revenge of some sort? Or is it maybe that her SO has her convinced to be mean and hateful to me?
I may never know for sure and know assumptions will only hurt me. And, yes, I do have to move on. Yesterday is gone and all the money in the world can’t change it. So moving on more each day is the goal.
In answer to your questions: Yes, you are wrong. You are wrong and grossly inappropriate on so many levels, in so many ways that I don’t have the time or energy to spell out for you. The fact that you are using your son to get information about your ex’s love life – information that you really, truly believe you’re entitled to but that YOU ARE NOT — is beyond sad, and does far, far worse damage to him that all the damage you claim your ex is doing by “lying” to you. She’s not lying to you! She just withheld telling you the details of her dating life, which were none of your damn business, regardless of what kind of “loose agreement” you think you had with her. A “loose agreement” doesn’t mean shit, especially when one person involved in the agreement is behaving the way you are.
I urge you to continue therapy on your own. It’s clear you aren’t anywhere close to being over Karen despite your claims to the contrary. If you feel Karen is in violation of your pre-nup, discuss that with a lawyer and have some mediation about it. But for the love of everything, please, please, PLEASE stop using your son as a pawn in this game you’re playing. And if you honestly talk to a 14-year-old the way you’ve described above, saying things like “Mommy has a new friend, and Mommy thinks he’s a really nice guy, and Mommywill be spending time with him,” you need to stop doing that, too. I don’t even talk to my 7-year-old like that. Your son isn’t a baby.
Finally, there was absolutely no need for you to introduce your ex to a woman you claim is a “friend only,” per any agreement you have with Karen OR per social rules of normal, functioning adults. By your own admission, you aren’t in a relationship with her. Maybe you want Karen to think you are, but she doesn’t care, and she doesn’t want to meet this person, so drop it.
I’ll say it again: You are behaving really, really inappropriately. It’s clear you’re really hurting. You are fucking with your son and you need to stop. Therapy.
If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.