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 email@example.com with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.
Helen July 18, 2019, 1:44 pm
You know why your wife keeps going back on your “agreements”? Because she only agrees to it after you bully & berate & corner her. When she’s safely away from you she goes back to the appropriate boundary she tried to enact before. I nearly had a panic attack reading your account of forcing your ex to a coffee shop with you. Purposefully asking in front of your son. And when you got what you wanted you couldn’t help gloating “that wasn’t so bad was it” Gag
I could see meeting new partners if your kid is 2 and unable to tell you if anything sketchy is going on. But your son is 14!! You are way too involved with your ex. You keep saying it’s to benefit your son but it’s clearly not. Get help before you get slapped with a restraining order. And quit stalking your ex!
TaraMonster July 18, 2019, 1:50 pm
I came here to say the exact same thing: these are not loose agreements, they’re manipulations on your part, LW. Your ex is trying to move on with her life and you’re not entitled to any information about that new life. You’re using your kid as an excuse to keep tabs on her love life and it’s extremely transparent. It sounds like you’ve even deluded yourself that this is in your kid’s best interest. It’s not. It’s about you controlling your ex wife and it’s extremely inappropriate and creepy. Get therapy ASAP.
Helen July 18, 2019, 2:21 pm
This is a perfect example of how an abusive person can use couples counseling against their abuse victim. He thinks he’s not being abusive because he’s just trying to do what they discussed in therapy. But it’s all a manipulation to control his ex
Scarlet A July 18, 2019, 4:56 pm
Dear lord, I couldn’t help thinking if this is HIS account where he’s a hero, what the hell actually happened to that poor woman. Leave your ex alone, dude!
anonymousse July 18, 2019, 2:05 pm
OMG. You are a bully! You’re super controlling and feel you are ENTITLED to know her private business. Stop fucking spying on her! Stop using your son to pump for information. You’re behaving really, really poorly. Think of what a shitty role model you’re being.
Also, her bf sleeping over is not him OCCUPYING the house.
Nothing you do is actually helping your coparenting relationship. Everything you are doing to your son and your ex is making it worse and worse. Go see a therapist and stop harassing your ex wife. You need to calm down before she gets a restraining order on you. Seriously. Stop spying on her.
Ron July 18, 2019, 2:23 pm
I agree with all of the above posters and strongly believe the LW’s update confirms all I supposed in previous post. Your continuing to complain about her bf sleeping “in the matrimonial home” confirms that this isn’t primarily about your son — it’s about you not being over Karen. Otherwise this wouldn’t have been said once, let alone repeated. Karen is your ex. That house is no longer the “matrimonial home”. When you and Karen divorced, the house lost that status. It is now the house where your ex-wife lives and from which you will collect half of the net sale proceeds, but as her home, she is free to put it to whatever use she chooses, without notifying you or seeking your approval. You are very controlling, which shrieks that you still have a strong emotional/romantic attachment to Karen. I totally believe that she now hates you. She was telling you the truth and that truth was created as a result of your awful, controlling behavior.
I doubt your ex lied to you about introducing you to her SO. Its beyond clear that he has refused to meet you. I think he has heard enough to grasp that you lack emotional control and may be a little crazy/dangerous. Why would he want to meet you? He doesn’t need your permission to fuck your ex, or have sleep-overs at what you still insist on referring to the ‘matrimonial home’, or to be introduced to your son.
LisforLeslie July 18, 2019, 2:26 pm
You gotta get some counseling. The way you keep referring to your ex’s home – I’m not even going to type those words – is creepy as fuck.
Your kid is 14. He knows what’s up. When I was 8 and my mom and me moved in with my stepdad 40 years ago (Before they were married ohmygod) I knew what was up.
You have used a lot of words to describe why your ex wife owes you something. The only thing potentially owed is the sale of the house. If you bring that to a judge, the judge will review and rule. If you try to go before a judge and say “And she told me that she was going to tell me about any man she was dating before she told my son!” that judge is going to roll his eyes and ask where is it written. And it’s not. Because that’s fucking weird.
You haven’t made your case any better here. Get help.
MP July 18, 2019, 2:27 pm
Wow. Okay, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you don’t mean harm on your ex. I don’t think you realize this but to me, a random/objective internet stranger, you sound really scary and obsessed. Stop trying to enlist your son as your private investigator and leave your ex-wife alone. It’s better for your own sanity and for you two’s co-parenting relationship if you leave her alone. She’s not being mean or hateful to you at all – she sounds scared of you. Please get help.
Fyodor July 18, 2019, 2:32 pm
Enforce the prenup and get her out of the house. If she’s violating a written agreement, get a lawyer and enforce it. You want her violation to give you special rights to butt into her life but that’s not how it works.
bondgirl July 23, 2019, 6:42 am
My thoughts exactly. He has no business grilling her with questions about her love life. BUT, if she is in violation of a signed legal agreement (i.e. the prenup), then yes he has rights to do something about it. But that’s it, unless this whole “introduce new spouses to each other before introducing them to kids” was literally written into the prenup. I highly doubt that’s the case, though.
Fyodor July 18, 2019, 2:39 pm
Your wife doesn’t like you and will never like you and will never want to share any part of her life with you. Limit your involvement to necessary coparenting tasks and otherwise live separate lives. You do not have a matrimonial home because you are no longer married.
anonymousse July 18, 2019, 2:43 pm
Your conversations should be about your son and that’s it. Her life is none of your business.
Fyodor July 18, 2019, 2:49 pm
I will add that asking strangers on the Internet to tell you that your wife is the bad guy, isn’t going to do you any good. You’re not married anymore and there’s no divorce referee. Focus on controlling what you can control and disentangle yourself from your wife and marriage.
Hannanas July 18, 2019, 3:42 pm
I wish you the art of letting go, being happy for others and not putting yourself first all the time. Amazing things will happen, LW.
Kate B. July 18, 2019, 3:58 pm
Well, I think we all know now why you’re divorced.
Essie July 18, 2019, 4:23 pm
Dude, there is no matrimonial home. The fact that you refer to it that way is skeevy, and frankly, hilarious.
Your marriage is over. Get your creepy self out of her personal business, stop using your son to spy on his mother, and for the love of god, get some professional help so you can stop obsessing over her sex life. If I were her, I’d be giving some serious thought to revisiting the custody agreement, because what you’re doing to your son is awful.
Ron July 18, 2019, 4:26 pm
And LW, your wife didn’t ‘broach’ any agreement. Broaching an agreement is to suggest or propose it for the first time. It does not, as you seem to believe, refer to breaking an agreement. I also believe that she never truly agreed to this loose agreement, but was just trying to get some peace from your badgering. And… she did go to counseling with you. She didn’t find it productive (not hard to tell why with as controlling an ex-spouse and you) and very wisely declined any further joint counseling. It’s obvious that you have to always be in charge and that she resents the hell out of you for that.
Dear Wendy July 18, 2019, 6:43 pm
That was a typo on my part!
Fyodor July 18, 2019, 7:00 pm
Ron, you are as always, incorrect. Broaching an agreement means inscribing it on a lapel ornament.
Guy Friday July 19, 2019, 11:50 am
It’s moments like this that make me wish we still had that old thumbs up system that used to be on the site 🙂
FYI July 18, 2019, 6:32 pm
Dude, I say this with kindness, but this part is even creepier than the “matrimonial home” part:
“I asked our son if mommy introduced him to a guy. He said no. I let it go but two weeks and asked again a little more meaningfully, telling him lying will hurt and no matter what I won’t be mad.”
You’re badgering your son. He gave you an answer, and you accused him and manipulated him until he gave you the answer you wanted. How do you not see this?
dinoceros July 18, 2019, 8:32 pm
I think you need a hobby. I mean, look back at your letter. You wrote ALL that about your ex and her personal life. Does that seem normal to you? To spend that much time thinking and talking about her dating life?
You keep asking if you’re wrong to feel these things. No, but with a caveat. You can feel whatever you feel. But at a certain point, a healthy adult will realize that all of those negative thoughts (particularly about something that is no longer fully their business) are only affecting their life (and others’ lives) negatively and that it’s in their best interest to try to move on from that. Additionally, any feeling that’s felt so obsessively is usually not healthy.
So, you’re not wrong for feeling these things at some point. But you’re wrong for indulging yourself and allowing yourself to obsess over this unchecked. Like, really, what’s the point of getting divorced if your whole life revolves around your ex still…
FYI July 18, 2019, 9:05 pm
“Controlling, vetting or being intrusive was not in the equation — only respect was.”
Everything you described was controlling, vetting and intrusive. Everything. I sincerely hope it helps you that everyone is agreement on this. Maybe that will convince you to get some help.
Sapphire July 19, 2019, 3:52 am
From your letter, I’m getting possessive and scary vibes. I feel bad for your ex-wife and son.
csp July 19, 2019, 8:19 am
I agree that there is nothing you can do here.
However, I can understand being uncomfortable with a stranger sleeping over while my child was in the home. I do think you make a 14 year old sound like a 5 year old in this letter but I would be worried. I think your feelings are valid even if your actions are suspect.
This is why my advice doesn’t change. You need to be there for your son and just avoid your ex wife. Be there for him so if this man or any other man in her life makes him uncomfortable, you are there for him.
Donna July 19, 2019, 12:15 pm
Besides the fact that you speak in a super creepy fashion ‘in general’, who refers to a 14 year old’s mother as Mommy? That poor kid. Your poor ex. No wonder her new love interest doesn’t want to meet you. She divorced you. She told you she hates you. Let it goooooo.
Donna July 19, 2019, 12:19 pm
I’ve gotten the image of the husband from Sleeping With The Enemy stuck in my head and now I can’t get it out. :/
Bittergaymark July 19, 2019, 6:28 pm
Yes! This really was fucking OFF to me.
Bittergaymark July 19, 2019, 6:26 pm
This whole letter is just… ICK. If women are THE DESPERATE SEX. Straight men are THE ICKIEST SEX….
Bittergaymark July 19, 2019, 6:32 pm
That said — considering some women’s natural penchant for dating child molesters… I can see him being irked at NOT meeting the guy. The amount of sexual abuse perpetrated by stepfathers is fucking insane.
Bittergaymark July 19, 2019, 6:54 pm
Although, damn, LW… you sure do come off a deranged wacko here.
Irish gal July 20, 2019, 7:28 am
And this whole “want to congratulate him” when you meet him. It’s very clear that you see Kate and your son as objects like the “marital home”. New SO can sense straight away that you only want to meet him so you can vet him, let him know what you are graciously giving him (Karen…I can almost hear you telling him what a great wife she was, oh and look how well she still looks…yuk) and that it has nothing to do with your sons wellbeing. I suspect you have strong narc tendencies. I wouldn’t be surprised if your son starts avoiding seeing you as soon as he is able to make that choice. And I’m sure then you’ll again be listing out all the ways he is wrong and disrespectful.
Bittergaymark July 20, 2019, 1:03 pm