My boyfriend's ex-wife takes advantage of him. He lets her. It is making me unhappy. Halp!
November 10, 2012 2:25 PM Subscribe
My boyfriend won't/can't stand up to his ex-wife and it's crazy-making. Help me to put this in perspective!
posted by anonymous to human relations (50 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I've been dating my boyfriend for a year and a half. He has so many great qualities I've always looked for in a partner (generous, kind, dependable, smart, etc.), but there is a huge thorn in my side about the way he chooses to deal with his ex-wife.
He and his ex have been separated for 3 1/2 years and the divorce was final last month. It was not a contentious divorce at all, it was just that his ex always had an excuse as to why she didn't yet hire an attorney/get her paperwork together. He wanted to file for divorce jointly but after waiting nearly 2 years for her to get her act together he decided to file.
Meanwhile I enter the picture and slowly have started to realize that the way the two of them handle their negotiations drives me bananas. They have two children, ages 9 and 12, and they share custody of the kids alternating every other week. He's a great father and really the primary caretaker for his children. She's a teacher and has to be at school early so on the weeks that my boyfriend doesn't have the kids they still get dropped off at his place in the mornings so he can get them to school. I don't consider this unreasonable at all, I mention it only because she often asks for extra help and expects that he will do it. And often he does do it because he'd rather avoid confronting her about boundaries.
-His son has an autism spectrum disorder (recent diagnosis) for which he attends a group once a week for an hour and a half. She balked at this because the group would require that she travel 20 minutes by car to a location she's never been to before. There have been 6 sessions so far, and out of the three that she was responsible for transporting their son she has managed to take him to 1 session. Today she said he had walked home from school and felt too cold and sniffly to go. The previous week she had an emergency where she had to take her kitten to the vet so she called my bf and asked him to take their son, which he did.
These types of situations occur over and over. She forgets that she has a professional development day at school and calls my bf at the last minute asking if he can take the day off to care for the kids. He used to say yes but has finally started saying no to this.
When the kids had swim lessons on Saturday mornings she would miss the sessions about half the time because either the kids said they didn't want to go and she gave in, or she was just too tired to drive there herself.
When their son had therapy sessions she failed to take him there about 1/3rd of the time, usually because their son didn't want to go and she caved instead of dealing with her child's emotional outburst.
She teaches in a different school district than the one the kids attend, and if she has a day off she will still drop the kids at the bf's house in the morning instead of taking them to school herself.
She took forever to get her remaining belongings out of what was once their shared home. It was supposed to be out by September 1st and finally she set a date to move it out, conveniently forgot, set a 2nd date and still didn't get all of her stuff, and now her remaining boxes have been sitting on the porch waiting for her to come get them.
When there's something she wants to do she'll move mountains to do it. Example - she loves singing and music and recently signed their daughter up for guitar lessons. Since this is important to her (his ex), she has agreed to transport the daughter to and from the lessons each week. It has been 4 months and she hasn't missed a lesson yet.
My problem with all of this is that my bf does not stand up to her or set clear boundaries. He's overly accommodating and allows her to take advantage of him. I have expressed my frustration with this situation over and over to him and I'll concede that he has gotten better but it is still going on far too much for my liking.
Every time I ask him why he didn't confront her he'll say that he didn't want an argument in front of the kids, or "she just shuts down if I confront her." To date they have never had an argument in front of the kids. They get along fine, and maybe this is what he's trying so hard to maintain? But I feel like this has taken such a toll on our relationship. I am tired of her relying on him. He is always her back up plan and I feel like he's going to continue to be her back up plan if he doesn't speak up. I understand that they are raising two children together, but her behavior goes beyond this.
I am in no way jealous of her. Not at all. But I can't fully comprehend what my bf is so afraid of. And I feel hurt and angry that I keep telling him how all of this makes me feel and he just keeps on giving in to her. It has driven a wedge between us and I fear that I can't get our relationship back to a better place.
Can someone help me put this in perspective? Am I being unrealistic in expecting that he refuses to accommodate her so much? Am I misinterpreting something here? I don't have children of my own so I wonder if I would be doing the same thing if I were in his situation.