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Birthday Dread-- Boundary issues with BM/FDH rear their ugly head again

Anne Boleyn's picture

My birthday is coming up in a few weeks and YSD’s birthday is 4 days later. A couple of days ago, FDH and I had an email exchange about him wanting to go to his boss’ party the weekend after next. I told him “We will have just moved and I want to get the new house unpacked. If you want to go, I understand because it’s your boss. But I can’t go because I want the house in really good shape. The following weekend I want to have our friends over to celebrate my birthday and want the house nice. I can’t have them over the weekend after my birthday because we have the kids that weekend and YSD’s birthday is that Saturday so she gets that as her birthday weekend. I have to celebrate mine early (My birthday falls mid-week).

Continued in comments- this is way long, sorry.


Anne Boleyn's picture

Out of the blue yesterday at 530PM I receive an email from FDH “Want do you want to do for your birthday?” I told him nothing had changed since our previous email on the topic but we could discuss. Later, we took a dinner break from packing boxes and I asked him why he was asking me about birthday plans again (I knew something was up. His email was not like him and was basically from left field). He proceeds to tell me that there was no reason and he was just curious. And then in the same breath, he starts talking about some business trip he needs to take the weekend prior to my birthday, which was the same weekend I was planning my little party with our friends. When I explained this to him, he quickly says “Oh, OK, well, I will only be gone Friday night then so we can have everyone over Saturday”. Fine.

Then, he starts talking about how there is this OTHER business trip he wants to take that will fall on my birthday. It’s totally unnecessary. He was thinking I could tag a long as it’s in a pretty location. I explained that I can’t take more time off from work as I am taking time off for this move. He quickly says he will not go on the trip. Fine.

THEN, the real issue pops to the surface. ( I KNEW IT!).

FDH: BM and I were talking about SD’s birthday today. SD wants to go to this anime convention in X town and wants her friend who lives in Y town to attend. Her friend’s parents won’t drive her so BM asked if I would split the driving.

Me: WTF? That is on HER weekend with the kids. Why on earth would you drive SD all over the state on HER weekend? If roles were reversed she would say “It’s your weekend, you figure it out!”

FDH: Uh, uh. Well, I told her I was not available that weekend and that I’d be out of town.

Me. You won’t be gone that Saturday. Why didn’t you tell her “It’s your weekend, you figure it out. I have plans” just like she’d say to you. Why are you lying about being out of town? Why can’t you just tell her to take a hike? And man, the BALLS on that woman.

FDH: Man, she’s so good at manipulating me and was making me feel bad because this is what SD wants for her birthday.

Me: Then SHE can give her that for her birthday.

FDH: I told her I was thinking about a sewing machine or a smart phone

Me: Wait a damn minute. The kid hasn’t been in school for months and has a serious computer addiction and you think it’s a good idea to give her a damn smart phone at age 12 when her older sister doesn’t even have one yet? (hmmm, wonder why the other kid is starting to get in trouble…)

Now I am mad as hell.

FDH: Uh, I guess you’re right.

Me: Why do I get the feeling that the only reason you asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday is so you could figure out if there was a way for you to drive SD to this thing on BM’s weekend??

FDH: No, baby. I really was just curious what you wanted to do.

Me: We’ve discussed this already and you knew the dates and what I wanted to do

FDH: I forgot.

OK. So, he is bad with dates and has a crappy memory. That’s true. Part of me is inclined to believe him. But part of me knows some major crap is happening here. I let it go and we went back to packing the house. He got up super early for a meeting. Normally, I can fall back to sleep for another hour right after he leaves. Not today. I was wide awake and really irritated by this whole thing.

1- He didn’t tell BM to take a hike and call out her hypocrisy about doing things for the kids on the other person’s weekend. If he couldn’t do that, he could at least say “It’s Anne’s birthday and we will be celebrating that day.” But no, he lies about being out of town to avoid conflict.

2- I believe he really did want me to say it was ok for him to split the driving (on the day of MY birthday party, no less)

3- What is with him and BM having detailed conversations about birthday gifts?? He should be discussing gift options with me and not her. He should have simply said “Anne and I will be deciding what to get her soon. The convention and picking up her friend sounds like a nice gift from you and your boyfriend”

4- This is the first “holiday” since Christmas. BM was ticked that I stopped the joint gifts between them and didn’t allow her to dictate the holiday and did not allow her to come over. I really think she’s trying to take back control of this holiday thing and dictate to him what he will be doing. (Remember, we have SD on her birthday this year. Also, at Christmas, I told FDH that I am willing to do things together for birthday’s and graduations but that’s it)

5- The first year that I knew him (we were not living together), all the birthdays fell on her time and all the parties were at her house. I was left out. Last year, they all fell on our time and in our new home together. We invited her over to share in the dinner and cake. She didn’t attend for YSD’s birthday but showed up for the other three parties. And of course, I felt like a stranger in my home as she and FDH would plan what to eat, what kind of cake, etc… But I was pleasant and overall didn’t have a major issue with allowing her to participate. I had an issue with HOW it went down.

6- I am SO, SO, SO sick of this entanglement with these two. He just doesn’t see it. He thinks he was just having a friendly conversation with BM. He does not see how he just put BM in the primary woman seat and sent me to the back with this simple conversation with her.
I honestly don’t know how to address this with him. I’m thinking of sending him an email that explains why I am upset about this and basically say:


Look, this birthday thing is bothering me. I’ve explained to you very clearly that I am concerned about you falling into ‘husband role’ with BM and this emotional attachment that is always interfering with our lives/relationship. This is another example of that. YSD’s birthday is on our weekend. We will celebrate on our weekend. You and I will need to determine what we’re doing for a gift for her together. It’s not BM’s business what we decide to buy her. WE will need to decide what dinner and cake and celebrations WE will have for her.

If you feel it’s very important to YSD that BM be invited over to celebrate with us again this year, I am OK with it provided that the invitation is very clear that it’s for BM, her BF and his kids to attend, not just her. If she wants ‘one big happy family’, she gets ‘one big happy family’, including her new man and children. Unlike last year, you and I will determine what we will be cooking for dinner and what kind of cake to get. She will not help prepare meals in my kitchen or bring cake to my house. She will be a guest. You and BM will not be planning parties in our home like you did last year. I am not planning to be a guest in my own home.

Many women in my shoes would not even entertain the idea of allowing ex wives into their homes for any reason. I feel like I am being generous—probably more generous than I should given all the boundary concerns I have with you two. So please respect that I am asking you to honor much needed boundaries in general and more specifically, surrounding holidays and birthdays, starting with this one. I am not going to feel like crap every time a birthday comes around and worry for weeks about you running off and making plans with your ex as if you are still married. She needs to know that life has changed, you have moved on and we are not doing things her way. It needs to be clear to everyone involved, what parties make up the couple. If you can’t do this, we can’t do this.”

What do you think?

Willow2010's picture

FDH: Man, she’s so good at manipulating me and was making me feel bad because this is what SD wants for her birthday.

Sorry...but it sounds like your DH is better at manipulating you than BM is at doing it to him. Sorry

Disneyfan's picture

"Sorry...but it sounds like your DH is better at manipulating you than BM is at doing it to him. Sorry"

I was thinking this as well. Who the heck says something that unless they are playing the person they're speaking with?

Anne Boleyn's picture

I can definitely see why you think that. But from history, I can tell you she knows what strings to pull to make him feel like a bad father if he doesn't do what she wants him to. This was all about her not wanting to have to spend her Saturday driving all over the place but she turned it into making him feel like a horrible father for not agreeing to share her burden. She does this all the time. In therapy, we've discussed this and his eyes are just starting to open to see what she does. He has a horrible time telling the difference between a request that is truly for the kid or not. So, that was actually the only positive statement in that conversation as he was recognizing that he got pulled in again and is saying he's struggling with his BM-induced guilt.

The point of all of this is for me to react to it by being crystal clear with him what I will and will not accept related to holidays and birthdays going forward. He doesn't know where boundaries should be so I need to 'splain this to him in no uncertain terms.

Topmuffin901's picture

The email sounds perfect to me. And you are right, I would never ever allow poison dwarf into my home!! I would tell my DH if she walks through my door I'm walking out permanently!! You are being more than reasonable.

RedWingsFan's picture

^^THIS. And your email sounds great except the part where BM is invited to the party/celebration you have for the kid. UH, NO.

RedWingsFan's picture

^^^Yup. When you get divorced, that means no more "family" get togethers Smile

Onefootout's picture

Very well put. Although at some point you're probably going to have to rip the bandaid off and not allow BM to attend at all. But you will have to decide if and when you're ready for the fallout when you put your foot down.

I doubt BM will comply with your conditions you've outlined. And having BM over your house at all blurs those boundary lines. But I do get why you're trying to compromise. Maybe if you could get a counselor to endorse your view, DH might take you more seriously.

If it were me, YSD would be 'lucky' to have two separate bday celebrations.

I would never agree to joint holidays and birthdays. I hate to say it but if SO insisted on joint bday parties, I would tell him that's a deal breaker. Unfortunately that could mean the end of our relationship.

Why do these DH's want to have their cake and eat it too? If they want to live their life as if they are still single then they should stay single.

This is a tough one.

Anne Boleyn's picture

It sure was. He simply isn't gettting it. And we don't go back to the counselor until late next week.

StepDoormat's picture

She can plan a party at HER house on a different day. No way you should be inviting this woman into your new house to attend the party. You're enabling this weird relationship they have if you do that.

oldone's picture

Joint birthday parties would be okay IF you had a normal BM who respected boundaries. But you don't.

Just remove BM from YOUR life. Which means not in your home, etc.

He needs to be guilty about being such a shitty husband more than he needs to feel guilty about not being a good dad. He and BM do not need to have ANY discussions on his parenting skills. It is not for her to judge.

He is much too entertwined with BM. Co-parenting does not mean they functions as one. They should be doing NOTHING as one. If they were so "good as a team" they should have remained married to each other.

His behavior to you is an abomination. It's a great big slap in the face to you. Do not argue with him about why it is inappropriate. Just say NO.

Cocoa's picture

your letter is very well put and i am impressed. you will have to just keep letting your feelings be known to your dh every time one of these boundary issues crop up until he gets it and they quit popping up. i agree with everyone else regarding allowing her into your home. rip that bandaid off and start over. we've all made mistakes in trying to compromise on things that we did not realize was going to exacerbate the boundary issue problems. maybe after a period of time when you are comfortable that this is an issue of the past, joint parties can be considered again. in my case that will never happen because every so often bm sticks her big toe out to see which way the wind blows with my dh and is ready to pounce whenever there is a chink in his armour. you're doing a really great job.

Unfreakingreal's picture

My ExH is welcome in my home at anytime. However, that is because my ExH, is respectful of my DH. Those boundaries were set WAY in the beginning of my relationship.
BM is not allowed anywhere near my zipcode.
Simply, because she is NOT respectful of me. If exes could act like adults, yes, it would be great to be able to have birthdays and holidays with everyone. Sadly, that is not always the case. I am fascinated that ALL men do things in exactly the same way. Anytime my DH calls me outta the blue to ask me if we're doing something on a certain day I ALWAYS know that a BM/SD request is coming.
They're so fucking predictable aren't they!