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When does some separation start?

trying's picture

This is the first time I've posted or even looked for advice in this realm or on this topic. I've been dating a great man for over a year whom I love but after this holiday season feel as though maybe there really isn't anything there for us, or at least for me. He and his ex-wife, who have a three year old (I love her and she loves me) and a dog, had a VERY amicable divorce. Same lawyer, no alimony as he pays for everything and they still share a checking acount. She doesn't work and he makes plenty of money. He bought her a house and car, pays for her vacations, clothes, anything she wants needs, etc. She has free access to his house in town and whenever she goes to the city, she stays at his apartment there (with him). She has the daughter(who is in school 3 full day a week) and the dog Mon-Fri. He has her and the dog every weekend from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon when he goes back to the city. (He lives in NY and comes every weekend to the town where his other house, ex, daughter and I live. Still following?) He and his ex still share the same mutual group of friends so we are fairly consistently in contact with her. In fact one of her best friends and my b/f's lives in my b/f house and when the ex's brother comes to town he and his daughter stay at my b/f's place so his daughter can be with her cousin. I actually don't mind that too much because I think it's god to have the girls together but it's pretty constant.

My b/f is a busy man who works hard all week then comes on the weekend's to balance his time between his daughter, dog, home, friends, hobbies, chores/errands and me. (Notice the placement?) If something goes wrong at the ex's house my b/f goes to fix it, they still share cars if it's needed and he calls her to do favors for him mid-week(becuase she has a freer schedule than I as I work full time.)We recently went away on a vacation and he told me that they were talking of getting another dog together so the first dog would have a play buddy. The first dog is 125 lbs and they want to get another of the same breed to share back and forth every week! I must admit I asked him that if his daughter got lonely would they then consider having another child together so she'd have a friend too.

This year, which would have been our first real Christmas together after having dated a while, he was hosting his family at his house. I've met the majority of the family several times and we actually went on a great vacation with his sis and her hubby. He kept asking what my family plans were but never invited me to join him until a few days before the holiday and after he'd finally admitted his ex would be there on Christmas morning to do the "Santa" thing. Alright, it's hard but I get it. The ex-brother in law was in town also so it would be he and his daughter too. Yep, still get it but it's hard to be the odd person out at times; but I figure it's only one morning right? And as my b/f said, it's for the kid.

However his ex and her bro were there at EVERY family function and just going out to the bar or dinner every single night of the holiday (even if the kid wasn't there) There was never one time when she stayed away from his family proceedings. My b/f would tell me to relax that I was making everyone tense and if I couldn't deal I should just leave because I was making his ex-wife feel uncomfortable. He asked why I wasn't going and getting to know his family better but couldn't seem to understand my answer that it was difficult with his ex reminiscing about past holidays together. (Also- the ex is always telling me how my b/f's mom drives her nuts and the family tells me they were never that crazy about the ex)I spent Christmas alone every day because his ex was at every single family event they had and I didn't feel I needed to put myself into an uncomfortable position.

I wanted one day with his family without his ex there but that was an unreasonable request because as my b/f says, this is his life and and it's not just about he and I. That was made pretty clear when his mom called me by his ex's name and then said we were just melding into one another- nice. So I write this and it seems obvious to me what must be done but still I love him and people say to wait through the holiday's to see because they are so stressful. I feel like I'm going nuts because my boyfriend really just thinks I'm unreasonable. Am I crazy? I know ex families share the holidays, but am I the third person in a paper dissolved marriage only? My b/f says he loves me, wants to marry me and have me move to NY and that I'm the best woman in the world (well obviously! don't we all like to think that?) but ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS. And as we all know there's a reason a cliché is a cliché. (This is massive, so if you read it all sorry and thanks)

Anne 8102's picture

I think this is a wonderful arrangement for the child. She gets the best of both parents. It sounds convenient for him and it's obviously paying off for her. The only one who has reason to be unhappy with it is you. And since none of them want to change the status quo, well, it sounds like you either have to accept it or move on. If this were someone that you're just dating with no strings attached, it would probably be fine for a short-term fling. But I wouldn't be comfortable trying to build a life with someone who is already sharing his with someone else. I think I would have to discuss it with him, find out what his intentions are as things go forward in your relationship. If he is amenable to setting some boundaries and actually follows through and makes some changes, then maybe all is not lost. But if he balks at the idea, well, I'd be with Fearless and out the door.

~ Anne ~

trying's picture

Actually Anne, it is a wonderful arrangement and the child is one of the most loved chldren I know. She has a whole circle of people who care about her, it's a precious thing. I think the very astute thing that you mentioned is they are still sharing their lives together, sans borders or boundaries. We have set time aside (well I insisted we do) on Friday to talk in person with no one around and no interuptions. We'll see what happens but I also know that it would take a huge amount to get me to this point and as I realize I'm here I've been examing the patterns and habits of the past. Some things just don't change. Thank you for writing, it means so much. -trying

OldTimer's picture

I'd say the man is still 'married'... wants his cake and eat it too.

This is something that you will need to sit down with yourself and really look hard and deep about, be really honest with yourself. The obvious has already been stated, because here you are talking about it and you obviously aren't happy.

I don't believe for one second that it's an 'unreasonable request' on your behalf for you to have a solid and seperate relationship away from his ex. I mean, in order for your relationship to thrive, you need to have your own seperate alone time anyway. There are moments in every relationship when yes, it is all about just you and him, period. How else does a relationship grow otherwise if you don't have that quality time ALONE together. You are not being 'unreasonable'.

I think this is selfish on his behalf. I think you have gone above and beyond the normal expectations and have done a fabulous job with the situation at hand. It's one thing to make everything nice, warm and fuzzy for the child, it's another thing to go about bantering with the ex when the child isn't even involved... such as the bar...

My heart goes out to you. That has got to be tough. I know that I would have said... Sorry, you've got waaaaayyy too many priorities, and it's apparent, I won't be one of them.

trying's picture

One of the problems is that there is so LITTLE alone time for us. And I'm not even talking about his daughter because I love doing things with her as a unit. (The only time that is hard is because she looks so much like me strangers are always commenting. Normally one can get away with a "yes, she is beautiful..." but sometimes the answer's more tricky... but I digress!) If we go out, there is 9 times out of 10 someone else with us. We have plans to go to dinner and it becomes a group of 3, 4 or 5. I like to socialize with others also but it'd be nice after not seeing him all week to have a quiet moment to catch up before meeting with others for a drink later maybe. There is no true chance for the simple intimacy of talking about the week, how work was, what's bothering us, what happened, funny anecdotes. And I've tried to raise that point before but it always comes back around to the fact that he is so busy with so many responsibilities and things to do that it just has to be that way. He's always active, moving at top speed. I just wanted to fit in near the top every once in a while (maybe between the surfing, gardening and house upkeep wouldn't be so bad; that's only after his daughter {obviously as it should be}, friends, ex, hobbies, dog, job, cars etc...) Okay, that's a little long-winded, what I was trying to say is if I felt confident in my position with him and our love, I could stare any challenge in the face without doubt and self-questioning. I would be able to "deal."

trying's picture

Thank you all for writing, I have all these thoughts that circle in my head and I start to think that it's just me. As soon as the dust settles and the family is gone, he's back to telling me how much he loves me and really misses me, making me think that I must have over-reacted. Hearing your replies really encourages me to move forward. I've set up an"appointment" on Friday to talk with him. He kept trying to have our conversation that I wanted to have about this in five minute blocks of time before he went back to the city on Tuesday. Never mind that his daughter was with us. I wasn't going to discuss these issues with her there, or his sister or on the phone. It does my resolve well to have your answers before we talk.

And he also thinks that the majority of this "angst" stems from a previous event that happened on Friday as we were flying back from vacation. As I was double checking the room to be sure we had everything I picked a wad of paper up off the bureau that I thought was a receipt and I wanted to be sure no credit card info was left laying around. It was actually paper that I could tell had gone through the wash and it had two female's telephone numbers on it. I asked him who they were on the plane on the way back (no where for him to go at that point) He started saying he had no idea whose they were, how they got there and they weren't his. Or maybe he'd picked them up by accident... yeah, great, that seems logical. And then he "kind-of remembered whose they were, and then back tracked again to maybe someone had "borrowed" his jeans.... uh huh. Like that's not enough, when he went to dinner on Saturday with his Sister, brother-in-law, our two mutual friends (one being the ex's other best friend who lives in the house), ex wife and her brother he TOLD all of them about the numbers in his pocket and when I showed up to find them all there together (surprise) he explained to me that I should feel good that he wasn't lying because he told everyone the story at dinner when they asked where I was and he said I was mad at him. Great, like it wasn't something that we needed to talk about first now everyone AND your EX know that I'm finding you with phone numbers. Even if we came to a private conclussion on that issue now they'll always know. Why should she, or anyone, know anything about our private lives. Was it for their daughter he felt he needed to share with the extended family? I think not. But the kicker is he thinks that this event caused ALL the problems for the rest of the weekend when I think there are the more permanent and important issues of the lack of boundaries. Yep, what am i doing. Sometimes it's just good for me to type all this out and come back and read it. Your replies are great but sometimes the best is just getting it out of my head and really looking at what I'm thinking too. Thanks.

trying's picture

I love that part about your mom. Sometimes it is so hard to reveal my thoughts to my own family as they are so supportive they have a hard time listening clearly and offering unbiased advice. I've felt so good since having written here and reading the responses although sometimes I think it'll all be fine... Afternoon Relapse!!! Need to stay strong for tomorrow's talk (we'll see if he actually makes the committed time, eh?) Thanks for the hugs,

h6not3's picture

Why did he get divorced? Have you asked him that?

Aweful...I'm just plain sorry that you feel the least bit that you are over reacting.

YOU and his DAUGHTER should be his two princess's.

I hope your conversation goes well with him. He would have a lot of changing to do to be the man that I would trust. He has it all wrong.
I am sorry you are in this situation. Sad

Have a great day Smile

clynn82's picture

He sounds like a good father, but as for a partner/husband...uh...NOT! He only wants you and involves you in his life when it's convenient for him, and that's not fair to you. Some of his antics sound fishy and suspicious. Especially the waded up note with phone numbers. Big red flags! I always follow my gut instincts, and my gut says this isn't right. Just my opinion, but try to put recent and past incidents into perspective, and you might draw the same conclusion.

happy's picture

I am a biomom and a step mom.. And I can tell you right now my ex and I get along we have two great kids together, but keep him in my family and be his *best friend*.. That is very strange to me. How he thinks that ANY WOMAN would be ok with the situation he is having with his ex wife is crazy. I mean its one thing to have a good relationship as far as the child but to assume that your current love is just going to go along with everything from the get go is well in my eyes WRONG..
I guess I would ask him what his thoughts are on the situation if you two decide to marry I mean are you going to get up on Saturday morning in the house and she will too?
I know personally myself I could not be in that situation. I tried to be in a similar situation and I was always the one who ended up hurt. It sucked... the ending is not so bad, I started seeing my husband after that break up and am glad things turned out the way they did, because I would not be with my hubby now.. And he is my forever..
I think you really need to just open your self up like a book and really be honest with him on your feelings.. I am sorry you are going thru all this I really am because it does hurt and it just plain sucks to get hurt..
Best wishes to you on your bumpy journey..

goldenlife's picture

I think he is using his ex and 50 BFFs as a buffer not to get close to you. Sounds like his need to always be around a big group of people is his way of not being intimate with you. Don't get clouded back the fact that he has a lot of money - you are still worth more!

Realist's picture

This man is living in the past. I agree with others' comments - why did he leave his wife? My guess is that she too found some numbers. How weak it is when a man wants domestic bliss and to play the field as well. I have more respect for men who play the field and remain single.

Trust your gut. I think we were all born with a gut instinct that we try to rationalise and say "oh, he gave me a reason for the numbers", Oh he's just trying to be friendly with the ex for the sake of the child." At the end of the day our "gut" is all we have to tell us when something isn't right. The money is a trap. Don't fall for it. It is smoke and mirrors.

Shar's picture

He sounds like a man that may need someone always in the background to fall back on.....did his ex dump him? or did he require a little action on the side and she is just giving him time to realize he should go back to her? Be very careful..You need to think about what you really want in life....and he doesnt sound too trustworthy....There are lots of families just waiting to get rid of an ex and bring a face into their family.....maybe you should find one of them.....good luck.

SteppedOn's picture

I think it's great when divorcees get along to discuss everything that has to do with the kid. It is great when divorcees can be in the presence of one another and not kill each other. BUT, being overly friendly and completely social is another thing. I think it is too much and sets this child up for major confusion. Is it really clear to her that they are divorced? Divorce means separation. Doesn't seem to be much separation going on. I'll bet this little princess is having sugary dreams of when mommy and daddy get back together.