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Boundaries with BM - too close for comfort!

dinidaho's picture

Hello Everyone! So glad I found this site! So I'm in a bit of a dilemma with my boyfriend and his boundaries with his ex-wife and children’s mother (the children are 3 and 6). I feel as if they’re a little too close for comfort. We’ve been together for 8 months but things got pretty serious fairly quickly. He’s been legally separated for a year and a half but their divorce was just finalized a few months ago. They’re both amazing parents and I’m very thankful for that but I feel as if they’re too close for comfort. He gave her their marital home in the divorce. However, it feels as though he still feels like it’s his house. They have 50/50 custody and whenever he has the kids, he takes them over to her house to hang out all the time unannounced. On her nights with the kids, he still goes over to pray for dinner several nights a week, and tuck them into bed and snuggle. He also just told me he hired her to work the company they built together. They talk several times a day about more than co-parenting. It feels like she is still his therapist. I did bring up the fact that they talk about way more than parenting and he was receptive and said that he sees things from my perspective and apologized. Things have either gotten better or he is just not telling me when he talks to her now. I have met her and I am invited to go to her house when he goes, but it feels awkward. I feel like he finds any excuse to go over there. She has a new boyfriend and I feel like he makes comments about him that makes him sound jealous. Her new boyfriend stayed the night at her house in the guest bedroom, and my boyfriend made a comment to me about how upset he was that the new boyfriend was sleeping in the guest room that he stayed in during their separation period. Am I wrong to feel like he’s not the head of that household anymore so why does he care who stays in that room? Recently, on a night that they both didn’t have the kids (kids were at grandparents), he came over to my house after work dressed up like he was going to church and immediately announced that he needed to go to her house and get a clothing item that was still there (I didn’t realize he hadn’t even moved his clothes out!). He used the talk-to-text feature on his apple watch and said “hey hot rod, can I swing by and grab my jersey” at almost 10pm on a weeknight. She was home with her boyfriend and it just seems like he finds any excuse to interfere with them. I’m glad they’re amicable for the kid’s sake but I feel like it’s too close!! They also attend church every weekend together (I am invited and do attend occasionally but I’m just starting to feel resentful of the whole situation). I was out of town all weekend this weekend and saw on Facebook that they spent all day Saturday together at a lemonade stand for their kids. Someone help before I lose my mind!!

Winterglow's picture

I'm having a good laugh at the idea he thought that the boyfriend was actually sleeping in the guest room.

I'm sorry but they're divorced but still way too enmeshed to be with anyone else. They have no boundaries. They're using the excuse that they're doing it "for the kids" but that's utter crap. They're actually damaging the kids because they probably still have hopes that their parents will get back together again and this whole big happy family is misleading for them. 

Either he's with you or not. Draw the line. You only want two people in your relationship, not three. He needs to either go back to her and stop messing up your life and her bf's life or completely invest in your relationship and that means drawing boundaries - he sees the kids on HIS time only and not whenever he feels like dropping in - same goes for her. He also needs to remove ALL of his belongings from her home NOW. Frankly, if he doesn't, it'll look as if he is getting ready to move back there.

And you're right, it's none of his darn business if anyone else sleeps in her guest room. He shouldn't even know he's there. 

Time his ex changed the locks, IMO, or the new bf won't be hanging around very long ...

Evil4's picture

Sorry, but your BF isn't ready for a relationship. He got involved way too soon after spliting with his ex. He's still emotionally married to his ex. Save your pride and dignity and cut this guy loose and tell him to do the work he needs to do to get ready for a relationship. If you're still available by the time he's ready, then give you a call. In the meantime, you deserve to have a man who is willing and able to be "all-in" with you. Quite often divorced dads who are still way too involved with their exes use the kids as an excuse. That's bullshit. He's still "married." 

advice.only2's picture

You might like this guy, but he's unavailable to date at this point, he's still emotionally married. Sounds like he's got one too many partners to compete with...I understand the son, the father and holy spirit...but his ex as well...that's a lot of people to compete with.

tog redux's picture

I'm with the others - he hasn't emotionally divorced yet, even if he's legally divorced. When did they get divorced? Did she leave him or vice versa? 

I'm not the jealous type, but I would not be okay with any of this. Amicable co-parenting is awesome, being able to talk about the kids, maybe attend birthday/graduation parties in each other's homes, attending meetings together, etc. But going over to pray before dinner, snuggle with the kids and calling her "hot rod" (what does that even mean?) is over the top.  If they get along so great, why'd they get divorced?

dinidaho's picture

They officially got divorced in January, although he moved out and got his own place mid-last year. For the year before that they were legally separated. I'm really not the jealous type-but this is driving me crazy. I feel like he gets to go play family whenever he wants knowing I'll be there and expected to deal with it all in the name of it being the best interest for the kids to help this divorce process. Amicable co-parenting is fantastic but this is over the top. I feel like it's just giving the kids false hope that they'll reconcile (or maybe it's not false hope LOL). Apparently "hot rod" is a nickname he used to call her, and then followed it by telling me that she hates it when he calls her that, like I care? I just find it wildly inappropriate that he wants to call her cute pet names in front of me and I'm just expected to deal with it because theres children involved. I frequently ask myself that all the time. If the two of them get along so splendidly, why the eff did you get divorced?! Thank you for the feedback. 

Harry's picture

Your BM is still playing Happy Family with the ex and there kids.  He not ready for  another relationship.  Don't think he not sleeping with the ex.  Time to get moving on 

Sandybeaches's picture

with all of the other posters.  He is still very much emotionally involved with his ex-wife.  This is a very bad situation for you.  I commend you for dealing with it for as long and maturely  as you have.

".I frequently ask myself that all the time. If the two of them get along so splendidly, why the eff did you get divorced?"

This is the question that you should be very seriously asking him!! 

Rags's picture

Move on.  You know that the stench is far too strong for this whole thing to pass the smell test.

Flush it.

Get on with your life leaving this X enmeshed idiot far behind you.

ndc's picture

Nope, nope, nope.  That would not be acceptable to most people. Your boyfriend in no way sounds ready for a relationship with you, and his relationship with BM goes way beyond normal co-parenting. It is waaay too much. The fact that you let him know it bothers you and he continues to go to her house regularly is especially concerning. 

My DH spent more time with BM than I liked when we were first dating. He didn't go to her house regularly or worry about who she was dating, but they took the kids to the waterpark together, went to local kids events together, celebrated holidays together, had joint birthday parties, etc. It wasn't nearly as enmeshed as what you describe,  but it was a hill to die on for me.  I told him he was welcome to continue doing those things with BM, but if he did I wasn't interested in continuing our relationship. He pretty much immediately cut back on most of the stuff they did together, and at this point they do nothing together (other than parent- teacher conferences) and haven't for a few years.  Had he not made changes right away, I would have ended things, because there isn't room for 3 in my relationships.  In your shoes, I'd probably leave.  He sounds like he's not over the relationship with his ex-wife, and I can't see a good outcome for you. 

FWIW, my skids (1 and 3 when parents split) were not damaged by DH and BM not playing Happy Family.  I think it was better that they didn't have any false hope. 


Rumplestiltskin's picture

Too weird. He goes to pray before *they* eat at *her* house, and go to church together every Sunday? But they each have other SO's? Are they in some kind of polygamous religion? Not making fun of the LDS church as i have many friends in it and they disavow polygamy. But still. The religious aspect of their enmeshment makes it more weird to me.

They should just get back together. They are living in some kind of fantasy world where they and their kids are the most important and everyone else has to deal with their weirdness. Leave them to it and find someone more available. 

Rumplestiltskin's picture

Also, i have dealt with enmeshment and this is what i wish i would have done early on - tell him you are taking a step back. That he needs to decide if he truly wants to live a separate life from his ex and move on, continue living this half in/half out life eother alone or with another SO if he can find one to put up with the ex being a third in the relationship, or just get back together with her. But that you are giving him the space to do that. You will be happy to start over with him when he is an independent single man, if you haven't met someone else. 

strugglingSM's picture

They are still psychologically married to one another. It doesn't matter that she has a new boyfriend. They still have a relationship that seems to be feeding their own emotional needs under the guise of co-parenting. By the time I met DH, BM was remarried and she was still calling DH every day to chat about herself or complain about her life, rarely about the kids. I told him that I wasn't okay being in a relationship with someone who was still in a relationship with his ex wife and my DH (my BF at the time) stopped taking her calls, so if they're ready for a relationship, they will put some distance between themselves and BM. 

GraceNS's picture

Oh wow, I empathize for you. This seems really hard and painful. My partner and his ex shared a duplex when we started dating, and it was SO HARD, because boundaries were loose. They had gotten used to sharing space - and had to both be intentional about separating (when they called each other, buying duplicates instead of sharing certain items etc.).

As others have said, it sounds like he hasn't done the work he needs to do to fully separate in any sense of the word. He is still treating her house like their house, he hasn't moved his belonging out, they continue to work together, they text about a lot more than co-parenting issues. 

If the issue was just that they share a religious community (ie attend the same church) I would be more supportive. It seems like he doesn't know how to live without his ex and is making excuses to spend more and more time with her / in her life. 

Recommendations - if you want them:

  • Take a look at "codependency," which is also called "relationship additiction." 
  • Take a step back. Write down the boundaries that you would like (RE family time, communication)
  • Focus on what you want and need instead of what he is not doing (i.e. I want a boyfriend who doesn't call other women after 10PM).  

Good luck! 

Rags's picture

Trespassers will be shot .

Or some such similar boundary.