You are here

Desperate for advice

Pathfinder1983's picture

<p>This is my first post here and I really need some advice. I&#39;ve just had a conversation (argument) with my partner tonight where I laid down an ultimatum and I don&#39;t know if it&#39;s a fair one to lay. My partner and I have deep love and connection with one another and are both doing our very best to make our relationship work but I&#39;m having major difficulties emotionally with something we disagree about. I&#39;m a lesbian so I&#39;ll try to keep this easy to understand between multiple &quot;she&#39;s.&quot; My partner shares 2 children with her ex. They are still going through finalizing divorce, which of course, has added a lot of stress in all of our lives. The children are 10 and 17 and clearly have different developmental needs during divorce. My partner works every day to navigate these different needs and is deeply invested in co-parenting successfully. I&#39;m invested in the same. The problem starts with her ex&#39;s hatred of me. Outbursts at times have included me getting cussed out via text and told she will never let me be around her children. Currently, that is the agreement - I&#39;m not allowed to be in my partner&#39;s home when the kids are around. While this has been painful for me, I&#39;ve wanted to support my partner navigating divorce and have tried to manage my own feelings about it all. Emotionally, I help her co-parent every day, fielding near constant drama, needs, schedules, etc. But, in reality, I get no positive experiences or reinforcement of fun times with the kids, building any type of relationship with them, etc. It&#39;s been difficult to not start to feel resentful and exhausted. So, what&#39;s the main problem? On multiple occassions this year, the ex has gone through something difficult - 1) a surgery; 2) COVID; 3) tragic death of a friend. My partner has shown up every time to physically and emotionally support her ex, even on the heels of her ex cussing me out. Her reasoning: I&#39;m doing it for my children. On one hand, I understand showing your kids the importance of care and consideration for their parent; I don&#39;t expect my partner to not care for her ex or treat her terribly, but given all of the tension between her ex and me, it&#39;s taken a toll. When she took care of her ex for a week post-surgery, despite her ex having family and close friends who could&#39;ve helped, I told my partner it was the last time I would &quot;do this.&quot; I said that if and when her ex can apologize and respect me and my relationship, I will not hold the same boundary but, until that happens, I&#39;m not okay with this. Since surgery, her ex got COVID (and gave it to the kids) and had a tragic death of her friend. My partner stood in front of me, calling her ex several times after the death, checking on her, and ultimately telling her she loved her too, after her ex was crying and kept saying she loved her. My partner and I had just shared some of the deepest intimacy we ever had in our relationship and it felt like a knife through my heart that I was witnessing her scramble to support her ex and telling her she loved her. To be clear, I really do believe my partner doesn&#39;t have romantic feelings any longer for her ex - it isn&#39;t that I&#39;m threatened in that way. I just feel very disrespected and pushed aside that I continue to invest each day in this complicated relationship and it seems her ex can treat me however she wants and my partner insists she&#39;s going to keep showing up for her &quot;for the kids.&quot; I told my partner tonight that I&#39;m done when she said she wasn&#39;t going to stop showing up for her kids. I tried to explain the difference between taking care of her ex who is a grown adult vs. respecting her ex who is a co-parent. She sees it differently, and I told her I cannot live this way. I might post this and find out you all think I&#39;m dead wrong, but I&#39;ve never loved someone this much and I&#39;m willing to be wrong if I am. Please help me process this.&nbsp;</p>

notsurehowtodeal's picture

Your partner is not ready for a new relationship. She is still emotionally involved with her wife. If she was ready for a new relationship, she would not "show up every time to physically and emotionally support her ex..." She is not "showing up for her kids" - she is showing up for her wife - who is not completely her "ex" yet. If she was truly her "ex" - she would not have told her that she loved her.

I know you don't want to hear this - but what you should do is quit seeing your SO until her divorce is final and she has done the work to emotionally and physically "disconnect" from her ex. If your love is as strong as you think it is, it will still be there way after a few months have gone by.

Rags's picture

She is not ready for you or this relationship.  Do yourself and these kids a favor. Move on.

Wicked stepmo.'s picture

Your partner should not be in a relationship right now. She may not want to be with her ex, but she hasn't closed the door yet or established boundaries with her. 

You can't fully invest in a new relationship when you haven't ended the last one.

tog redux's picture

You may be doing YOUR best to make the relationship work, but I don't see her doing her best. She seems to want to have her cake and eat it too - have a new woman in her life but still retain the old emotional connection to her wife.

None of this is fair to you, and no, it's not "for the kids", it's for your SO and her wife.

Cut this one loose, she's not ready for a new relationship.

GrudgingSM's picture

I'm so very sorry for this situation. I can see so much hurt in this post, and I know your heart must be breaking. And also, I agree with your boundary and don't feel you're wrong to make it.

First thing I want to say is that the first year out from a separation/divorce is messy. There's so much healing to be done. Even though I felt like I had a good handle on things, looking back I see what a disaster I was. I've also watched some other friends go through divorces and agree that people usually aren't ready to be in new relationships in part because they haven't made good boundaries with their ex's yet, and then new person pays for that. And how freaking awful is it that you've found someone you connect with like this, and they just aren't in a place where they can be the partner you deserve (because you do deserve someone who won't say I love you to their ex). 

Also, you don't have to be doing all the work to support  her through this time. She needs divorce doula friends who can support her in this and help her see the dynamics she's creating and the boundaries she needs. Because she needs some boundaries badly. Telling her ex I love you and nursing her post-surgery isn't teaching the kids something great and it's not being there for them. It's teaching them enmeshment and is probably confusing as to why they got a divorce in the first place. You can be kind co-parents with exes without overstepping this egregiously, but it does take a second for some people to learn. They went from planning a life together to separate houses and relationships, and the deceleration takes a second (or at least it did in my case, so I am sympathetic to it). Also, the eldest is 17! I'm not into having kids take on big caretaking roles for their parents, but it's not like the kids couldn't be a part of the post-surgical care team. In a divorce I feel like it's acceptable to send over a meal or gift card for delivery or other kind gesture to an ex in that situation, but no, your GF should not be the primary caregiver post-surgery! 

But all of this has been about what it seems she needs and not what you need. I personally see so much hurt ahead for you if things stay the way they are. I'm sure you boundary hurts her because she's not well practiced in them, btu also the best thing you could do for the both of you and any potential for a future relationship is to place a boundary and have you both honor it. Let both of you have some space for awhile. Let her get further along in her healing.  Also, while I'm sorry that you're doing all this work on behalf of the kids and not building a relationship, if they're still in the middle of the divorce, you shouldn't be forming attachments with the kids yet anyway. They need some time to grieve their parents' relationship and you showing up too soon would likely make this harder on them. The usual rule of thumb that many suggest is waiting six months anyway, and I think mid-divorce is just a super hard time to introduce someone new and have it go well.

I know it's heartbreaking, but let yourselves each take a step back and a deep breath, and hopefully with a little more time she'll be far enough into her healing and boundary setting that she can be a better partner to you and the kids will be more prepared to meet someone.

Pathfinder1983's picture

Thank you so much for this empathetic and honest response. It means a lot to me that people have taken the time to respond thoughtfully. 

Biostep7777's picture

I agree with everyone else. She is still emotionally married even though they are physically apart. I'm so sorry. She's not ready and you deserve someone who will give you 100% of themselves to you, not their ex. This has nothing to do with the kids! You can have a great coparenting arrangement and still live separate lives.