My ex and I were divorced about five years ago when our two kids were six and four. Since then my ex has had a new wife, another child, another divorce, and several live-in girlfriends. Even though I’m not always thrilled by my ex’s choices, we’ve done a pretty good job cooperating with each other on parenting stuff – until now.
This latest girlfriend is a piece of work. She’s loud, has strong opinions about everything, rude, crude, uncooperative, and naturally she’s always finding ways to re-do weekend plans on short notice and mess up the drop-off arrangements. On top of that both kids tell me she’s a regular dropper of the “F bomb.” My ex defends her, which I get, but it feels like the quality is going down when it comes to his choice of partners, plus this one’s really getting in the way of what had been at least decent co-parenting. What should I do?
Dear Very Frustrated:
Obviously you’re in a tough spot and may not take much comfort from knowing how many others have gone down this same road. Some guys do learn from divorce, but some never figure it out, and some even go backward after their marriage(s) fail.
There are no magic words you can just throw out there at either of them. You’re going to have to hang tough for this relationship’s shakedown cruise to play out, while also sticking to your guns and “expecting” him to come through as a co-parent (I know – easier said than done.)
She may be another flash in the pan, or – even more scary – she may be around for awhile. Either way, you still want and need your ex to stay connected to your children. That’s obvious, but keeping that essential truth in the front of your mind helps you put up with the ongoing crapola.
It’s not that you absolutely should not – ever – say anything negative about your ex’s new partner, but taking the high road is the way to go: with the kids watching it’s important to “play it” that everyone’s a good person doing the best they can. The kids need at least one of their parents to model that overall approach.
Your ex may be going downhill, and his serial relationship failures are red flags. You still need to appeal to the best he has in him on behalf of your kids. Possible suggestion: try to get him to agree to a routine Monday evening phone call with you to talk about how the weekend went – whether you or he had the kids. Mostly it’s about the kids, but that’s where you may be able to slip in a diplomatic “concern” about communication problems among the adults and the practical reasons why it’s important to stay tight and consistent on the arrangements. Steady reiteration of what you need can produce results.
Yes, it’s frustrating to always need to be the one behaving like an adult – but you won’t ever regret it. Thank you for what you’re doing.
Oh yes, about those F Bombs …..