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Dealing with the Ex and How She Treats him


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I will try to make this post concise, so here are the facts (at least as I currently see them):

  • We are engaged to be married and overall very happy
  • She was married for nearly 17 years and has two teenage children with him
  • She has 100% custody, he pays no support, he (the ex) is very minimally involved with the children
  • He (the ex) has not shown up for the kids' events and only picks them up from school and drives them home a couple days a week, only to drop them off so is only spending the car ride with them and no real effort beyond those couple days per week
  • She told him before we got together that he as no longer allowed in her home, could only come to the door to pick up or drop off the kids
  • He continues to express a desire to get back together with her, including telling the kids that is what he wants
  • In their marriage he was emotionally abusive and on a couple occasions physically abusive (minor push or grab not full on bodily harm, but physical nonetheless and not excusable in my opinion)
  • Frequently (about once per week) he creates some drama via text message
  • Frequently when the drama occurs she will do things in response that irritate me - for example one recent time there was a school event for the younger teenager that I wanted to attend, but she said it might be better that I not go because he was and she didn't want her daughter to feel conflicted.  She continued with that event by letting me know that because they recently had a rough exchange via text she reached out to him the next day to let him know that she would save a seat for him at the event - an olive branch of sorts I guess even though she was not to blame in any manner for the rough text exchange. He wound up not sitting with her because he showed up very late to the event and stood in the back of the room, but I was left out because of him
  • Also recently he asked to use her washing machine to launder a comforter because apparently he feels his washing machine is not large enough.  Apparently he could not go to a laundromat like a normal adult, and when he came over to use the machine it started to malfunction, and he left it that way after he was done nursing it through a wash cycle
  • While there washing, he removed things he felt were his from her home without her knowledge - even though their divorce decree is 3 years old and was very specific and settled on property
  • Recently he started a text message fight over insisting on jewelry, in particular the engagement ring she had for 18+ years, be returned to him
  • She maintains a joint bank account with him because she says it takes too much time and is a big pain to cancel it or remove him, and she feels she wants to keep the account because many auto pay bills are set for that account
  • He has been known to randomly remove dozens of thousands of dollars from the account without her permission
  • He has not held any job for longer than 2 years over this entire period and she has paid for everything (she does well financially as an MD)
  • I have expressed to her my frustration in all of this, explaining that I feel she prioritizes how he feels over how I am feeling, or fear of how he will feel or react over how I am feeling. Her response most recently was this, “I hope you would understand and not make it about you, because it is about me - my guilt (which I already know you don’t agree with), my compassion, my preference for peace.”

That's it in a nutshell.  I am frustrated, but feel like I either need to just suck it up and learn to live with it because every other facet of our relationship is truly awesome, or I need to make a stand and possibly walk away.  I really don't want to walk away because I am in love with her and overall happy.  I just don't know how to get her to see how this is making me feel and make a change, or if she is right and that I should not make this about me.  Maybe you all can help give me some perspective I am not finding elsewhere.

Thanks in advance!

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Hold.That.Marriage.Right.There

5 minutes ago, robhsdca said:

She maintains a joint bank account with him because she says it takes too much time and is a big pain to cancel it or remove him, and she feels she wants to keep the account because many auto pay bills are set for that account

Takes 10 minutes to go at the bank. She can remove herself and her money and transfer them to her own account. 10 minutes.

6 minutes ago, robhsdca said:
  • He has been known to randomly remove dozens of thousands of dollars from the account without her permission
  • He has not held any job for longer than 2 years over this entire period and she has paid for everything (she does well financially as an MD)

Overall, she still has no good boundaries and gives excuses to his behaviour. She's still under his abusive spell (perhaps willingly).

7 minutes ago, robhsdca said:

“I hope you would understand and not make it about you, because it is about me - my guilt (which I already know you don’t agree with), my compassion, my preference for peace

Sure, it's not about you. But her actions show she's not over him. And by not drawing solid boundaries with him, it does affect you and the relationship.

From the other side, 17 years of marriage are long, so I can see how she is still entangled in all of this. How long was she single before you guys met?

Your concerns are 100% valid and I would hold the marriage until these are solved. And if she won't solve them... Which is her answer to you, idk what to tell you except to take a stand like you mentioned and give an ultimatum. It's time for an ultimatum in this case. Be ready to walk away.

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You're dating 6 months? You barely know her or her  children and you are trying to rush things with getting engaged. Way too much way too soon.

Does she tell you all this or how do you know so much about her financials and what happens in her household? 

One minute you're complaining he's not involved the next you're complaining you should be at her kids events?

In breath you mention he's not allowed in the house then you claim he has free access to laundry and removing items.

There were huge trust and other issues all along. Her kids are none of your business, however how she interacts with her ex is something you need to take note of.

Is this the same woman?:

 

Edited by Wiseman2
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21 minutes ago, Wiseman2 said:

You're dating 6 months? You barely know her or her  children and you are trying to rush things with getting engaged. Way too much way too soon.

Does she tell you all this or how do you know so much about her financials and what happens in her household? 

One minute you're complaining he's not involved the next you're complaining you should be at her kids events?

In breath you mention he's not allowed in the house then you claim he has free access to laundry and removing items.

There were huge trust and other issues all along. Her kids are none of your business, however how she interacts with her ex is something you need to take note of.

Is this the same woman?:

 

First - I am not complaining he is not involved - I am stating the fact that he is not involved.  I might be complaining that I am not there at the event because I have grown to love the kids, as she has my daughter.  If you would like to ask more questions about a situation to understand it better and be able to offer better advice, versus making blanket statements about how I feel based on inferring something, I would be happy to answer them.  

So it is apparent, the kids are my business, and my child is her business.  We both have 100% custody of our own kids, ex's excluded in custody, and we have together chosen to go down the path in our marriage when it happens of parenting them together.  WE both want that, so it does make our kids each other's business.  Please don't make assumptions without asking.

I continue to read posts of yours that have snap judgements that are often very harsh. I think you could do us all a favor and remember people post here about very sensitive topics, ones that involve very real feelings with people they truly love.  A true wise man would recognize this and have some empathy and compassion possibly.

As for the amount of time we have been together -  I understand by some standards it is short. But I am also a 51 year old man who is very sane and has maintained many very strong relationships with friends and even an ex of my own at one time I was in a good relationship with before it changed. My parents also eloped after dating for only 2 months and have been married for 52 years and are the happiest couple I have ever seen. I think sometimes when you know, you know, and placing certain time rules on things may not need to apply.  

As for knowing a lot about her financials - you know what, she knows mine too.  We know a lot about each other and consider that to be just fine as we enter a marriage.  I don't think it's cool in this type of forum, or any, to come in and kind of bully people around because you consider yourself wise.  Maybe open a new account and label it humbleman and try that for a bit.

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39 minutes ago, DarkCh0c0 said:

Hold.That.Marriage.Right.There

Takes 10 minutes to go at the bank. She can remove herself and her money and transfer them to her own account. 10 minutes.

Overall, she still has no good boundaries and gives excuses to his behaviour. She's still under his abusive spell (perhaps willingly).

Sure, it's not about you. But her actions show she's not over him. And by not drawing solid boundaries with him, it does affect you and the relationship.

From the other side, 17 years of marriage are long, so I can see how she is still entangled in all of this. How long was she single before you guys met?

Your concerns are 100% valid and I would hold the marriage until these are solved. And if she won't solve them... Which is her answer to you, idk what to tell you except to take a stand like you mentioned and give an ultimatum. It's time for an ultimatum in this case. Be ready to walk away.

Thanks for this.  To answer your question - the divorce after almost 17 years was final in March of 2019. So it was 2 years before me, and three now. To add a little more context, for the last 10+ years of the marriage she has told me that she only stayed because of the kids and there was ZERO intimacy. She left because she just could not take being in a loveless marriage any longer.  To add even more context - this was an arranged marriage she was in - so even though it was 17 years, it was not exactly a chosen path of hers.

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Oh, hold up. You guys will marry within 1 year of knowing each other?

That's a red flag. I read you are a 51 year old man, and that you finally want to get married to the one. But being 51 yo also should make you extra picky about who you want to live with for the rest of your life.

Your need to take things a bit slower and explore your gf before deciding if she is the life partner. And obviously, in your case, she has clearly shown you that she is not in the best state to marry nor to make changes to her toxic behaviour towards the ex.

Again, an ultimatum is needed. And she needs to follow through with her actions. If she won't, then I'm sorry.

Edited by DarkCh0c0
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Just now, DarkCh0c0 said:

Oh, hold up. You guys will marry within 1 year of knowing each other?

That's a red flag. I read you are a 51 year old man, and that you finally want to get married to the one. But being 51 yo also should make you extra picky about you want to live with for the rest of your life.

Your need to take things a bit slower and explore your gf before deciding if she is the life partner. And obviously, in your case, she has clearly shown you that she is not in the best state to marry nor to make changes to her toxic behaviour towards the ex.

Again, an ultimatum is needed. And she needs to follow through with her actions. If she won't, then I'm sorry.

Yes, we are engaged within 1 year.  The wedding date has not been set.  I have been married before and actually do feel I have been very picky in winding up with her.  I think we have possibly glossed over how I mentioned everything else is really very good.  It's this one thing now, and there was one other issue with another ex that she continued to talk with and had lied to me about.  

Sometimes, and I sure others have this happen too, when I type it out I begin to realize, "hmm, this really could be a red flag..."

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3 minutes ago, Rose Mosse said:

She hasn’t completely severed ties from her previous marriage so what you’re doing is catching someone either during that process or you may be anticipating a process that may never completely finish. You fell in love with her before you knew the full story unfortunately. The romance seems to have progressed quickly as you’re engaged to her now but experiencing a lot of doubt. 

Tell her what you need in order for this to move forward. I think you both ought to have it out in the open. Mention all the things you’ve listed and don’t keep it to yourself while marrying her. You’ll do each other a disservice. Be prepared to go your separate ways as I think you’ve caught someone who wasn’t ready to start a new relationship with you.

 

Thanks Rose - I think you could possibly be right.  There is a lot of good, but maybe she is not fully ready because she has not put the past behind her.

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Things can still seem very good at one year but vision is not 20/20 during the honeymoon period. You get my drift. This is painful to see but slow down. 

Life isn’t worth living with all this stress and hassle. Imagine someone coming through your home and taking things and living in fear of the next intimidation or issue. 

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14 minutes ago, Rose Mosse said:

Things can still seem very good at one year but vision is not 20/20 during the honeymoon period. You get my drift. This is painful to see but slow down. 

Life isn’t worth living with all this stress and hassle. Imagine someone coming through your home and taking things and living in fear of the next intimidation or issue. 

Thanks for this.  You're right - it is painful, more maybe than I expected it to be. I think there is a reality here that I was worried might be the case, but now facing the potential of having to back down from where we were is more harsh than I really wanted. I guess nobody wants to accept hurt as the best path, but in this case maybe it is.

I am not sure ending it is the answer though.  At the end of the day, we do love each other deeply.  I don't doubt that, but maybe the right thing to do is to sort through it together to either find a path forward, or path to an end if that is the sad case.

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46 minutes ago, robhsdca said:

Thanks for this.  You're right - it is painful, more maybe than I expected it to be. I think there is a reality here that I was worried might be the case, but now facing the potential of having to back down from where we were is more harsh than I really wanted. I guess nobody wants to accept hurt as the best path, but in this case maybe it is.

I am not sure ending it is the answer though.  At the end of the day, we do love each other deeply.  I don't doubt that, but maybe the right thing to do is to sort through it together to either find a path forward, or path to an end if that is the sad case.

It takes two for a path forward and in your case with her, three. If they don’t have a respectful or working relationship to coparent or coexist as parents this likely won’t work with any new partners she introduces into her life. To be plain, it’s dysfunctional. 

Try communicating together and see where she stands but I wouldn’t marry in the hopes that this resolves. 

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I’m 55. To me officially engaged means a wedding date. Or at least a wedding month. She’s not pushing a wedding date because she’s still entangled with her ex husband. Are you planning to adopt her kids ? If not and you’re not married you are not their dad or step dad however close you’ve become. So it’s not your business IMO. what is your business is being treated respectfully by her children. 
I think it’s telling that she has them drive the kids - she could hire someone right ? Why is he involved in that way given the circumstances?  I agree with Rose.  She’s not ready to cut her personal ties with him. Yet. 

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It's one thing to want to have a cordial relationship with her ex for the sake of the kids. It's another to want a close relationship with her ex for herself. There's a big difference.

She seems to want to appease him so he won't be mad at HER. And if she still cares what he thinks of HER then his feelings and opinions are still important to her. 

I would definitely hold off on marrying her unless and until this is resolved to your satisfaction, while realizing her ex will always be in your lives due to the shared children.

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Wonderful posts by Rose here. 

I find it telling that you're viewing this from a binary lens, as something either to stomach or something to walk away from. There is a middle ground here, and I can't help but think that you two have moved so quickly that you've yet to set foot in it, together. 

In a parallel universe, everything you're confronting right now would be part of dating, things to observe, discuss, and allow for some time to equalize, or not. But because you are engaged, and already viewing her in ways as a wife, all this stuff is super pressurized, stirring feelings of betrayal. Ever try to have a meaningful conversation in a loud, crowded room where all the doors are locked? It's not easy.

Can you mentally, and emotionally, just put the whole engagement thing on ice and engage as human beings? She knows your feelings and concerns. She also needs some time to untangle herself from all this. Give her that time, see how she uses it, and give yourself a little timeline for hanging out in this gray zone. Three months, say, or six. That will tell you a whole lot about whether she is someone you want to marry or not.  

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4 hours ago, robhsdca said:
  • He continues to express a desire to get back together with her, including telling the kids that is what he wants
  • In their marriage he was emotionally abusive and on a couple occasions physically abusive (minor push or grab not full on bodily harm, but physical nonetheless and not excusable in my opinion)
  • Frequently (about once per week) he creates some drama via text message

^ Spending 17 years in an abusive relationship leaves a mark. Meaning that the drive to walk on eggshells and otherwise try to appease him to avoid abuse is more deeply ingrained in her than you realize. People need a lot of support, including therapy. Very specifically, with a therapist who is specifically experienced in helping victims to move on and move away from that control the abuser continues to exert over their lives and their psyche.

This has nothing to do with still being in love or somehow not letting him go yet. For as long as they have to co-parent, she is stuck dealing with him in whatever way she knows how. It doesn't mean it's a good way and a healthy way for her, it's just what she knows. A lot of what/how she deals with him is all about appeasement so that he doesn't cause even bigger problems for her.

Jumping into instant engagement was compulsive and I am going to echo @bluecastle that this has created a lot of pressure to make this relationship a certain way quickly when in reality, you should still be dating and learning how to navigate these issues as a couple. That includes, deciding if you even can navigate them or not. On a side note, just because your parents did something compulsive and it worked out, doesn't make it an example to live by. They are truly the extreme exception to the rule. The rule being that compulsive insta relationship fail 99.99% of the time.

 

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So, let me get this straight. You've been dating 6 mos, or so. Less than a month ago you posted issues w/your GF. But now, weeks later you're engaged? There were issues last month, there still are issues, if not more. And, there will be issues going forward. You've argued about an ex-husband (still do), and an ex-date/boyfriend whom she "hid/lied" to you about?

Do you not see the troubled waters you're trying to keep afloat on? That raft you've built has you barely coasting. And STOP using age, or love as the excuse. There ARE bigger problems; life-long ones if you continue on this path. As someone said earlier: take off the rose-colored glasses. You're not going to get the woman you want at this rate.

Edited by Rox22
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My brother married a woman despite the blaring, giant red flags the size of Brazil. The marriage lasted a bit over a year and he ended up with a massive tax bill and is going through his second divorce. All because he wanted her more than he wanted to use his common sense.

Why do you so badly want to marry this woman? Do you have any reasons other than "but I LOVE her!!" or "we have so much in common"?

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There are some dealbreakers that do and should override the good. When something is regularly upsetting in a relationship, it means it's the wrong one for you. 

If there was just one bad thing going on, perhaps couples counseling could make her see that what she's doing is harmful to your partnership.

I know I wouldn't put up with my partner regularly joining an ex at events that I'm excluded from. If my plan was to marry someone and we are combining finances, I wouldn't want his ex draining his bank account, leaving me to possibly have to be responsible for ALL of our finances if a disaster should occur. 

And I'd be leary of being someone who lies about being in contact with an ex. For me, that's their poor ethics and a selfish act. I prefer someone like me who leaves their past in the past and is faithful without that sort of nonsense.

You've already explained your concerns on all these things and she hasn't changed how she operates, so she doesn't fear losing you. I'd say: The relationship isn't working for me. If the day comes when XYZ is no longer happening, if you wish, you can contact me. If I'm still single, we can see about reconnecting.

Good luck and keep us updated.

 

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Deep down you know that there can be a lot of problems in this marriage. Whether you get married or not, your fiance’s ex husband will always be in your life. Now it may sound like you can handle it, but rest assured you won’t.

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Thank you all for the thoughtful and solid responses.

I think that sometimes even just typing out what is happening can alert you to red flags, but then having them pointed out also is a help indeed.  The struggle is it is painful - I do love her, but maybe it's not the right love.  I am not 100% ready to walk away without trying to get her to see how I am feeling and see how she reacts, but when that happens I know I will be faced with the choice of either finding a way to get things on a better footing, or walk away. 

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You're still not listening, and hoping for the impossible - her to change.

"I am not 100% ready to walk away without trying to get her to see how I am feeling and see how she reacts,"

Here's what you've already said:

On 4/12/2022 at 8:14 AM, robhsdca said:

I have expressed to her my frustration in all of this, explaining that I feel she prioritizes how he feels over how I am feeling, or fear of how he will feel or react over how I am feeling. Her response most recently was this, “I hope you would understand and not make it about you, because it is about me - my guilt (which I already know you don’t agree with), my compassion, my preference for peace.”

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44 minutes ago, robhsdca said:

  I am not 100% ready to walk away without trying to get her to see how I am feeling

So you have never told her how you feel? If not, why not? And if so, why do you think telling her yet again will change anything?

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