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Boyfriend is still involved with his ex-wife

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Dear Guys,

My boyfriend’s ex-wife lives out of state. They have two teens together and she is always texting and calling him over stupid stuff like the kids not cleaning their room, or the kids needing to get a job. He’s very nice to her, even though she cheated and wanted the divorce. He tells me they’re not friends but he used to go on vacation with her and kids when they were young, even after the divorce.

He s been divorced for thirteen years and I’m his first long-term relationship.

He son’s graduation is in May. He will be going but I have to work and can’t go. I wanted to know how to trust him. He says his relationship is amicable. I think they are friends and he won’t admit it. She’s text him about her relationship and has asked about ours. We dated in high school for seven years and we have a lot of history. I think sometimes he’s still in love with her, although he says he loves me but is very attentive to her. It’s driving me crazy. (I know it shouldn’t.)

Every other day or week they text. He says they don’t talk on phone but I don’t believe him. I have proof and it would end us for sure. He is always worried about me leaving. Why can’t he tell her to stop? She even wanted to go on vacation this year, but he told her he’s with me and that’s over. I don’t believe him. I think he will go and lie cause she controls him. Does this behavior ever end or is this my life with him? He’s a good guy and we have a good thing but I’m ready to go.

Holly,

Dear Holly,

We understand your position, and we can see why you’re frustrated and upset. That said, the fact is, he has kids with her and that’s not going to change. Which means, not only does he have to communicate with her regularly until the kids are of age, she’s forever part of his life. Sure, that may abate once the kids are past college-age (assuming they’re taking that particular path) but things will come up—financial, emotional, practical—that will need to be addressed for the rest of his life. (Are you okay with this? If not, maybe this isn’t the best relationship for you.)

However, HOW they communicate is another matter entirely. An amicable relationship between parents is optimal. Remember, you may share a history with him, but so does she. And yes, amicability can sometimes become blurred when having a conversation with someone with a shared history. (Jokes. Comments. References.) So what you need to do is SEPARATE what’s appropriate and not appropriate and talk to him without emotion. Lumping all of their communication together is not an effective negotiating tactic. However, if you say something like, “I understand that it’s important for you and (her name) to communicate regularly about the kids. And I will support you. However, sometimes I feel that maybe she crosses the line. (Put it on her so he doesn’t get defensive.) I was wondering if we could come up with some sort of guideline that would enable you to communicate, but also make me not question what’s going on. I don’t want to nag you. And I want to trust you. What do you think? What do you think is appropriate and what’s not?” Ask him the questions Holly. Get him to tell you what HE thinks the parameters should be. That will be be much “stickier” than if you TELL him what to do.

The elephant in the room is your lack of trust. The question is: Do you trust him on a fundamental level? Based on what you’ve said, it seems you don’t. So, let’s say you talk to him, and put a framework in place that works for both of you. Will you still doubt him and feel the need to snoop and question him? If so, none of this matters. What do you think? Are there other areas that you don’t trust him?

Yours,

THE GUYS

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Read more Relationship Advice and Dating Advice about divorce, marriage, kids. 

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