Should I stay or should I go?

(35 Posts)
BestestBrownies Fri 04-Oct-13 13:21:46

I have recently started dating a lovely new man after separating from my ex-husband almost a year ago. DP is also separated, but has an 8yo DS whom I have not met, although he has spoken of him a lot.

Just to be clear, neither of us broke up the other's marriage. We met after we had both separated from our respective spouses.

I am 36 and have no kids of my own. I'm not sure I even want to have any. Not because I don't like children. I work as a Nanny and love kids. I have no doubt that should the relationship become more serious, I would have no problem loving and step-parenting his son at all.

My issue is with his ex-wife. She is incredibly controlling, manipulative and just downright nasty. She uses her son as a means to hurt DP with little thought or care for how her actions and words will be affecting her own son both short and long term. DP feels he has no choice but to comply with her demands and whims for fear that she will prevent him from seeing his boy, whom he loves dearly.

So far, her behaviour has screwed up our plans and upset DP when we have been together several times, spoiling our time together. She doesn't know about me, so it's not intentionally timed, she is just like this with him constantly.

I like this man very much. He and I are on the same wavelength. He is everything my husband was not and although it's early days, I think we could be really good together and make one another very happy.

I know from reading these boards that there are plenty of other women in my position. Does it ever end happily ever after? Would you, if you could go back to the start of your relationship with DP, choose not to date a man with a pain-in-the-arse of an ex-wife and save yourself the heartache or was it all worth it in the end?

picnicbasketcase Fri 04-Oct-13 13:32:23

It sounds like a very difficult situation but try to remember you're only hearing his side if the story, which is obviously going to be quite negative towards his ex.

Bonsoir Fri 04-Oct-13 13:33:36

You need to help your DP stand up to his exW and the easiest way to do that is to marry him and have some DC of your own!

BestestBrownies Fri 04-Oct-13 13:40:44

Thanks for the replies!

Bonsoir That's a bit drastic!!! confused It is very early days with the relationship, although we have been taking it very slowly and have been friends for around 7 months, we only started dating roughly a month ago. I don't think it's my place to get involved, now or ever actually. Other than to support DP of course.

picnic To his credit, DP doesn't slag her off to me. I just see the resulting pain it causes him when she once again puts her own needs before those of her son or does/says something to hurt DP that also negatively affects their son.

BestestBrownies Fri 04-Oct-13 13:50:45

I suppose what I'm really asking is if being a step-parent to a child with an unreasonable, demanding parent (the ex), is worth it in the long term or if I should just cut my losses now, as much as I like my DP sad

Bonsoir Fri 04-Oct-13 13:51:03

You have no credibility unless and until you have your own family with your DP. And two adults are a lot stronger than one! And when you have DC of your own, you can quite legitimately parent your DSS in the same way as you parent your own DC when he is with you.

Bonsoir Fri 04-Oct-13 13:51:37

It's perfectly possible (my DP's exW is a nightmare) but you have to be strong!

BestestBrownies Fri 04-Oct-13 13:58:17

Wow, OK. I can understand your POV completely Bonsoir. I suppose I'm just another girlfriend until/unless we become serious enough for marriage and kids of our own. Then I suppose my status becomes equal with hers in her mind? (Or not, as she'd always be 'first').

I suppose I'll just have to see how it goes smile

Petal02 Fri 04-Oct-13 13:59:42

Brownies – you state “I don’t think it’s my place to get involved, now or ever actually” but if you live with or marry this man, you will become involved. It’s unavoidable. If the ex causes problems that affect your household and those within it, then you’re involved by default. I don’t think anyone with a pulse could bite their tongue and smile sweetly when (for example) the ex wants you to have DSS for three days longer, ruining a weekend away you’ve got planned, or decides at the 11th hour that DSS won’t be allowed to join the family holiday you’ve arranged.

Step families are difficult, but not impossible. We’ve just despatched DSS18 off to University, and whilst I’m sure there will be future issues to contend with, the ‘child care’ phase is now almost behind us, and me/DH have survived. It’s definitely been bumpy at times, and I would have gone insane with frustration without this forum. But I wanted to be with DH despite the challenges; and as I suspect that men aged 35+ without children are pretty rare (if not extinct), you could be single for a very long time if you decide to only date childless men !!!!!

Bonsoir – I disagree with your comment that you have no credibility if you don’t have children with your DP. There are plenty of posters who’ve had children with men who already have a family, only to find that ‘first family’ children are at the top of the food chain.

BestestBrownies Fri 04-Oct-13 14:14:54

Hi Petal thanks for your reply.

Yes, it is hard not to feel involved even at this early stage, as she already has the power to negatively affect DP by upsetting him when we have time together planned and she doesn't know about me yet. She will go insane with jealousy if/when she does learn of my existence and that I make him happy.

I naively thought before I met DP that being a step-parent would be my ideal. No pressure to have kids of my own (have never felt the urge to be a biological mum, plus it would mean I'd have to change career). I guess the reality is a lot harder than the fantasy! wink

I too have had the thought that finding a guy in my age bracket without baggage is going to be impossible! And I think what I have with DP is potentially special enough to see it through.

Sorry if I seem to be contradicting myself. I am in a foreign country having left all my friends/family back in London, so don't have a mate to chew the fat with. Just trying to make sense of my thoughts on here.

Petal02 Fri 04-Oct-13 14:21:50

I also thought that a step family would be the ideal - no pressure to go through pregnancy and child birth, I thought I'd be more like an Auntie (how wrong was I????)!!!

HisLommel Fri 04-Oct-13 15:04:20

My fiances ex wife is without doubt the most annoying part of my life so far. The most frustrating part is that it's unnecessary distress she's causing to both us and her children.
That said, I've never once considered that I'd be better off out of it. My fiancé brings so much joy and stability to my life and we couldn't be without each other (vom!) wink

We're in the thick of it at the moment awaiting our final court hearing so things are stressful but we are still happy smile

Stepmooster Fri 04-Oct-13 15:32:35

Its not just annoying ex wives to watch out for but the disney dads!

I had never heard of them until I met my DH and then stumbled upon this forum. I bought the book Stepmonster by Wednesday Martin upon recommendation (from China I think).

You can get it on Amazon and is very good, I made DH read it! He is a reformed disney dad who sometimes slips into old habits.

mumandboys123 Fri 04-Oct-13 16:27:50

I'm sorry, I just don't get it. How on earth could you possibly know she'll be insanely jealous and behave badly when she finds out about you? You've been with the man a month yet you know all the ins and outs of his ex-wife's personality and how she will react at any given moment in time?

TheMumsRush Fri 04-Oct-13 16:55:54

And there goes the thread!

TheMumsRush Fri 04-Oct-13 16:58:14

She's already behaving badly! There's your clue!

elliebellys Fri 04-Oct-13 17:45:16

What exactly is she doin to upset your dp?

lunar1 Fri 04-Oct-13 17:53:49

Are you really sure she is as bad as you say? You haven't met her, she doesn't know about you.

If anyone is spoiling your time together then it's your boyfriend. If she doesn't know about you then how can she be to blame for spoiling things?

Petal02 Fri 04-Oct-13 18:11:28

I think the OP means that the continued friction between her DP and his ex sometimes spoils their time together, and she's wondering if it's worth the hassle. Which is a fair question under the circumstances.

lunar1 Fri 04-Oct-13 18:14:13

That makes more sense petal, I had read it as if she was doing things in their time together to spoil it, and thinking how could it be the fault of the ex if she doesn't know he is with someone.

NatashaBee Fri 04-Oct-13 18:20:08

^ you state “I don’t think it’s my place to get involved, now or ever actually” but if you live with or marry this man, you will become involved. It’s unavoidable. If the ex causes problems that affect your household and those within it, then you’re involved by default. I don’t think anyone with a pulse could bite their tongue and smile sweetly when (for example) the ex wants you to have DSS for three days longer, ruining a weekend away you’ve got planned, or decides at the 11th hour that DSS won’t be allowed to join the family holiday you’ve arranged. ^

Yes, this. If I could go back in time, I wouldn't do it. It takes far more patience than I have, to deal with that sort of thing. I live abroad, away from family and friends, and that makes it even tougher - because I can't just say 'sod it', and go to the pub with a friend to sound off. So I think that will be another negative for you. In fact there was a thread on the Step-Parenting forum a while ago where the majority of the posters said that no, they wouldn't do it again if they had the choice.

Petal - has your DSS abandoned the rota now?

basgetti Fri 04-Oct-13 18:22:16

I had a brief involvement with someone who had a 'nightmare' ex. It didn't get to the stage where we met each other's children. To be honest it didn't seem like a great situation from any angle. Either he was telling the whole truth and if I had become more deeply involved she would have made my life a misery, or he was the type of man whose ex is immediately referred to as awful, crazy etc as soon as they break up, and I could become the 'psycho ex' just as easily. I ran a mile.

louby44 Fri 04-Oct-13 18:26:32

I too read it too that the ex wife spoils things for the DP and his son, which then has a negative impact on the time the OP has with her DP.

It goes without saying then that this woman will in all probability escalate her anger and jealousy once she finds out about her ex having a new partner.

OP has he had a relationship with anyone else since his relationship ended? Or are you the first?

Fragglewump Fri 04-Oct-13 18:26:34

Hmmm.....I would be wary of getting involved in any really fraught situation. My dh exw wasn't too bad when we met.....and I was impressed by the fact that he didn't criticise her to me at all. But 8 years on its still a struggle and I think always will be for many many reasons. It can work but I suspect it won't be easy!

Petal02 Fri 04-Oct-13 18:33:55

Natasha - DSS is now at Uni, apparently he's really enjoying it. So no more access rota.

louby44 Fri 04-Oct-13 18:34:02

But in answer to your question, things can get better.

I met my DP nearly 6 years ago, he'd been separated a year and it was very bitter. We have 4 children between us.

Initially his ex wife and her then partner were very nasty to my DP. They would send awful texts/voicemails to him, which forced him to get his solicitor to send them both a letter asking them to stop. Which actually worked.

Ex wife was very controlling, visits were set in stone and if he was 5 minutes late she was on the phone wanting to know where her children were. It was all a bit over the top.

Things have improved greatly and they now get on much better. They speak and he's even been invited in for coffee on a few occasions.

So things can get better with the passage of time.

Beamur Fri 04-Oct-13 18:36:03

Without a crystal ball it's hard to say how it will work out.
How long as your DP been separated? Sounds like his ex wife is still hurting, although it is also fair to say that some exes (male and female) don't get beyond the vengeful stage.
They may over time work out a more amicable arrangement (they may not..) as kids aren't on your agenda, you've nothing to lose in giving this relationship some time to develop and see what happens.

Kaluki Fri 04-Oct-13 19:00:42

* DP feels he has no choice but to comply with her demands and whims for fear that she will prevent him from seeing his boy, whom he loves dearly. *
This is ringing alarm bells!
If he won't stand up to her now then he probably won't in future.
What else will he do to keep her and his son sweet? Is he a Disney dad? Do they both call the shots and make him do as he is told?
Have a good long look at the way he is with his son as well as his ex wife and it will tell you a lot about the future!
Bonsoir - marrying and having dc is rather an extreme way to go about it and as other threads on here have shown that doesn't always make a jot of difference to a bitter ex wife!!,

HisLommel Fri 04-Oct-13 19:07:49

I agree he needs to stand up to his ex. If he's worried she will stop contact he needs to see a solicitor. There's no way I could have lived a life pussyfooting around DFs exW. I am respectful of her (it's hard for her too and I understand that being an exW myself!) but she doesn't get to just chop and change - or at least she won't after the court hearing. If DF had insisted on not rocking the boat I probably would have had to leave.

heidiwine Fri 04-Oct-13 21:47:44

I have been with my DP for 6 years. We are pretty happy. However, his ex wife makes our life very difficult and although it's a bit better than it was it's still intolerable at times. That said, I've chosen DP, I'm a big part of his children's lives (despite what their mum thinks/says/does).
My advice to anyone embarking on dating someone with a difficult ex would be to encourage them to stand up for themselves from day one (I didn't). It might sound corny but by allowing DP to go along with her whims and be treated like shit was enabling him to become a doormat and not empowering him to stand up for himself. I wish I'd started off empowering him...
That's a very tricky spot for a new partner, it needs a certain type of confidence that (I think) I rare especially in a new relationship. My rules (which I try to pass onto DP)
- always strive to be a good person
- always put the children first (that means living your life as an example for them to follow)
- minimise conflict but don't avoid it
- don't get caught up in emotions, state the facts (and repeat them each time emotion is returned)

Being a step mum is the hardest thing I've ever done... I don't have my own children but can't imagine it being harder that being a step mum. It's definitely not going to be a good substitute for your own children.

I'm a bit tipsy so probably rambling but the one thing I'm absolutely sure of is that I'm better with my DP and he's better with me. If I ever doubted that I'd walk away... I also knew that very early on.

Good luck!

BestestBrownies Fri 04-Oct-13 22:30:39

Wow, thank you all for the replies! the thread seems to have taken on a life of it's own!

Just to clarify, my statement about the ex-wife being jealous etc of me meant that she would be jealous that her ex-husband has moved on and is happy without her, not of me personally. I can only imagine that once she does find out her controlling, unpredictable behaviour will only escalate. I think DP knows this too (he hasn't said anything, but every time they have an argument he becomes distant with me for a day or so, so that's my interpretation).

I am not DP's first GF since they split. They have been separated for over 2 years already and he's had his fair share wink. He is my first BF since my split though, and my first ever BF with an ex spouse and child, so I have no experience and no real idea of what to expect.

Although we have only been dating for a short time, we have been friends since February. The fact we have both been hurt and married previously means we have proceeded very slowly and gotten to know one another very well before starting a relationship. I'm trying to do things right relationship-wise this time wink

DP is not a Disney Dad at all. Prior to their split, he did the lion's share of child care and all the discipline. In fact, one of his bugbears is that the ex-wife will often call him and tell him to discipline their son over the phone when she can't get him to co-operate. All homework is left for his contact days because only DP can get his DS to do it. He worries that his son will start to see him as the 'bad cop' because he is the only parent who cares enough to provide any discipline. I am an experienced and very good Nanny, so we often discuss the behaviour of his son and my 6yo charge, and we are totally on the same page with regard to our parenting style.

When DP has asked for my opinion, I have stated that I think she must still love him and be hurting from the split. Either that or trying to punish him for it (he left her). He believes the latter.

I too think it's a case of DP needing to grow a pair and set clear boundaries/call her bluff, but he knows her best and he is absolutely certain that she will take his son away if she feels she is losing her power over DP.

I'm going to have to think long and hard on this aren't I?

The thing is, I just like him so much! I have liked him from the start of our friendship. We are similar in all the ways that matter and I fancy him so much. He would be very tough to give up now sad

Petal02 Sat 05-Oct-13 12:53:02

I don't think you need to give him up Brownie, just be aware that step parenting is no picnic!

elliebellys Sat 05-Oct-13 18:02:45

I dont think this is ex wife problem moreso ur dps.he needs to sort it out with his ex,not dither,whats their relationship like nd why the secrecy bout your relationship?

Kaluki Sat 05-Oct-13 20:00:53

Don't give him up.
Just keep your eyes wide open and be prepared for a lot of shit to be thrown at you when she finds out about you.
The most important thing is that you and DP are a united front, she won't be able to cause as much trouble if you two are solid.

HisLommel Sat 05-Oct-13 21:16:42

I thought DFs ex wife would "go mad" when she found out about me. She didn't. She did stalk me and use my struggle with depression as a reason for DF not having unsupervised contact with his sons.

Go with your gut. It's not easy but what is? If he's the right man for you, you'll get through it and be stronger for it smile

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