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Wisdom needed! How to handle introducing son to husband's girlfriend?

(27 Posts)
OutOfThePast1947 Wed 26-Apr-17 13:48:29

I'd be very grateful for some quick thoughts on an issue that has just come up which I need to handle later today. This is my first Mumsnet post so I hope you don't mind giving me some advice which I can bear in mind.

My husband left me one day last June out of the blue. We'd been together 20 years and I'd thought we were strong as a rock. He blathered a bit but then told me that he was in love with someone else and was moving out there and then into a flat. We have a 5 year old son.

After I'd composed myself we agreed that he wouldn't meet her for a couple of years, to which he readily agreed. After Christmas he told me that she will be relocating several hundred miles from where she's currently based to live with him. I reminded him of the 2 year agreement which he'd forgotten, but he agreed again without complaint.

In the meantime we have managed to remain on friendly terms (painful for me but in my son's best interests). We visit his family together and have days out. He comes round almost daily to do teatime and bedtime, and our son stays over at his from time to time. Every other weekend he goes away to stay with his girlfriend.

This afternoon my husband has mentioned that he wants to introduce our son to her, maybe go on a day out. I'm shocked because it's a year sooner than I'd expected - he'd forgotten our agreement again. My objection is partly raw hurt, but mainly caution - I don't want our son getting used to a new set up before it's tried and tested. I've seen friends' kids left reeling from new 'forever' relationships which then fail.

My preference is to keep this on hold for longer - I've put every energy I have into maintaining a really positive family environment but I am struggling to take this next step. I don't want to make life hard for my husband - it will be counterproductive and I can recognise that logistically it is difficult to maintain this separation - but my heart shrivels at the thought of this.

Do I hold the line or acquiesce? Has anyone been in a similar situation? Is there an approach that you think might be in the best interests of my son? I'll suck it up if I have to (though it kills me) but I just want to do the best possible thing.

What do you reckon? I've got a couple of hours to consider what to do.

2014newme Wed 26-Apr-17 13:52:00

Let him.
It's hard, it hurts, it's horrible but I think you have to do it. 💐

TheNaze73 Wed 26-Apr-17 13:54:18

Personally, I think it's far too soon

category12 Wed 26-Apr-17 13:57:19

I think you have gone too far in trying to keep on friendly terms - not sure why you're visiting his family together and almost daily visits seem too much - preventing you (and potentially your ds) from moving on/accepting the new reality.

It's been a year. You need to let go of it. Your ex should have regular access, at his place, and regular overnights. When he introduces his gf/dp is up to him to manage.

Hissy Wed 26-Apr-17 13:57:31

You don't get to call the shots here.

There is no line to hold, your Ex can make his own decisions in his own time. You do need to really grasp this. You can ask, but he doesnt have to do anything if he doesnt want to.

FWIW, a day time meet up after a year of him being with his girlfriend is very responsible of your Ex. Your DS is 5, he'll be fine.

It is VITAL that your Ex sees what his girlfriend is like with his child and also manages the relationship between his son and the girlfriend and his own relationship in the new dynamic.

It sounds like this relationship is on good foundations, its moving in the right direction, she has clearly committed to it with her move and for them both to be able to move forward in times to come it's important for them all to meet.

The only thing you are able to do is wish your ex all the best of luck and support your son by answering any questions he may have that his dad can't answer.

Justmadeperfectflapjacks Wed 26-Apr-17 13:59:49

Unfortunately you have to trust your exh judgement regarding your ds. .
If the tables were turned we would all be accusing him of being controlling. .

WhisperingLoudly Wed 26-Apr-17 14:03:54

You have no choice, so accept graciously. I actually thinly a year is more than reasonable.

In the meantime stop with the plating happy families it doesn't do you or your DS any good. Does your Ex actually have any time alone with his DS?! He sounds rather lazy!

IhatchedaSnorlax Wed 26-Apr-17 14:04:54

I'm sorry for you but completely agree with category12. Get proper access arrangements in place. Have you thought it might be confusing for your 5 year old to have his dad put him to bed every night?

MyschoolMyrules Wed 26-Apr-17 14:05:26

Op I think that you are very brave, and that you have made some difficult decisions to keep your son as your priority. I think some of the other posters are too harsh but that's what you get nowadays on Mumsnet.

I would suggest that you sit down with ex and agree on a date. Just remind him of the agreement on two years, but compromise otherwise he could do it behind your back, impose it without consulting you at all. Just agree on a period say in three months or so?

Hissy Wed 26-Apr-17 14:10:31

I agree with the others regarding the blurring of the boundaries, this is likely to be the most angst creating issue with the every day bedtimes/bathtimes etc.

Another view of this could be that you are engineering this to create a need for the Ex to be present with you and then when inevitably your Ex does have more in his life to juggle, such as relationships etc it will cause MORE upset than if it was properly managed.

As he is now in a position to want to do a gentle intro (and I think he's being more than sensitive and wise here), it's time to get the routine more structured and independent from your home and he has ds over at his for tea/overnights and weekends.

Hissy Wed 26-Apr-17 14:15:07

Myschool tbf, there is no 'behind op back' he has left and has a new relationship of approaching a year with a woman who has moved hundreds of miles to be with him. Frankly all he has to do is to advise op of his decision and there is absolutely nothing anyone can do about it. He knows what he initially agreed, and he clearly feels (knowing all parties) that the time is right for a lightweight informal intro.

He doesn't have to wait 3 weeks, let alone 3 months. the only reply to her Ex is 'fine, if you think this is the right time, and you are happy for an informal intro, let me know so I know"

Hissy Wed 26-Apr-17 14:16:17

But yes, I do recognise that this will be difficult, and the OP will find it hard, but this doesn't mean she gets a veto. By the sounds of it there are no other factors that mean he's unsafe or the girlf is.

Somerville Wed 26-Apr-17 14:19:53

I think the way you you've both handled it this far sounds extremely mature, and your son will have massively benefited from it.

However I think it's potentially confusing for your son for the playing-happy-families to continue. As PP's say, it is probabaly time for a set contact routine and your ex only to come over to pick him up/drop him off, so that your son gets to know daddy's house as a separate place from yours.

I think you need to make the point to your ex that the next part is something of a long process. First getting him used to daddy's house/daddy's life aside from the family he has known. Then lots of talking about his girlfriend - what that is, what it means, etc. Then a short daytime introduction. Then more talking, and further short meetings for the following months. Make it clear to him that it wouldn't be good for your son to introduce her suddenly, and then the next week having her stay over when he is there or something. (And I think that if even an introduction was postponed for another year, there light be temptation for your ex to then take it at 0-60 and move her in quickly or something. Better off starting it sooner, but slower.)

Scrumplestiltskin Wed 26-Apr-17 14:25:29

I think you need to disentangle yourself from your ex, and stop spending any time around him at all, save major events. Draw some boundary lines and actually enforce some separation.
After a year, you're still referring to him as your "husband" not your "ex," (despite him leaving you for someone else who he'd 'fallen in love with' while he was married to you,) and that is quite telling, imo.
From this post, it seems like you still have some emotional entanglements.
As for your son meeting the girlfriend...I don't think you can reasonably demand they don't meet, after a year together. But YANBU for not wanting them to - the feelings you have on the situation are totally understandable.

Changedname3456 Wed 26-Apr-17 14:41:52

You can't stop him and, IMO, shouldn't.

Unless he's shown very poor judgement in the past (when it comes to his child) then his opinions and wishes are just as valid as yours.

I can understand why you're upset, but you don't gain anything (even for your son) by trying to stop this and you'll do better in your ongoing relationship with him by telling him, and showing him, that you trust his judgement.

yetmorecrap Wed 26-Apr-17 14:41:58

I totally understand how you feel but imagine if this was the other way around, after 1 year if you were with someone new I think you would feel entitled for them to meet the new person, regardless of what was negotiated verbally at the time. In my case my ex husband had our 2 boys and I had someone playing mum with them from about 7 months post spplit (they have sinecbeen marred over 20 years) It hurt like hell, but there you are (and she was terrific too by the way)

OutOfThePast1947 Wed 26-Apr-17 17:58:48

Thank you for responding and sharing your thoughts before I went into this conversation with my thoughts all over the place.

Somerville and Myschool your advice was practical, kind and helpful. The slower but sooner approach made sense to me so that's what I've just worked through with my husband now.

He said that he was happy to wait another year if I wanted to and understood how difficult this is for me. But having been forced to confront this earlier than I expected I said I thought on balance we should start to gently introduce our son to his girlfriend. He's on board with a gradual approach and watching out for how everyone is responding.

Our transitional arrangements may seem a little odd to others, but we are both doing our best to show our son that we support and care for each other as co-parents as well as for him. Believe me it's not the soft option, but I do think it will be the best way for us all to heal in the long term.

Thanks for helping me and be gentle xx

Nanny0gg Wed 26-Apr-17 19:52:50

But how will this work when his girlfriend moves?

She won't be happy with bedtimes and bathtimes at your house and you visiting your ex's family.

Things need to be properly put in place now.

SandyY2K Wed 26-Apr-17 20:04:17

But how will this work when his girlfriend moves?

She won't be happy with bedtimes and bathtimes at your house and you visiting your ex's family.

Yep. One of the downsides of having an affair with a MM with DC.

Maybe this routine will be put to a stop by his GF.

I wonder if she knows they all still spend time as a family like this.

OutOfThePast1947 Wed 26-Apr-17 20:39:10

I love my in laws and extended family and they love me. They are utterly distraught that my husband has left - I've done a lot of work to help re-establish their relationship with him. I want my son to know and love them too. GF has got my husband but she won't be getting between me and my family.

Aquamarine1029 Wed 26-Apr-17 21:34:00

I think it's time for your son to meet your ex's girlfriend. I'm sorry for how painful this must be, but you have done an amazing job at shielding your son from any hard feelings you have for his father. I think you should meet with her, too. I know she's the other woman, but life moves on and things are what they are. You too being cordial is much better than holding on to resentment and hostility. Hopefully, this woman will be a wonderful addition to your son's life.

Nanny0gg Wed 26-Apr-17 21:38:03

I love my in laws and extended family and they love me.

I don't doubt it. But their first loyalty will be to your Ex. And if he wants to visit with his GF then that's what will happen. Doesn't mean they won't see you but the visits can't possibly happen in the same way.

WhisperingLoudly Thu 27-Apr-17 07:10:26

she won't be getting between me and my family. But they're not your family.

I don't doubt they were devastated and you did an excellent job in keeping the peace but ultimately they will choose their son over you and he's already chosen her so there's only one way this can work.

I really think you need to protect yourself emotionally here - things are going to change and probably quickly: girlfriend will start turning up to family events and will inevitably encourage contact to take away from your home. Ensure you're equipped to cope.

Hissy Thu 27-Apr-17 17:58:45

That's really kind and wise advice Whispering

Op, try not to expect too much of him/his family.

It's early days and he won't always want to be told what he should/shouldn't do, and over time his family WILL embrace her, as they did you, because they are lovely people and they love their son.

It won't always be so hard, you're still in the realms of all the crappy "firsts"

At least you have mumsnet to off load to.

CherryMintVanilla Thu 27-Apr-17 20:02:19

You don't get to call the shots here.

It doesn't sound like she's got to call any of the shots ever! She's been almost ridiculously reasonable. Why can't she call one measly shot, that is only about protecting her child?

But you should mentally prepare yourself OP. Once he has fully moved on with another woman and is living with her, don't be surprised if things change abruptly. A lot of women won't be happy with their partner spending time at his ex's house, or having her seeing his family, and a lot of men will acquiesce to keep her happy...

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