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Going to an event that stbxw will also be at?

(22 Posts)
Andsoitbegins88 Thu 12-May-16 13:36:37

So I'm going to have to be fairly vague so I don't out myself but I'll try to be clear!

There is a fundraising, family fun day coming up at the DSC's sports club. There will be awards for the children from this season and various events going on throughout the afternoon. DP has said I should go with him but I'm slightly unsure given that the children's DM will be there.

I have no idea how she'd react to me being there (although she isn't complementary about me!) and I don't want to make life more difficult - her and DP already have a battleground relationship which takes its toll on everyone. That said, I haven't seen DP in a couple of weeks as he's been away and he'll be going on his own so I'm not intruding on what could be father-child time.

Part of me thinks I should be able to go to these things if it's appropriate, but then I think maybe I should just steer clear for safety's sake! Am I overthinking it?

yourenotmymum Thu 12-May-16 13:49:53

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OutToGetYou Thu 12-May-16 13:58:55

On the circs you describe, I wouldn't go.

I didn't do anything like that with dp until after he was divorced, their house was sold and he and I had moved in together (no, I was not the OW). I wouldn't move in until he was divorced either, even though they'd been split up years before I met him.

I don't know how long you've been together, other circs, but really it needs to be a while before you're that involved.

Even so, dss had a local event a couple of weekends ago that his dm went to with dp and even though it was round the corner from our house, and a public event, I didn't go, I feel it's a bit odd really.

And, I wouldn't put pressure on dss to say if he wanted me there, he'd be bound to say yes but still might feel disloyal to his dm.

She went with dp to parents evening this week and he said she acted like a dick and he hated that people might think he was 'with' her.

Stardust160 Thu 12-May-16 14:32:02

I would suggest you take a step back OP if the relationship between your do and her is strained. Best thing is to avoid conflict where possible.

Bananasinpyjamas1 Thu 12-May-16 19:30:34

I would go, definitely. It'll be tough at first but you can't get into not doing stuff because of an Ex. Whatever trouble there is will not be made worse, and if you don't go now it will be harder later on. Just go, ignore any hostilities. If being with your DP sets off any bad reaction then in a way you'd best get it out there sooner rather than later. Your DSS will need to get used to you being there too. As long as you are not in anyone's face, respectfully give your DSS and his Dad their appropriate moments, then it's more normal than hiding away.

navylily Thu 12-May-16 19:37:10

Sounds like the sort of thing you could go to and just kind of mill around in the background with not too much attention on you. I'd go if your DP would like you there, as he might be a bit stuck on his own otherwise. Maybe good to encourage him to casually let his ex know you'll be there just so she doesn't freak out.

SunshineOutdoors Thu 12-May-16 19:38:52

How long have you been together? If she's 'soon to be ex-wife' and not ex wife then I'm guessing not years and years. I'd advise you to stay away from this one and let mum and dad focus on watching their child at the sports day. See your dp later.

Andsoitbegins88 Thu 12-May-16 20:45:54

We've been together 2 years and live together; he's been separated 6 years.

I'm inclined to agree with you bananas, not going sets the tone for the future. There has been quite a bit i've opted out of up to now out of respect and not making things worse, but when does that end? I get that they're not fully divorced yet and we're still relatively new, but I'd rather start as we mean to go on in an appropriate way.

Thanks everyone for all thoughts and opinions.

navylily Thu 12-May-16 21:33:33

I think after 2 years, and living together you've a right to feel that you're not "new". You've a right to feel that you're an established couple and your DP can reasonably enough expect you to come with him to social functions without bothering about whether your presence will upset an ex who he's been separated from for 6 years.

And tbh, if he and his ex are still warring after 6 years, they're probably always going to be difficult round each other. But if not now, then when?

Andsoitbegins88 Thu 12-May-16 21:53:55

Thanks navy, I agree with you but I also don't want to add to the aggro so my default is to keep myself hidden! But definitely, if not now, then when?

Jayrose Fri 13-May-16 03:53:44

The first event I went to was just after us being together for 2 years. My DH emailed DM to let her know I was coming (out of courtesy), she hit the roof. It was a very difficult time and triggered formal arrangements through the courts as she decided to change the contact arrangements via a solicitor (it was a previously informal agreement between her & DH with her dictating mostly).

In the end, it was a blessing in disguise as when it went to court, my DH was able to get more time with the DSDs and certain stipulations put in place like 'each parent and parents partners are free to attend the DSD's events without intimidation from others' or something along those lines (can't remember now it was 9 years ago).

I guess what I'm saying is that if you wait for a good time, it will never happen. It took my FIL to say to DH that he shouldn't treat me as a second-class citizen and to show DM that we are a united front. Plus my DSD's wanted me there.

Andsoitbegins88 Fri 13-May-16 07:43:41

Blimey Jay, sounds like a really uncomfortable situation but at least it was the start of getting things more settled, as you say. It's been a really difficult couple of years since I came on the scene (and long before me, in fairness) and DP is now realising that the only way to deal with it is probably legally, unfortunately. She dictates most things, same as your previous situation.

I've told him he should let her know and we'll take it from there.

deVelvet Fri 13-May-16 12:52:34

Seriously, 2 years living together and still you think you should remain in the shadows? I can understand this approach just for an easy life, but you are enabling exw to dictate how you fit into your own family dynamic. DP is too if I'm honest.

No, go to the family fun day, that's what it is afterall. A day for families, and you are part of that whether exW likes or not.

If she says anything, just be reasonable despite how you may want to react. As a step mum I live by this rule - never give anyone any ammunition to use against you - Step Mums often come last, but you should attend your family days and hold your head up high

Eliza22 Sun 15-May-16 18:42:49

Go. You should.

When DH and I got married, immediately there were occasions where we'd all be rubbing shoulders. I was asked "for the sake of the kids" to hang back/not go and so as not to cause conflict, I agreed. Now, ten years on, I get well WHY does SHE want to go/be there?.

Don't set this precedent, OP. It allowed my husband's ex and kids to pretend I didn't exist. I was never in the photos and had to plaster on a big smile and talk about the event/day/occasion when I wasn't invited. It made me miserable. I was once at a family wedding when DH and I had been a couple for 2 years but weren't actually married. I had to stand alone to one side whilst a whole family group photo was taken. I felt such a fool.

Andsoitbegins88 Sun 15-May-16 21:02:01

Oh Eliza, that makes me sad. Why is it we always bear the brunt of all the bad things in this situation? I've had a particularly bad weekend of it so am feeling more defeated than ever.

I didn't make him leave his wife (I didn't meet him until 4 years later!), I'm not trying to make life difficult, all I want to do is be another support in his DC life and create a happy future for everyone. So, why am I the focus of all the negativity?

It's all my fault and I feel like I'm constantly trying to push in where I'm not wanted. To be clear, DP doesn't make me feel like that but this feeling takes it's toll!

Eliza22 Sun 15-May-16 21:51:27

I'm sure it's not you're fault, OP.

I too came on the scene years after dh's ex had her affair and the end of their marriage. I just wanted for us all to get on. I could see no reason for us NOT doing. I had no illusions of my being a second mother to them as they were 12, 16 and 17.

It IS very difficult. flowers

Bananasinpyjamas1 Sun 15-May-16 23:44:36

Andso Oh I hear you! Why is it we always bear the brunt of all the bad things... This feeling takes it's toll! It really does. And you are not at fault. However it is so tough when negativity is just hurled your way. I think I'm completely flattened by it, even though most of the hostility was a while ago now, it still hurts.

There is something very territorial about first and second families. Perhaps particularly for SMs? I definitely have felt very unwanted, unwelcome. It has come up with DPs ExW several times. Even though, like you both Eliza too, I met DP 5 years after his break up, neither had an affair and I was nothing to do with it.

But the marking out of territory is very real. Which is why it is important that we stick our necks out and just go to family occasions. I had a problem in recent years as many of the family events took place in the ExWs home, and I was not invited.

Eliza - that is horrible for you. I really feel for you. Wow, asked to step out of a picture is pretty low.

The staking of territory can take many forms too! My DPs ExW still not just uses her married name, but sends his family cards from 'The X(surname) Family', told the kids not to listen to me at all, treated my DP like a husband (please repair my TV etc), and two of his kids only invited DP and not me to some of their important events and meals out, one of them will only see DP at her mums house and refuses to come around... They are all a way of saying 'KEEP OUT"!

Andsoitbegins88 Mon 16-May-16 09:44:58

Yep, that's exactly it bananas, something very territorial.

DP's stbxw also still treats him like a husband (which, legally, he is I suppose!) but will often send texts talking about what he should be doing as a husband to support her. She recently sent her laptop round for him to fix!

I'm not without sympathy for a relationship breakdown, especially one you didn't want, but wouldn't you want to move on a forge a 'new' life? What good does ostracising us do? It won't change the situation and we weren't to blame, so why are we effectively held responsible?

And don't even get me started on the children being stuck in the middle and being made to feel guilty for spending time with me (they're not yet old enough to make a choice) I simply can't understand your own bitterness and hurt taking priority over making sure your children are comfortable and come through an unfortunate situation as unscathed as possible.

Anyway, too early for prosecco?!

eyebrowse Mon 16-May-16 10:17:15

These events are generally very boring (except for two minutes if a dc wins a prize) and in most cases parents would be trying to get out of going. if a dc has won a prize parents are generally whispered to in advance to make sure they turn up. If one of your DSC has won a prize then the event should be about them rather the acrimonious adults so probably best for DSC not to turn up at this stage.

Eliza22 Mon 16-May-16 11:23:56

I dont think "we" can win. Damned if we do...damned if we dont.

Bananas, that's horrendous. Why doesn't your dh support you by saying "if Banana isn't invited, I wont be there!" It's just pandering to unreasonable hostility. I'm not saying it's Ok but, if I had "stolen" their dad and broken their home I could understand not being welcome but that was not the case. I think the "territory" thing is key. It's like saying "we are The Family and YOU dint belong/will never be accepted".

Now, I just KNOW I'm not wanted so dont expect to go to anything. Actually, I think I'm better off out of it.

Eliza22 Mon 16-May-16 11:35:50

Should say OP, I'm probably at a different stage to you which is why I say don't set this precedent now. You ARE part of their family/life. You've years ahead of being so.

For me, I'm 54. I didn't just give in easily. It took 11 years of hostility to wear me down. I came in all smiles and confidence and over the years, I've become somewhat saddened to the point where I will avoid shopping on certain days/doing certain activities if I think there's a chance of bumping into DH's ex or his youngest daughter (his other two are fine...lovely, actually). I just don't want to be "seen". Ridiculous, I know but I used to smile and say hello and would be flatly ignored and walked past. Then, I'd hear laughter three feet behind me. It slowly wore down my confidence which, at 54 and menopausal, isn't very high anyway. DON'T do what I did. Hold your head high, smile and GO!

Andsoitbegins88 Mon 16-May-16 12:49:47

Good advice, thanks Eliza

I did that at this event and the hardest thing was seeing the impact on the eldest DSC. It's the first time I've come to anything and he was clearly very concerned about what his Mum would do/say. DP addresses it and all the DSC would say is that he doesn't want to make Mum angry.

He's having a very tough time and displaying some worrying behaviour which has only really come on since Easter time. DP & I moved in together towards the end of last year and the eldest seemed fine and we've had some nice times all together. Since then he's refusing to eat when here (it started with anything I had cooked, now it's food full stop) and tries to distance himself from me. He also spends most of the evening and through the night trying to get DP to sleep with him.

Faced with that, the only real thing I can do is distance myself and hope it helps him because there is no other way I feel I can help. DP has spoken to his stbxw and she swings between saying it's DPs fault because he left or that the child just needs time alone with his DF, which I'm always careful to give.

But, how do I continue to try to build a relationship with the eldest DC if I'm also withdrawing to try to make his life easier? And doesn't that just make me even less part of things? It's just so hard and I'm feeling very flat about it all.

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