11-18-2021 02:54 AM
My ex-husband, with whom I have had a difficult relationship for nine years, one month ago told our two daughters and myself that he has broken up with his girlfriend of six years. Our 19 year old daughter has no relationship with him as she has chosen to remove herself from his household as she found it toxic to her well-being (for 5 years now). Our other daughter who is now 15 years old, goes back and forth between our homes. The 15 year old became good friends with the now ex-girlfriend’s twin daughters who are the same age. They would hang out on almost every weekend she was at her dad’s. Both daughters and I had a very diffcult relationship with the girlfriend, no love lost there. But when he told us they broke up, all three of us put aside our hard feelings and made certain he knew we were there for him at this difficult time if he needed us. Now, after five whole weeks, he told me that he is in a new relationship, and although it’s too early to introduce his new girlfriend to our 15 year old, he’s not going to hide his new relationship from her. He told our 15 year old about this new relationship after he spoke to me. I am so mad, and exhausted. His old girlfriend did a lot of damage to my household with her interference and she is the ultimate reason why our older daughter decided not to have a relationship with her dad. After he willingly let the older, estranged daughter stay at my house and told me to “keep him updated on her social, emotional and academic” lives because he wanted to give her “breathing room”, he took me to court after six months when she refused to return to his house and accused me of parent alienation. She hasn’t ever returned, and to this day, she has no substantial relationship with him. (Example of my exhaustion: My ex and I live in different towns, his has the better school district which both of our girls have attended since forever. When the older daughter refused to return to his household, he tried to get her kicked out of her school because he would not allow her to use his address for registration purposes; she had been in that school district forever, her entire social network was there and she was a stellar student because school is the most important thing to her; ultimately, the principal helped us out, kept her situation on the downlow, and did everything he could, including putting his own career on the line to let her stay until she graduated.) When this daughter moved out of his home, this is when he started to play “happy family” with his previous girlfriend, her two daughters and our 15 year old – for five years. They have been broken up for 5 weeks and he’s now with someone new, and he felt he needed to tell me and the 15 year old (not telling the 19 year old which puts 15 year old and me in a terrible spot) about this new relationship after two dates, (and “two more planned”). Anyway, now…I’m so frustrated at his new girlfriend scenario and how he has already told our 15 year old – who is mourning the loss of her two friends. I know I can’t control my ex, not looking to do that, I am just tired of cleaning up his messes with our girls, and struggling with feelings of being done with changing MY life because of the messes he creates with seemingly no regard for how his choices e/affect my household. I have always “defended him” to our girls and have tried to keep them protected from some of his decisions. But I am exhausted. Help…need something, but don’t know what…
11-18-2021 05:19 PM
Hi @cingin13 and welcome to the Parents forum I'm very sorry to hear that your ex-husband’s relationships have been impacting you and your daughters. It is completely understandable that you’re feeling exhausted from trying to explain his choices to your teens, particularly when his situation has been changing and evolving rather quickly.
I’m also sorry to hear about your ex’s attempts to have your eldest daughter removed from her school when she stopped maintaining close contact with him. It sounds like you are doing your very best to create stability in your daughter’s life and give her the best opportunities to succeed, but that this sense of consideration and effort is not always reciprocated by her father.
I know from what you’ve told us that only your 15-year-old daughter has a relationship with him – do you ever have concerns for her wellbeing when she is staying at her dad’s place? You mentioned that you know that you can’t control your ex. Knowing that his behaviour might not change, is there anything that might help you to feel less frustrated and more supported while you’re attempting to navigate co-parenting with him? Is there anyone in your life that you talk to about your frustrations with him and how his behaviour impacts your daughters?
From what you’ve shared, it sounds like you’re doing a really great job of providing a safe space at home for your daughters to explore their feelings around their relationship with their dad and how his relationship breakdown has affected them. I hope you don’t underestimate the impact that creating this space has because having one reliable parent who is open and empathetic can make all the difference.
We’re here for you @cingin13.