Kate in Burlington:
I am deeply in love with a man I met 14 months ago. He feels the same way. The problem is his ex-wife. She is unstable (confirmed) and is using her young son to relay messages to his father and ultimately, to me, that are unkind and often cruel. She is clearly still in love with him, although they divorced after many years of an abusive marriage, when she refused to seek help to save the marriage.
So, here I am… in love with a man who is in love with me, but his “attachment” to his ex is eating at me. It took him months to let her know about me and nearly a year before I was “allowed” to go to his son’s functions when he knew she would be there. I don’t see a happy ending here for us, but I keep hoping. What do you think?
I think you need to define exactly what “happy ending” means to you. If being with this man constitutes a happy ending in your book, then yes, I do see one. That does not mean that everything is going to be all hearts-and-flowers all of the time, but it does mean that there is enough love between the two of you to endure.
It is never any fun when the person you love has a whacko for an ex. That influence can permeate a relationship, but it can also only do as much damage as the people in love allow. Here’s where things get a little tricky. Your man isn’t attached to his ex, but he does fear her. Years of marriage have left him scarred with years of damage, and a divorce isn’t always a healing cure. It is only the first step in that direction. All your man can see is that he loves his son, loves you, but he still has to deal with her because of his child. He tries to take the path of least resistance – he doesn’t want to encourage or invite any more drama from this woman than what already exists. When she gets her feathers ruffled, everyone pays – particularly he and his son.
If the world were perfect, you could snap your fingers and give your man the strength to stand up to his ex. But, the world isn’t perfect, and it will take him years to reach that level of strength on his own. For now, he is caught in the middle trying to keep the peace with her, and you happy at the same time. It’s a battle he is never going to win. He loves you, he is with you and not her, so he can’t quite grasp how his actions can be so hurtful to you. You really should try and communicate with depth and detail the ways you feel he is disrespecting you and this relationship. He loves you enough to try and find ways to make things better for you, but you need to accept that he is going to have to continue his association with her.
It is very sad that this woman uses her son as a messenger, and a tool for creating chaos. That poor kid. As badly as you feel about the situation, think how he feels. It is wrong on so many levels, but not likely to change any time soon.
If you love this man and want this relationship to grow and move forward, then simply continue to love him for who he is. You don’t have to like, or deal with his ex, that responsibility falls on him. You don’t even have to love his son, you just have to be respectful of him and his relationship with his father. This is an opportunity for you to influence the kid by being a positive female role model, but you can control how much of that challenge you decide to embrace.
The bottom line is, you can have the relationship you want with your man, but it is never going to be completely how you want it. The ex and child exist. With time and healing, your man will learn to better navigate the situation with his ex and child, in a manner that is more agreeable to you. But, you need to share your feelings with him, and let him know what you believe he is doing wrong and why. Even though some of the things you need to say are going to sound childish and insecure, you still need to say them, if you want to give him the opportunity to improve. Though the process won’t be quick or easy, it is the path to the goal: A stronger relationship with the man you love, and the knowledge that you truly are his number one.