I am divorced, as is my boyfriend.
We both have very amicable relationships with our ex-spouses but recently my boyfriend’s ex-wife has started doing something that is kind of weird, in my opinion.
He and his ex Karen have two daughters (11 and 14) who are really into clothes. Recently the girls will appear unannounced with no notice at my boyfriend’s house to pick something up that they want to wear.
Their mom drives them over and stays in the car, but it just seems odd. She knows we spend a lot of time together and I am starting to wonder if this is some sort of power play.
I’ve asked him to talk to her but he doesn’t want to. I think he is afraid of hurting her feelings or having her say (as she has said multiple times) “well, the girls are ALWAYS welcome at MY house!”
What’s your advice?
By the way, I live in LA but go to Palm Springs all the time and was wondering if you will be coming down this month and whether you will be on the radio. Spring Break, baby!
I LOVE this question.
This question illustrated that even in the best of circumstances, divorce and post-divorce life can be challenging.
Let’s get to the most important part of your email first:
I arrive on March 30th and will be there until April 4. Please email me if you’d like to get my autograph and have a photo taken with me, for which I will only charge you $1,459 and a bottle of Patron Silver.
I’d love to be on the radio there and will reach out to my sources, but the main point of my trip is to relax and celebrate my elderly brother’s 50th birthday.
Thank you for your appreciation of my incredible broadcasting talents. With luck and hard work I’ll be gracing the airwaves on a regular basis soon.
How to Deal with the Drop-in
The other reason I like your question is because it’s quite simple to answer. The time change has me all messed up and a concise blog is in order as I try to wake up and chase success this morning.
Before I provide the famous AskDesCamp Advice Script™, I’d like to expand your observation that this may be a “power play.”
No doubt about it.
When we chatted you told me your boyfriend noted this never happened until you two got serious. You told me the ONLY time the kids drop by is when you are there.
You also told me that while the divorce was amicable, it was not “Patrick-and-Robin Amicable™” but instead fairly conflict-free.
The relationship is cool but far better than most. Mom is not dating anyone and claims not to be interested in dating at this point. Mom has also expressed some displeasure at the quickness with which her ex moved on to a serious relationship with you.
While all signs indicate there may be some jealousy and resentment emanating from your boyfriend’s baby mama, that is not my problem.
Until she writes to me for advice on how to move on from her divorce, I’ll remain silent on that, with the following exception of an observation I developed after talking to hundreds of divorced people:
The full realization of loss, and the corresponding emotions and behavior that come with that epiphany, sometimes do not appear until the former spouse has moved on with a new partner.
Your man needs to address this issue because at some point, those young ladies are going to walk in at a very inopportune moment.
He may worry about hurting his ex-wife’s feelings or even the possibility of the kids not feeling welcome in his home, but I would guess those risks are far outweighed by the trauma that could ensue if young Claire and Hillary walked in while he is inflagrante-ing your delicto.
AskDesCamp Advice Script™ for Drop-Ins
This is a face-to-facer, not a text or email conversation.
Your boyfriend and his ex should meet for coffee and he should deliver this fine speech:
Karen, I am really glad we have such a great relationship. I see divorced people fighting all the time and how it affects their children. Our girls are so lucky we have made our divorce into as positive a situation as possible. Obviously we were deeply impacted by Robin DesCamp’s teachings, so perhaps we should send her a check and a case of wine for her efforts.
The reason I wanted to talk to you today is because a new pattern has arisen in which you drive the girls over to my house to pick up clothing with no notice at all. You know I love our kids but the fact is I am in a relationship and I am concerned they may pop in at the wrong time.
It’s not just that, though. You and I both like to have parties from time to time when we aren’t on parenting duty, and I do not like the idea of the girls walking in and seeing a bunch of empty wine bottles. ‘Do as I say, not as I do,’ and all that.
Finally, our kids need to learn to get along with what they have at each of our homes or remember to bring it with them. Constantly ferrying them back and forth because they don’t have their favorite pair of jeans or shoes is teaching them to be demanding entitlement-ridden little future alimony recipients.
From now on I need you to both discourage the girls from coming by and give me appropriate notice when they really need to. I of course will always do the same for you. I think this is just common courtesy, because I know I wouldn’t repeatedly drop by a friend or neighbor’s house without notice. That sort of behavior could lead to a stalking order! Ha ha.
If the problem continues, write to me again. At that point I think a chat with the girls is in order, and investment in one of these:
Best of luck and please let me know how it goes!
Coming up later this week, our next installment in the wildly popular series, “Anatomy of a Disaster.”
This series is so well-read that it has actually caused some bandwidth problems (or something like that: I am a techno-moron).
I am writing this series at my own peril (I’ll explain that one later) but despite personal drawbacks to me this story needs to and will be told.
In case you aren’t caught up, here are the links:
ANATOMY OF A DISASTER
Have a great day!