Wife wants ex to stay with them during visits
DEAR NATALIE: My wife and I are in our second marriages. Thankfully, we both maintain cordial and generally excellent relationships with our former spouses. Her association with her former husband is much more active than mine with my ex-wife because they share custody of their 9-year-old son. Also, her former spouse is not skilled in some aspects of single living, so she assists him with some clothes purchases, helping him set up a dating profile and offering other advice.
I have been cordial and friendly to him, and I greet him by name. He is polite but perfunctory with me and has used my name just once in the 1½ years that I have known him. The ex-husband currently lives about 15 minutes from us. He will be transferred to a job out of the area soon and will be selling his home here.
My wife and I have also been considering a move from our home. My wife has suggested we purchase a home with a garage apartment in which her ex-husband could stay when he comes to the area to spend time with his son. She has asked me to consider this although recognizing that despite having no concern about my wife’s faithfulness to me, my visceral response to the idea is a resounding “no.” How should I handle this situation? — TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT
DEAR TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT: You have every right to feel the way that you do. It is not appropriate at all for her ex to stay with you when he is in town. She may feel guilty that they are divorced and have a child, but that is no reason to create tension between herself and you.
Her ex may be a nice person, but there needs to be healthy boundaries. Having him above the garage crosses the line, considering you are uncomfortable with it. Tell her how you feel. You don’t have to justify feeling this way. If the shoe was on the other foot, I bet she would feel uncomfortable and even threatened, as well. When he comes to town to visit his son, he can either stay at a hotel or find other arrangements. It’s not your job to house her ex-husband.
DEAR NATALIE: My husband and I are constantly bickering. At first, it was just the way we communicated, but now the constant little annoyances are really starting to take its toll. I feel as if I have to gear up for a fight every time I walk in the door.
I have a stressful job, and the constant nastiness between us is really causing issues. He just pushes my buttons and then I retaliate, and, let’s just say, it isn’t pretty.
We haven’t been romantic in months, and I’m starting to worry that we are drifting apart. We’ve been together eight years and have three children. I don’t want to divorce, but we cannot continue this way. Any suggestions? — TOO MUCH BICKERING
DEAR TOO MUCH BICKERING: Get yourselves to a marriage counselor. Every relationship has its own “language.” While some couples bicker and it doesn’t harm the relationship, it sounds like it’s eroding into something more sinister than banter.
Repairing the fight is more important than people realize. If you aren’t repairing after arguments, they begin to build, to fester and create massive amounts of resentment and tension. It sounds as if you are heading down this road and you need a reboot. A couple’s counselor can help give you both tools to speak more lovingly and more respectfully, even when you are arguing.
Remember, it took you eight years to get to this place, so don’t expect a miracle overnight. Baby steps toward healing will take time, but the effort you both put in will be worth it.
Natalie’s Networking Tip of the Week: Don’t get weighed down by worrying about making the “perfect” connection with people when you are out networking. Think about it as making friendships and connections. Sometimes you click; sometimes you don’t. Just be open-minded and friendly and see what happens.