Q: I recently married to a man who has a daughter. His ex recently broke up with her long term partner and now has my hubby going over to do chores, like moving sofas or fixing the hot water heater. This ticks me off because not only does this woman rape us financially every month, but she intimidates my husband. He thinks that if he doesn't do what she says she'll drag him into mediation or to court like she used to and make up stuff. He claims it's his way of "keeping the peace." I say he needs to stop doing chores for her just because they have a kid together? What's good ex-etiquette?
A: I understand your point, but reading your words I found myself wondering if you saw yourself as intimidating. You may have more in common with his ex than you know.
So, here's some food for thought: What if your husband is not doing the things you listed "for her." What if he's moving sofas and fixing hot water heaters because he wants his child to be comfortable? You see her as the catalyst. He may see the child.
I remember one time when my kids were little (bio and bonus), and my husband remodeled his ex's living room. Understand, he was a general contractor with subs on the payroll so it was all in a days work, but he did it without talking to me first, and I was furious -- until he explained that his son was sleeping in the living room at his mother's house, he was ready to return to her home for the week, and the wall gave him some privacy. When his excited son called me up to come see his new room, I was humbled, to say the least. Yes, he did his ex a favor -- but with his son's comfort in mind.
My story is a way to bring it back to the children. You see this from an adult perspective -- it's about you and your husband and his ex, but the child did not ask for this life of back and forth. Did he need hot water? Your husband may very well be keeping the peace. You married a man with a child. It's not mom's house or dad's house -- both homes are the child's.
I often hear that parents "are afraid to go to court," and I understood that fear until I worked for the court system. It has been my experience that judges and mediators work very hard to make the right decisions. I can say first hand that parents do lie to get what they want, but it doesn't happen as often as you think. They need proof of their accusations -- he hit me -- she drinks -- are both possibilities, but if there's no record of either, it's "your word against mine." Judges and mediators don't take those situations lightly. We are very conscious of the fact that domestic violence really does go unreported, as well as drug addiction and alcoholism, but we do our best to figure out when a parent is manipulating the truth. With that, if there's a problem, I wouldn't be afraid to go back to court. Ultimately, we really do make our decisions in the best interest of the child. Because, say it with me ... "That's good ex-etiquette."
(Dr. Jann Blackstone is the author of "Ex-etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation," and the founder of Bonus Families, www.bonusfamilies.com. Email her at the Ex-Etiquette website www.exetiquette.com at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
(c)2019 Jann Blackstone
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