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Dear Mary: It makes me feel awkward when partner's ex is at family events

 

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I lost my lovely husband over 10 years ago and a year after his death, met a separated man a few years younger than myself. I should add at this point that he is not legally separated/divorced.

He has teenagers. I met them a few years into the relationship which was fine and we all got on well having weekends together and even foreign holidays.

In the beginning I thought his wife was quite pleasant but any time his family had a gathering she always appeared, at family weddings, anniversaries etc. I found it grossly uncomfortable as she was taking centre stage and I felt like an outsider.

My partner and myself have had two major rows since the beginning of the year. I found out that he had sent his wife a text telling her he was thinking of her and missed her always.

Of course, when confronted he said he was drunk and agreed the words were clumsy and inappropriate and categorically denied having feelings for her. A short while later, I foolishly took him back.

He asked me last weekend to go to a family anniversary Mass with him. He told me his wife would be there with his children so I refused.

My question is should I attend this Mass with him and lunch with his father and family?

Our relationship is on the rocks again and all my friends and family are telling me to forget about him which is easier said than done after so many years together.

Don't you think he should ask his wife not to attend these occasions as it's destroying what we have. His father is elderly and he says he won't upset him but he doesn't seem to mind upsetting me!

I have no children, my husband is dead, I am financially secure, a beautiful home- and I really scrub up well and would be considered a very good catch. I would really like to get your expert advice on this.

Mary replies: You are concerned that his wife (note, not his ex-wife) turns up at family gatherings.

She is perfectly entitled to do this because she is the mother of the children and always will be. As to your question regarding his family anniversary Mass with lunch afterwards, I feel very strongly that you should not go. Why should you subject yourself to feeling uncomfortable and somehow threatened by his wife's presence? Everybody else there will be related to the deceased person, and you are not.

It would be a much better idea to offer to take his father to lunch at another time when you can talk to him one to one and hear all the memories he must have of the deceased family member. I most emphatically do not think you should demand that he ask his wife to stay away from family occasions. That would be most unfair to their children.

Why is he not divorced or at least legally separated after all this time?

If you and he have been together for roughly nine years it seems to me that he should be. I fully appreciate that you would find it very hard to give him up, but I think you deserve more from him and he can show you he is committed to you by legally ending his marriage. That would make you feel more confident about your relationship with him. On the other hand, you will have to stop objecting to his wife being present on occasions when she has a perfect right to be there.

I presume he didn't actually show you the text he sent to his wife. Which means that you looked at his phone, which is never a good idea.

Firstly you run the risk of seeing something you don't want to see, and secondly, no matter what you saw, it was a betrayal of trust.

Having said all that it was totally inappropriate of him to say what he did when he texted her, and having had alcohol is not a good enough excuse.

Why did they separate in the first place? Was one of them unfaithful or did they simply not get on? Presumably you know the full story as to why they broke up, and I would be able to advise you to a fuller degree if I knew. But I don't have those details, so will just have to say that you need to be fully assured that he has no desire to get back with her, even after all this time.

There is a big difference between living apart and being legally separated.

As things stand right now between your friend and his wife, if either one were to die then the other one would be entitled to their part of the estate.

Also if he has bought any other property (presumably she is living with their children in the family home) then she would be entitled to her share of this because they are still legally married.

Other factors that may come into play are health insurance and/or tax returns. While this is of no consequence to you, you are comfortably off in your own right, it may well be very important to your friend and his wife. But I still think that you need more from him than you are getting right now.

In the meantime, don't put yourself through any more unhappiness and stay away from events when you know his wife is going to be there.

Sunday Indo Living