The Ex's Partner

Parent Q&A

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  • My husband and I are getting divorced, after the revelation of an affair. We tried to repair the relationship but it's not working. We're aiming for an amicable divorce. I don't want to keep the kids from their dad, because he wants to be involved and because it doesn't benefit them if I interfere with that. However, it's become clear that my soon to be ex will be returning to the woman he had an affair with. I asked him to give me some time so that we could find new footing as coparents, but he's not prioritizing that. And now I'm left feeling like the only thing I have is my kids, and I can't even fathom the idea of this woman entering their lives. The kids are really little (3 yo and 10 mo) so they dont necessarily know much, but for me personally, its heart-wrenching to think of the possibility of them being around her. I know I will have to eventually accept the fact that they'll be around another woman, whomever he ends up with. But in the short term, can I make the request that she stay away from them? And how do I ensure that that's honored - when he's given me no reason to believe he'll honor any of my requests? Ugh this is so horrible.

    I think that it's reasonable to discuss neither of you introducing the kids to a significant other until a specific period of time has gone by and it's clear that the relationship will be long-term. You can talk about how confusing it is for kids to have adults come and go from their lives. Good parents understand this, crappy parents move in right away with the first person who comes along and force their kids to deal with their ridiculous drama. Hopefully your ex will recognize that it's important for the kids to be with just him for a while. He's not going to have them full time so he has plenty of time to spend with his mistress when they're not there. You're 100% right to be concerned about this. The type of women who would have a long-term affair with a married man is not the type of woman who I would want raising my kids. When I was in the situation I wanted to get divorced but ended up staying so that my husband's horrible mistress wouldn't have access to my kids. I made the right decision but had their been no kids I would have been out of here so quickly.

    Unfortunately, many people are selfish and don't put their kids' best interests first.

    There's definitely a chance that now that your ex and his mistress are in a real relationship that it won't last. They won't have the excitement of sneaking around and they'll have to talk about real stuff like finances, etc.  You can just sit back and watch it blow up. And if it doesn't, then you'll need to do everything in your power to keep the peace with the two of them and open up lines of communication with her. It will suck but you can do it.

    I'm sorry to hear about your situation. It will be a very difficult road given the breach of trust. My advice would be to elevate the needs of your kids above ALL. This new woman may (unlikely but may) turn out to be their forever step-Mom. You can have honest talks with your ex about your feelings and his management of the significant others in terms of your children. You can make well-based requests but you can't control. Engage him (coffee or dinner twice/month?) for the long haul well-being of your kids. Good luck!

    Once you and your husband are living separately, you really have no control over what he does when the kids are with him. You will destroy yourself trying. It is just not worth it. 

    You could instead consider an open marriage. You could continue to live together as a family, and you both could have the freedom to pursue sexual relationships elsewhere. Perhaps the kids would not have to be exposed to the girlfriends or boyfriends in that scenario. However, this could create other difficult emotions. 

    You say that you tried to repair the relationship, but couldn't. I think you mean that your couldn't revive the relationship you had before the breach of trust. But since you have kids together, you are going to have a relationship. It is going to be different. It doesn't necessarily mean that you have to get a divorce or live apart. You have to decide what parts work, and what parts don't. Were you able to agree on finances, discipline of kids, taking care of the home?  What is most important to you? Not seeing him everyday, or the kids not seeing her?

    I am so sorry to hear this has happened.  It's awful, unfair, and sucks. Your soon-to-be ex is a complete coward (among other things ...) and he needs to waaay step up and RESPECT your feelings here.  YES you have the right to request that she stay away from your kids.  Be forceful, direct, and clear:  tell him you do not, under any circumstances, want this woman interacting with your children.  This is your right.  You need time to heal.  Your kids, your sanity, are the most important things.  I'm not sure what legal action you can take, but I would threaten legal action if he violates your request. He's proven himself to be totally untrustworthy.   And I don't know how you can be sure he's honoring your request, without just being with your kids 100% of the time....  I understand the jerk says he wants to be involved, but you both need to get to a healthy place first, and that takes time. You both could use some therapy together to navigate this. He owes you.  If you don't already have one, get a personal therapist for support. I completely understand how you can't fathom this woman being around your kids.  I would feel the same.  Get as much emotional support as you can from friends, family,, therapists.  

    Take care.

    The heartbreak of the affair partner being in the kids' lives is your issue, a new person in the kids' life (affair or any other intimate partner) is your kids' issue.  You need to work through all the pain and betrayal about his affair without allowing your feelings about your kids having an eventual relationship with this particular person become your kids' problem and burden.  Some ground rules, for both of you, about staying child-focused as you go forward, however, are important and militate against any new partner (the affair partner or otherwise) getting involved in the kids' lives now or any time soon.  Parents, and especially parents who have recently separated, should not introduce any new partner into the children's lives until (1) the kids have settled into the new normal of two households and feel secure in their new routines and newly evolved relationships with each parent as a single parent; and (2) the relationship with the new partner is of some duration and rock-solid.  These principles apply to both of you, and the second with respect to any new partner relationship.  The first is important because separation is traumatic for kids, even young kids, and they need time -- sometimes a lot of time -- to settle into the new normal, grieve the loss of the security of their parents' unit, and feel secure again.  The second is important because introducing new partners too soon to kids is unsettling and can cause real harm if the relationship does not last.  The kids then will have made relationships with new people, whom they may have gotten very attached to, only to have them ripped away if the parent and new partner break up.  That leaves the kids bereft, and teaches all the wrong lessons about relationships, trust and stability.  You might benefit form some sessions with a co-parent counselor, who can work with you on developing common child-centered values and rules, and co-parenting strategies that will help you both navigate issues going forward.  Good luck.  This is awful right now, but you will get through it.     

    So sorry you find yourself in this situation and your feelings are understandable though as an disinterested reader of the situation I think that just because your husband cheated on you with that woman is not a good enough reason to insist that she cannot be around when your soon to be ex-husband is with the kids now that you are separated.  You are justified in asking that she not be around you since it causes you pain to see her, but the kids' father is entitled to time with the kids and have the woman he is currently with (whoever she is) be around the children.  If the woman is a danger to the kids, does drugs or drinks excessively alcohol, or could somehow cause the kids harm by being around them than you are justified in asking for her to be kept away, but if she is just an average woman and poses no danger or harm to the children than despite understanding the dislike you have for her, it is not really reasonable that the father ensure that his current girlfriend is not around when he sees his kids.  Another consideration is that unless your husband is very good at caring for young children, it might be good for him to have a woman nearby when he takes the kids out so he has an extra set of hands and can better care for the kids.  If the kids were older and understood the situation and shared your feelings about that woman so that seeing her caused them pain than it would be different, but with kids that young and since your reasons are not based on your kids' best interests but rather your dislike for that woman, I don't think your husband has to honor it.  Curious to see what others think of the situation.  

    I'm sorry you are going through this. I can't even imagine how hard it must be. I am posting as an adult child of divorced parents. My dad also cheated and his GF and they lived together during and after the divorce - about 5 years total until he moved on again. My parents didn't really talk to each other much or co-parent at all.And my brother and I worked it for all it was worth - we collected allowance from both parents, when one grounded us, we went to the other's house where we knew the rules would not be enforced. My parents were not bad and not particularly irresponsible, but during and after the divorce, they had other priorities - licking their wounds, work, love lives. Us kids were pretty far down on the list and they did with us what they thought would be easiest. My mom later said she let dad have us most of the time because she "didn't want to fight with him.' We grew up pretty fast but not really well - I left the country to escape my feelings of isolation, my brother landed in prison for a few years. We both got it together eventually but our teens and 20's were rough. My advice to you is maybe not what you want to hear right now but here goes.

    Skip forward 13 years in you mind. You are the divorced mom of two teenagers. They have friends and you may or may not know the parents. they go out saying they are at dad's house or a friends house, are they? can you call to make sure? it depends on your relationship with dad and whoever may pick up the phone. Will they be able to call you to make sure the kids are where they are supposed to be and not out being dumb teenagers doing dangerous things?  I recently heard a mom tell about the network she had with her ex and the new wife. how they called and talked and collaborated - that NEVER would have happened with my parents but so great for her kids and her sanity! Another friend of mine, who happens to be the second wife, describes how she would always call mom if the daughter had a fever to ask what would be OK to give her and how best to handle a sick child.

    Your kids' childhoods will last longer than the pain you are feeling right now. And the fact is you can not control what happens when they are will dad.  please try to take the long view and lay the groundwork now. You don't have to be buddies with ex or his GF but try not to isolate them, try not to close the door all the way. You will always be mom, no one can change that and no one can take that away. But to be the best mom you can be, try to put your feelings aside and do whats best for the kids.

    That sucks and is really painful, but the reality is that you have no rights over your ex's personal life. And if you go in acting like you have the right to tell him what he can do with his girlfriend, you'll be starting things off on a combative note, which immediately puts him in a position to combat right back.

    See if you can agree to attend a co-patenting program together (it can be part of the court ordered divorce agreement). Approach the significant others issue within the context of the program at the appropriate point and with the support of the facilitators. Maybe even talk with the facilitators beforehand to get advice on the best way to approach it to set yourself up for success. I do think it's reasonable and in the children's best interest to limit exposure to significant others until it's likely to be long term, but there's no way to force it

    I'm sorry that you're going through this, and that in fact you don't have any control over your ex in this particular situation. But it might be worth consulting with a child psychologist/therapist about the best way to handle this. It's a big transition for the kids, and it wouldn't be good for them if, for example, their father moves the girlfriend in and they have to cope with household breaking up and have a stepparent figure forced on them at the same time. Along the same vein, in negotiating your custody agreement, I'd consider a clause on when/how new partners are introduced, including overnights while your children are in the house. As I understand it from talking to my lawyer, courts don't like to get involved in this arena, but it's something the parents can work out.

Parent Reviews

RE: Divorce: Life After? ()

Great answers to your post. 
I would add that often things are going swimmingly until one of you gets a new partner. Sometimes that changes the dynamic. My new husband’s ex was fairly cordial until we got together and now she is ice cold. 
good luck navigating all of it😬

Archived Q&A and Reviews


To call or not to call ex's new boyfriend

March 2007

I have sole legal and physical custody of my two elementary ages kids. My ex-wife has been on and off supervised visitation, disappeared for months at a time, on and off drugs and generally shown that she does not have our kids\x92 needs at the forefront of her mind. One of the issues I have with the care she gives our kids is the many boyfriends she has brought into, and then out of their lives. I recently found out that not only does she have another new boyfriend spending the night at her place while the kids are there (there is a specific provision in her visitation order that disallows this) but that he has been asked to baby- sit our daughter while she (my ex) studied. This raises huge red flags for me, not only for the reasons I\x92ve listed but also because she recently accused one of her ex\x92s of molesting the toddler they have together. (A toddler) A big mess, I know. I have halted overnight visitation and we are due back in mediation and court next month.

The advice I need is this\x85. I found out that my ex\x92s new boyfriend has a kindergartener that goes to the same school as my kids (here in Berkeley). I know very little about him, other than he lives in Santa Cruz and his child and ex live in Berkeley. There is a part of me that wants to reach out to his ex, yet a bigger part of me that feels that would be inappropriate. I do not get any real information from my ex, and I\x92d really like to know something about the person I just found out that has been alone with my kids, though I would rather not have to hire a PI or anything like that. From past experience, I feel like I have to assume the worst about someone she is keeping company with\x85but, I am trying to be open to the possibility that she has changed (as she is telling me). It would be important for me to know if her boyfriend is on reduced visitation for any specific reasons, or has any violent past, which she would never tell me if it was the case. So\x85should I approach this woman, his ex? I don\x92t want to create an unholy alliance, bad mouth the ex\x92s together or be sneaky; I just want to have a general idea of who this guy is. But, I don\x92t know her from anyone else at school; I would have to call her. ( I have thought about trying to ''bump'' into her, but i dont know how to go about doing that either)How would you feel if you got a call from your ex\x92s- girlfriends- ex? Part of me feels like she might want to know whom her child is around on the weekends, but I wouldn\x92t push the information if she didn\x92t ask. So, what do you think oh wise parents? a concerned dad

I understand and appreciate your concern, but I think it's OK to contact your ex's boyfriend's ex-wife. After all, her kindergartener will likely spend time with your ex, and she's probably just as (justifiably) curious as you are as to what goes on when she's not around.

I would use a very light approach, and if possible, let her know in advance who you are. Face-to-face is the best first encounter, I believe. For example, approach her one morning on the playground, ''Hi, I understand you're Nancy; I'm Neal; my ex- wife is dating your ex-husband, my kids Mary and Jonathan are in first and third grade here; just thought I'd say hello.''

You seem to be an aware enough person that you'll notice whether she wants to continue talking or not. Maybe just chit-chat will follow at this point, ''Oh, do you have Ms. So for kindergarten; how do you like her?''

If you feel that she's open for more substantive discussion, you should preface it with some of the things you've said in your BPN posting: ''I feel odd discussing this, but on the other hand, I'm sure we both want to know that our kids are comfortable when we're not around.'' ''Comfortable'' is code for ''safe'' without sounding alarmist. Good luck! I would want to know

You are clearly a kind and thoughtful dad. You are even giving your ex the benefit of the doubt. But these are your kids and they are around someone you don't know. If it were me I would cough up the money and hire a PI to get as much information as possible. You could bump into or directly approach the other ex but, hey, you don't know her either and she could be a total psychopath. Best of luck - I hope your situation turns out for the best. - anon

Oooh. I can jsut imagine the opening line...''Hey! What a coincidence! I undersand that your ex is living with my ex! Waht a small world. Our kids should get together for a play date here in Berkeley some time, co they don't have to go all the way to Santa Cruz to hang out with each other!'' Just too potentially wierd. I recommend against it. But I would try to satiate my own curiosity and figure out who the kids is and who their mom is. Try to figure it out at the next social event at school. Shouldn't be too hard. And then once you get to know them a little bit at school, you'll have a better feel for if you can ask about her ex. You can also try a ZabaSearch on him on the web. Anon

Of course you have good intentions...but DON'T! Simply MYOB. He will figure out the truth eventually. You'll simply be viewed as the ''bad guy'' jealous of his ''ex girl!'' He's going to be loyal to her ''right now'' before he's loyal to you...and of course she's going to paint a different picture of herself and deny everything you say, so conserve your energy and let it go. She's not worth it! Life is simply too short for so much drama! Don't Do It

I am an ex and a Mom of two girls. I am sure you will get many opinions here but I would call. If someone were to call me I would answer and be honest (fortunately I only have good things to say about my ex as a Dad). Where a child's - any child's - safty is concerned (and I am not talking about swats on the bottom)you can find a way to politely introduce the circumstances by which you are asking and ask. If she becomes offended, then that's her problem, you can console yourself that you were being a good Parent and watching out for your kids. Not afraid to ask on behalf of my kids

Rather than contacting an ex of your wife's new boyfriend, I would trust your instinct about your wife's behaviour based on her previous track record. You state that you have total custody of your children and that she is in violation of her order not to have other men spend the night in the same home with she and your children. Go back to court immediately and report her. Hire a private dectitive to take whatever you need to do to officially document her violation of the orders imposed. You are the sane person that your children are depending upon to keep them safe and out of harms way. And with different men coming in and out of the house, you are placing your children in a situation that could quickly become very sadly abusive in an instant. A PI will be able to turn up dirt (like ex offenses) or your wife's court ordered viloation quickly, more than heresay from some ex. who may not be totally candid with you in the first place. The money will be beans compared to having your children compromised. anon.

Knowing that the new boyfriend's child is at the same school as yours, I would ask around at school about who the mother is and put myself in a position to meet her, or even him if he's doing the pick ups. I don't think there is anything wrong with knowing the adults in your kids lives'. With your ex's history, it seems the responsible thing to do. You are their advocate afterall. anon

Never-ending Trouble with Boyfriends Ex Wife

Oct 2006

My love has an ex that can't move on with her life. She's controlling, seems to have knee-jerk responses to the smallest little things, and then tries to set up ''dates'' under the guise of ''it would be good for the daughter (8 1/2) if they all had dinner together''. The regular bizarre behavior intensifies when she splits up with her on again, off again boyfriend (who even tells his friends he's with her ''for convenience''). We've been together for just over 2 years, and she knows I'm not going anywhere and that if anything, things are looking like we'll be living together soon. I thought this behavior would pass, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Me and my best friend even saw her drive by his apartment the other day! My boyfriend tries to make everyone happy, and says things like ''this is why I'm with you and not her'', or ''she must have split up with her boyfriend again'' and just generally tries to ignore her antics and just go along with things. Their divorce has been final 1 1/2 years, and they were separated for 5 years (after a rotten sexless marriage of 3 years - except for her affairs). My friends think it's hilarious - I would too perhaps if I wasn't living it. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

I married one of these. Unless you can make him understand that A) Ex's behavior and his non-response to it are completely unnacceptable to you, B) Ex knows the trouble she's causing and relishes it, and C) Ex will continue this until he stands up on his hind legs and barks NO MORE real loud, your life with him will be hell.

My husband finally drew the line with his Ex about 3 years into our marriage, and I wouldn't live those 3 years again for anything.
--The Middle Is A Lousy Place To Be

I relate to your frustration, but from a slightly different perspective. It is my ex who can't move on and who causes problems. It's been over 3 years, and I'm in a new relationship, but my ex won't let go and uses every opportunity to throw a monkey wrench into the mix. It's mortifying to have an ex who seems so juvenile and disturbed. It's also frustrating when his antics cause us to have to change plans, etc.

I wish I could shield my partner from him completely, I wish I could control his behavior. It's hard to know what to do. Taking him to court seems to get nowhere and just causes added disruption for the kids. The more I ignore it and just stay firm and don't get wrapped up in his game/perspective, the better it seems to be. I keep wishing he'd start another relationship in hopes that he'd let go of his pain -- but then maybe he's not ripe for a relationship in that state! The bottom line is, I can't control him!

My partner is gracious and doesn't tell me what to do or make a big deal of things. But he is also supportive when I get so frustrated that I need to vent, or when I ask him for advice. I try to just be upfront and honest about the facts of what are going on and how I'm feeling. For the most part, he doesn't say much, and I love him for that. I try to focus most of my energy on my ''now'' relationship and think about the ex only when I need to deal with him in relation to the kids.

I don't know if any of this helps, but I wanted to share with you what it might feel from your boyfriend's perspective.
Embarrassed of Ex

Becoming friends with ex and his new wife?

June 2006

I got divorced about a year ago. Although I wanted to divorce my ex, the end was made uglier by the fact that he had an affair, with someone who had been ''our'' friend (although his friend first). He married her almost a year ago. We have a son (7), and she's a good mom to him.

Although I'm on cordial terms with my ex, I have not seen the wife since before the affair. However, I have (crazy?) visions of our becoming a caring extended family. The problem is that at the same time I have very negative feelings about both of them. I can't imagine why I ever loved my ex - I find him borderline repulsive now, and he occasionally still treats me badly - and whenever I think about her I feel very angry. But why? I'm not jealous, I'm thrilled to be out of the marriage, the affair was understandable as our marriage was on the rocks etc (although I believe she contributed to its rockiness).

I and the wife are talking over email about seeing a therapist together (once) for the first time we meet (my idea - I will not feel safe any other way). I want to be able to talk about my anger. I am now stalling though, because of this dual consciousness: very VERY negative feelings about them both and yet wanting us all to be co-parents who can enjoy time together with the boy we have in common.

(More context: I am very happy with my new life, not bitter or depressed, in a new relationship which is so much better than the marriage they're not even in the same league. So it's not general anger - very specific to them.)

I'd love to hear stories of others going from disgust and anger to caring with ex and new wife/husband, or perhaps I need a reality check that this just can't happen Anonymous

Years ago I had a similar experience to yours, except without kids in the mix. My husband left me for a co-worker, who he eventually married. I never thought I would be friends with his new partner, towards whom I felt nothing but rage and resentment, but I did hang on for a long time to the illusion that it was a good idea for my husband and I to remain friends, even though every contact I had with him reminded me of the most painful experience in my life. It took a lot of time and therapy for me to realize that this made no sense. So I would say that there is no way for you to honestly be happy friends with your ex and his new partner at the same time as you are feeling strong (and totally warranted) negative feelings towards them. Any friendship you tried to build right now would be based on denial and deceit, and I don't see how that could be beneficial to your child. I would just concentrate on providing your child with a positive experience of having multiple families. I would guess that at some point in the future there will be times when the two families come together (graduations, etc), and those will be times when you can demonstrate gracious and friendly behavior without creating an elaborate ongoing fantasy of false harmony. Wishing you all the best, anon

Divorced a year? It's way too soon for this. You are clearly too conflicted and confused about your feelings to generate a healthy relationship with your ex and his wife. Personally, I would not expend therapy dollars to meet with her at this time, though maybe it would be good for you to do some therapy on it on your own.

I suggest you use the positive parts of your feelings & experience to create a very cordial and diplomatic relationship -- to build a foundation for resolving the parenting conflicts that are sure to arise in the next couple of years as your daughter approaches, and then goes through, her teens.

Friendship is about cherishing people. It's possible that someday in the pretty distant future you may be able to build such an intimate relationship with people who, for long-term better or worse, betrayed your trust. But I think at the moment what you really need is some good barriers, distance, ''space,'' whatever you want to call it, in the spirit of ''Good fences make good neighbors.'' Good luck -- L.

Why would you want to become friends with her? I'm a stepmom, married to a man who had a child by someone he was never married to. At times, the mom and I have had a more than cordial relationship. In fact, I used to hope that we could become friends. But, her residual feelings have created a relationship that, at this point, can never be repaired. I think that your intentions are good. I think your heart is in the right place. But, at this point, I feel that it's best to just move forward with parenting your child and living your lives separately. I applaud you for your efforts, but there is just wayyyyy too much baggage there - yours and hers, and your ex's, for that matter. Just focus on your child anonymous

I think it's great that you are trying to make the relationships work for the sake of your child. Reason's for the divorce aside, I think it's possible for you to come to terms with your feelings and have a respectful, if not enjoyable relationship with your ex's wife, with regard to the caregiving of your son.

My personal experience is that of the ''new wife.'' I have been in a relationship with my husband for over 14 years, and we have been married for 7 of them. We have two daughters, one of our own and one from his past relationship (they were never married). We had the best possible circumstances surrounding us--that is to say, the ex partner (of my husband) and I were never at odds, but it did take about the first five years of our relationship to really be totally comfortable with one another. And I wouldn't say we are ''all one happy family,'' but we certainly do consider each other extended family and our oldest is as well adjusted as one can be having (biological) parents that aren't together. She has grown up understanding that we all get along and this I believe as been a tremendous relief for her. That said, I think it should be clear what your expectations are and how you foresee all your roles in your son's life. I think if you can manage that, and do the therapy (which it sounds like you might need even if the new wife wasn't in the picture) you will be able to eventually get over your negative feelings, which can only have a positive effect on your son! I wish you the best of luck! Stepmom that is grateful to get along

You need to put aside your negativity and now focus on co- parenting for your son's sake. Every time the negativity creeps up (like when you see them) you need to imagine your son. If you can keep a positive relationship with them, that would be the greatest gift to your child. I am disgusted with my ex, but I always keep my negativity in check and to myself, because it only hurts my son if I show it (plus it does no one any good to show it, you said you have a new life now, so leave these feelings in the past or keep them to discuss with your therapist).If you need to have a therapist present to start your co-parenting, than by all means do so-just stay focused on your goal- to parent the best you can! Years from now you will be proud of yourself and your son will have more self-esteem and be better adjusted! Sara

Well, A year doesn't seem so long to be over all your anger. Your vision is good and can happen, but it might not be time yet. When I got divorced and my ex started right away living with someone we both knew (also his friend first), we had a phone conversation about it, she and I. I told her straight up that I didn't feel jealous, that I didn't want to be with him, and was glad that he found someone to make him happy. He will hopefully be a better father if he's happy. She worried that I might think she was trying to be our daughter's mother. I told her I was glad that there was someone else in my daughter's life who cared about her. It's been 10 years now and we are really comfortable with each other and talk more than I do with my ex. I like her and we have things in common. The relationship between me and him is not very good. He's a very complicated person, and we must just get under each other's skin (hence the divorce!). At different times we have all be there for my daughter when she's needed it, but it has been a roller coaster. If you are dealing with sane and sober people you might make your vision a reality! Right now I'm counting the years that I don't have to deal with him anymore. Sad, but true. anon

I would like to respond to you as a daughter who witnessed the damage adultery inflicted on her mother and by extension the remaining family.

Here are three reasons why pursuing such a relationship would be unhealthy. 1. Your ex-husband's poor character. Even though your relationship was on the ''rocks'', nothing justifies infidelity. The truth is that your ex cheated, broke a marriage vow, caused unnecessary pain and estalished mistrust and feelings of betrayal. Your ex owed it to you and your CHILD to behave properly and do right by his obligations, to behave honorably. Why associate yourself with someone of questionable character?

Number 2: Your ex-husband is setting a poor example for your son. I do not advocate limiting your son's relationship with his father. But whitewashing his behavior, which you would be doing by ''cultivating'' a relationship, is going overboard. Your ex-husband, in marrying the ''affair'' woman, is showing his son that it is ''ok'' to commit adultery, to break a marriage vow, disrupt a family and go on living without any negative consequences.

Number 3: To add insult to injury, your husband continues to treat you with disrespect. Your son, even though he is only 7, is witnessing your ex's behavior and because you have made no objections, your son is learning that this behavior is ok. What may happen is that your son may take on the behavior of his father and/or begin to treat you with disrespect. (Remember you have no control of what your ex says about you to his son when you are not present.)

These three reasons are why I would not recommend you cultivate a relationship other than one that is necessary and one that ensures your place and authority in your son's life. Your ex's new wife may be ''nice,'' but she also committed adultery. Civility goes a long way and I think you will find that if you deal with the truth and stop trying to make the ending nice and neat, that your anger will subside. Living with anger can be very damaging not only to yourself but also to your son. If you can let go (by facing the truth) you can be happier and also teach your son how to deal with the bad things in life with dignity and class.

Good luck and I wish you all the best OM

Check out You might find the kind of support you're looking for there anon

I think it would be great for you all if you ultimately have a cordial relationship, with the common ground being the healthy care of your son. Your son will definitely benefit from parents who are not at each other's throats and can communicate effectively. However, from your post it really sounds like you're still very, very angry, and it sounds like what you want to do first is tell them (and especially her) how angry you are.

I don't think that will be productive. Not that being angry is unusual, just that it's not a good way to rebuild a formal relationship, much less a friendship. I think you'd be better off going to a therapist on your own first, with the goal of being able to forgive them without their participation. Focus on your own happiness and the stability of your new life, and on positive growth for your son. Eventually the anger will dissipate some, though it may never completely go away. So the individual therapy may help you gain some tools to manage whatever anger or anxiety may pop up in the future. You can still think about a therapy meeting with her in the future, but I wouldn't do it until you're feeling more generous or forgiving in your heart. Remember, she doesn't have any responsibility for your feelings, nor any power over you. Unless you give it to her. Moving on means being thankful that it worked out the way that it did (especially since you like your life better now)and letting go of the bad stuff. Don't try to be ''friends'' until that happens. In fact, don't try to be friends. Try to be a good person toward your ex and his wife and your son, be clear that you're happy, and friendship may come out of it if you're all comfortable with that. My exes (husband and boyfriends) all think we're friends. I think I have cordial and warm relationships with them, but it's too superficial to say that we're friends, and it will never happen (though I never give up hope!)

I was a dismayed to see the moralistic use of the word ''adultery'' in one response to your posting, so I had to write in. While I agree that you may never want to have a friendship with either your ex- or his new partner, both of whom betrayed your trust, I think it is too easy to label people as ''sinners'' and simply dismiss them as such. The person who wrote in to urge you to do so experienced adultery in her family as a child, and she seems, I'm afraid, not to have grown beyond that moment. Religious/moralistic righteousness allows people to maintain a childlike outrage rather than delving into grayer areas. My father also had an affair, and even my mother, who was devastated by his betrayal, understood that he had some real needs that were not being met in the marriage. When I told her with extreme trepidation that I had had an affair (yes, I'm an adultress, sew an ''A'' on my chest) she understood immediately that I never would have done so if I hadn't been starved for affection and love and deeply confused. Hester's sister

I don't think your crazy at all! I think it's great that you and the step mother are reaching out to each other and thinking of what's best for your child. Which is to have all his parents around him. That time was going to come evenutally. You were going to need to all be there for graduations,possibly a school play or game, probably school dances and eventually probably a wedding and the birth of a grandchild. Why not sooner?

I think the best thing you could do is let go of the anger. It isn't serving you. She doesn't have anything you want. In fact based on the way you spoke of your ex(Borderline repulsive, still abusive on occasion, in a new relationship that 100x better)it sounds like she did you a favor! I could maybe understand your anger if she was initially your friend 1st, but you said she was his friend 1st so she wasn't even really being disloyal.

I think threapy is a great idea also. I'm someone who is hugely loyal. I will often stay mad at people who betray my friends or family long after the betrayed person chooses to forgive. But I think you have the right idea here. So she may never be the person you call to confide in or get support in your personal life. But for your child not to have to split holidays between the people he loves the most in the world, how much is that worth? Good luck to you! Shelly

I am living proof that this can happen!

Ok, so my ex didn't have an affair with his current wife while we were married. But it was some very bad behavior on his part that led to our divorce. I had every reason to stay angry and bitter about him.

However, my overarching concern was for my son's welfare (he was baby when we split) Because things were so traumatic and I didn't trust myself to manage my anger, we hired a co-parenting counselor for the first few years. Her role was to be an advocate for our son and provide us with a place we could work out our conflicts and develop our new relationship as co- parents.

See, that's the rub as divorcing parents, you have to switch relationships (from spouse to coparent) without a period of total separation. It's tough.

But I came to respect and admire my ex for the father that he was and became. And when the new wife came along and loved my son dearly, well, how could I object to that?

12 years later, I'm still single, they're married and have another child. They give him things I can't, I give him things they can't. We all hang out, get along, and work together when issues come up.

I am lucky to have them (and their son) in my life. I suspect that you, too, will work through your feelings and come to appreciate them for the role they play in your child's life. I think therapy can be very helpful for this. Anon