How do I deal with his "ex" situation?

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-04-2003
How do I deal with his "ex" situation?
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Wed, 06-04-2003 - 6:30am
I'm about to celebrate my first anniversary with my husband. We're very much in love and have both been married before. Our getting married involved me having to move overseas to be with him.

Our main topic of fighting has been over our exes. NOT our exec spouses (we've both been married before) - with whom we are both in touch. Neither of us has a problem with them at all.

But the most recent exes we had before we met. Through a series of events, my husband basically told me that he couldn't handle me being in touch with my ex in a personal way (I was doing some computer work for him as well). My ex is a bit of a hot-head and wrote some cruel things about my husband (whom he's never met) and my very-sentitive husband went through the roof. My ex and I now have very little contact (and what we have is via email) and he's about to get married.

I could live with all of that BUT. My husband's most recent ex is a girl that he used to work with. They only dated for about 6 months but were very, very close friends before that. He broke up with her shortly before I met him. At first he didn't tell me that she was an ex. Just an old work friend. Later the pieces all came together. He says that he broke up with her because he realized that while he loved her, he wasn't in love with her; that she was too young and inexperienced and sheltered and not really smart enough for him. All reasons that have been echoed by mutual friends (I've never met her).

That was all fine in the beginning. He stopped seeing her for their weekly dinner so that he could stay home and talk to me long distance. He stopped returning a lot of her calls and would answer by text message instead.

About 6 months into our relationship, we hit a rough patch. I flew to visit him and, when he gave me his wallet to pay for something, I found an old photo of the two of them in it. I hit the roof and he promised to take it out, which he did.

He said that he was limiting their contact but what I didn't know is that that meant in person. They still talked multiple times a day and sent tons of messages. I didn't realize that until I'd moved to be with him.

That realization really rocked my trust in him and I'm not sure that it's ever recovered. To my knowledge, he's only seen her once in the 14 months that I've been here. Note that I'm NOT AT ALL worried that he would sleep with her. It really never enters my mind. Physical fidelity is a HUGE issue for him as he's been burned in the past.

I keep trying to get over my nagging paranoia but I can't. We recently went abroad on vacation and found out that he'd been texting her from there. Couldn't he even go two weeks without contact?

He was away for business last week and the wallet he usually uses at home. When I looked into it, I found two photos of her (the same ones he'd removed over a year ago).

I understand that he isn't someone who makes friends or trusts people easily and that she's always been there for him. Even though she confessing to still being in love with him, she's been his friend even though we're married which is, I'm sure, difficult for her. But really, I think I'm putting up with too much. I just want a nice, normal (if there is such a thing) relationship without all of this stress. I really think I'm giving myself an ulcer.

That he considers her his best friend, just burns me up and I really don't know what to do about it...............

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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-2003
Um, er...

I'm the queen of contact with exes, and can be a very touchy situation even when you're just emailing once a week or a couple of times a month, rarely if ever see each other, and don't lie about the correspondence to your spouse (I'm going through something like this right now). Friendship is possible with exes, and I think it's a good thing to aim for, but ONLY if BOTH people are over the "romantic" part. It's hard to tell that sometimes.

In your case it isn't hard at all. Physical contact isn't the issue. He's violating your marriage by keeping such close and constant contact with her, and considering her his "best friend". He is also obviously lying to you about their connection, and he has been for awhile. If she is in love with him, and telling him this, the ONLY response is for him to gently and kindly remind her that he's married, and push her away. For HER good. If your husband didn't have some feelings for her that's what he'd do. This woman is in love with him and she wants to break up your marriage. She wants him back. Anything he does to encourage her isn't just idle flirtation, it's a direct threat to your union.

You both need to see a marriage counselor. Tell him if he doesn't agree you'll seek a legal separation, whereupon he can be in contact with his ex girlfriend as much as he likes. He may tell you "I'll cut it off" but you know, he's done that before. You need to hash out this problem with a professional, because it's not just the ex-gf, it's his encouragement of her, his lying to you about it, and most importantly, the fact that he considers her his "best friend" and not you.

Your marriage may not survive. He may really love this ex. He may not be willing to do what needs to be done. But you have to demand that he do it. You won't have much of a marriage (or any self esteem) if you don't, and eventually the passionate ex will progress to physical contact, whether you think that's possible or not.

Saucygirl

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-04-2003
<>

Honestly, I don't think that's the case. She's very aware of the fact that we're married and I don't think she'd do anything to break us up. She really, honestly just cares about him. If she was doing anything out of bounds, (which frankly he expected her to at the beginning) than he wouldn't be in touch with her.

He just doesn't think I should be threatened by their contact and friendship. He makes a very strong differentiation between spouse and friend which is why he can justify calling her the "best friend" and not me.

He's had a rather unusual life in terms of careers and such and isn't in a position to make a lot of friends and he's extremely private to begin with. So, this friendship, which has lasted about 5 years is really his oldest and had stood the test of time. He would say that he views her as his little sister more than anything and as he isn't really in touch with his family, that means a lot.

It actually makes me feel like a bit of a spoiled brat and I really would like nothing more than for him to cut off ties with her. But it isn't something that I could force him to do and I'm living in a country where marital counseling really isn't done so much.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-06-2003
I would be pi$$ed off!!! She is his EX. She should not be his "best friend." You are his wife, his partner, and he needs to respect you. Exes are part of everyone's past, but they should be kept in the past. I would talk to him about this. What is his obsession with her? I would insist that he cut off all contact. You had to cut off your contact with your ex for him, didn't you? Why shouldn't he do the same? Sounds like a jerk to me, good luck with him.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Oh, get with the reality.

He demands that you have less contact with your ex and it's ALL business related on your part (per your post).

And yet he's is contant non-business contact with his ex girlfriend who worked with him for 6 months, and she wasn't smart enough or experienced enough and that is why they broke up?

Come on.....whoever broke up with who is irrelevant in their case becuase he's still not over her.

People do what they do because they want to do it. Within the parameters of their boundaries, values, and priorities they're justified and entitled to their actions, feelings, thoughts, decisions, words, ideas, and desires. Those same values determine their character, conscience, integrity and honor.

You can go from there.

Erin

quickblade14@hotmail.com

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-2003
Ahem--

Do you want help or do you just want to vent, and defend your husband while you nurse an ulcer? Keep going and there will be a hole in your stomach before long, and your marriage such as it is will be in a shambles.

She's already doing a lot to break you up. She's calling your huband, talking to him, text messaging him, sometimes several times a day. She may not be consciously trying to "break you up" but she is not respecting the boundaries of your marriage. Is she in love with him? A woman who is in love with your husband, and calling and sending him messages, is a threat to your marriage, especially if your husband doesn't discourage her strongly enough. He would say that he views her as his little sister--well, how does she view HIM? As a big brother? My guess is not.

I have a very close relationship with my brother but I don't text message him constantly and talk to him on the phone twice a day. That contact qualifies as excessive even in a sibling relationship. In a relationship that involves people who were once involved...that's a recipe for disaster. There are going to be rough patches in your marriage from time to time. When there are, do you want this "little sister" in the wings waiting to provide him with a soft landing? Because, my dear, that's exactly where she is going to be.

Your husband is having an inappropriate relationship with another woman. Defend it if you want to. Say you can't "force" him to stop contacting her, and that you "can't" see a counselor.

I don't have a magic wand that will make this problem go away for you. Neither do you. And you don't seem to want to actually DO anything to solve it. You just want it to go away on its own, while you complain about it. This isn't a very effective way of dealing with things.

So my advice is now this: accept his relationship with this woman. Cultivate other interests outside your marriage. Make lots of friends. Don't focus so much on how you hate that your husband is sharing a significant part of his life with an ex-girlfriend who obviously still has feelings for him. Openly accept that this is the case, and accomodate this woman's presence in your marriage. If you are not willing to take action to change this situation, then you should accept it.

While you do, take care of YOURSELF. Make sure you keep your job, and have a bank account and credit card in your name, just in case things with Little Miss Innocent end up not so innocent after all.

Saucygirl

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-04-2003
I'm going to avoid reacting harshly here and I believe that you're honestly trying to help.

But I wish I had a life where everything was as black and white, cut and dried as you seem to think it is.

In two cases, I've ended up best friends with my exes after we broke up. Both relationships lasted well over 4 years and in both we realized that we'd grown to want different things but that didn't mean that we didn't respect each other and enjoy each other's company and opinions. So having an ex as a friend, even a best one, does not necessarily mean the kiss of death in my book. I'm not sure of your age but I'm on the higher end of my mid-30's and most people I know, at this point, have acquired some baggage and some people who don't fit into nice cubbyholes.

At the end of the day, how she views him doesn't bother me. She can't force him to do anything against his will. He broke up with her before he met me and she was devistated. But from what I've heard, it had been on the downslide for a long time. They just aren't equals enough for him.

At the same time, he's someone who needs to be needed. I'm sucessful at work and used to relying on myself. I don't often need his help in that way. When they were involved she was still living with her parents, something that only ended recently. He's been with her through seriously traumatic events in her life and he feels responsible for her. It's one of the traits that makes me love him so much. Even if, in this case, I don't like how it is being manifest.

<>

Okay, I'm an only child. But I get multiple daily emails from friends and my dad to whom I've very close. When we all lived in the same country I had friends I spoke to more than once a day and yes, at least of two of them were exes. There was never anything threatening in those conversations. We were all acting like adults most of the time.

<>

To some extent I agree with you although I'm not always sure how to put that into practice. I don't know that he is sharing a "significant part of his life" with her. We spend virtually every night together as soon as we get off work and he doesn't talk to her in the evenings or weekends - per my request.

When I first found this issue to be a problem, my friends basically told me that I had to let it go and I posted on this forum hoping that someone might be able to guide me in how to do that. Possibly I was wrong.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-06-2003
I don't think you want to be guided. You want someone to tell you that it's okay to allow this to go on. You want someone to tell you that he's not doing anything wrong. Everything posted here has been intended to "guide" you, and yet you come back with a defense for everything. You're defending him, so it's obvious to me that you've already made up your mind. Why are you even seeking the advice or opinion of others? You've already shut your mind off to anyone or anything that says your husband is doing something wrong. I think everything saucygirl has said has been right on.

Obviously, you are worried to some extent that their relationship will go beyond "just friends" or you wouldn't have posted on this board. I think you're original post said you've been married for 14 months (don't feel like going back to check, I could be mistaken about that), so maybe you're still in that "newlywed, blind to every bad thing my husband does" phase. But at any rate, it's obvious to me, and probably anyone else who reads these posts, that you're not looking for advice. You're looking for someone to condone your husband for having an inappropriate, extramarital relationship with another woman.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-2003


Hey--

If I sound harsh I'm sorry--we sound like we're pretty similar. I'm forty and am ALSO friends with many of my exes. People DON'T fall into cubbyholes. Right now I myself am having problems negotiating a friendship with an ex b/c he seems to want me to fill in some space in his life that his wife doesn't seem to be able to. So I know how hard it can be. And I understand, in some small way, your husband's position as well.

BUT--my ex is not emailing me many times a day and calling me as well. And my ex, though he is going through a bad patch in general and having some "what ifs" about our long-dead relationship, is NOT in love with me. BOTH of us are married and in love with our spouses. And he dumped ME and broke MY heart, not vice versa.

If he were emailing and calling me constantly, and making it plain that he was still in love with me, even though we were friends BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER our relationship, I would not let that go on. Moreover I would not expect my husband (I'm also married) to sit there twiddling his thumbs while I returned his emails and phone calls, and oh, by the way, kept pictures of this guy in my wallet when I told my husband I'd put them away.

The level of contact that your husband maintains with this woman, who obviously is in love with him, is disrespectful to you, no matter how many evenings he spends with you.

I'm just trying to be the voice of reason here--I am very sympathetic to people wanting to keep contact with their exes, but this is a bit much.

And lest you forget, remember that he made YOU cut off contact with YOUR ex because it made HIM uncomfortable. Didn't he? Even if he's not cheating on you, he obviously thinks he merits some sort of special consideration you don't.

And that's a problem, even if nothing else you've written so far is.

Saucygirl





iVillage Member
Registered: 06-04-2003
<>

Yes, I'm angry about the photo thing. BELIEVE me. I know that since things have been rough lately with us, emotionally, she is really the only person in his life that he thinks cares about him when we're on the outs. (He KNOWS that I care but it's hard to keep in mind when you're yelling at each other).

I have no idea if I would let it go on. I had an exec get back in touch about a year ago with that "maybe you were the girl of my dreams" tone of voice and even though I knew that I would NEVER get back with him, would never want to, it felt good to keep in touch. I never led him on. Never promsed anything (in fact, told him upfront that there was no chance) but it made me feel better in many ways.

I have no idea what my husband and her talk about. I sense that it's about her job and her family and her friends. He's very private and rarely talks much about himself. From the few texts and emails that I have seen, it isn't platitude of love and such.

The level of contact that your husband maintains with this woman, who obviously is in love with him, is disrespectful to you, no matter how many evenings he spends with you.

I'm just trying to be the voice of reason here--I am very sympathetic to people wanting to keep contact with their exes, but this is a bit much.

<>

I ABSOLUTELY agree. This has been the source of many an arguement. Granted my ex, wrote an email calling my husband a multitude of nasty names, which I'd guess that this girl would NEVER do to me or he would cut her off. But that's who my ex is. I told him he was a jerk and we moved on. But my husband was hurt. And I haven't cut off contact, which he knows. It's just rare as we're both very busy.

His "grounds" for that merit seem to be that he isn't in a position to trust many people (long story having to do with his previous career) and that's she's proved trustworthy over the course of time. As his ex-wife HAD cheated on him, she isn't in that position even though they remain friends (and I like her and her husband as well).

In all honesty, I AM angry about all of this. But sometimes I think I'm over-reacting and just wanted to hear some different opinions.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Let's cut to the chase:

Validation, affirmation and rationalization are getting you nowhere.

By his own admission, she's his best friend. He enjoys her company and vice versa and their contact isn't going to be limited. If he enjoys knowing that she wants more (whether he does or not) only he knows. If they're enjoying "more" as in flirtation - only he knows.

But....his values justify and entitle him to this best friend. And his values justify and entitle his actions, decisions, and words regarding this best friend.

If you don't agree with this position - you two don't hold similar values, priorities and boundaries on his particular situation and type of circumstance.

Is that a relationship breaker? Only YOU know....becuase you're the one who's got all the negative impact of this situation at this point in the equation.

Erin

quickblade14@hotmail.com

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