My Boyfriend Is Living With His Ex To Raise Their Son Together

Question:

Hi there,

I’ve been in my current relationship for almost a year now. We’d both broken up with our partners around the same time, so we wound up dating and this turned into a relationship just because we both enjoyed each other’s company. We both fell in love with each other very quickly, but now his ex has suddenly come back into the picture, along with their 8-year old son. I have no problem with the fact that he has a child from a previous relationship, but what I do have a problem with is that she’s now moved into his one-bedroom apartment.

It was from that point onwards that things started changing between us – we were spending a lot of time together but he decided to hide the fact from me that his ex was living with him, which I found very odd. I know she found out about me because he avoided his ex the entire night at an event that we all attended. Of course she completely flipped out on him that night and he moved in with me for a month until it all calmed down.

Now though he’s back living with her and their child in a 2-bedroom apartment. He basically spends all week with his ex and their son, and less and less time with me. He says he doesn’t want his son to grow up without both parents around him because he’s afraid his ex won’t be able to raise their son properly. The last thing he wants for his son is to turn into an undisciplined child because he came from a broken family himself, so he knows what can go wrong.

I can see that he’s trying to be responsible and that he’s willing to overlook the issues he has with his ex to make sure that his son is raised properly. But he still wants to be in a serious relationship with me, and has talked about getting his own place again as soon as he can afford it. At least this way we can be together the way a normal couple should, or so he says. He tells me that he’s in love with me, that she’s getting in the way of our relationship, but he feels “stuck” because he knows he doesn’t love her, but doesn’t want to leave her raising their son alone. His son knows me as a “friend” of his father’s, but only that because he thinks anything else would be upsetting for him.

I just saw a text from his ex where she asked him are they together or was he still with me? I didn’t see the reply he sent though, so I have no idea what’s happened there. I’m really frustrated right now because when I try to talk to him about the relationship he tells me to hold on and be patient, that he does want to be serious with me, and that I’m the one he wants to marry.

He’s known or dated his ex for almost 14 years now, but he says they’re not compatible and that some of the things she does to him every day upsets him a lot – especially the way she lives and how she acts around him. I think his ex is just trying to keep him around for financial security because she earns very little, plus he’s the one paying all the bills and doing all the cooking and household chores too. He works really hard and I think she’s taking advantage of that more than a little bit. I spend a lot of time around him in his work place because we don’t get to spend as much time together as we used to – he says that time’s his son’s time now, which I understand but it’s still hard to hear.

I’ve helped him through so many situations – good and bad – in the past, and I bend over backwards for him all the time just to make him happy. I do everything I can to help him with his problems, to fix them and make sure he’s comfortable. I listen to him and I don’t judge him at all. Every time he’s in a rut I help him back out of it. He even compares me to her saying “…she would never do the things you do for me.”

My question is should I stay in this relationship and see if he actually keeps his promise to build a life with me? Or should I quit the relationship because I feel he can’t fully commit to me as long as his ex is involved?

Shell

Answer:

Hi Shell,

No matter how much you love this guy you’re going to find it very difficult to live in the shadow of this other woman – the mother of his child. It’s fairly typical of ex’s to turn up when a new relationship is showing real promise though, and it’s based on nothing more than control and jealousy.

Unfortunately your boyfriend is taking his responsibility as a father very seriously, which is something his ex might be using against him as a weapon to get him to do what she wants. She knows that by bringing their son into the picture he’ll find it impossible to refuse to take care of him, no matter how badly she treats him.

The real problem for you right now is that you’re suddenly taking second place to his existing “family”, making it impossible for you to spend quality time with each other, or have the hope of starting a family of your own together. His ex knows this too, which is why she’s making sure that he spends as much of his time as possible with their son. Now the other issue with this is that your boyfriend has no right to suddenly put you in second place, regardless of what his family circumstances are like. Okay, if it was a short-term situation then everyone might cope, but expecting you to wait in line until he’s finished raising his son and taking care of his ex isn’t reasonable at all – nobody would stick around for that.

I’m also concerned by that text he received from his ex asking if they were “still together”. This might suggest that he’s either hinted at that being a possibility for them, or just that she might believe it’s possible. Either way it’s something you need to discuss with your boyfriend as soon as possible – there’s no good reason for him to keep you in the dark over this particular aspect of your relationship with him.

Just reading through your message again gives me the sense that this guy is taking advantage of you i.e. you’re doing almost all of the work in the relationship, including supporting him when the chips are down. In the same breath you can’t rely on him for support when you need it though?

At this stage your boyfriend is going to have to give you a lot more than just a promise – he’s going to need to prove that he wants to be with you, and stop living with his ex. There’s no real excuse for him living there, because if she’s not capable of raising their son it’s not his fault, and the child should be taken into care by him. There are millions of perfectly normal people out there who were raised by one-parent families, so his concern is understandable, but being a full-time child minder for his ex isn’t part of his responsibilities as a father. It’s only when he forces her to stand on her own two feet that she’ll actually start taking care of herself and their son.

You should stay with your boyfriend for now, but the two of you need to have a very serious talk and set some targets here i.e. when is he going to stop being a doormat for his ex and move on with his life with you. You need to set some dates on this though or otherwise you’ll still be in this position 5 years from now.

If he’s unwilling, or unable, to put some dates behind his promises then you’ll need to make some pretty big life decisions at that point.

Avoid giving him any ultimatums, but don’t take any more crap about his ex being his priority either.

Marlon

>