My Boyfriend Is Still Supporting His Ex-Wife?!

Question:

Hi,

I’ve been in a relationship with a man for the last 4 years. I’m a widow and he’s been divorced for 6-years now after a 30 year marriage, and all of their children are grown up.

My problem is that I can’t understand how he can let his ex live in a home he owns – I’m really having a lot of trouble dealing with it. The home his ex is living in was purchased after their divorce, so it happened during the time I’ve been with him. His ex only ever lives there when she’s “between” relationships, but she doesn’t have to pay any rent and he even wound up paying for her utilities at one stage.

What’s driving me crazy right now is that she’s currently living in the house rent-free, despite the fact she moved back in there again several months ago. I’ve asked my boyfriend about allowing her to live there rent free, but it doesn’t seem to bother him.

My boyfriend is a really nice guy, and the fact that he still pays for almost everything for his grown children shows me how much he cares for them. I also know that what he pays for in relation to his family is his own business, but I feel that providing for his ex wife is stretching things a bit.

What’s even worse is that I’m 65 years of age and I feel a little immature for letting the whole situation get to me so much, but it has. I’m wondering if he’s in some kind of weird co-dependent relationship with his ex and not ready to move on with his life and with me as part of that.

It also doesn’t help that we live in different states, but we do see each other several times each month.

Mel

Answer:

Hi Mel,

This one is a little bit complicated because your boyfriend is basically doing the right thing by his family but it’s slowly driving you crazy. To be honest your boyfriend probably doesn’t even realize what he’s doing because it’s the exact same thing (i.e. supporting them all) he’s been doing on autopilot for the last 30-years. He basically spent three decades developing this habit and it’s obviously very difficult for him to break, even though he’s now in a relationship with you.

There are a couple of things I want to touch on here:

  1. His kids should be taking care of themselves now if they’re grown adults, they need to learn how to support themselves and stop asking their daddy for cash.
  2. His ex-wife needs to get herself a job and stop leeching off him – it’s crazy that he’s paying for her lifestyle like that…but then again he’s probably done that his entire life too.
  3. His money is his own to do with, so unless he’s using a joint savings account (shared by you both) to support his ex-wife then it doesn’t impact you financially and shouldn’t be a problem.

I’m guessing you’d have no problem with him supporting his children financially until the day he dies, but that supporting his ex-wife is just a total no-go area for you, right? That’s entirely understandable by the way, because you effectively have to share him with her, even though their marriage ended years ago. No woman truly wants to share her man with anyone else.

What I would suggest is that you speak to him directly about this, but without giving any ultimatums at any point during the conversation. Basically explain that you feel like you’re in a shared relationship and that she’s still a bigger part of his life (on many levels) than seems fair. Your boyfriend is obviously a good guy, so introduce the idea slowly but firmly to him – he needs to understand that this is really bothering you and it could potentially affect the future of your relationship.

The reality is that he should be focusing his energy and attention on your life together and not his ex-wife, but again he’s obviously a creature of habit and he feels duty-bound to support his ex-wife, no matter how lazy she is. I genuinely don’t think your boyfriend is co-dependent, but he’s obviously being manipulated at some level by his ex-wife – probably using all kinds of emotional blackmail against him.

Just remember that in his mind he’s trying to do the right thing for his old family, and probably doesn’t realize how much of a negative impact this is having on you.

Be honest, be patient, be kind and explain exactly how you’re feeling – I’m sure he’ll “get” it 🙂

Marlon

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