Your Opinion Please: Partners of Co-Parents

I’m somewhat fascinated by people who speak negatively of their ex’s partner– or even the idea of a new partner.  If Mr./Ms.  Smith has such bad taste in (wo)men, what does that say about Mr./Ms.  Smith’s ex-wife/husband?   (am I offending anyone?)  The phenomenon seems to occur more frequently when children are involved- I suppose because one parent feels they are being protective.  Is it protective?  Or damaging?

The following is a mix of comments I’ve heard from people discussing their ex’s partner:

  • “I took a survey.  Everybody agrees with me that she’s bad news.”
  • “She’ll never know my children”
  • “I don’t want my kids to be exposed to someone like that.”
  • “The more people that love these children, the better.”
  • “I trust his judgment”
  • “I’d like to meet her before the kids.  If I don’t approve, I’ll sue him for full custody.”
  • “We’ve become friends.  We set a good example.”
  • “I’m keeping my mouth shut.  If I say anything bad about her, my kids will fault me, like her even more close their minds about the subject.”
  • “He seems nice enough.”
  • “It’s none of my business”

I’d like to get some feedback on this issue.  How do you feel about your ex’s partner?  Or the idea of a new partner?  How does your ex feel about your partner?  What effect do you think this aspect of family relationships has on children?

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17 comments on “Your Opinion Please: Partners of Co-Parents

  1. Lauren says:

    Well, it will come as no surprise to anyone who reads My Life, Incomplete, that I ADORE my ex-husband’s girlfriend and I think we are all better off for having her in our lives. She is the link that keeps our “divorced family” a family, and we are blessed to have her. I think my son grows more as an individual the more positive adult influences he has in his life. I think we each bring something to the game that Braden benefits from. She has qualities that I lack, and vice versa. And same goes for my boyfriend. I think it’s a real shame when a parent is so insecure that they cannot open their minds and their hearts to the notion that another person could have a positive impact on their child’s upbringing. Everyone loses out in that kind of environment.

    TDE – THANK YOU for this post. I think it is fabulous that you are bringing this issue to the surface. I look forward to the other responses!

    • Thanks, Lauren! I knew you’d have valuable input here. My mom and my dad’s girlfriend are good friends and it’s a factor that “keeps our divorced family a family”. My mom and dad also get along very well… but he once dated a woman who didn’t approve of his friendship with my mom and it strained all of our relationships- big struggle for me and my sister (and we were in our teens/twenties!). These days, we spend holidays together and I feel free to discuss my mom when I’m with my dad and Not-Stepmother.

  2. Marcus says:

    Well, for me, getting a divorce really needs a lot of planning. Also you couples should take into consideration on what would their kids feel about it. Some planners and organizes that help in the recovery are also very helpful. When me and my wife divorced, I let my kids use this c-planner-manager planner from http://4help.to/children. And there was no doubt that they helped my kids.

    Regards,
    Marcus

  3. Deesha says:

    Like Lauren, my affection for my ex’s wife is well-documented. 🙂 He and my fiance get along well, too. I don’t think co-parents are obligated to be friends with each others’ new partners, but certainly civility is a must, especially where the kids are concerned. I think with time, healing,a certain level of maturity, and as Lauren said, security in oneself, co-parents can relax about the new partner. But ultimately, it’s a matter of will and choice–a conscious decision to move forward and keep things civil. When the adults are free from obvious tension and animosity, it helps kids relax and free to choose to connect with these new people in their own ways and in their own time.

    • Deesha, you make a great point about kids choosing to connect with people in their own ways. I think perhaps this fact is overlooked in less-friendly scenarios: Dad might think Mom’s boyfriend is unfit because he’s bad with money and drives a dangerous motorcycle… but he also might be a really good soccer player who can teach the kids a few tricks- and that’s what the kids care about.

  4. Rebeca says:

    Hi, I just found your blog. I want to know if you can recomend a good book (or books) on divorce. My brother and his wife of 13 years are separating (he stopped loving her) he is taking responsability for what he is doing. I can relate to the fact that a me can stop loving me and it hurts (but this is not about me), they have 2 children (3yrs and 1yr). She is devastated and the only thing “we” as her family can do is be there for “them” and the girls. They are both good people and we DO NOT take sides (this is between them). They came home (they live far away) for couple’s therapy and to announce their separation.
    Help me to help her. She asked me for a book to understand what’s going on and what to expect.
    Thanks for your time.
    Rebeca.

  5. Mandy says:

    Great subject although not one I can speak from personal experience on. There were no third parties involved in my divorce and neither my ex nor I are seeing anyone else. I think that’s made it easier for the children to adjust.

    I do think divorce is much harder on children when there are third parties involved at the time of the divorce. It means that at least one of spouses is having to deal with betrayal and rejection. Those are difficult emotions to handle and not to make negative comments to the children about.

  6. Justifiable hatred here, chiming in. I thought my ex and I were happily married soulmates–he thought he needed to sleep with a 10-years-our-junior associate in his office. The affair began when I was pregnant with our third child and continued for over a year until he filed for divorce. I have never met her, although my children were around her numerous times during the affair. She went out of her way to woo them as a way to woo my husband, and her emails to him during our divorce process indicated that she thought my divorce was granting her not only a new partner, but also pseudo-motherhood to our three children (which was as offensive to me, if not more so, than her stealing my husband). So far, she hasn’t interacted with the kids much since the divorce, due to a provision in our decree that limits her contact with them for the first year. Nevertheless, the day is coming when she will be, in my ex’s words, “an integral part of their lives.” I am not sure how that will work. My guess is that as long as she is kind to my children and does not try to stand between their relationship with their father and doesn’t go out of her way to undermine me, I will keep my mouth shut and stay out of her way and will not badmouth her in front of the children. We will never be friends, however, and I cannot even foresee a situation where I will have anything but the lowest of low opinions of her.

    I don’t think I would/will feel the same way about my co-parent’s subsequent partners, but for this one, who was so callous in her disregard of her own marriage, my marriage, and the effect her actions would have on my children? The best I can hope do is just be civil, and even that will require monumental effort from me.

    • Ouch! It’s interesting that you put a provision in your agreement to limit her contact. Obviously, it gives you some peace of mind and allows your children to fully bond with Dad (just Dad) during this transitional period. Even given your low opinion of her, it seems you’re taking the High Road by planning to keep your thoughts to yourself as long as she doesn’t overstep her boundaries. I’m sure that’s terribly difficult, yet quite admirable. Thank you so much for chiming in!

  7. Lori says:

    I am in a very similar position as the last poster – spouse cheated with a coworker 10 yrs his senior with no kids, while I was pregnant with the third. I don’t think she deserves to know my kids. I don’t have as much of an issue with the 5 year old meeting someone else, but the idea of someone who was so cold to me (not that I know her, but that someone could do that to ANYONE) holding my BABY!? Makes me sick. The STBX and I are on somewhat civil terms, though I also worry about what he will teach the children about relationships and how to treat people.

    • Thank you for sharing. I’m glad to hear that you and STBX are on civil terms. I’m wondering- have you had any discussion with him about what the two of you (as a co-parenting team) plan to teach the children about relationships and how to treat people? Or how much information you want the children to know about the circumstances of your separation?

  8. Lori says:

    Not yet. He is in therapy now, so I hope that will help.

  9. Sonia says:

    My stbx cheated with other women. Two weeks after he left our family home he hooked up with a new, middle-aged woman who doesn’t work and has been married two or three times before. She has no children of her own. I feel nothing but distrust of this woman’s judgment and morals, and of course my stbx is even worse when it comes to disgusting behavior.

    I’m very unhappy that my children have seen their mother rejected and betrayed, not to mention replaced days later in their father’s bed with a random woman who plays the “stepmother” role to them. The children and I don’t speak of these things, but they are old enough and smart enough to see exactly what has happened. I don’t see any point in meeting her ever. My stbx and I communicate only by email.

    What does this sorry spectacle teach my children about relationships and how to treat people? Well now they have learned something I wish they didn’t know. They know their father could toss his wife of 20+ years aside like trash, without warning. They know their father has not spent any time with them alone since he moved out. They never see him without her. They never got to work on their bond with their father, just him and them.

    This is all wrong. The policy I follow nevertheless is, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. The kids know the score, but they don’t have any say in who their father shacks up with, either. They had no say in any of this, and neither did I.

    • Thank you for sharing, this must be very difficult for you. We see other people make bad choices all the time, and it’s especially difficult when it’s someone we love. Your kids will learn through this that their father is a fallible human and that perhaps “following one’s heart” is not the most responsible decision. You have a good policy- not an easy one, but perhaps the most peaceful and mature. Good luck to you and your family.

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