Does he still have feelings for ex?
Dear Positive Way, My Boyfriend has been divorced for at least 10 years now, he has a 14 y/o daughter from his marriage, I too had been previously married and divorced for 6 years, I also have children (2) 15 y/o girl and 8 y/o boy. We both are friends with our ex’s because of our children. My boyfriend’s ex-wife is originally from California, she has no family here in Hawaii, just a 1/2 sister and her family. My boyfriend asked if it was okay to invite his ex-wife to our family Thanksgiving gathering. Why? I asked myself…he says their only friends and no intention of getting back with his ex-wife but still cares for her enough to include her in our family gatherings, with assuming I would be emotionally fine with it which I am not. Part of me wants to say okay, she can join us for Thanksgiving, but a part of me wants to flat out say “NO”!!! With my ex-husband we have our own lives now we do not need to include each other regarding our own personal lives unless it’s in the concern for our children. I wonder if my boyfriend still has feelings for his ex-wife, though he denies it. Please give me your advice on this. signed, Confused at 40
Dear Confused at 40, I understand your concern over this matter and I do have some advice and things to offer for you to consider:
1. You have every right to feel the way you feel and to have your own Thanksgiving without bringing in the ex. There are many divorced families in the world that do not bring the ex back into the picture for special occasions. Holidays are special for families and you have your own family now and that does not have to include the exes other than what is absolutely necessary for the children and their special events like sports, recitals, etc. If you are uncomfortable with this you should not do it. It is not necessary and the ex is an adult and she will find her own entertainment for the holiday – you are not responsible for taking care of her or making her feel that she can impose on your family time. I totally agree with the arrangement you have with your ex and that you do not need to include each other regarding your own personal lives unless it’s in the concern for your children.
2. Tell your boyfriend no and don’t explain why other than to say you want your own family traditions without involving the exes in anyway. If he should make you feel bad in anyway concerning your decision then you may have to question whether he still has some feelings going on for his ex. That may be a red flag if he tries to push the matter once you say no. He should care more for you and your feelings rather than his ex-wife’s. Say no and don’t feel guilty about it. Very few women would tolerate the ex being around their own special family events while they are trying to form new bonds and new relationships.
3. Many people still have feelings for their ex spouse but that doesn’t mean they want them back in any way. We find that men tend to hang on longer to those feelings than the women do and that is normal. Inviting an ex to your Holiday event unless she has become a dear and near friend to you is not a good idea overall. It can confuse the children even more and make them wonder why couldn’t their parents stay married if they can socialize in this way and even want to for that matter.
With all that said, this decision should be yours and yours alone. Don’t allow your boyfriend to talk you into doing this if it makes you uncomfortable. Set your boundary and stick to it. Please read our article on setting boundaries. Boundaries are very necessary in all relationships and this should be one of yours especially if you question why he wants to have this happen in the first place. You have earned the right to have your own family traditions. Decide what that means for you and for your new family and then go forward and have a great holiday.
Please understand you have free will. This advice is given only in the realm of personal growth and self-help. This is not to be considered a substitute for therapy or professional counseling. We wish you well.