Coming to terms with your ex-wife's boyfriend

You were married to her once and you both shared some really good times. And then again, there were some nasty moments. Finally you both decided to close the curtains on your marriage. And now she’s seeing someone else. You may or may not be single. And if you are, it somehow makes it more difficult to cope. For some reason, it seems like she’s moved on and you haven’t…or at least you haven’t got somebody special in your life to move on with. And that makes the new man in her life intolerable!

TIP: Read about how you can get your ex back in your life.

However, if you are still in touch with her, especially if there are kids involved, you have to find a way of dealing with the new boyfriend. It would help if you liked him, even a little. But if you’re finding it hard to do so, maybe it is not so much about him but about you, and the fact that he’s now taken over what was originally your 'territory'.

If you and your ex share custody of your kids, that means running into her boyfriend every time you go over. You will need to sort out your feelings and come to terms with his presence in her life and that of your kids. We’re assuming here that you can’t stand the sight of him, and there are kids involved, why else would you be in constant touch with your ex-wife?

You have to be able to come to a point where you can at least tolerate him, and eventually work your way towards having a decent relationship with him. Particularly if you see the relationship having a future, he will be the man your kids will be living with (if your wife has custody) or at the very least, interacting with, if you have joint custody. And you owe it to them to be civil so as to not influence their views on his presence in your ex-wife’s life.

1. Introspect

If you don’t like him, you need to introspect on why that is the case. Is it because he’s just not someone you could see eye to eye with? Or does he have a sense of smug superiority because he has what you haven’t? Or is it just because you can’t stand his guts, living in what used to be your home, with someone who used to be your wife and acting like your kids are his? If the last is true, then you have to realize that your ex-wife is just that – your ex. If you were still meant to be together, you would have been, and you would have both found a way to make it work. But you are not. And as much as you may hate seeing him cozy up to your kids, you have got to understand that for them, you will always be their father and nothing can replace that.

2. You have to deal with your resentment.

Over being alone (if you aren’t in a relationship) and having your kids only for short intervals, while he has them under the same roof. Being bitter will not help. It will only serve to alienate you from your family and ultimately you will regret it. On the other hand, try and help your kids through what must surely be a difficult time for them too, especially if they are older. If they sense your animosity towards their mother’s boyfriend, they will be torn between you and him. Don’t present them with the difficult task of taking sides.

3. Never voice your views in front of the kids.

Don't voice especially the negative views about your ex-wife’s boyfriend, and their relationship, in front of the kids. Instead try and reinforce the positives, and by doing so, you might also gain a new perspective. If the kids have something good to say about him, and are enjoying his company, don’t resent it and be jealous. Be happy about the fact that they are able to reconcile with his presence in their lives.

4. Break the ice.

If he has made friendly overtures in the past and you have rebuffed his efforts, it is not too late to start over. And even if he hasn’t, he may be naturally wary, based on the vibes you’ve been sending out. The next time you go over to pick up your kids, start by exchanging at least a few polite niceties with him. And the time after, carry it a little further by engaging in topics of general interest or even politics. Avoid topics that will arouse a debate, causing more friction! You just might find him surprisingly easy to talk to, and God forbid, you might find you actually like him!

And finally, he doesn’t have to become your best buddy. You have to just be able to come to terms with his presence in your family’s life and stop treating him like the enemy. It will not only help you feel better about the situation, but also help your family feel more comfortable and happy. It can cause a considerable amount of discomfort to all involved if the ex-husband and boyfriend are shooting daggers at each other in the same room. Give everyone the chance to breathe easier and it will enhance the quality of your relationship with all of them – your ex-wife, her boyfriend and the kids.

And if you just can’t see your way to following these simple steps to tolerating your ex’s boyfriend's presence in their life, then have her drop the kids over and avoid all contact with him. But while doing so, go for regular medical check-ups - suppressing emotions never did anybody any good!