I am having a bit of an issue and I am not sure how to deal with it. I’m a 47-year-old female that just recently married a divorced man with 18- and 14-year-old daughters. He is pretty active in their lives and I am very supportive of that.
His ex-wife is where the problem lies. She mentally abused him for over 15 years of a 20-year marriage. He tells me that in the last many years of the marriage, it was more of a business arrangement than a marriage. They slept in separate bedrooms the last 5 years of the marriage that ended 2 years ago. I don’t think that love was even in the marriage from what I have learned since being with him.
I don’t see the ex much and it is usually only during formal get-togethers, (graduation, et cetera). His daughter graduated recently and I, of course, attended it. We sat in a different area of the arena but upon exiting the celebration, the family wanted to take some pictures. While we were “socializing” a bit outside, the ex was standing as close to him as she could, was rubbing his arm during her “story telling” and it made me livid! How dare she touch MY husband. She had her chance and blew it.
My question is how should I deal with a flirting ex wife? I didn’t say anything to her out of respect for my husband and his graduating daughter. I am a very outspoken person but walking away from this has made me mad at myself. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
I think you made the right call by not making a scene on your husband’s daughter’s graduation. She doesn’t need the memory of her graduation hijacked by adult drama. Even though you walked away from the interaction that evening, you don’t need to walk away from this issue and ignore it.
I recommend you start by talking with your new husband. Chances are he is completely clueless about what happened. Sometimes there is so much familiarity between two people who have been married for 20 years that he probably didn’t even notice she was touching his arm.
On the other hand, you have really sensitive “ex-wife radar” right now. This is completely understandable, as you want to protect your brand-new relationship from any threats. Since this is the first incident of this nature, it’s best to simply bring it to his awareness in a way that he can hear you. In other words, don’t bite his head off.
Describe the experience you had and ask him if he noticed. If he did, then talk about what it was like for you and ask him to respect you and your new relationship. If he didn’t, then this is his first chance to be aware of it. If you’re worried about him having feelings for his ex-wife, then share that as well.
My guess is that he was so wrapped up in being with his daughter and the familiarity of taking hundreds of pictures with those same people in that same arrangement over the years put him in autopilot. Unless there is a clear reason you need to feel threatened by her presence in his life, just enlighten him about your experience and move on building your new marriage.
Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.
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