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Advice, please? About boyfriend's ex-wife (long post)

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#1 Veronica8

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    Posted 28 April 2008 - 01:00 PM

    Hi Ladies: am hoping I can get advice about a very delicate situation. My boyfriend and I are not engaged yet, but are definitely on the path toward marriage. We've talked about this and think we will be engaged later this year and get married next year. But I am not in a rush and glad to take our time.

    He got divorced last year. To make a long story short: he had a very unhappy marriage and discovered his wife was having an extra-marital affair for the last year of their marriage. They were married for 3 years. Of course he was very hurt, but they had a relatively quick and seamless divorce.

    The month of April has been a very difficult month for us. First, our dog was terribly ill and in the animal hospital for a week, then both his grandfathers passed away on the same week, and then last week he had to see his ex-wife for the first time in over 10 months to sign some financial documents at his attorney's office. Needless to say, he has been under a lot of emotional stress and seeing her again did not help.

    After he had that meeting with his ex-wife, I asked him how he felt. He told me that he felt peaceful because he loves me and knows that his last marriage was wrong for him. He said that he felt good because he felt that he was able to completely close the chapter of his first marriage and move toward a future with me.

    Well, as the days went on, and the grief of losing his grandfathers hit him harder and harder, I noticed that he seemed to be very angry. This past weekend, he finally exploded. He told me that although he let go of his ex-wife before he even met me, that he is happy to have her our of his life, that he loves me very much, he still cannot stop himself from feeling a tremendous amount of rage toward his ex. She cheated on him and was very cruel and upfront about it. And now he feels overwhelmed. When he discovered her affair, he never lost his cool. He was hurt, of course, but he never got angry. He accepted that they had a love-less marriage and just let her go. Well, now all of the anger is coming up.

    I tried to be his friend and listen to him rage about everything she did and how much she disrespected him, but there is only so much that I can handle as his current girlfriend. I understand the anger, but I am not the person he needs to help him work that out. I can't handle that. And at the same time, he doesn't want me to see him so angry. So we are taking a few days apart for him to blow off some steam with his friends and for me to have some "me" time as well.

    I knew that dating a divorced man would have its own set of challenges. I expected that there would be a time when all of the insecurities caused by her infidelities would have an affect on our relationship. So now I want to give him the space to heal and vent, but I also feel very sad and very confused. Have any of you been through this or something similar before?

    He assures me that he does not miss her, that he does not want anything to do with her, but that this is just bottled up anger that he needs to vent. And he thinks that if he vents to me, then all of that negative energy he feels toward his ex is going to poison our relationship. I am giving him space, but I feel so scared. Any advice?

    #2 Kristy!


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      Posted 28 April 2008 - 01:15 PM

      I haven't been in your exact situation, but I have been cheated on by a long-term boyfriend. We had been dating for over five years when I found out he had been seeing another girl for the past seven months. When I confronted him, he went crazy and tried to OD. It was awful. I only cried once through the whole thing though...when I saw a counselor for one session. I was really surprised by this because I am definitely a crier.

      I did have the opportunity to really go off on him a couple months after the whole thing happened, which was the last time I saw him back in 2004. That probably helped. You boyfriend has missed his chance to do that (if he never did it), so I would recommend going to see a counselor. Solo sessions and then some with you would probably be the most effective.

      Please be assured that your boyfriend is not upset that his marriage ended, he's pissed that someone would blantantly hurt him like this. His ex-wife did something that she knew would break his heart and she did it anyway. I still hate my ex, but I'm very happy our relationship ended and I would never want him back in my life in any way. But the fact that someone out there cared for me so little that they would do something to really hurt me is very upsetting.

      I don't know if this all makes sense, but hopefully I can offer you a little comfort and advice. Hang in there!

      #3 Maura


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      Posted 28 April 2008 - 01:19 PM

      well, first, the anger does need to come out. it has nothing to do with you, but he has bottled it up and needs to get rid of it. the proper place though for him to vent this is with his friends or preferably, with a licensed therapist. seeing a therapist doesnt mean you are mentally diseased, it just means you need someone disconnected from you to listen and help you sort through the issues rationally.

      #4 jajajaja

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        Posted 28 April 2008 - 01:28 PM

        Wow- VERY similar background to me. My now husband was also the product of a messy divorce. He was married for 5 years and he ended up finding out that his wife was cheating on him with her boss. They separated and then he found out she also had a 3 year affair with his best friend. Needless to say, he lost both a wife and best friend in that whole mess. She also had a daughter who he had been the "daddy" to for 5 years considering the biological father died when she was a baby. His ex wouldn't let him have contact with the daughter and he had such a hard time dealing with it all.

        We started dating about 10 months after he became officially divorced. Let me tell you, I came in during a time of his life that was probably the hardest. After dating for 6 months, his grandma ended up passing away as well. It was a very hard time for us because I always felt like he was sad and I spent most of the time either listening to his troubles or trying to cheer him up. After it awhile, it just really took a toll on me as well.

        He didn't care about his ex either- he totally just blew it off because he said it was very easy to stop caring for someone if they do something like that to you. He compeltely shut off all those emotions. The hard part for him was losing the daughter.

        While he wasn't "angry" like your boyfriend is, he definitely was sad and would sometimes talk angrily about his ex. That was it. It does get easier as the time progresses. Now, after 4 years together, I sometimes forget he was married before because we never talk about it. He's moved on and he's dealt with all the pain he had to endure that first year.

        I'm not sure what type of advice you were seeking, but I can only offer my story. I provided support during his rough times and I know it made our relationship stronger. If your relationship can endure some hard times, then you know it will be a successful one.
        Happily married since 2008

        #5 Hartyt509

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          Posted 28 April 2008 - 03:05 PM

          I can give you it from the otherside.

          I was married for 9 months and when my credit ran out that i found my marriage was crap as that was all he was interested in so I left. It was only later that I found out he'd been seeing someone.

          I tried to be nice and civilised but it didn't end up like that.

          It was only when I met FI 3 years later that all the papers got signed and I got really angry as well. FI listened and it lasted a good while.

          Now we don't talk about it because its not important.

          If you want the relationship to work you have to let him vent, he trusts you which is why you are the target for it.

          #6 TammyB

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            Posted 28 April 2008 - 03:21 PM

            In my non expert opinion, I think maybe he is lashing out about his ex because when your dealing with so much stress you want to put your anger at someone, and because she hurt him, he's doing it now. Allow him this time to reflect on his past, but be there for him as well, regardless if it's just to sit there on the couch and not say two words to each other, just being there to support him will mean alot to him.

            #7 starchild



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              Posted 28 April 2008 - 04:04 PM

              Sorry you're going through this stressful stuff! I haven't been through the former marriage experience, just ex bf/gf stuff. I agree to let him be angry, you don't want him sitting on that anger any longer than he already has. Trying to understand this will help you better understand him, and that is essential to your future marriage. Let things play out and if he is open to counseling it won't hurt, but with your support he may be able to work through this without it. Maybe try to reverse the situation and think how seeing your ex-husband after all that would make you feel...he could use a good listener right now. Good luck :)

              #8 Allaballa

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                Posted 28 April 2008 - 04:52 PM

                I dated a man that was cheated on for about 6 years of his marriage and I'm pretty sure he knew about it on some level for most of the time.

                What I'm going to tell you you will not like. He developed a deep down hatred for women. Don't get me wrong, he was very romantic and gentelmanly, flowers dinners and the whole bit. But deep down inside he thought all women were garbage and would lie after a certain time.

                These were issues that he never dealt with and they really ruined our relationship. Knowing the kind of person he is he never would have gone to counselling or sought help, but his anger and results of that anger ended up ruining our relationship

                #9 Veronica8

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                  Posted 28 April 2008 - 05:05 PM

                  Thank you all, very much. I appreciate reading your impartial advice. I will just stick this through and let him heal. I think I will encourage him to talk with a therapist as well. Thanks again!

                  #10 Karen

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                    Posted 28 April 2008 - 05:16 PM

                    Sounds like you and your BF are on the right path. Sounds like you are both taking steps to be respectful and loving to each other. Just be there for him. Therapy might be very helpful. I was in your BF's shoes. I was devestated when I last marriage ended (with infidelity being a part of it) and had to overcome some trust issues. I also realized that not all men do this. I also had to overcome some anxiety about marrying again Once bitten twice shy). And none of this had anything to do with my husband Jay. Jay was very patient with me while I worked through a lot of this. His patience just made it all the more clear that marrying him was the best thing i could ever do. Therapy might be helpful. It helped me. But overall your patience and kindness will work wonders.
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