I'm dating a man going through a divorce. His soon-to-be ex wanted the divorce after she cheated. She even told him he should find himself a girlfriend and offered to help him find one.
Now that he has me in his life she is extremely jealous and causes trouble with their two young children. She and her mom tell them horrible things about me to get them to hate me. They say things like "daddy would rather be with his girlfriend than you" and "it's her fault we aren't together anymore."
This woman does irrational things that scare the children, like jumping in front of my boyfriend’s car so he can't leave. She said that was because he didn’t look her in the eyes when she spoke to him. All this was done with their two children watching from the backseat.
What can I say to help these children cope? I don't want to make it worse, but I have so much anger towards his ex it's hard to stay objective.
Margi, one of Napoleon’s strengths was that he could analyze a campaign without emotion or rancor. Every new surprise in battle, every time reinforcements failed to show up, every time an enemy changed strategy, he countered with a new strategy. That’s why he was a master of warfare.
You, too, are caught in the middle of a war.
The man you are dating married the kind of woman who would cheat on him. That proves she didn’t care about him, just as her current actions prove she doesn’t care about her kids. Her mother seems to be cut from the same
A woman like this may never run out of steam. That is why once a person decides on divorce, they should do it as quickly as possible. If your boyfriend were divorced with a girlfriend, he would be in a much stronger position than he is as a married man with a girlfriend. That tactical mistake was his.
What his wife did, cheating, is wrong. What your boyfriend is doing now is technically wrong. Kids don’t comprehend technicalities. “Mom and dad aren’t divorced, dad has a girlfriend, so dad is as bad as mom.” That’s what his wife is saying and what the children half-believe.
She lost her boyfriend or whoever she was cheating with. Her offer to find her husband a girlfriend was both a defensive ploy and a way to humiliate him. Now, however, the very thought of you makes her jealous. It’s like a reflex.
You and your boyfriend need to watch for things that minimize her mood swings. With everything you try, see if she gets better or worse and keep a record of the results.
Your first strategy should be to withdraw from the field of battle. An unseen enemy is hard to fight. This woman should not be able to lay eyes on you, and your boyfriend should not mention you. If either of you must communicate with her, text is best. Texting is perfect because it holds a written record.
Keep a record of all the interactions with her: missed or delayed exchanges of the kids, how she handled it, her lies, what the kids say she is saying. But don’t pump the children for information. For truly over-the-top behavior, ask a lawyer for advice.
The turmoil caused by his wife can never affect your interactions with the children. Once she senses she is getting a reaction, she will feed off your negative response, so you both must remain unflappable.
The children will respond better to your actions than to your words. They will figure out who the good parent is. Don’t play counselor to them. That is not your role. Your role is to nourish them and to provide positive experiences which they can cherish and whose memory will give them strength.
~ Wayne & Tamara
Column for the week of June 15, 2015
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