Going through a divorce is a stressful process that does not necessarily get easier once the papers are signed.
In fact, the relationship can become even more difficult when the parties date or marry other people. Throw co-parenting into the mix and you can have a very messy entanglement.
One woman has taken to social media to ask if her feelings on her husband’s ex-wife coming into their home are justified.
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Reaching out to Reddit users on the “Am I The A**hole” subreddit, the woman asked whether she is in fact an a**shole for disallowing her step-children’s mother into their home.
She explains that she and her now-husband dated for three years before getting married almost a year ago. They are each in their second marriage and both have children with their former spouses. However, her children are adults living on their own while her husband’s children – aged 16 and 19, are living with them. His ex-wife also remarried and then moved an hour away.
“In the four months that [the children] have lived with us, the ex-wife has only seen the kids four times. Of the four times, we were not home for either a drop-off or pick-up.
“Each of those times the ex-wife has walked into our house when we weren’t there. My husband and I got in an argument about it because he didn’t think it was a big deal. I think it’s disrespectful.”
The woman adds that the home she shares with her husband used to be the ex-wife’s former home. She has informed the kids’ mother that she did not want her coming into the house, and then had a conversation with her about it on Facebook Messenger.
“I explained that I didn’t have a problem with her, but that I find it disrespectful to enter anyone’s home without adult permission. She apologised and insisted she didn’t mean to be disrespectful. Then she came in the house again.
“When my husband messaged her about it again, she replied with a big rant about how I must be a horrible person for not wanting her to come in the house because she badly had to use the restroom.”
The woman believes the ex-wife is doing this out of spite as she never asks to come in when she or her husband are home. She adds in a follow-up comment, however, that the 19-year-old child invites his mother inside.
The general consensus of the Reddit commentators was that the woman was not in fact the a**hole on this occasion, although some did feel she was being a little unreasonable.
Melmoth_Milton wrote: “She no longer lives there. Change the locks, and if that doesn't work and husband still won't back you, change the husband.”
1962Michael says: “Ex is using the restroom as an excuse to snoop around your house. Yes she is just doing it out of spite. Most of the women I know would rather hold it another hour than use their ex's bathroom. I would suggest that you be home as much as possible for these drop-offs, but I have a feeling she is communicating with the kids and coordinating a time so she can avoid you. So you might want to add a keyed lock to your bedroom door if nothing else.”
“She is 100% trying to show [you] that this is still HER house,” says Nursepenguin36.
One of the few comments that did call the woman out for being the a**hole was from Agreeable-Celery811, and reads: “One of the kids is 19 years old. If that kid invites their mother in for a minute while being dropped off, the mother has adult permission to enter. It seems really extreme that the kids can’t even invite their mother in for a little while when they go out with her once a month.”
Kate Bailey-Hill, attorney at Benita Ardenbaum Attorneys in Durban, says that, after a divorce, one of the biggest challenges is setting new boundaries with your ex-spouse.
“Communicating and having to deal with your ex-spouse after you have divorced is a necessity, especially when the parties have had children together. A positive way in which one may want to determine the nature of this new relationship with your ex-spouse is to set boundaries or put rules in place…”
She says these rules may include the following.
1. Communicate with your ex-spouse in writing, or by way of a short telephone call. Keep all communication limited to only what is necessary in respect of the children.
2. Speak to one another in a respectful manner. When your ex-spouse starts to speak to you in an inappropriate way, stop the conversation, hang up or walk away.
3. Ensure that your home is your home. It is not a place for your ex-spouse to visit the children and treat the home as if it were his/her home.
4. Keep your conversations clear and to the point. Protect your privacy and treat the conversations in a business-like-fashion.
5. One must not involve the children in any communication between the two of you.
6. Stay out of each other’s lives.
7. Do not look to your ex-spouse for advice or support. This might be the hardest tie to break. Rather look to friends of family for support.
8. The maintenance you receive from your ex-spouse is not a gift. The Court determines what financial support is required for the child or children and it does not give your ex-spouse the right to comment upon, or berate you about finances.
9. You are not a wife or husband anymore and you are not required to assist him or her as you did when you were married.
Bailey-Hill says you will be much more successful in healing yourself and moving forward with your life if you are able to adopt rules and create an environment that keeps you physically and mentally separate from your ex-spouse.