Ask Scary Mommy is Scary Mommy’s new advice column, where our team of “experts” answers all the questions you have about life, love, body image, friends, parenting, and anything else that’s confusing you.
This week… how do you react when your fiancé insists on staying with his ex anytime he visits his kid out of state? What do you do when he expects you to just accept it? Have your own questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Scary Mommy,
My fiancé visits his kids — who live in a different state — on a regular basis, especially for the holidays. He has an 8-year-old son and three older children who live on their own. Since I have been with him (for three years now), for some odd reason he always stays at his ex’s house. Apparently it’s more convenient for him to see his child that way. I’m absolutely not OK with this of course, and we have horrible arguments about it. He says I don’t trust him, he has absolutely nothing to do with her, and that its the only way to spend time with his son. Apparently, she knows about me, or so he says. I have never had a conversation with her and I have never heard him on the phone with her either, so I’m not sure how to feel.
Let’s begin by breaking down the break down in communication and trust going on here. If you’re arguing about this every time he visits his kid and nothing is changing, you’re valid feeling super frustrated. There’s an old adage that comes to mind here, too: trust someone until they give you a reason not to. You don’t mention anything that would give me pause about trusting him — no illicit texts or intimate phone calls (or any phone calls at all). That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have some work to do here.
The good part of all of this is that he seems like he’s a devoted dad, even if he lives in a different state. You say he sees his kids on a regular basis, which means it probably is more convenient for him to stay with his ex. Hotel stays would be wildly expensive if he’s visiting often. Does he have any friends or relatives in the area he can crash with while visiting his kids? If so, maybe he can stay with them sometimes.
If not, then here’s what you guys need to do: compromise. You don’t expect him to stop visiting his kids, obviously, but he does need to respect how staying with his ex makes you feel. One great way to improve this is to tackle the elephant in the room: meeting her. Can you go with him to visit soon, maybe? I don’t expect you to stay there (or that she’d want you to stay in her home), but maybe you guys can get a hotel room and make a weekend out of it. That way you get to see for yourself what his vibe is like with his ex, and get to know his kids even more — you’re marrying him, after all. It can’t hurt to bond with his children, especially the 8-year-old.
It seems like he’s been keeping you both in separate compartments of his life (such a “man” thing to do, honestly), and when there’s a young kid involved and your marriage on the horizon, that’s just not gonna work. There’s no reason why you can’t all be adults and remain neutral, polite, and accommodating to one another in a situation like this. He’s got to facilitate this between all of you — which he’ll likely be reluctant to do. But it’ll be so much better for all of you if he does. You don’t have to be around her every time he visits or expect to be BFFs, but you are all going to co-parent and co-exist together for a long time.
If there’s no hard feelings between them and nothing inappropriate is going on, then there’s no reason why this can’t work out. If he’s reluctant to let you meet her or come along on a visit with his children, that, to me, is a red flag. I wish you the best of luck and I hope you and your fiancé are able to communicate and compromise about this.
Have your own question? Email email@example.com