I’m currently nearing the end of a divorce and have been dating someone for almost a year now through it all. She has “accepted” the situation fairly well up until recently. We still talk and see each other but she’s unsure if she wants to continue our relationship because of the ex-wife baggage I come with. I have a 2 year old son so she’s not going away anytime soon. I get along with my ex and we have an amicable relationship. My current girlfriend is very resentful and jealous because I still pay all the bills for my ex, she calls me for help with things and is quite dependent upon me, even though she has a boyfriend as well. There is absolutely nothing going on between us and she is starting a new job soon which will allow her to take care of herself financially. I will still pay child support and be very involved with my son but I’m hoping my contact with her will diminish very soon. I’m 31 and my girlfriend is 22 so the whole situation is a bit much for her. My ex is not the most socially adept person either so she has said and done some things to put my girlfriend on edge.
I’ve been a little insensitive toward my girlfriend in the past saying “it is what it is” “you need to accept it”…I even brought her to the house one day so I could visit my sister in law and her family even though she didn’t want to go.
Is there anything I can do to help this situation? I love my girlfriend very much and we have a connection you don’t find everyday. I have to maintain some level of contact with my ex for the best interests of my son but if I’m missing something and there is a way to salvage my relationship with my girlfriend I am 110% willing to do it. She obviously has to choose to accept or not accept the situation but I don’t want to miss the opportunity to help resolve things.
A: Hello and thank you for your question:
There were a few questions that came to mind when I read your letter. The first thing I considered was that many relationships go through a major adjustment period somewhere around 12 to 18 months. The freshness or “honeymoon” period has worn off and people are starting to see a little more clearly. This is the stage when people start moving from the infatuation part to either leaving the relationship or working pretty hard to have it develop into a mature, loving, longterm thing.
My question is this: what is the longest relationship your girlfriend has ever been in? Were any of them deep, lasting loves, or did they end around 1 to 2 years? Since your girlfriend is only 22, my guess is that she hasn’t had many relationships that were allowed to develop into a deep, lasting love. These require maturity and commitment, and 22 is still a bit young for either.
Second, no matter where you go, or who you go with, you will always be a “divorced man” with a child and baggage. And, we’re talking a child whom you love. Nothing should come between the two of you. Ever. You have a responsibility to your son, but you are also acting responsibly toward the mother of your son. Out of respect, you are helping her make the transition, and that is the honorable and good thing to do. Why would a person who loves you ask you to dump what is morally and ethically important to you?
I would agree that it may have sounded a little harsh to tell her that “it is what it is” and there may have been a better way to put it, but you have been honest with her, haven’t you? At least it sounds like you haven’t tried to hide things, including things that may be painful for her to hear.
You are in a tough spot. Even though you may apologize, you can’t abandon your son and ex, and you love your girlfriend. It seems as though there may be a need to seek out a therapist who can help you two sort out these things. Ask your girlfriend if she would be willing to go to couples therapy. If she’s not, you then have your answer about the relationship.
If she is willing to try counseling, then you have a green light for making things work out. You can find a therapist in your area by going to Find A Therapist. I can tell you though, there is no short answer unless you are willing to bail on your son. And that would be terribly sad for everyone involved. If you did that, you may sadly discover that your ex and your son are not the real problem for your girlfriend.
I hope this helps,
Dr. Diana Walcutt
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 5 Sep 2009
Walcutt, D. (2009). My Divorce Is Affecting My Current Relationship. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 12, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/09/05/my-divorce-is-impacting-my-current-relationship/