Jann Blackstone-Ford and Sharyl Jupe: Bonus familiesMy ex doesn’t want to meet my new man
Q: My husband and I have been separated for nearly three years and have begun the divorce process. I have been dating someone for a little over a year who has become an incredible Bonus Adult in my daughter’s life and has taken an active parenting role. We are moving in together over the next few months. Yet after a year, my husband still refuses to meet him despite our mostly amicable relationship. Help!
A: Three years is a long time to be separated and just now start divorce proceedings. Your ex may have had secret longings for reconciliation — but now he realizes that just isn’t going to happen. So, he may not be as motivated to be “amicable” as he once was. You need to reframe the situation to help your ex to see that he’s not necessarily meeting your new partner as much as the man who will be living with his child — and that’s the reason he should do it. Not because it’s cool to get along with an ex, but because cordial interaction between divorced parents — and their new partners — is in the best interest of his child.
Once these two unlikely counterparts meet, they don’t need to become life-long friends. The ultimate goal is to create a comfortable environment where the children witness the adults interacting. The longer the parents and their partners openly disagree and show contempt for one another, the longer it will take the children to adjust.
Finally, it’s not uncommon for the new couple to bond in their parenting efforts and forget about consulting the other biological parent. Without proper communication the same actions that makes your new partner appear to be an “incredible Bonus Adult,” could make him appear to be a railroading interloper to your ex. Make sure your intent is clear to everyone and that Dad doesn’t see it as “two against one.” If he’s feeling overlooked, the only ammo he may feel he has is to be uncooperative. And uncooperative exes do not make good co-parents.
JANN BLACKSTONE-FORD and SHARYL JUPE are co-founders of Bonus Families (www.bonusfamilies.com) and authors of “Ex-Etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After a Divorce or Separation.” Blackstone-Ford is married to Jupe’s ex-husband. Contact them at email@example.com.