What do you do when your partner gets along great with their ex and wants to spend all holidays and main events with them and the kids? You’re invited too, of course, but you feel like a third wheel somehow and you’re wondering how to fit in. Do you push your feelings aside for the greater good or draw boundaries around your needs? Today, I’m answering a question from one of you as we figure out the right thing to do.
Today I’m answering a question (in a general way so it applies to all of you out there in this situation) from someone we’ll call Lucy:
Hi Dr. Abby!
I am loving your podcast and so thankful I found it. Thank you! I appreciate that you call us (listeners) on our stuff, and goodness knows I need the tough love sometimes!
With that being said, I realize, “Hi, I’m the problem, it’s me” often – and I struggle knowing if it’s okay to feel the things I feel and how to respond to those feelings sometimes!
The #1 frustration I have in my relationship currently is knowing what I’m okay with/not okay with in regard to my significant other’s ex-wife. We have been together for almost 4 years now and they were married for 15 years and have 3 children together. They have a great co-parenting relationship and get along well and I’m grateful for that.
What I am struggling with is that she is still included in many family activities and my SO would like for us to all spend holidays together. I thought that I would be able to do that, but I’m not sure that’s what I want. My SO’s family has said that the ex-wife will always be part of the family and they invite her to many family events. It sometimes seems like I’m merely an addition to the group and not the partner of their son and that it doesn’t really matter if I’m there or not. We all spent Thanksgiving together this year, which is the first holiday we’ve shared and it was fine yet a little awkward. My SO goes over to her home on Christmas morning and I’m home alone. She has invited me, but I haven’t wanted to go.
I know you have mentioned you have a good relationship with your ex-husband and that you do share some holidays together. I’m curious about your thoughts about this.
Am I making this bigger/harder than it needs to be? Do I need to push my feelings aside for the greater good here? Or do I need to set a boundary for my needs?
Not sure what to do.
Thank you for all your insight always,
Resources for When You Feel on the Outside with Your Partner, Their Ex, and Their Kids
Boundaries Made Easy: Your Roadmap to Connection, Ease and Joy by Dr. Abby Medcalf