I don’t usually post about my personal life online, but have decided to reach out to strangers to hear their opinions.
I was married for 13 years before finally deciding to get divorced. My ex-husband and I are great at co-parenting. We aren’t friends but can get along enough to try to do what’s best for our five kids. I have full custody and he has visitation. We both attend school conferences and events and make “big decisions” regarding the kids together.
When I made the decision to divorce, I was prepared to “give up” a lot of things. I knew I would struggle financially and was prepared to give up my cell phone, cable TV, eating out, and even the possibility of having to move to a smaller house or apartment. I wasn’t prepared to give up my family, and that really took me by surprise.
I’ve always been very close to my older sister. We moved our families from California to Utah together and used to do everything together (vacations, outings, shopping, etc.). Soon after my divorce, my ex started attending all of my nephew’s ball games. I attended a couple but soon stopped because I didn’t want to have to be around him.
As time went on, I noticed that my sister (and her husband and kids) still stayed pretty close to my ex. One of the first “big” holidays after my divorce was Thanksgiving. We had agreed that I would have the kids. I planned on going to my sister’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, like I had always done before. As it got closer to Thanksgiving, I started worrying that my ex would be there. It’s not that we can’t be at the same place. We don’t hate each other, but I don’t like being around him. A few days before Thanksgiving, I text my sister to ask her if he would be there. She said she didn’t know yet. Two days before Thanksgiving, I text again and asked and let her know that if he was going to be there, the kids and I would not. She responded and told me that yes, he would be there. That was one of the hardest Thanksgivings for me. The day before Thanksgiving, I went shopping and bought everything for Thanksgiving dinner. The kids and I spent the day at home together. We cooked together and had our own little dinner. But it wasn’t the same. We weren’t around family.
This kind of thing has continued, and I have distanced myself from her and her family.
About a year and a half after my divorce, my little sister and her husband decided to move from California to be closer to us. I was beyond excited that I would have the chance to be close to my little sister, nieces, and new baby nephew. I couldn’t wait for them to move so I could have a relationship with them. I was excited until I learned that they were moving into a house five doors down from my ex-husband.
Since the move, my little sister has also gotten really close to my ex. He goes to her house during the holidays. He invites them over for barbecues. They all carve pumpkins (Halloween) and build gingerbread houses (Christmas) together, etc.
Soon after my little sister moved, my mom did too. Now, my two sisters, my mom, and I all live in the same town.
My ex has our kids every other weekend. Every time I pick them up, I hear the stories of what they did. He also has a girlfriend now. They (my ex, his girlfriend, my sisters, my brother-in-laws, my mom, and my nieces and nephews) have Superbowl parties together, have “family days” at the park, go shooting, go out to dinner or breakfast, etc. My sister has become great friends with my ex’s girlfriend. They all hang out together. They (and my kids) went and decorated my ex’s work for his birthday, etc., etc., etc.
I try really hard to do what’s best for my kids. Even though it hurts me badly to hear of all the things my ex, my kids, and my family do together all the time, I never say anything about it to my kids. I listen to their stories and hold back the tears until I’m alone because I don’t want them to feel bad or think that they are doing anything wrong. But I truly think it’s wrong.
I get along with him when I have to, when I feel it’s best for our kids (birthdays, school events). I am always civil with/to him and never say anything bad about him to or in front of my kids. I listen to how my kids are developing a relationship with his girlfriend. It hurts sometimes to hear how close they are to her and all the “motherly” kinds of things they do together, but I think that’s good for my kids and I try to support it.
I feel like I do everything I can to help my kids and always try to look at things from other points of views, but I don’t think I should have to choose to either give up my family or spend so much time (including every holiday) with my ex-husband. I don’t like who I am or how I feel around him. I become unhappy and grouchy. I shouldn’t have to feel that way in order to spend time with my family, and I don’t think my kids should have to see me like that either.
I feel like an emotional mess and cry any time I think about all of it. I don’t talk to or see my family anymore. I don’t get to see my little niece or nephew grow. I don’t get to know and spend time with them.
My question is this:
Am I unreasonable to expect my family to cut ties with him and support me and my decision?