Hi Chump Lady,
In my local newspaper is an advice column called “Ex Etiquette.” The only thing this column inspires me to think is “what the fuck?”. . . bonus families and bonus moms, bio moms and counterpartners… please. Can’t we just say legit parents and dad’s fuck buddy?
I have a very hard time feeling warm and fuzzy for my ex’s fuck buddy and I certainly am not interested in co-parenting with her. My children are 100% aware that this woman is the Other Woman. In your opinion, how guilty should I, ” bio-mom,” feel about not wanting to co-parent with “bonus mom”? Why do these complicated relationships have to be so white-washed with politically correct terms? To the fullest extent possible I maintain no contact with my narcissistic ex as even the rare email communications we have are so fraught with narcissistic bullshit. Maybe the bio and bonus moms weren’t married to a cheating narcissist to begin with (which leads one to wonder why they’d need to get divorced).
Yeah, I’d agree with you that there must be people out there whose exes are not personality disorders, and whose marriages did not end because of infidelity who are able to achieve the Nirvanic State of Enlightened Co-Parenting (NSECP). I don’t know any of these people. My first marriage didn’t end because of infidelity, (but he is a personality disorder), and I find “co-parenting” a challenge. Fortunately I have custody and total decision making, so I can communicate as little as is legally possible.
About five years ago, I attempted a small experiment at NSECP — the miscreant missed our son’s violin concert and I allowed him into my yard when he showed up hours later. He wandered around aimlessly and while talking with my son, began to PICK PEARS off my tree. Seriously — just decided to help himself to my personal orchard. Didn’t ask, just fucking helped himself, the entitled nitwit. Who DOES that?
The guy has sued me (pro se) for a decade. He’s a mental case and his list of profoundly shitty actions I will not begin to catalog for you, suffice it to say that the Pear Incident was a watershed for me. You can’t play nice with these people. They don’t have any boundaries. It’s not enough that they try to fucking destroy your life, they want the pears off your trees — you know what I’m saying?
The Other Woman fucked up your marriage, you don’t have to let her in your yard or anywhere near your pears. It’s bad enough she’s around your kids. Can’t do jack about that. You may even achieve “meh” about it some day — but you absolutely, positively do not have to be this woman’s “friend” for the children’s sake.
For your children’s sake you have to tolerate her. You have to communicate about logistics with your ex — preferably by email in the shortest sentence structures possible. You cannot wage jihad with the ex, or talk smack about him or her in front of the kids — because you don’t want them to feel divided loyalties. They want to love their asshole father, and the OW is the price of admission they have to pay to be around dad. Give them that.
But that’s ALL you have to give, if you ask me. Also, drop the whole idea of co-parenting. What goes on at their house is THEIR business. You don’t get to say shit about it, unless it is endangering their lives and even then the courts don’t care a whole lot (ask me how I know…) Just be the best, sanest parent you can be, and if it’s really fucked up over there, get the kids therapy.
Know that you are their mom. The other woman cannot ever replace you in your children’s hearts. You are their mother and nothing she does or does not do can ever change your primacy.
Instead of co-parenting, think of it more as alternate parenting. When your kids are with them, they’re in that world and you’re off duty. When your kids are with you, you’re in charge. If that sounds scary, well, you’ll come to see the wisdom in this after you torture yourself trying to achieve consensus about some aspect of childrearing with your cheater. Bed time, food allergies, pot smoking. Narcissist love a power struggle. They to triangulate and make you the heavy. All you can do is parent your kids the best you can, create boundaries with the ex, and let go.
Just live your own life and be awesome for your kids. Frankly, if you want to unnerve the OW, that’s the best bet — being a class act. You make her highly insecure as it is, because you have kids with him and he’s a cheater. She’ll wonder about you and never feel secure about him. Be above it all, because it will underscore his crazy, I promise. And odds are, she’s not going to be around forever anyway. He’ll cheat on her too. They always do.