I have been divorced for 4 years now after going through an ugly divorce complete with 2 years of doing the pick me dance. We were together for 25 years with the last few years legally married (same sex marriage). My ex was having an affair and ultimately ended up moving in with her affair partner.
They have been together now for 7 years living in a house she bought with the lump sum alimony I had to pay her. I just found out this week they bought a mobile home in Florida so they could golfing during the cold northern months. I guess retired life post-divorce is good. I have moved on and have enjoyed living my life too, but encountered a wobble today.
I got a call from my adult son tonight saying my ex wants copies of home movies from when the kids were little (I gave birth to a son and a daughter that she helped raise) for Christmas. He called me because my ex knows I won’t talk to her and I am a softie when it comes to him.
It really irritates me that she puts him in the middle and that he takes the bait. Now if I say I won’t give her copies of the movies, I’ll look like a spiteful bitch. The movies are on VHS tapes and other various old media. I would have to take the time to hunt them all down, get them copied and get them to her. I really don’t feel like going to all that trouble (nor do I want to contribute to her happiness). My son offered to do all the work, but he lives out of state.
It irritates me even more because I was the one who bought the cameras over the years, the one who took the movies and the one that has been the gatekeeper of them over the years. I was even given grief all the time I took the movies because she thought it was stupid.
She might be getting nostalgic now that her affair partner is about to be a grandma. I suppose she misses memories of the kids when they were little since she didn’t take any pictures with her when she moved out. She still sees the kids and has a good relationship with them. I am a bit perplexed as to why this request is coming up now.
So I am putting this question to you and Chump Nation, do you feel I should make copies of all the family home movies and give them to my ex? I want to tell her to fuck off as she blew up our family the day she started her affair and has no claim to anything “family” anymore.
What say you?
Thanks for the Memories
Dear Thanks for the Memories,
I’m imagining your ex standing on a street corner, ringing a bell, like they do for the Salvation army. “KIBBLES! KIBBLES! Triangulation for the poor! KIB-BLES!” Clang, clang…
What a masterstroke of narcissistic centrality that request is. It feeds her impression management as a Caring Mother, who is short a few props. (Video! I must have video!) It weaponizes your son to deliver the request. (Surely You Would Not Want to Appear Bitter For The Children). It understandably torques you. And — bonus! — it will broadside Schmoopie.
Hey Schmoopie, were you having a moment in the sun anticipating your first grandchild? No! It’s time for HOME MOVIES OF YOUR PARTNER’S EX-WIFE! See those cute kids? See the woman there who’s not you? Awww!
You weren’t the only one doing a years-long pick me dance.
Your ex must miss the cake. Imagine Christmas morning with the Schmoopies, as your ex opens a gift of Very Personal Family Memories of your shared life together.
No, Tracy, you cynical hag. She misses the children!
Yeah, well if that were true, she would’ve made efforts to secure the memorabilia in the divorce settlement FOUR YEARS AGO. Instead, she got a pile of cash and Florida mobile home.
Why is she considering this now? Would she also like the Vitamix and the garden gnomes? I think it’s because Schmoopie is about to become a grandmother, and your ex wants to compete. You have a cute little person? WELL I DO TOO! Is your cute little person burbling and touching their toes? I HAVE A VIDEO LIKE THAT! WANT TO WATCH?
Back to you, Memories.
It would seem I’m giving you reasons to deploy the VHS tapes. Imagine the suffering!
Do you want to ever digitize the family movies and watch them? Would your kids? I imagine they would like to have those memories for themselves. But this wasn’t a request for them, it was a request for your ex. And that’s a very different thing. Also, after a painful divorce, all the multimedia tends to sit in dusty boxes until you get to a point, much, much later in the healing process where you can face it.
Here’s a couple options.
1.) You let your son take on this project, of digitizing all the home movies — only if he leaves you out of it, AND this is a gift to you, himself, and his sister. They can share the files with your ex, if they want to. That’s their business.
Then, you’ll have video files in a cloud to ignore, instead of dusty VHS tapes.
2.) Say no.
You don’t even have to give a reason! Just NO. I heard your request and no thank you. NO.
You’re allowed to say no. It’s your property and you’re under no obligation to share your property with your ex. Even for the children! Your ex asked something of your son that was not his to give. It’s yours.
And if you get pushback, I’d wonder out loud why are you the jerk for saying no, but she’s not a jerk for asking?
But, but! Family!
As you pointed out, she broke up your intact family with her affair and left. So, she has no claims to family or property.
Does denying this request put you in an awkward position with your son? Yes, it was created with that discomfort in mind. (Kibbles! Kibbles!)
Your son can also get a simple “no, thanks.” CN may have some script ideas.
“Son, I’m not comfortable with this request. I hear your offer to take care of the logistics. I’m still uncomfortable with it. I’ll let you know if my mind changes on this. But the answer is no.”
And then change the subject.
That would be the mature, adult thing to do.
My third option.
3.) Hire a videographer. Create a video. Cows mooing in a field. Bad golf swings. Highway traffic.
Hire a videographer. Create a video. Hand puppets discussing Florida citrus.
Hire a videographer. Create a video. It’s blank. Just like her investment.
That’s not very meh. It’s like dropping a bag of flaming dog poo in the Salvation Army bucket. (Which is still kibbles.)
Better to just ignore that clanging bell and walk on by. No contact!