I have been with my girlfriend now for 5 months. We are planning on marrying next summer. However I do have an area in our relationship that I am not comfortable with and need advice on how to handle it. She was previously married and has 2 boys with her ex. Every year for Mother’s Day, birthday, Christmas etc her ex buys her gifts for the boys and she does the same on her days. I have asked her to stop this and I will ensure the boys have gifts for their dad and ask that his current wife do the same. This seemed to upset her but she said she would talk to him. Nothing irks me more than her shopping for another man (my ex wife and her daughter use to do this as well with her ex and it irked me with them as well) and/or seeing her wearing a necklace he bought her from the boys. Am I wrong for feeling this way? How should I approach this?
Dear Ditch the Necklace,
A few thoughts come to mind as I am also divorced and remarried. My daughter has a step-mom and I now am a step-mom to two girls. Sometimes things feel like a puzzle and chess simultaneously. Any wrong move or potential fit yields a fit of rage, insecurity, or unpleasant thoughts. What I’m saying is I can relate and you’re not wrong for feeling the way you do however, there are some approaches you can take to alleviate angry discourse or unnecessary bitterness.
I think it’s normal for kids to want to give their parents a gift. Actually they love it. Here are few guidelines I’d put in place if I saw a problem-
Ex-etiquette Gift Guide When Co-parenting
- Set a budget, perhaps 20$ per child.
- Allow the child to pick out the gift with guidance of course.
- Nothing personal or intimate such as underwear, jewelry, etc.
- At a certain age, the child can do this all by themselves.
- Lastly, and this is a huge one- Have the kids make something. Homemade, personalized gifts are always the best and something a parent keeps forever.
What’s not inappropriate is-
The child coming home with an expensive or intimate item. Ask yourself what exactly is bothering you about this situation so you can see if there is a root to it that needs cutting off. Is it about the money, the emotions, the reminder that she once belonged to someone else? Then look at facts. Feeling and facts are often two different things.
You could also offer to take the boys yourself, NOT because you’re upset but because you’re a man and have a good sense of what a guy likes. That would be fun for you and the boys to do together.
In summary, I say ditch the necklace if it was expensive and keep it simple. Remember this woman is about to by YOUR beautiful bride and the boys will soon be looking to you, if not already, as a role model.
The way you handle a gift guide when co-parenting is a piece of pie because there’ll be much larger life circumstances ahead.
I’d love to hear how you two resolve this as you move forward in your relationship. ALSO, pin the image below so you can share it with all of our kin-divorcees:)