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Justified in request, or just sick in the head?
April 7, 2007
10:59 pm
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discgolfdc
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Greetings to all... I'm new to this forum, and it looks as though most folks here are genuine in their desire to be in "cyber-fellowship" here.

I'll apologize in advance should this get lengthy. Anyway, I have been engaged to a very wonderful woman, now, for about 3-4 months. This woman and I met during a Christmas party in 2005. At the time, she showed up to the party alone, but she was married and it was pretty standard procedure for her to show up to functions alone as her husband was allegedly very unavailable in those ways that count. I did not know, though, at the time, that she was married. We sat next to each other at the table, and before the night was over, she asked me if she could put my cell number into her phone. Again, remember, I had no idea she was married here.

To try and whittle this down a bit, suffice it to say that she and I befriended each other over the next many months, and approximately 2-3 months following our initial meeting, she filed for divorce from her husband. There DID come a time when I became clear on the "married" thing, but I cannot recall specifically when. I was a very solid friend in that I'd listen to her talk about her feelings and not tell her what to do about them. I simply acted like a "sponge" for her so that she could have someone to talk to who was safe. It's in my nature...I'm a doctor.

Anyway, again whittling things somewhat, the day came when we knew we were in love with each other (I wasn't HER doctor, so no funny business there). Eventually engagement came along, and here we are now. I think she's a fantastic lady.

Why am I writing this? "Justified in request, or just sick in the head?" Because recently, I did take her to task for the fact that she has a tendency to stay in touch with her ex-husband and I did ask for her to work him out of the equation. He had an alcohol problem, and was manipulative (I'm the product of an alcoholic home, as well, so I often know it when I see it). Without begrudging MY prior ex-girlfriend, I have all but severed ties with her - (1) simply because I have no real need to be in touch with her, and (2) out of respect for my now-fiancée.

I have said to her that I don't really think it's right to be keeping "one foot in the present and one foot in the past." I told her that I want to move forward with her. The way I envision our marriage is "you and me," not "you, me and he." She seems not to understand the basis for my request, though I think I've been about as clear as anyone could be. I don't mince words.

I have spoken to a pastor about this, and there are some things I'd like to explore with him (about myself) a little bit more (he's a guy I trust), but I am interested to find out what people's take on this situation is.

I have absolutely no problem being told that I am absolutely in the wrong. I also know that feelings are not "right" or "wrong." They just are.

I don't want to knowingly bring questionable stuff into my marriage. I do love her dearly, and I am trying to discuss this like an adult with her (which, for her, sometimes is a problem).

Thanks!

discgolfdc

April 7, 2007
11:57 pm
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readyforachange
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Hi, and welcome. My take on this situation is if they have kids, then she would definitely need to be in contact with her ex. Or, if there are still unfinished matters regarding the divorce, she may need to have contact with him. I don't know what kind of contact you are talking about...an ocasional phone conversation or talking several times a week, or meeting for lunch.

I think it was good that you were honest with her about your feelings, and hope that she can respect them.

April 8, 2007
12:07 am
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Loralei
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You may be worrying needlessly about something that doesn't really exist. From what you have said, your fiancee probably has no romantic notions at all for her ex. But she may still care about his well being, more like a family member or a relative. But that doesn't mean she should have much contact, perhaps just once in awhile. I think forbidding her from any contact is asking too much. An ex spouse has established much more of a place in your life than an ex girlfriend or boyfriend. So your giving up contact with an ex gf is not a big sacrifice by comparison.

Simply ask her why she feels the need to stay in contact. As long as it is a rare thing and he has no influence over her, it shouldn't interfere with your relationship. It all depends on his degree of involvement and if she "runs" to him for anything. Just because you don't want to remain married to someone doesn't mean that you don't care about them. As long as she establishes defined boundaries with her ex, let her use her own judgement. You sound like you may be a bit too controlling or jealous where she is concerned. Limiting a partner's personal freedom can be very destructive to a marriage because it shows you don't trust them. If you keep her happy, she won't want anyone else. Women stray because they aren't getting the love and emotional intimacy and communication that they need. You can't cage a heart.

April 8, 2007
12:23 am
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Anonymous
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Try a middle ground, contact on a needed basis and if possible go with her. For emotional support, her xh has to find it somewhere else; I dont understand friendship between xx´s, there is always something too sweet or too sour there. Besides as alcoholic or recovering one, (1) he needs special help and (2)if he´s not recovering, he may cause problems.

Are you and her in your middle 30´s? It seems that´s where pragmatics and phantasy cloud the romance... Is it been a year that youre dating?

All the best!

April 8, 2007
8:54 am
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sandpipper
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Welcome disc,
I believe that open lines of communication between the two of you about this matter are essential. She needs to how you feel (sounds like you have expressed that) and you need to understand how she feels. Work out a compromise and then stick to it. You both should respect each others feelings.

April 8, 2007
2:21 pm
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turnabout
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Could it be that you guys moved into a relationship so quickly following (even during) the demise of her marriage, that you do not feel secure she has truly moved on from it? Regardless of timing, it seems you may be insecure in this, and so sensitive you feel the need to sever ties with your own previous relationships as a way of setting example.

However, requiring her to sever ties is an artificial cure for a lack of security. You think it will solve it, but it won't. You will always be unsure because even if you get your way, you'll always wonder if it will last, since it will not have come from her own desire.

Instead of focusing on changing the mind of someone else, why not focus on why this bothers you so much, and then deal with that?

April 9, 2007
5:32 am
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Anonymous
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Or maybe could it be that the speed of breaking up and going into another relationship reminds of the possibility that both of you might just as well jump out of the relationship as fast? Devil´s advogate here...

April 9, 2007
5:55 am
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Robert123
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hey disc,
As a guy, I can share my viewpoint. I'm not sure what is going on with this guy but sometimes guys like to go into their caves and just be alone. It is not meant to be hurtful...its just a guy kind of thing. If a woman follows us into our cave it is not a comfortable feeling. Our space is invaded. This is time we need to sort things out...especially on a feeling level. You are sounding rather needy and desperate for reassurance, which may be pushing him further into his cave. It's just a thought, but if you gave him some space when he withdraws (I know how frightening this sounds ) it might be interesting to see what happens. Also coda.org has some great info.

April 9, 2007
11:22 am
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sole
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Where to start.
I as a female having a very caring husband whom I love dearly, who has not been there for me as "I expected" through some very tough times in my life, had ventured outside of the marriage for emotional support from a male friend, he knows my husband and respects him, therefore that's why things did not happend physically. However we too continue to talk, he provides some sort of fullfilment I'm looking for, I wish I could combine the two of them and have the prefect world, however I cannot!

With your soon to be wife, she may not want to let go of her ex because is getting some sort of comfort from the both of you. Or she may feel she has sort of obligation to make sure he is going to be ok with his addiction. She has to not worry about his wellbeing anymore this is part of divorce, letting go. You were there for her to listen when she was not happy with her ex husband, this is a comfort she gets from you, to help her deal with her issues she still has with caring for her ex in the minimal way she can now being with you.

I have no idea your age, your life experiences or any of that, but you have to talk to her as an "adult".

Not long ago I decided to talk to my husband as an adult and let him know exactly how I was feeling from the other side and he now understands, so hopefully we will stay together as I was ready to end this relationship and go to the other guy. Not willing to totally let go of my husband because we have a child together I would still get to see him and that excited me. That's how I knew the relationship with the other guy would not work, because I knew I would still have some attachment to my husband.
Last words be honest with yourself, do what you beleive in, be true to your heart. Take care.

April 9, 2007
12:30 pm
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discgolfdc
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Thank you to all who replied. I do appreciate all your comments and insights.

To Loralei: My pastor friend told me to ask the very same question regarding the nature if her need to remain in contact with him. There are no children involved (I’d certainly understand the contact had there been), and the divorce has been finalized. I also have no issue with her being in touch with him for matters concerning the divorce. My pastor friend also spoke from personal experience, where his ex-wife wanted to be “friends” again, and yes – you may have been friends before you were married, but then you became husband and wife. If that gets destroyed, and there are no other factors tying two people together (such as children), “you really have nothing left” were his words. I know that’s probably a view of some controversy. I’m also reading a book called “Now That You’re Engaged” by Dr. H. Norman Wright, a Christian marriage counselor. The book is divided into chapters, each dealing with a specific “commitment” (“Commitment to Love,” “Commitment to Communicate,” etc.). Chapter two is entitled “Commitment to Be Free From Your Past.” Now, in this, he doesn’t infer that you need to erase your brain and forget who you were before. Not at all. In fact, that is a misgiving that my fiancée had – that that was something I was asking her to do. Again, no. Your memories and experiences contribute to who you are. I’d never ask her to bury any of it. I just want her to be in the present and not be preoccupied with her ex-husband. He needs to find his own way. Not long after the divorce, he was already asking her if he could take her on “dates.” He wanted to show her how “good” he was doing (in AA and whatnot). She did tell him, not long afterward, that she was engaged to me, and that sent him into a tailspin. I had to explain to her that that’s a really bad sign that he might consider HER as his “Higher Power.” That’s dangerous, and we can’t bring that into our marriage. So one of the commitments we both must make is to be free from the past. I also commit to her to find out more about why I feel the way I do. You know what? Contact once in a while might even be okay. I can’t say no. He just wants to talk to her and meet up with her for lunch like they’re buddies now, and that’s not right, in my opinion.

To Robert123: I have never had contact with her ex-husband, so I cannot draw the connection between the way I feel and his retreat into or emergence from his cave.

To Sole: We’re both 36. I also agree that she needs to let go of any need she has, real or perceived, to “take care” of her husband or to “ensure” that he is staying sober. There is a great deal of power in “disability.” I’m not saying this is what happening, but she may feel that if she withdraws from their relationship, that he may go back out and drink/get high/whatever. That’s a decision only her ex-husband can make and is responsible for. I know my fiancée has a heart of gold, and wouldn’t want for her ex-husband to feel abandoned, but if that is her true, deep-down feeling, then she should have stayed in the marriage (no matter how bad it got) and kept on trying. I’m not going to simply provide a safe harbor for her to, now, get her ex-husband back on his feet. That’s not my vision of marriage. I told her that it’s “you and me.” Not “you and me and he.” I’m not saying I must be the only person in her life, but in terms of a marriage, I absolutely must be. I know I can’t “hide her away from the world,” and that’s not my intent. It’s just that this isn’t just anyone – it’s an ex-husband. There were ties there, and they need to be dissolved.

I still welcome comments and insights. This is good. I thank you all again.

April 9, 2007
1:18 pm
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Robert123
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Sorry disc I must have been asleep when I posted. I had a completely different scenario that I was responding to.

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