Ex-tenuating Circumstances

13 Jul

Letterbalm Man and Woman in BedDear LetterBalm: My life is in chaos. I’ve been with my boyfriend for three years. He’s married but hasn’t been with his wife for almost 20 years. (She refuses to give him a divorce.) He had a long-term girlfriend, but he left that relationship several years ago before he met me. Their relationship was volatile – she cheated on him repeatedly and eventually left him to care for their two children on his own. She continues to be difficult and tries to turn the kids against me. I have two kids myself and work full-time. I’m always exhausted because my boyfriend helps little with housework and childcare, and he has a job he hates, so he’s always worn out. To cap it all, in and out of bed he constantly calls me by the name of his ex-girlfriend (which is nothing like mine). He knows it angers and hurts me. In some ways, this is the last straw. I don’t know what to do. I can’t afford for my kids and I to be out on our own.

–Overwhelmed

“Overwhelmed” is putting it mildly. If you believe your life is in chaos, consider your partner’s position. He can’t summon the strength and resources to divorce a woman he hasn’t lived with for almost two decades. And, he has two children with a mean woman to whom he isn’t married. And, for the past few years, he’s dragged yet another woman and her kids into his drama (and can’t even call her by her own name). Consider the legal and emotional ramifications, if nothing else. Conduct some targeted online searches away from the prying eyes of your boyfriend and all the kids. You need to ascertain what resources are available for you to regain control of your life. Ms. L.B. suggests you make a confidential list of anyone who can help you, your own strengths and choices within your control. Prioritize. Identify inexpensive career and relationship counseling and get help. See what affordable housing is available if you must vacate your boyfriend’s home. Set a budget and a calendar and keep working toward them. Don’t talk about this with anyone. Once you’re ready, have a simple talk with your boyfriend:

August, we’re parting ways. Your life is in such chaos that the disorder has been spilling over into my life. All the negatives you have to put up with – your ex, your wife, your job – are badly affecting me and my children. And, it’s clear to me that you’re still bound to your ex because you keep calling me by her name, which is nothing like mine, and your apologies aren’t enough. I’ve found an affordable place for me and my kids; we’ll be moving next week. I wish you and your children well after all this, and I hope you get your life sorted out.

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