Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.
How old are the children?
It sounds like to me that your boyfriend is putting his ex and his children before you. I can understand your frustration with his behavior.
He is trying to keep the peace and make sure everything stays calm. It does support your feeling that he does not like conflict. However, he is creating conflict with you by acting the way he is. He is putting you last on the list in this situation, which is not where you should be.
The children are old enough to understand that their father is not a jerk. So your boyfriend's fear behind his ex convincing the kids of this is incorrect. The issue here is that he is not willing to stand up to his ex and set down rules. If he fears her retaliating, then he could talk with his attorney about his options before he confronted her.
The focus here should be between the two of you. Your relationship should be primary. Do you feel he is willing to see a therapist with you? You may want to suggest it. Your relationship is long term, and you have a good relationship that is definitely worth working on. Talk with your doctor for a referral or search on line at http://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/.
It also sounds like your boyfriend might be a co dependant. You are getting a glimpse of what his wife might have been like when they were married. He may have felt controlled and she probably imposed a lot on him. He may have been the glue that held the family together until the divorce. If he has co dependency issues, he will have to be willing to realize it so he can get help. Here is a link that describes co dependency:
Let me know if this information works for you, or if I can help in any other way,
I haven't heard back from you. Do you have more questions or need clarification?
No, this does not get posted on the JA site. Your question only shows up on my account.
I mentioned that your boyfriend might be putting his ex first because it might be a possibility.
Because I cannot see you or him face to face, I was putting that possibility out there just in case you felt that was accurate. From the information you gave initially, it seemed like it might be.
But after talking with you, I realized that your boyfriend might just be trying to survive this situation and keep the peace. If you have talked with him and that is what he is telling you, that probably is what he is doing. If he has never given you a reason to mistrust him, then I would go with his explanation until you have reason to believe otherwise.