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DrFee
DrFee, Psychologist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 437
Experience:  20+ years of counseling experience, Wife & Mother
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I have been living with my fiance for 2 years now and he doesnt

Resolved Question:

I have been living with my fiance for 2 years now and he doesn't make boundaries with his ex (ex-wife of 20 years). (He is 20 years older than me) He always says it's "for the kids sake". His ex still goes on long holidays with his parents, she stays at his house when she's overseas, he shares her car, she helps him sort out paper work (and vice verse), we moved overseas and she moved with us (and shared our shipping container).
This is totally acceptable behavior for them, and I'm the one trying to set up boundaries. I feel I am trying so hard and being strong, and my fiance isn't helping me set up healthy boundaries. He only mentions things to his ex when I get angry or upset. It's gotten to the point where my fiance and his ex help each other behind my back (little things like help read a paper etc), and this makes me even more upset.
Earlier on in our relationship (when we announced we were getting married), his kids wanted his ex (their mum) to come to the wedding, because they thought he still loved her "You love mummy".
The kids are confused and see us as one big family unit, which makes me even more frustrated.
What do I do?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  DrFee replied 2 years ago.

DrFee :

Hello! Please remember that my responses are informational only, we are not establishing a therapeutic relationship.


 

DrFee :

I think that you need a counselor who is actually going to try to help you rather than just point out that you are in an unhealthy situation.


 

DrFee :

Essentially, he needs to really hear and understand what your feelings are. Once he understand that, he needs to be posed the question as to whether he's willing to change his lifestyle to incorporate a new wife (and consider your feelings, needs, boundaries) or if he is unwilling to change anything.


 

DrFee :

And, I would say that you need a good couples' counselor to help you through that process. It could be that he hasn't "heard" (I have that in quotes because I'm sure you've told him, but he may not comprehend it) you and your feelings.


 

DrFee :

Once he sees it clearly, either a light bulb will light up and he will see the need for change, or he will be unwilling. At that point then, you can make a decision with confidence that he understands you.


 

DrFee :

Does that make sense?


 

DrFee :

I can give you some tips for talking to him, but it's a huge issue, and I'd think it would be hard for anyone to work through alone.


 

Customer:

He has heard. This is something I bring up all the time. He is aware I get very angry and upset. He says hes making boundaries, but I am the initiator. If i didnt say anything, he wouldn't do anything about it.

Customer:

She went to America on holidays with my fiance's parents. and no one saw it as an issue except for me. so I really feel alone here.

DrFee :

I can imagine that you do!


 

DrFee :

He says he is making boundaries, but he is not. Does he understand that?


 

DrFee :

The other thing we could talk about are what your boundaries are with this whole situation --like not allowing her to share a shipping crate could have possibly been one. Or, that you will not go certain places or do certain things with her (I'm not sure if I'd include kids' birthday parties here, but certainly most, if not ALL holidays).


 

Customer:

He is making them (but only if i initiate them). For example, she let herself into the house yesterday and hung around for 10 minutes talking with the kids. I told Adrian this, and he emailed her to stop. So he is making them, but it's driven by me. There are also things from the past that upset me. At the doorstep of his house there is a love heart in concrete with my fiance and his ex's initials it it. I know their relationship is over, but because she is so intertertwined in our lives, when I see things like that, it is too close to home.

DrFee :

Yes, I would say the concrete needs to be dug up! It sounds like setting boundaries is a new idea/concept for him. It also sounds like you'd prefer not to have to initiate that process, but for whatever reason, he's having trouble taking the ball and running with it. Do you know why that is?


 

Customer:

I am trying to make boundaries. Why do you think their lives are so intertwined. It's like there still married but without the sex. They support eachother (we moved to Bangkok, so she moved to Bangkok and is now living around the corner from us). I dont understand why he hasnt just let her go.

DrFee :

For some reason, he has not completely moved "on," emotionally from her, which is what he needs to do. Most likely he needs individual therapy as well to address that issue. He should have worked through this issue before getting so seriously involved with you.


 

Customer:

He says "its for the kids sake". But that is no excuse to me. When my parents divorced they cut all ties, and it was hard at first, but them we learnt to deal with it and now my parents are happy with new partners. Adrians kids still think we are one big happy family.


 

DrFee :

Yes, there's a big difference between working together for the kids sake in an amicable way, and still looking like a family.


 

DrFee :

Not enough divorced parents do that, but they've taken it to the other extreme.


 

DrFee :

If they really want to do what they are doing, then they should stay single.


 

Customer:

Also, his ex still uses his last name for all the kids school notices. She was also using it on her social networking profile untill I told Adrian that this was unacceptable. so he told her to stop. All of these boundaries are driven by me.

DrFee :

I'm confused about that one. Did she legally change her name?


 

Customer:

I know Adrian loves me, and he does so much from me. He see's his ex as a non issue. We fight a lot about it, which is really upsetting. I really don't know what to do, and I feel like i'm the crazy one not 'tolerating' this

Customer:

Yes, she legally changed her name. But again, she says it's for "the kids sake". Such a pathetic excuse.


 

DrFee :

You are not crazy --and I don't think it's reasonable to tolerate it. But, if you don't get his full cooperation, you have a huge problem.


 

Customer:

Adrian is very smart and succeffsul, and I think she still wants to be associated with his last name.


 

DrFee :

I see --well, then she shouldn't have changed it in the first place, lots of divorced women keep their married name.


 

Customer:

I think she (his ex) is just a lost sole. She was adopted herself, and doesnt know her real parents, so also confusion there,.


 

Customer:

I am so young (25) and my fiance and his ex are 45. I feel I have entered the "adult world" of emotional baggage and stress. I used to be so carefree, but now I really stress a lot.


 

DrFee :

That makes sense. Why did they divorce?


 

DrFee :

It sounds like you are the more mature adult ---


 

Customer:

she was an alcoholic and drug addict, Thats why they divorced. He tried to get her into rehab many times, and it just didnt work out for them. So he moved back to Australia, and she followed him to Australia.


 

DrFee :

OK, so he probably has co-dependency issues


 

Customer:

yes. That's what my counsellor said


 

DrFee :

And she has addict issues, even if she's sober.


 

Customer:

I read up on codependancy, but I still think that is no excuse with setting boundaries etc. This is something that should have happened before I came on the scsne.


 

Customer:

She is sober now.


 

Customer:

But she used to have a lot of problems.


 

DrFee :

Yes, but it didn't. The question is, whether or not he will take the task seriously. Even if she's sober, I'm guessing that many of the issues that addicts have are still there.


 

DrFee :

Individual therapy for him would be best ---


 

Customer:

I think that would be very confronting of him. I am trying to get him to see a counsellor and he thinks that therapy is airy fairy and wont solve real issues.


 

Customer:

my counsellor suggested we do a couples session together. But i am afraid this may be very confronting and damaging to our relationship.


 

DrFee :

I'm not sure how your relationship can be damaged by confrontation. You are going to get more and more frustrated and resentful if these issues are not resolved.


 

Customer:

yes that's true


 

DrFee :

If you cannot confront a fiancee, it's not going to get better when he's a spouse!


 

Customer:

also small things like Adrian read over her resume for her because she's trying to find a job


 

Customer:

he still helps her out, and it's a non-issue. So I feel like the angry crazy one when I pick him up on it and tell him to stop.


 

Customer:

I confront him a lot. My counciller basically said for me to run if I want because it wont get better. I'm afraid they will tell us to break up or something.


 

DrFee :

A good counselor should NEVER tell you to break up. That's up to you!!!


 

Customer:

This is what he said to me in email after the session: In a way I'm glad you came to the point of understanding that this whole thing just isn't working for you. I know it may hurt to face this but it's probably better to come to terms with this situation sooner than later.

I have discussed with Sharda as part of the regular intervisions that are part of our work because I wanted to understand why I felt something was preventing me to find the right words with you (and so she knows about your sotuation).


 

Customer:

so I think he was hinting for me to run


 

DrFee :

I can see pointing out all of the concerns. I'd never tell someone that it won't get better, but it is true, people do not change unless they themselves feel pain in their situation.


 

DrFee :

It does sound that way (the email)


 

Customer:

I want to see a counsellor again, but I dont think it was very constructive. I also dont want to waste $$$$ spending an hour saying the exact same things to another counsellor. Do you have any suggestions?


 

Customer:

Should I see that same one again?


 

DrFee :

I think you should try someone new if it wasn't constructive before.


 

Customer:

ok. I think it would be better to see a female counsoller too. He has told his co-worker my issues (with my permission), so I may see her


 

DrFee :

See his co-worker for therapy? I don't think that's a good idea, there are dual relationship issues there.


 


 

Customer:

I didnt realise when I entered the relationship that older divorced people with kids and ex have so much baggage


 

DrFee :

Not only that, but marrying someone with kids is complicated even in the best of situations.


 

Customer:
9:15 AM

See his co-worker for therapy? I don't think that's a good idea, there are dual relationship issues there. What do you mean?


 

Customer:

Co-worker. I meant the other councsllor at the place I went to.


 

Customer:

is that bad?


 

DrFee :

There are always issues, even when everyone is healthy.


What I mean is the co-worker has a relationship with your fiancee. Your therapist should only have ONE relationship with you, as your therapist and nothing else.


 

DrFee :

Yes, it adds all kinds of dynamics to the relationship -


 

DrFee :

At best it complicates things, at worse ethical principles such as confidentiality can be compromised. Plus, at some point you might become uncomfortable with the dual relationship.


 

DrFee :

Our ethical principles tell us to "avoid dual relationships whenever possible." When they cannot be avoided (people who live in real rural areas) then we're supposed to make sure the relationship does not cause harm.


 

Customer:

dual relationship? I dont undertsand what your saying? I mean a therapy session, not a relationship. I just meant should I see another therapist, not have a relationship with someone else. Im only in relationship with my fiance. I would never have a dual relationship.


 

DrFee :

You are misunderstanding.

DrFee :

By dual relationship I mean the following

DrFee :

A therapist should only be your therapist, not your friend, teacher, co-worker, relative. You said the therapist was your fiancee's co-worker. The dual relationship would be "therapist" and "co-worker" not 2 romantic relationships.


 

DrFee :

Do you understand now? Or did I misunderstand you that the therapist is your husband's co-worker?

Customer:

Misunderstand. "He has told his co-worker my issues (with my permission), so I may see her" I meant my therapists co-worker, not my fiances coworker


 

Customer:

non-related


 

Customer:

ok. I think it would be better to see a female counsoller too. He has told his co-worker my issues (with my permission), so I may see her


 

Customer:

Is this whole session $15? No hidden or extra costs? I keep getting emails per response.


 

DrFee :

AH SO sorry!!!


 

DrFee :

No hidden fees...you only need to pay what you deposited. Bonuses are completely optional.


I do need to go, though.


 

DrFee :

If you are satisfied that is....


 

Customer:

yes. Thanks for your help!


 

DrFee :

You are welcome! Take good care!


 

DrFee, Psychologist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 437
Experience: 20+ years of counseling experience, Wife & Mother
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