I need some advice on resolving an ongoing issue between my partner Mat and I, about how he deals with his ex Amber the mother of his children, age 11 & 9.
Mat and I met 11 years ago at art school. We were in a relationship for 2 and a half years after finishing uni, which ended in a nasty breakup involving domestic violence and mental illness, but after a 3 year separation, we have been together again for 2 years.
We have made good progress in this time, resolving disputes in a much healthier way, but there are a few issues that cause major upset.
Our current conflict is about how he deals with his ex, which makes me feel that he puts her needs before mine, and that I am always '2nd best' to her.
The last time we were in a relationship, they were in constant conflict to the point that I became the 'middle man' in communication regarding arrangements with the children. When we split up, I lived in a women's refuge for 2 years, whilst Mat spent some time in a mental health hospital. During those 3 years apart, Amber was fully supportive from the outset, of me continuing my relationship with the children, knowing that we were close. This resulted in me staying with her/caring for the children at her home for a weekend or more every 1-2 months. During this time, we became friends, despite being quite different in personalities. Her relationship with Mat also improved over that time. When Mat and I got back together 2 years ago, relationships between everyone involved were probably at an all time high, being able to spend time together at birthdays/parties/important events: Amber and her partner Dan, Mat and I , and the children. We felt proud of ourselves for being able to create a happy harmonious atmosphere within the family, particularly for Max and Alice.
However, over the last year or so, I have felt that Mat's good intentions to sustain a positive relationship with Amber has taken priority over our relationship with each other, and has become the source of many bitter arguements. We have a routine where the children are with us every wednesday, every other weekend, half the school holidays, and on additional days as and when. The problem is that when Amber asks to change the dates/days/routine etc, that Mat says 'ok' without discussing it with me first, which means that where we have had plans, we have had to cancel them. As Mat and I currently have separate homes due to work committments (I had to move away when we split up as the women's refuge where I was staying deemed it not safe to stay in the area. I then got a job at a school that I love and intend to stay there for at least another 2 years), our routine of seeing each other is particularly important to me as the main reason we argued and split up last time is that mat was working away at the time and i could not cope with the on/off together/separation.
So for example, Amber had asked mat if we would have the kids on her birthday and into the following week so that she could go away with friends, which was fine. Then at the last minute she announced that she would be going away 2 days earlier than planned, which conflicted with our plans to see each other on the thursday. Mat agreed to this without talking to me first, and then refused to challenge her about it as he said it would cause a major arguement with her that would then affect the children.
Although I agree with him in accommodating her as much as possible to promote positive relations, I feel that where her plans have a negative impact on our relationship and our plans, that we should be able to say no. After a number of arguements and lengthy discussions about this, nearly causing us to break up last time, we came to an agreement/strategy/promise between us that when Amber asks him to change arrangements/do favours for her, that he always discusses it with me first before committing, and that where possible, we will accommodate her.
And so to our latest fallout, whereby she has taken the children on holiday to canada for three weeks, coming back on the 14th august. on saturday just gone he tells me that he is picking her and the children up from the airport (3 hr drive each way). I asked him when this was arranged, he said a week and a half ago when she was picking them up from his place, apparently her partner is now 'busy' on that day, and he just said yes, without the aforementioned strategy of discussing it with me first. He claims that he just 'forgot', and 'forgot' to mention it to me till now. I feel so angry about this, as I feel all the arguements, discussion, and promises made last time, were empty and meaninless. I feel that yet again, his desire to placate his ex is more important than the dynamics of our relationship, and don't want to spend the rest of my life as an outsider to his relationship with his ex. I suggested that he either cancel the arrangement, or that I should come too and sit in the front with him. He says i'm being unreasonable. help