Appropriate amount of contact

lovehadleyApril 21, 2009

How much contact between the two do you think is appropriate?

I know it depends on the individual circumstances and that there's no black or white answer.

I am getting really fed up with my DH. His relationship with BM has been a sore point for us for years. It's not anything physical or sexual or romantic. I've never felt threatened in that regard---well, I think at times she has maybe wanted to be with him, but I've never felt or thought that he wanted HER back.

But there is a definite connection between the two that I feel goes deeper than their son. There is some sort of emotional bond and it irritates the h*ll out of me. One of my friends commented to me a long time ago that it was like we had a 3rd person in our relationship. That is so true.

For YEARS, BM has gone in cycles. She will be fine, totally normal and civil, even downright friendly. Then she will flip out over something, and go into a rage for days. This is where DH doesn't know how to leave it alone. He will take her 10 calls in a row, get into screaming matches with her, blah, blah. This is usually the part where she attacks me, either via nasty voicemails or emails or whatever. This JUST HAPPENED yesterday. SS went home and BM found a scratch on his leg; SS couldn't recall what it was from, although both DH and I guess our bichon puppy. He is WILD and his claws are sharp and he has a tendency to jump up---I've gotten scratched by him before. He is still a puppy and we're working with him. Anyway--BM called DH last night ranting and raving that it MUST HAVE been my DD that scratched SS. I mean, is this woman for real? So DH proceeded to take THREE phone calls in a row from her, and he hung up each one. But I was like "WHY do you even answer the phone?" UGH. He ALWAYS tells her he is no longer going to communicate with her via phone, only via texts or email, and then BOOM--they are right back at it. What ticks me off is she will be so incredibly rude and disrespectful to me and my DD, in things she says or does, and then DH will lay into her--and then three days later BM will come out of her rage and they'll be all friendly again. :(

This last incident, for me, was just too much. I forgive her---I mean, really, I do. I think grace flows down upon us all and while it is a hard pill for me to swallow--I think she is just as deserving of God's grace as I or anyone else. I DO forgive her and I don't want to harbor anger or resentment---but I also do not want her in my life, either. I wish her well, but I will not have any form of relationship with her again. I know my DH is in a tricker position because of their son in common--but I STILL think he does NOT need to talk to her as often as he does.

This morning she called and DH answered, while he was getting ready for work and I guess BM was going on about how she doesn't want to "fight with him." Again, I was ticked. They should not have enough of a relationship to fight, kwim? I don't get why DH answers the phone. For the week after the incident, he had her pretty much emailing him about schedule, Easter, etc. because he REFUSED to take her calls. Now they are sliding back into things....they're not friendly by any means...but it seems to me, it is just a matter of time.

DH is the one that's GOT to cut ties here and I worry--that he really doesn't want to. People do things and repeat behaviors because they get something out of it.

DH has ALWAYS been waaaay too chummy with BM. It is easy to do. She has a way of sucking people into her web. She has done it with me in the past, and called me 5x a day looking for friendship, advice, support. I think deep down she is a very, very lonely, sad person. She really has no friends, aside from random drinking buddies, and those aren't real friends IMO. She is chronically unhappy with her life, her husband, her lack of purpose and direction.

But anyway--she has cried on the phone to my DH and even to me for so many years, and been chummy, personal with him--telling him all sorts of personal business. It used to be mildy entertaining--like, oh, what is the wackjob going to say now? DH and I have been privy to all the problems and fights BM has gone through with her last BF and now her DH.

But I'm DONE. I am off this roller coaster for good...and really, after the scene at our home, I expected DH to do the same. He told her that night that there was NO NEED to talk on the phone agian--that unless it was truly critical, almost all their communication regarding their son could be done via email.

And for about a week he really didn't take her calls. But now her mom's calling and passing him messages, and now BM's claling and DH is answering and talking. I mean, really--it's 7 pm here and he has talked to her twice today--once this AM and then I guess she called when SS got home from school.

I am hurt. I feel like my DH cares about his relationship with her more than he does my feelings. I've broached it with him and he just tells me he is limiting his contact with her but that he doesn't need me to tell him what to do. My DH can be a real jack@$$ if you can't already tell!

How often do divorced or separated co-parents really need to talk? Is it just me or is it insane to touch base 2 or 3 times a day?

Before we got married, we went over and over this with our counselor...and I thought he understood. Now it doesn't seem so.

I try to talk to him about it but then I just feel like I am nagging and being controlling, and I don't like that.

What do you all think?

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Oops, I meant to say--how much contact between DH and BM do you think is appropriate?

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 7:55PM
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Not that I'm any rule of thumb to follow, but I speak to my sons Dad e/o Friday. Our conversation amounts to when and where we will meet. Maybe once a month or e/o month we'll talk for 20 minutes about what's up in our sons life. We used to talk more frequently, that drove my DH CRAZY. Then I figured out that my ex is an idiot and regardless of how much we talk he will always smoke in the car with my son, he will always let him play video games and watch movies and shows that are not appropriate for an 8yo. He will always be 20 min late for every exchange so I just quit talking. I'd have better luck talking to a brick.

My DD's Dad (my EXH) and I have a relationship I'm sure irritates his wife. I can tell because he's much shorter on the phone when she's around. There have been days we've talked 2 or 3 times a day, currently we average about once a week. But I think we're kind of an exception. I think of him like a brother. Our story started 16 years ago, he's literally been in my life for half my life. I care if he lives or dies, I genuinely want to see him live a happy life. He'll call me when things are stressing him out and he needs to vent or bounce around ideas.

My DH engages in negative exchanges with his ex like yours. I, like you, got fed up and demanded he disconnect. I think it's gotten much better, or maybe he's just communicating with her when he's at work. Either way I'm much happier.

You're not crazy, it sounds excessive.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 10:39PM
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In my own situation I think I used to have too much contact with my ex. Problem was we started dating in high school and he was a huge part of my life. So even though I left him we were still good friends years later. We hung out with the same people and often did things together with our son. When DH and I started getting serious I knew I had to back up a bit with my relationship with my ex. We still talked quite a bit...maybe like once every day or so. But when he started calling me late at night with girl problems my dh got upset. I could totally understand why.

So I had to cut down on phone calls for my relationship with my dh.

Now we talk once a week maybe and it is mostly about our son. Little small talk here and there and we talk a bit when he picks up our son.

I think for your marriage your dh should stop engaging in this "game" with his ex. Unless it is a pick up/drop off day dh should just not answer the phone. If it is important bm can leave a message. If she leaves a message saying it is urgent then he can text her and say "whats up?".

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 11:36PM
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Lovehadley, I think we are "step sisters", what you have described is totally my life and what I deal with here at my house too. Just the other day, my DH's ex called to wish him what would have been their 25th anniversary. I was pissed needless to say. I mean, I put up with all the phone calls, the arguing, the mean texting, mean emails, then the calling all the time about nothing...then this. Thats where I drew the line. I was hot that day. And to be quite honest, Im still not really over that one yet. My DH says he is only trying to get along with her for the kids sake...and my thinking is, to what expense??

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 8:14AM
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I'm amazed at some of the responses here, I guess I've been blessed that I haven't had to deal with this issue much. I definately think calling every day is waaaaay too much. I firmly believe contact needs to be limited to discussing pick-ups and drop-offs and maybe, every now and then if something extraordinary is happening in the children's lives. I put my foot down early on in my relationship with my DH because BM was trying to dictate his life for him. I gave him an ultimatum (either me or her), maybe that's not the best method, but in my case it worked. BM used to call our house and literally scream profanities onto our answering machine. I finally told her she was not to call our house anymore in that manner or I would be changing our phone number and that my husband would communicate with her only via pay-phone (this was before cell-phone popularity).

Thank goodness, DH has been more than accomodating of my feelings about contact with his ex and I do the same for him. I have to admit, I still have an attraction to my son's father, we never had a "bad breakup" or anything like that, it was always a friendly situation, but I just keep my contact with him very brief and don't even entertain the notion, I actually go out of my way to call my ex's girlfriend to make kid-exchange arrangements out of respect for her because I don't want her to feel that I'm a threat in any way.

It's fine for ex's to "get along", but the contact needs to be minimal for the sake of the current relationships. If your DH has any question that what he's doing is wrong, just show him this thread... YOU'RE WRONG MISTER! STOP TALKING TO YOUR EX SO MUCH!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 9:58AM
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did you just think it, or did you ask him "to what expense?" It's fine to try and keep peace for the kids sake, but it can't come at the expense of his own happiness. Otherwise, he should have just stayed married to her. He is married to you now, not her. As long as he continues to allow her to do all those things that you say you put up with, it will affect his marriage to you. It's up to him to create boundaries with his ex and he should draw the line on how he allows her to treat him and you. My DH's ex used to come into his work regularly, sometimes just to hang out because she didn't work, maybe she had no friends, etc. She would call him at least 2-3 times a day and there was ALWAYS an emergency regarding their daughter. It didn't bother me that she had so much contact with him, although I didn't like her hanging out at his work. I didn't even do that! But, it bothered HIM. He was in a relationship with me and he did not like her calling him constantly and stopping by for no reason. When he put up boundaries, she didn't like it and I guess she figured I made him do it. It all went downhill from there and she started arguing and sending mean texts & emails. If you & your DH are already dealing with arguing, mean texts and mean emails from her, then how is it working out for him to 'get along for the kids sake'? Sometimes, it's just plain unavoidable when you are dealing with someone that won't let go. My mom and dad have been divorced for 25 years and she still hasn't let go. My stepmom passed away six months ago and my mom has been acting as if she is still my dad's wife and has rights. My dad is not in a relationship with anyone but he still feels the need to put boundaries on how my mom acts because HE doesn't like how she is behaving with HIM. It's about teaching others to treat you the way you want to be treated. If he is going to be a doormat 'for the kids sake', eventually the kids will lose respect for him too because their mom has no respect for him if she is calling him up and yelling at him or writing him mean, nasty things. At the very least, he should have told her that it's inappropriate for her to call him on their 'anniversary' and that it is no longer an anniversary that he celebrates. She will keep doing that crap as long as she is not told anything.

love, the appropriate amount of contact will vary depending on each situation. As I said, DH's ex used to consider my DH her best friend... maybe her only friend? She did not like when he got serious with me and the longer we are together, she gets nastier. DH put up with a lot before he met me because he thought it was best to get along because they have a daughter together. The problem with that is the longer a guy puts up with an ex treating him with no respect, the worse it will get. It's great if a guy wants to get along... when the ex also tries to get along for the kids sake too. However, when he chooses to marry someone else, he has a responsibility to his marriage as well as his kids. In your DH's case, his ex is SOOO much like DH's ex. Two or three calls a day is very excessive. If there is big issue that comes up, it might be necessary on one day to call that much, but not all the time. I'm married to DH and SD lives with us and I still don't call DH at work half as often as BM used to. At one point, I had to ask DH "can't she handle ANY problem with her child, without calling you?" and I felt like crap for saying it but he agreed. He does not need to be consulted for every little thing. It's been a couple of years, but I believe the issue that pushed DH over was when BM wanted to plan SD's 8th birthday party. He told her 'go ahead, just let me know how much my half is.'. She called him four times in one day to get a count on how many people were coming from his side. She was calling him nearly daily (several times a day) to ask about this party that SHE was planning. It was a freaking bowling party! All she had to do was tell the bowling alley how many people would be there and they would give her a price. They set it up and there was really nothing else to do. It came with all the food (pizza & drinks), decorations, invitations, etc. I had agreed to make the cake, so she didn't have to worry about that. (she first made several calls to discuss the cake... she had to discuss price, she didn't have much money. Then he told her I will make the cake... more phone calls about what kind of cake. Yeah... that's plural.. several phone calls to discuss the flavor of the cake!) In the end, he put his foot down when she came into his work demanding more money for the party. When he told her no, she made threats to take his dd away from him, he filed court papers and so began the custody battle. But, I guess my point is that DH wasn't willing to put up with it anymore because he finally realized that she isn't going to 'get along' with him. It has to be a two way street. She would get along with him as long as she was getting her way, then she'd go off on him when he disagreed with her. He never went off on her for anything because he wanted to get along. So, even though they weren't always fighting, it was pretty one sided and peaceful only when BM got her way.

As much as it may not seem like it from what I usually write here, our life is SO much more peaceful than it used to be. It would be great if we (all the adults) could get along for SD's sake and in a perfect world... everyone would agree what is right and what is wrong. Since DH has disengaged from BM.. he mainly communicates in writing so she can't deny saying what she said, (though she still has) and he lets her leave a voice message instead of taking her calls (thanks to caller ID) and he has refused to deal with her mom at all. He completely ignores her mom's calls and texts. I'm not suggesting everyone should go that far, but then not everyone is dealing with a BM like DH's ex! It's been a progressive thing that he's done... because he would have like to get along and that would be better for SD, but it only works if everyone is on board.

Your DH is dealing with an alcoholic that is having problems in her personal life. She needs professional help, not your DH's shoulder. If her contact is only about their child, he needs to look at what issues she's calling about and how often to decide how he's going to handle it. If the child is sick, then three calls a day might not be excessive. If she can't decide what to cook him for dinner, then three calls is three calls too many! If the calls are about her and her problems, not their child... then your DH needs to prioritize his life and decide where you fit in and how much you should have to put up with. (and of course, you always have the right to create your own boundaries for YOU)

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 9:59AM
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"At the very least, he should have told her that it's inappropriate for her to call him on their 'anniversary' and that it is no longer an anniversary that he celebrates. She will keep doing that crap as long as she is not told anything. "

He asked me what would I have him do? When she is calling him like response was, dont answer the phone, tell her to stop calling about personal issues. Kid issues only, and keep it to a minimum. And "Imamommy", you are right, she treats him with no respect. The calling and yelling, the arguing, the mean texting, the mean emailing, this is all done in front of the kids. It hasnt been so much lately, but she just recently broke up with her BF, so it will all start again. In fact, it sort of has. See, when she is unhappy, she makes sure everyone else is unhappy, especially him and us. But they see this, and his daughter doesnt really show much respect for him either. But then again he is such a pushover, so thats his fault too. Thats another story...see thread "I dont get along with my step daughter".

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 10:20AM
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THis happened waaaaay at the beginning of my relationship with my dh..but he got sick and tired of her calling 7 times in a row, screaming...leaving nasty messages , attackiing me,,,which my dh put his foot down and would say..what does maria have to do with this...
It got to a point where i sent her a legal letter stating to keep me out and stop using me as a scape goat for problems that are between her and her exhubby...and any further i will take legal action.
She stopped for a while and then when i gave birth things have progressively gottne quiet. Except now sd is acting like mom and turning up the heat with dad and he fights with her. i told him 2 times that he sounds like he's fighting with his wife all over again and to hang up when she begins doing cr*p like her mother.
So now he just doens't answer the phone when sd calls because its a long 5 days fight like last week.
No phone calls in 6 days now:) peace for a while has transcended.
I'm sorry LH that your hubby continues to interact like this ...maybe he does it for his son...maybe he feels sorry for her...i dont know. But only he can control that and he should respect the fact that it hurts you and makes you uncomfortable.
My dh did that to me i phoned an old boyfriend and spoke for well over 2 hours....he got the pic.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 12:20PM
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2-3 times a day is insane and unnecessary. Going to work or calling work that often is rude and inappropriate.

Now I always kept contact with X, and yes some people considered it excessive. We are friends, and we do talk. but certainly not that often. When DD still lived at home X talked to me every time he called DD. Which was often. But of course not 2-3 times a day.

Now when DD doesn't live at home, X still calls me (I only call if there is question about DD. X calls just to talk). But only maybe once a month now. We don't have as much to talk about. We do talk about personal lives once in awhile, but literally once in awhile. We call each other on birthdays and stuff like that, but I don't believe it is excessive or inapporpiate. We do have a lot of mutual friends and family members that we both have connections to, so we sometimes talk about people we know.

My SO commented once on my excessive talking to X. I do not find it excessive plus he is the one who calls, not me.

What your DH's ex does is excessive in my opinion and yes it would bother me tremendously. Got to stop.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 1:12PM
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I think adults have the right to decide their own phone habits. FD, even if your SO commented that phone calls were excessive, its up to you. I would be more annoyed if someone tried to control my phone habits. Of course if SO says please dont take calls at dinner, etc. that is one thing, but I think the phone calls are up to adults.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 1:18PM
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KKNY, I guess I don't see it so much as controlling phone habits, but rather as setting appropriate boundaries for an adult relationship between co-parents.

In my case, I feel too often DH's phone calls with BM are much too personal. And that has nothing to do with who she is--she could be a co-worker at his job, or a neighbor. I just find it inappropiate to be discussing extremely personal things with one's ex--especially considering our particular circumstances. I think some people are able to remain on friendly terms but those are generally the people that are mature and civil about most things.

For example--what prompted BM's last fight with her DH (the one that caused her to be drunk at our house) was because--two nights earlier he had tried to have....ahem....rear-entry sex with her. WHY do I know this, might you ask? SHE TOLD MY DH ON SUNDAY AT THEIR SON'S BIRTHDAY PARTY!!!! She was late to the party because they had been out drinking the night before, came home, and he tried to do caused a major blow-up, and I guess they fought for much of the night.

IMO--THAT is crossing a major boundary. I am NOT comfortable with my DH talking about THOSE sorts of issues with his ex, his co-worker, my mom, or anyone!

That goes for anything personal. If they need to discuss school or other issues pertaining to their son, that is one thing. Calling about every little issue is unnecessary. The other morning, BM called at 8 AM to complain about her son's new backpack that we had bought--that HE loves and picked out himself--she thinks it is too bulky. I mean, really? That really necessitated an AM phone call? As if there were ANYTHING DH could do about the backpack at that time, anyway.

But again, this is up to my DH to set and enforce his own boundaries. I do feel, though, like I am well within my "rights" as his wife to ask that he keep contact to only what is necessary. I would expect he would feel the same about me if I had a very personal relationship with an ex.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 2:04PM
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LH, I think it is one thing to set boundaries for yourself or minors, another to set boundaries for your DH.

I find it much more upsetting that he apparently " two nights earlier he had tried to have....ahem....rear-entry sex with her." I would worry a lot more about that than the phone calls.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 2:30PM
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oops sorry lost track of DHs there.

I still think trying to control DHs calls is not a good idea.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 2:32PM
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Oh KKNY..I wish you could walk a mile...

And really, I do not say that in a mean way.

Again, I guess I don't look at it as controlling phone calls. I don't know..maybe. To me, it is a respect issue and it's about marriage and priorities.

BM has majorly, majorly crossed a line with what she did at our house two weeks ago. She terrified her son, caused both SS and DD to be exposed to a situation where the police had to be called, she punched me...caused a scene in our neighborhood...etc.

In my mind, unless she really gets serious about recovery and sobriety and makes ammends---DH has no business having any sort of *friendly* relationship with her. Civil and cordial is one thing-and IS necessary, I admit--but friendly and downright chummy is quite another. I am NOT OKAY with my DH being BM's shoulder to cry on anymore. I would be HOT if I found out that he was listening to her, or offering advice, or playing her friend in anyway from here on out. So--yes, I will continue to expect him to not be her friend or confidant any longer. He can care about her welfare and health as his son's MOTHER--but as far as support or friendship goes, she needs to look elsewhere for those things.

That's just how I see it from this situation and I imagine most others in my position would.

NOW--if she truly dealt with her alcoholism and worked a program, that would be one thing. THEN maybe...things could be better. But not now, no way.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 2:57PM
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You have every right to be mad at her. And talking about dealing with people in drunken stupors, my Xs SO has called me up when she is drunk, has told my DD that I had an affair, yadayad. So I have walked that mile. Actually I dont mind walking, that would be better.

But back to my point. You can be mad at her, but I think your DH has to make his own decisions. But you could be right, I might be wrong. When I was married, I would never tried to restrict my Xs phone calls and his current eye candy tramp did chase him. But enough with me. Its not about her and you. Its about your relation with your DH.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 3:29PM
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DH HAS NO BUSINESS HAVING ANY SORT OF FRIENDLY RELATIONSHIP WITH HER.....There ya go..Thats it in a nutshell...Nonnegotiable....Now why doesnt HE get it..Very kind of you to say he can care about her welfare.WHY? After what she did to his WIFE?????...She s lost the right to be treated friendly, cordially and or civily..I dont know whats wrong with your DH Hadley..After that episode, the only call I would be taking is from an emergency room, or Dr s office...Backpacks??OMG!!! One word Voicemail...No, Two words Ignore voicemail....

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 3:30PM
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