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Partner's Ex, how to move forward?

Community Member

Dear All,
I have been in a long-winded on/off relationship with a person that has had attachment challenges stemming from his childhood and his very toxic marriage with an aggressive alcoholic wife. He separated from her 20 months ago but it was a really drawn out process until he finally kind of let go. He had a breakthrough a few months ago when he finally could get rid of a lot of guilt. He is finally ready to move forward and commit more to me and us but still needs to go through the financial separation of property etc. with his ex. She has regularly manipulated him, guilt-tripped him and become very irate or distraught. Every time she reaches out, she becomes emotional and my partner feels drawn back down into sadness again. Not because he misses her but sadness because his childhood attachment is triggered. He is fully aware of it and ok at getting himself out of the slump again. I am also trying to be a positive counterweight and to be understanding. When we are together, it is wonderful but over the 20 months of the constant on and off with him, I have developed quite a high degree of anxiety. I am working through that with a psychologist.

But the difficulty I experience at the moment is that my partner sent his suggestions for a financial separation and consent order to her a few weeks ago. Initially, she became emotional, then angry and said she would arrange a meeting with her lawyers. Now, for the last two weeks, she has constantly postponed the meeting with the lawyers. When he asks, she becomes irate and claims he is pressuring her. I suggested he start meetings with his lawyers and then they can talk to hers but he wants her to have the first pick and move. I feel he is still letting her run his life and she may forever postpone and manipulate. I want him to do his own thing because it is his matter but I am feeling very powerless and my anxiety is high as long as she is around. Every time she reaches out to him, he may end up down in the dumps. I don’t know how to deal with this. We are trying to build a future for ourselves but I feel there is a constant potential for everything to fall apart again in case this draws out forever. In the past, she had so much power over him that he often felt not ready, hence why we broke it off a few times. I don’t want this to happen again but how do I cope with this situation until he can finally make the next move and hopefully soon get to a level of no contact after the consent order is done?

1 Reply 1

Community Champion
Community Champion

Hello ReeCar123,

I'm sorry to hear about your situation with your partner. It really sounds like you both really want your relationship to work, but it keeps getting dragged down by his ex.

It sounds like you are being really patient but also realistic about the fact that your partner needs to do this himself, for himself. If you were to get too involved, he may not be able to grow enough through his own childhood attachment issues. But sitting on the sidelines also feels really powerless, so I understand why this is such a challenging time for you.

I would normally suggest it is a good idea to have others close to you who can understand without feeling the need to judge, but it sounds like this has been going on for a while and you are already talking to a psychologist. Still, do you have any close friends or family who are okay with being called whenever something happens? It might be nice just to basically have a few people on speed dial who you know you can call.

Otherwise, coming here to talk to us is also an excellent step. Being out of the situation, and not knowing either of you particularly well, it can perhaps feel a little safer.

From the sounds of it, you are feeling quite anxious that all this will be for nothing and that is what is really challenging for you right now. I think when I feel particularly anxious about something I have no control over - at the moment, I am having some relationship challenges which mean I don't really know what will happen with the dog we share - I really just try to make the most of the time I have now, while also preparing for a long period of uncertainty. For me, the end goal is worth it and I do try to remind myself of that. But at the same time, I'm mindful of things that cause me particular stress, and if they are serious enough, I know I need to address them now in case the uncertainty does last a long time. I am not sure if that is something that could apply to your situation as well, but I often find that addressing the uncertainty in some way or another helps with our anxiety.