Boundaries and emotional manipulation
I am 42 and have been in a relationship with a 43yo man for almost 6 yrs now. He was married when we initially met over 10 yrs ago. When we first began talking more and more (about 6.5 yrs ago), I was left w/ the impression he and his wife were seeing other people. I thought it all highly unusual but ok as I was not really interested in a full fledged relationship with this man. In a sense, I was his superior in a work environment and such involvement was highly discouraged. About 1 month into our relationship, I had a pregnancy scare and he was so very supportive and ready to be a father to this child. It turned out I was not pregnant but partly in response to his amazing behavior, I fell madly in love with him, as he w/ me and we proceeded to have a passionate and wonderful time together. A month later, without alerting me, he left his wife. I never asked or expected him to do this. A month after that he asked me to marry him and I said yes. He suggested his now ex and he would back date the separation agreement and he and I could be married perhaps in 6 mo. He wined and dined me, helped me move and was adamant about me buying a house for us to start our family. He has 2 sons from his first marriage (currently 10 and 12) and he and I had spoken about having children ourselves. He had me begin looking at properties and assured me, after the divorce was settled and his former house sold we would have plenty of money to pay off the new house. Basically, he swept me off my feet, said and did all the right things and I was in heaven.
My closest friends were not pleased with my new relationship and stated their concern of "my being used". I figured they were jealous of the time I was spending with my fiance and thus disregarded their concerns. As they became more and more rude with my fiance, I became more and more distant from them until now, we have very little contact.
Well, about 6 months later I bought a house and we moved in - btw, this was the first time I had been officially engaged (ring on finger, sharing of news w/ friends/fam, etc) and this was the first time I had bought a house. At this point, I was so very excited and hopeful about this almost fairytale like life opening before me.
I first became uncomfortable when I came home unexpectedly from my now out of town job and found my soon to be sister in law in my bedroom trying on all my clothes as my fiance and step sons watched a movie. Boundaries anyone? I let this slide and poured myself into remodeling of the house, including a wonderful room for the boys. My fiance, on the other hand, participated little but rather spent long hours at his mother's new home helping her out. She had recently moved to the same town we were in and was remodeling her house as well. At the time his mother had considerable money, he was unemployed and she would often pay him rather than somebody else. Or she would deposit money directly into the account of his ex.(600-1500/mo) I was concerned with this as I felt too much money as being sent as she had full access to a 40k account to draw upon should she or the boys have any needs. (The money in this account is now gone.)
Also, as it turned out, his ex refused to back date the separation agreement and ran to all the family members claiming it was all out of the blue - and that she had no idea there were any problems. She also told any family member who would listen that his and my entire relationship was based on sex and drugs which was completely and utterly untrue. While I was infuriated at such lies being told but my fiance played nice as he didn't want her to keep the kids from him.
While waiting for the separation time period to end and thus the divorce be finalized so we could marry, I bent over backwards doing for the boys - organizing bday parties, baking homemade cakes, coming up with fun weekend activities, buying them clothes and toys, etc... But the divorce didn't come. His ex continued to call him with every little problem. Sometimes as much as 10 times a day and even in the middle of the night. When she began seeing other guys, she would share all the details with my fiance (including sexual). They would talk for hours and I would hear my fiance laughing and happily talking. When he would emerge from the phone conversation to find his dinner cold on the table and me upset, he would say they were only talking about the kids and/or that she just wouldn't stop talking.
He always said he wanted the divorce to be done in a good way and not be nasty so we should be extra nice and respectful of his ex's needs and emotional processing. I agreed and didn't push. When exchanging the kids, he would drop me off at a shopping center first as she was uncomfortable with my presence. I sometimes ended up sitting in subfreezing temps, in front of the closed stores for over 2 hrs as the exchange occurred. I was upset by such but when I'd say something to my fiance he'd say he got enough crap from her and didn't need it from me too.
This went on for about two years later, and then I started pushing as my family was asking what the deal was and I was becoming more and more embarrassed and ashamed. Plus my bio clock was ticking quite loudly. We began arguing more and more, he confided he didn't think he wanted any children w/ me as he thought it might make things harder for his sons and eventually he confessed he didn't want to get married again anytime soon. Their divorce was finalized 3+ yrs after he proposed to me and only b/c she filed. She is still living in their former home (yes, partner is still on mortgage), has sued my (b-friend, fiance, sig. other ???) for back child support (insane!), continuously calls his father for money, changes the kid schedule around willy nilly and seemingly does everything she can to make my partner look bad.
We have had to move into a tiny rental house as our home was lost in foreclosure and I had to file bankruptcy. Over 1/2 of my partner's salary goes to his ex. even though she makes over twice as much money as he does. She continues to take vacations throughout the year but neglects to buy the kids clothes telling them "if daddy had a better job then...", the kids are not insured even though she could easily do so via her job and she will not let my partner take primary custody so as to get insurance through state assistance programs (my partner currently makes very little money). On a better note, my family has embraced the children wholeheartedly. My parents call them their grandsons, my mother cuts their hair, when they needed backpacks and clothes for school last year, it was my mother who took them shopping. Again this year, no school clothes were purchased by their mom but rather the kids showed up saying they were embarrassed to go to school b/c the long sleeves on their shirts landed about 3-4 inches above their wrists. So again, more shopping. When the youngest said he wanted new shoes and we had him fitted, it turned out he he needed shoes 2 sizes up. So despite limited finances, the children went home with new clothes and shoes. Basically, her lifestyle exceeds ours in every way, she still has a house, doesn't seem to be spending the child support $ on the kids and it's all making me crazy.
The most recent event happened when my father-in-law (not technically as partner and I unmarried) went into the hospital. She showed up with the kids three straight days in a row and had the audacity to ask for money. And btw, per the kids, they have never seen their grandfather three days in a row until last week. And per my partner, she never really cared much for his father.
We had the kids over the weekend and planned to exchange kids in the town where my father-in-law was hospitalized (short drive for her, long drive for us) in order for us to see his father. (two birds/one stone) My partner phoned her when we reached town and suggested we meet at a gas station we've used before. She wanted him to just come to the hospital, as she was there again.(She had been there for 2-3 hrs) It was almost 8pm when we arrived and I suggested I wait in car w/ kids. One, I didn't want to see her and two, I found it inappropriate to have children at the hospital so late visiting a man who is in extreme pain and facing his own mortality. My partner disagreed, asked kids if they wanted to go in, they yelled yes, so we all went in despite my being uncomfortable. When we arrived at the very small room she was sitting in the only chair and did not stand. With two children and three adults it was quite crowded so I turned around and walked out before his father saw me. I then sat in the hallway. About thirty minutes later, they all emerged. Exchange was completed and he and I went back into see his father. We stayed for about ten minutes as his father was obviously in pain and exhausted. During our long drive home, I expressed my dismay at her rudeness, her continual manipulation of him and his family and my, yet again, being put in the role of second fiddle. He doesn't see this at all although he is upset about the $ thing but wants to give her the benefit of the doubt.
Now his dad may be having surgery if docs deem him strong enough or it may be decided all that can be done is keep him as comfortable as possible. My partner has asked me to travel to visit his dad with him but when I stated I didn't want to have what happened the other night happen again, he said he wasn't going to keep her or the kids away and if she and I had a confrontation at the hospital he'd strangle us both. I want to support my partner through this emotional time but am so sick of feeling like a doormat I could scream. I know I must take responsibility for letting things go so far, for allowing unacceptable behavior to continue, etc etc. I also know this is not the time to take a stand so I'll probably go and hold my tongue yet again. Or maybe I won't go...???
I don't know the proper etiquette. I am angry. I am confused. I am sad. Perhaps, I am also in denial, selfish, naive or who knows what.
This post is extremely long and to anyone who actually took the time to read to this point, I thank you very much. Please share any similar experiences, advice or objective perspectives.