Is It Normal That My Partner Is So Close With His Ex?


Dear Judy,

Is It Normal That My Partner Is So Close With His Ex?

I have read the letter that you answered last month and this made me reflect on my relationship as well. I am also in a relationship with a British man. I come from a very traditional family, and a different culture. I am in love with a British man but it concerns me that he still has a strong bond with his ex-wife. They divorced about two years ago and they have a teenage daughter with whom my partner is very much connected. I know it is important for him to stay connected with his child but it makes me feel so bad when he talks with his ex and sometimes they go out together with the justification that they do it because of their daughter.

To be honest I don’t understand this, it is so unusual for me and my culture. In my country if you are divorced there is no chance to connect again with your ex. I know British society is very modern but I still can’t accept that my man keeps such a close relationship with his ex. I am not jealous but I love him and I feel bad when I see him being so close with his ex. Is this something to be concerned about or is it related to British culture?


 Judy Replies…

Dear T,

It is commendable that your partner and his wife have been able to maintain an amicable relationship after their divorce, as this requires much hard work. It will certainly benefit their daughter who needs stability in her life at this time. Nevertheless, their marriage did break down and, as a result, you are now an important person in your partner’s life.

I am not clear from your letter how much contact your partner is actually having with his ex-wife. It would be natural for him to speak to his wife about his daughter and make logistical arrangements to see his child. It would not have been unnatural for the three of them to go out together occasionally in the past, perhaps on the daughter’s birthday, for example, as the divorce was only two years ago. But if the calls and the meetings are very frequent and if your partner is continuing to go out with his wife on her own, now that he is in a relationship with you, then you are right to feel uncomfortable and to be concerned for your own position within this family.

I think that clear communication with your partner is required now.

You need to ask him what you would like to know and to tell him that his constant contact with his ex-wife is making you feel uncomfortable – and left-out. It is important not to be blaming or accusatory until you have heard his side of the story as you do not say in your letter who initiated the divorce, why the marriage broke down or whether the wife has anyone new in her life.

Your partner may feel guilty that she is living on her own while he has met someone new. Nevertheless, if there is to be a future for you and this man, the impact of his divorce on your relationship must be discussed between you. Your task is to recognise which of your feelings are your own insecurities and which are genuine feelings of concern, that your partner has not yet separated in an appropriate emotional way from his ex-wife. Only after sensitive communication between you, will you know whether your partner is ready to build a new relationship with you or whether you may have to separate.