Boyfriend causing the difficult times they're experiencing
Q: I was looking for a roommate when my boyfriend of two years suggested we move in together. After a few days of deep discussions about our relationship, I agreed. We found a place together and have been unpacking now for two weeks.
He is a divorced dad of two grade-school boys. Over the course of our relationship, and now especially since we took this big step, I have suggested that I meet the boys' mother, since she just might want to know who her boys are with when they stay with their father. My boyfriend has nixed this idea, saying his ex has already driven off one former girlfriend and is "crazy."
The boys just stayed their first weekend with us, and afterward he and his ex had a big fight because he never told her we were moving in together. She said she will not allow the boys to spend nights at our place, and she will take my boyfriend to court.
I did not know until this fight that the custody agreement prohibits my boyfriend from having overnight guests of the opposite sex while he has the kids.
My boyfriend thinks she is holding the boys hostage while being unnecessarily dramatic and unreasonable. I'm angry and disappointed in my boyfriend. I don't think his ex is being unreasonable: He should have discussed this with her before I moved in.
Additionally, I'm irritated with myself that I didn't even think to ask him about his custody agreement. I just want to remove myself from the whole situation, but I moved in because I thought our relationship might be permanent. How do I know if this is a deal-breaker, or if I'm just unwilling to stick through difficult times?
A: "Difficult times" are when exterior pressures come to bear on people through no fault of their own — or when their frailties catch up to them despite their best efforts to stay on the high road.
Your boyfriend isn't going through difficult times, he's causing them. He doesn't want the headache of dealing honestly with his ex, so he's dodging his legal, moral and parental responsibilities.
Worse, now that his character deficit has caught up with him, he's still not taking responsibility, but instead choosing to dump the blame — not only for this mess, please note, but also for his last girlfriend's departure — on his favorite heap, the evil ex. How convenient.
The back edge of the evil-ex sword is that your boyfriend chose her, and chose to have children with her. Even if she is (gargh, my fingers resist typing it) "crazy," that makes him responsible for, at a minimum, his own dubious judgment.
Instead of facing the consequences of this dubious judgment, he has chosen passive aggression. Distract, dismiss, deflect, deny, duck. Yuck.
Start sorting through the damage by figuring out why you gave his deflections a pass. Not just the "she's crazy" incident, but others, too, since a character shortage means there are invariably others.
Then, tell him exactly how you perceive his attitude toward his custodial responsibilities, while admitting your lack of vigilance. He'll either own up or pile on — telling you on the spot whether he'll be growing up anytime soon. I hope you've saved some of those empty boxes.