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Divorce: Your Ex’s New Girlfriend and Your Children

My ex is already dating and he wants to introduce our children to this new woman.  I don’t want her to have anything to do with my children,” says Katie.

Katie’s ex-husband Tom is moving on with his new life and that new life includes a new woman. Katie finds being replaced so easily to be infuriating. She also has a myriad of fears about Tom’s new girlfriend becoming a part of the lives of her children.

Anger and fear shake Katie to the core. She isn’t prepared for this part of the reality of divorce. How dare he want to bring this new woman into the lives of their children?

But, it is going to happen whether she likes it or not.

Life in Two Homes

If custody is shared, your children will be blessed to have time with both mom and dad, but this may not always be easy on you. Like it or not, your ex is going to move on with his or her life. And, that likely means dating.

This will happen whether or not you are ready. For the best interest of your children, keep the following four things in mind:

  1. Check Your Own Emotions. When your emotions and reactions to your ex’s new love interest surface, ask yourself if those emotions are strictly about the well-being of your children. Or, are you feeling emotions such as anger, resentment, hurt, or even lingering feelings of love toward your ex? Are you concerned the new woman or man will replace you with your kids? It can be helpful to acknowledge your own thoughts and emotions so that you don’t let them muddy the waters regarding what is best for your children in their relationship with their other parent.
  2. Be Realistic about What You Control. Your divorce settlement may set parameters on what is acceptable behavior for those times your children are around their parents and a new love interest. (Such things as no overnights with the children there.) And, of course, your children need to be safe. Beyond that, you cannot always control what happens when your children are with their other parent.
  3. Think Beyond Today. Anyone your ex is dating could end up being your children’s step parent. The more you can do to develop a cordial working relationship with that person, the better off your children will be.
  4. Model Respect. Like it or not, it is in the best interest of your children to get along with the significant people in both of their parents’ lives. Why? Because at the root of it, kids need a positive relationship with each of their parents.  You will be helping your children if the things you say and the way you act models civil respect for your ex’s new significant other. If you are hostile or resentful, your children may feel a need to choose between you and your ex. That puts your kids in a difficult spot and is not a loving thing to do.

Having another adult enter the lives of your children beyond your control can be unsettling to say the least. Yet, it is a part of the reality of divorce. Remembering the four points above can help you to monitor your own reactions so that you support the positive adjustment of your children.

Christian Inspiration:

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10 NIV

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12 Comments on Divorce: Your Ex’s New Girlfriend and Your Children

  1. Trish says:

    I sincerely wouldn’t have a problem if my soon-to-be ex husband met someone else after we are divorced. But I cannot accept someone who was instrumental in the downfall of my marriage, as is in my case. I have truly have forgiven them both, I just don’t want that element around my children. Period. It goes against every grain in my being to force my children to be around people who have shown no respect to the covenant of marriage and to their fellow man, and I don’t want my kids to perceive that this type of relationship/behaviour is ok.

    • Renee Ettline says:

      I understand that your concern is to instill Christian values in your children. That’s commendable.

    • Norman says:

      I am dealing with exactly this same issue. We are in the process of trying to “settle” our divorce out of court, and this seems to be one our most contentious issues. My soon to be ex-wife wants our teenage kids to be able to spend time with her new lover, as they plan to get married soon after our divorce is final. I do not want our kids around him at all. He claims to be a great Christian (is planning to become a pastor) but yet his continued actions show no regards to the Biblical and legal covenant of marriage. They are already spiritually confused by the actions of their mother, and I think that adding a relationship to this hypocritical man would add to their confusion. Of course, this could just be my own personal resentment showing through.

      Anyway, was we work through our settlement, I am wondering what would truly be best for our kids? To be excluded from their potential future step-dad? Or, to go ahead and slowly begin developing that relationship?

      • Renee Ettline says:

        Norman, thanks for your comment. You sound like an insightful person. Despite your own frustration and understandable resentment against this man, you appear to have the best interests of your children at heart. You must be a great father. The post you’re commenting on gives you some good food for thought. If you or your teens are seeing a counselor, I suggest you talk with that person about this issue since he or she would be more familiar with the details of the situation. It’s hard for you I know, but if she is going to marry this man he will become your children’s stepfather. You’re already on a great track because despite your own feelings you’re asking what would be best for your kids. Keep that motive front and center as you talk with God about what to do and I have no doubt you will do what is best for your children.

  2. Sibusiso Chibase says:

    My divorce was finalized in February, my ex husband has gone ahead and introduced our 3-year old to his girlfriend. He even has her sleeping over at this woman’s house. I don’t know her, never seen her, dont even know her name. I just happened to hear my 3 year old mention her. How do I deal with this?

    • Renee Ettline says:

      Hi Sibusiso, That is a problem many people face and it can be very distressing. Is there a legal provision in your divorce settlement that prohibits sleepovers when your child is there? Some decrees address this issue. You may want to check with your attorney. Also, is he leaving your child in the custody of this woman? Can you calmly talk with your ex about your concerns? Perhaps you two can come to an agreement as to what boundaries there might be for the good of your child. I’m not a lawyer so I can’t give you advice, but from what I’ve heard, there are situations where you really have little control over this if it isn’t addressed in the divorce decree. If it is causing your child distress, then talking with an attorney and a counselor may be in order.

  3. Tambi says:

    I need help..please see my previous post. Thank u in advance.

    • Renee Ettline says:

      I’m sorry Tambi but I’m not finding your previous post.

  4. carl golec says:

    All of this advice may be for the best interest of the child,but I doubt seeing society condone infidelity is in anyone’s best interest.Your children need to know it’s not ok to run out into traffic.And it’s not just a bad idea to have an affair but goes against the vows made before God to remain faithful.Because infidelity is an affront to the family ,God and the person to whom you pledged your self.What parent wants to see their child thrust into a situation where they have to confront the betrayers on a routine basis?
    This is the issue I have with all of these colummist.
    The child’s stability and confusion can be helped by a solid foundation in God,but that foundation is formed by the dictates of Christian belief and one of those is marital fidelity.

    • Renee Ettline says:

      Carl, You’re right. Children do need to know it’s not okay to have an affair. They need to understand what God intends for marriage to be. I never meant to suggest otherwise. Thank you for your comments.

  5. Mary says:

    I have a hard time with my ex seeing other woman, I have a close relationship with my daughter and I don’t wanna lose that!
    I have a hard time with my daughter being around other women ….
    I don’t really understand my feelings because it’s been six years since our divorce

    • Renee Ettline says:

      It sounds like you feel uncertain about how your daughter’s relationship with a new woman in your ex’s life may impact your daughter, or your relationship with your daughter. That is totally understandable. Assuming that your daughter isn’t in any danger from another woman, you may find it best to try to be neutral or even positive. Why? Because fear can easily make you defensive and negative which makes things hard on your daughter when this other woman is important to her dad. It adds to the co fusion and stress. What do you think?

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