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Splitting up when children are involved can be tough on everyone, especially the children. It will end the current family dynamic and in its place can be a larger and more complex one involving more than the two parents. There may be new boyfriends, girlfriends and partners on both sides.
Eventually, but not always, you or your now ex-wife may get new partners which in turn can mean your children may spend more time or even be looked after by these new people which can create anxiety and curiosity on both sides.
Do you meet them? Do you feel like you have to meet them? Do you want to meet them but not sure how to approach it? Does your ex-wife want to meet your new girlfriend and you are unsure how to make it work?
We think this scenario can be tricky but we’re here to offer neutral advice on how to have this meeting and have it end positively for everyone involved, especially the kids.
Does your ex wife have a right to meet your new girlfriend?
Neither you or your ex-wife have any legal right to a meeting with a new partner, it is not a law that exists. Neither you or your ex can force the issue and you can’t stop any sort of visitation because of this, either.
But, it is reasonable to ask and request and it is up to both sides to agree on this.
Is it a good idea for your ex-Wife to meet your new girlfriend?
If your relationship with your girlfriend is serious and they do spend a significant time with you and your ex-wife’s children then we absolutely do think it’s a good idea. Provided your ex-wife’s motives and attitude is amicable and its to ensure the dynamic is a happy and co-operative one.
If, however, your relationship is in its infancy and they do not really mix with the kids then it’s up to you. Your personal life is your own and your ex-wife has not right or say in it anymore.
The question you’ve got to ask yourself is if the meeting will be fruitful and will it keep the dynamic co operative and happy.
When there is trust
If both parties trust the judgment on the other side, a meeting is perhaps not really necessary, it is likely to be awkward and uncomfortable. You have separated for a reason and your private lives are not intertwined anymore.
When there are doubts
However, if your ex-wife is amicable and just wants to be sure without any sort of malice or jealous intent then a meeting may not be such a bad thing.
It is generally a good idea for them to meet, eventually, but absolutely necessary. Your ex-wife can be made to feel a little more comfortable about the sort of person their children will be looked after. But would your new girlfriend be impressed with having to pass a test?
When there’s bad blood
It would not be a good idea if there is still a lot of ill feeling and bad blood, it could lead to an unsavoury meeting of which everyone would suffer and your new personal life could be in harm’s way. When your new girlfriend started a relationship with you, she did not sign up to a toxic ex wife as well.
Is it good for the kids if my ex-wife gets along with your new girlfriend?
This is perhaps the most important section of the whole article. Divorce and separation is tough on the kids, there’s no two ways around it.
How parents communicate with each other during and afterwards can have just as much of an effect on them and how they view adult relationships.
For several decades, parent child cognitive interaction researchers have acknowledged that children learn cognitive skills in the context of their social and early environments.Frontiers in Psychology (multiple authors)
Parents should lead by example and not be hypocrites. If we want them to be respectful to people we need to be respectful to people in their presence. Despite what your personal feelings might be towards your ex (or your ex towards you) you would not want your children to be poisoned by the drama.
This is not to say you should arrange for your ex wife to meet your new girlfriend but rather you should manage the relationship with integrity and respect so that your children learn these traits.
There is no set answer when relationships are complicated at their core and more so when there are children involved. Before even considering a meet up, ensure that everything is amicable and friendly beforehand for your kid’s sake. Then, consider how necessary it is in the first place – if everyone gets along fine would a meeting bring anything new to the table? After all, you probably want your private life to stay private even from someone you used to be married with.