What to do when your woman is getting on your nerves with disrespect and you’re perturbed.
In this video coaching newsletter, I discuss an email from a viewer who is 44 with a girlfriend that’s 41. His ex wife is much younger and slimmer than his new girlfriend. He has kids with his ex wife and goes to their concerts and sporting events they are involved in. His girlfriend is always making comments about his ex wife at these events because she’s obviously insecure since she is not fit and in shape.
He’s getting really tired of having to put up with it every time they are together. He’s getting perturbed but not setting and enforcing healthy boundaries. He asks how to handle this because he’s over it. My comments are in bold italics like this below in the body of his email.
You’re trying to be James Bond, you’re trying to be unperturbed by it all. Yet, she keeps doing something that really grates on your nerves. You laugh it off, you joke about it, you tease with her, you show that you’re indifferent to it and you’re not bothered by it. At the end of the day, she continues to do it.
This email is really about setting and enforcing healthy boundaries. Unfortunately, this guy has missed that in the lessons, missed that in the books, and he’s not doing things, because you can only laugh off stuff for so long. The issue here that’s going on with this guy and his girlfriend has been going on for many months they’ve been together.
He’s 44, his girlfriend is 41, but his ex wife is much younger, fitter and she has a new boyfriend. It’s obvious that this guy’s new girlfriend is very jealous of her, of his much younger ex wife who’s fit in shape, and she’s not. So how do you tactfully handle that?
Thanks to your work, I’ve been in a committed relationship to a great gal for about a year. I’m 44 and she’s 41, I have kids, 7 and 9, and she does not have any. My ex and I share custody, are both in relationships, and attend all of the kids concerts and sporting events.
That is awesome that you guys can co-parent that way. Good for you. That is good for the kids. Her with somebody she’s happy with and you as somebody you’re happy with.
That’s the best kind of archetype for the children. Not two parents who hate each other and don’t touch one another and never have sex and are bitching and complaining all the time. Both parents being in happy relationships, because the kids are going to model what you present for them.
For the last six months since I introduced my kids to my girlfriend, she has been going to the concerts and sporting events with us. She started six months ago making comments about my ex and her boyfriend, things like, “You used to love that outfit,” or, “You loved that outfit and hat she’s wearing for seven years” (length of my last marriage). It was something playful to talk about and I played that James Bond role and just laughed it off or would say something silly in return.
However, we are now on month number five or six of my girlfriend making these comments at every event my wife and her boyfriend attend.
Yeah dude, this has gone on way too long enough. Way, way, way too long. That’s on you for not setting and enforcing healthy boundaries, but we’ll get to that in a second.
I’m getting frustrated playing the playful James Bond to my girlfriends commentary about my ex and her boyfriend. I go to these things to enjoy watching my kids doing them, not to have a conversation over and over about my past marriage.
I’m getting close to being perturbed, this ongoing rehashing of my prior relationship is annoying when I’m trying to watch my kids simply play baseball. Is this a sign that maybe my current girlfriend and I are not compatible?
It’s just a sign that she’s breaking your balls. Well actually, let me finish, because this email is almost over here, and then I’ll give my two cents.
I mean, I’m for not being perturbed, but after so many months of this I’m getting less interested in going to my kids’ events with her. I think this may stem from my girlfriend’s own insecurities.
It’s obvious. Plus, you have kids with her. Somehow, women always instinctively fear they’re going to lose their protector. Also, older women always fear younger women stealing their men, especially women that are still capable of having kids and you already have two of them with her.
In the back of her mind, she’s always thinking, “Maybe they’ll reconcile,” because you guys obviously seem to get along well at this point. Even though she’s got a new boyfriend, she’s probably in the back of her mind thinking, “Man, they get along so well.” Maybe at some point, they get back together.
My ex is slim and young, and my new girlfriend is older and in OK shape, but has proven to be more compatible generally to me than my ex was. I haven’t spoken to my girlfriend about this because I’ve wanted to maintain the unperturbable position here, but I’m at wits end as far as what to do next.
Thanks for your thoughts,
Yeah, you should have had this conversation maybe after the third or fourth time it came up, not like five months later. The next time she brings it up, I wouldn’t call her out on it there. When you get back home and nobody’s around, you got to say, “Hey, this has been going on for like six months. Every time we get together and my ex wife is there with her new boyfriend, you’re always bringing up some comment about my ex wife.”
“It’s clear that on some level, you feel insecure about my ex wife. Quite frankly, our relationship ran its course. We got two beautiful children. I’m just at my kids’ games, because I want to support them. We go to their concerts because I want to support them.”
“I want my children to know that daddy loves them and is there for them, and I want to enjoy my children. I want to enjoy watching them grow up and be a dad. Quite frankly, when we go to these events and you’re constantly taking shots at my ex wife or wanting to rehash things about my marriage, it makes you look insecure, and I don’t like it.”
“We joke around and laugh. Some of the things you say are funny, but this has been going on for five months. Literally every time we get together, it’s at the point now where sometimes I feel like I’d rather just not even have you come to these events, because I know you’re going to bring up my ex wife and some kind of comment to take a jab at her. I don’t want to deal with that.”
“Whatever it is that you feel insecure about, we can discuss it if you like, but it needs to stop, because if you’re not going to stop doing this, then I have to stop inviting you to these events. I love you, you’re my girl, but I don’t want to. You’re ruining the experience for me watching my children, and I don’t want to get into a bad mood. I don’t want to get irritated when we’re there. It’s not nice to say, but it makes you look like a jackass, and it’s kind of mean spirited. I don’t appreciate it, and it needs to stop.”
“I would appreciate it if you don’t have something nice to say about my ex wife or my kids or my family or her new boyfriend, or my ex wife and our time together. Just keep it to yourself. I just don’t want to deal with it. It’s very rude. I haven’t said anything I should have. I apologize for not bringing it up sooner. You need to apologize to me and you need to promise to not ever do this again.”
Kids are young for such a small period. From the time kids are 5 to 12, that’s like the best fucking years of their life. It passes so damn fast. Those moments are precious. “Every time I’m trying to have precious moments with my children, you’re trying to take a jab at my ex wife, because you feel insecure about her for whatever reason. That’s just not cool. It has to stop. It can’t go on.”
That’s what you’re going to have to say to her. You’re going to have to have the direct conversation. Talking about getting angry, I wouldn’t discuss this there in public. Especially if you’re in the bleachers there watching flag football or something, you don’t want to involve the other parents in your conversation. You want to do it when it’s just you and her and you can check her in a loving way and talk it out and hash it out, but she needs to stop.
You need to stand up to her in a loving, but firm, way. Let her know her behavior is inappropriate and makes her look insecure, and you’re just over it. It’s going to stop or she’s not going to accompany you anymore on these outings, or at least any of them for the near future. That’s how I would handle it. You don’t just sit there and take abuse like that, because that’s a buzzkill.
I’m telling you man, you got about seven years. When your kids are old enough to walk, talk, their personalities are developing and everything that they say is cute, funny and endearing, you don’t want somebody pissing in your Wheaties when that’s going on. You’re going to blink, and this period in your children’s life is going to be over and you’re going to say, “Damn, I wish I had spent more time with my kids.”
You will get there. Even as much as you spend time, you’ll look back and go, “God, I should have spent more time. I shouldn’t have worked that weekend. I shouldn’t have gone on that trip. I should have gone to that game. I should have done this, went to that recital or whatever.” Go to as many of them as you can, because like I said, you’ve got about seven years. They’re fucking magical years. When you get older, you’ll regret every moment you didn’t spend with them. It’s really precious.
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Author, Speaker, Peak Performance Coach, Entrepreneur