One of the many things I have found puzzling in the post-divorce world is the notion that the new relationship person in your life must be included in family activities. Why is that? I have often thought that there must be a post-divorce handbook out there somewhere that everybody in the world but me knows about. If so, I sure would like a copy because there have been many cases where I could have used that step-by-step assistance.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say that all three of my children are coming back for four days during the summer. I guess what the handbook says is that I would need to tell them that I could see them, but my girlfriend would need to be included. Now, why is that? Most men I know would be happy if their girlfriend said that they were going to spend time with their kids and would appreciate the time alone. I suppose the easiest way for me to think about life is in terms of compartments. In my personal life I have my family time, my personal time and my relationship time. Family now means mainly time with my children, their spouses and a grandchild. If my ex wife wants to join in on part of that I have no problem with it, and I don’t think anybody I am in a relationship with should either if we are not doing anything other than family acitivies.
But I guess it is not supposed to work that way. Instead to make sure everybody is included we have to split up the little amount of time that we have and make everything complicated. It just doesn’t make sense to me.
I guess I have to wonder what the divorce handbook says about other activities Let’s say that if for 20 years I have been going on a week long golfing trip every year with friends and family members, all of whom are male (I haven’t). Now would I need to tell them that my new girlfriend would need to be included? I don’t think that would go over well. Does it mean that I would have to give up all activities that don’t include my new girlfriend? Does that also mean she has to give up activities that don’t include me? I think you get the idea.
Just what is it about family activities that makes them different than other activities? Of course the ex-spouse being present is one thing, but the divorce happened for a reason, and in most cases there are going to be natural boundaries between the two. If not, then of course that is an issue and needs to be dealt with.
I wonder if this need to be included isn’t really just an aspect of jealousy. Maybe most women are just so insecure that they need signs that they are more important than almost anything in a man’s life, including his children. It will probably just remain one of those things I will never fully understand.
Now, of course, this sounds incredibly sexist. I don’t mean for it to, but it has been my experience and something I have heard from two counselors and read in articles and books. I am sure there are men out there who perhaps feel that way, but I only personally know of one and that is my ex wife’s fiance, but I think that is because for him it is just another way to show that he has won and not any real interest in being included. But perhaps it is also because he has read the post-divorce handbook.