Was This Single Dad Wrong to Put His Ex-Wife Over His New Girlfriend?

There’s no doubt that divorce can be tough on families, and especially on kids, as everyone learns to navigate new routines and living situations and even new romantic partners. The best of couples learn to co-parent, and to put their children first, no matter their personal feelings for their ex.

This man married his high school sweetheart. They had three children together, but after fifteen years, decided they worked better apart than together and filed for divorce.

I (m37) was with my ex-wife (f36), we will call her Elaine for 15 years, we were high school boyfriend and girlfriend and married after university. We have three kids, all boys (9, 8 and 5).

We divorced a few years ago and have remained friendly so we can co-parent our boys as easily as possible.

Elaine did not initiate the divorce, I did. The marriage ended amicably as possible as we just grew apart. There was no big fight, no infidelity, we were two adults making a decision that we would be happier apart than together. And we are.

I was the youngest in a very messy divorce when I was a kid and my parents used to be awful to each other. I did not want that kind of memory lingering for my own kids just because we did decide to divorce.

She’s remarried to a man OP gets along with, too, and who he thinks is a good fit for his kids.

OP has been dating a woman ten years his junior for a few months, but she hasn’t met his kids yet.

She has remarried and I get along with her new husband who seems to be a good stepdad to my kids.

I was single for a while as I focused on my boys and work but I met my girlfriend we’ll call her Nicole (27) about 3 months ago. I haven’t introduced her yet to my kids which has been upsetting her, but I have told her that 3 months for me is not a long enough or committed enough relationship to involve my kids yet.

I do not want them getting attached, or otherwise uncomfortable until I know for sure that this is the real deal.

This came to a head the day of his ex-wife’s birthday, a day when he and his boys have a tradition of fixing her breakfast in bed.

It began with his oldest and he still enjoys doing it for her every year with his kids.

It was Elaine’s birthday last week and I told Nicole I would be doing for her what I always do with our boys and I wouldn’t be available until later in the day. Nicole was upset with this as she wanted us to spend the day together but it wasn’t for anything special. Anyways, sorry this is dragging.

Anyway, what I do on my ex’s birthday is go over in the morning and with our son’s I help them make her breakfast, I get some flowers and a nice card and a present from them and then they take it to her and give her breakfast in bed. My sons love doing this for their Mom and I always like to hear how happy it all makes them.

The tradition started with my oldest when he was little and wanted to do something special for his Mom on her birthday, so we have carried it on together as the boys have come along. I do understand in a couple of years they will be old enough to do this themselves and not need my help, but I enjoy spending this time with them to do something nice for their Mother.

Her new husband and I will talk/have coffee, watch TV whilst the kids take the breakfast up. Her husband is the one who will have the boys awake and let me in so the kids and I can make the breakfast.

Her husband will generally take Elaine out for dinner or plan something special so I might end up taking the kids so they can be alone as I understand he is now her husband and I have a diminished role in her life, but not my kids.

His girlfriend blew up, accused him of not caring about her as much as he does his ex, then suggested he might still be in love with her and secretly trying to win her back or something.

Nicole was angry I did this as she said it made her feel less important and like she would never come to ever mean as much to me in my life. I replied that Elaine is the mother of my children and that even though we are not in a relationship or in love we have our boys and i want our boys to grow up knowing that I always treated Elaine with respect even though we are no longer together. I do not want them thinking that we never cared about each other.

No, it was not Nicole’s birthday or a special event, she has not yet had a birthday in our relationship. I had planned to do something special for her birthday (which is in December) if we were still together at that time. As said, our relationship is still very new.

OP let her know in no uncertain terms this was not the case, but that his ex would always be an important part of his life because of his kids, and that he would always care about her because of what they shared.

Nicole says she doesn’t want me doing this again whilst I am in a relationship with her and that I am the asshole for not putting her feelings first. She said it’s obvious I still love Elaine and I won’t even give up this one day to put her over Elaine. I told her that I will always have a love for Elaine as we were together a long time and have 3 kids and nothing will ever change that.

Nicole said if I do not promise to begin to restrict communication with my ex to make it just about the kids, she doesn’t see how I can ever prove to her I care about her.

I did tell Nicole that Elaine and our kids came first on THAT day only, Elaine’s Birthday. This is simply due to the tradition I have with my sons. I can see why she took it out of context but I didn’t mean Elaine comes first always, but I did say my boys always will.

So, Reddit….AITA for still doing this for my ex on her birthday when I knew it would upset my girlfriend?

Was he out of line? Was the girlfriend? Is this a case of maybe everyone is a little bit right?

Let’s see what Reddit has to say!

The bottom line? This girlfriend doesn’t seem mature enough to be in this relationship.

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These are healthy co-parenting behaviors, not something weird or out of line.

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A perfect world doesn’t exist, but…

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The girlfriend needs to take a good, hard look at reality.

Image Credit: Reddit

What’s good for the kids always needs to come first.

Image Credit: Reddit

The girlfriend is definitely wrong, but I don’t think she’s terrible or malicious, just immature.

He’d be better off finding someone more in tune with his stage of life, or at least willing to put herself in someone else’s shoes.

What do you think? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!