Fiance has blurry boundaries with his ex

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Q. My fiancé and I broke up for a short while, but we have reconciled, and I moved back in about three months ago. His ex-wife, who seems to enjoy causing trouble with the kids, continues to ask him out for coffee, for dinner, to join her skiing. She just asked him to join her in Cabo with the kids and I hit the ceiling. It’s really maddening, and she won’t stop! What’s good ex-etiquette?

A. Although your question sounds like “How can I get my fiancé’s wacky ex to stop coming after my guy,” it’s more about your boyfriend having blurry boundaries and not being honest with everyone concerned (ex-etiquette rule #8, Be honest and straight forward). No one continually invites someone somewhere when they know they’ll be turned down, so something has happened that has given her the impression she might get a different answer. I don’t know what happened during that “short while” when you broke up, but if she’s acting differently now than she did prior to your moving out, it’s time to talk to your fiancé. If this is the way she has always acted…it’s time to talk to your fiancé. Just about any way you look at it, it’s time to talk to your fiancé.

Whenever an outsider does something that affects a relationship, it’s the responsibility of those related to that outsider to set the record straight. That means it’s your fiancé’s responsibility to set clear boundaries, so his ex understands where she stands. He may like all the attention — or he may feel that letting her think there is something between them will enable him to see the kids more often.

Even if it’s all an innocent misunderstanding or the fact that he doesn’t like confrontation, it’s still your guy’s responsibility to take control of the situation so that there will be no misunderstanding in the future. His kids are also watching how he’s handling all this. The more he vacillates, the more they will be placed in the middle.

Your fiancé must address this. That’s good ex-etiquette.

Dr. Jann Blackstone is the author of “Ex-etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation,” and the founder of Bonus Families, News Service

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