Sunday, October 9, 2011

Me, My Ex...and His American Girlfriend

So Ex did finally move over to the UK in September, much to many people's surprise.

Given our typical communication brilliance, I didn't have any insight into his actual plans other than an approximate arrival time.  "Where's he going to live?" friends would enquire.  No idea, I would tell them. I could see them look at me with the obvious 'well, haven't you just asked him?' question in their eyes.  The next question would typically be "is She coming with him?" followed by, "Do you think they will get married?"

I knew the answer to the first question - yes, American Girlfriend was upping sticks and relocating to the UK.  As for marriage - this wasn't something that I particularly wanted to dwell on in too much detail, although it did occur to me that actually things could be a lot worse than Ex marrying AG.  At least I knew what I was dealing with, where she was concerned.  I knew she was lovely to my boys.  I knew she was very respectful to me and that we were able to spend time in each other's company without feeling compelled to claw each others eyes out.  In the past two years she has allowed Ex and I to parent our children together and not to interfere - at least not where I was concerned - and I appreciated that to be a BIG deal.

I felt a little edgy about them both moving to the UK and - presumably - taking their relationship to the next level.  But all in all, I knew it was a good thing for the boys.

However, as it happened, AG's visa failed to materialise and Ex arrived alone.  Oh.  I thought.  Interesting.

September was crazy busy, with both boys birthdays being celebrated within 2 weeks of each other.  Ex and I hosted parties and took the boys on a long awaited trip to Legoland.  When in each others company we were stiff and a little awkward.  But we started to text and email each other, sometimes late into the night.  It would start off with sensible enquiries and updates, before morphing into teasing ribs and personal mockery.  It felt like the beginning of a new friendship.

During one of these exchanges Ex dropped a text like a bombshell.  'With AG moving over in the next few weeks, I would like to talk to you about my plans moving forward...'  I instantly felt a little bit sick.  He's going to tell me they are getting married.  Crap.  Now this moment is here, how do I really feel about it? I knew I should write a breezy response, but couldn't bring myself to.  I felt really grateful that he was keeping me in the loop and wanted to share information before I heard it from anyone else.  Really grateful.  But I still wasn't sure I was quite ready to hear it.

In the end a few days passed before I got a chance to respond and then I received another email:

I know its a difficult topic to address but I just realised we did not talk about that text I sent last week about me and AG. 

The long and short of it is that in moving to the UK she is making a pretty significant commitment to me - and to the boys, in fact - and in return I want to make a commitment to her. I am definitely not talking here about marriage (I don't think that's right for the boys at all) but definitely some form of commitment and I wanted to let you know first.

This is probably the wrong way to talk about this, so am happy to talk face to face when I'm back. But I didn't want this to linger, I tried to broach it a couple of times but we kept getting interrupted. 

This past weekend has shown me how committed you and I are to being a team around the boys, and the importance of our closeness and I never want that to change. 

I hope me sharing this doesn't make it change. 

My heart sank, but I felt bad that Ex had to reach out one more time.  I took a breath and wrote a response before I could think too much about it:

I know - I kept meaning to refer to your text but what with it being a busy week...

Thanks for sharing. I really appreciate your openness and your communication. I know how tightlipped you can prefer to be - so this act of sharing means a lot. 

As for marriage - you know, I don't think this would be such a bad thing for the boys in the near future, if it's on your mind. As long as you are happy they will be happy. And having at least one of their parents settled and in a steady, reliable situation is good for them. I won't deny it - I wish it was me providing them with that type of security, that base of 'family'. Oh well. My time will come. There is some poor bugger out there who will be blinded by my charms at some point, I'm sure ;-). (he's no doubt hiding under some huge distant rock right now...come out! Come out! Wherever you are...)

So thanks. 

I'm happy for you. I'm happy for you both. I really like AG and think she is lovely with the boys. 

I still struggle with the situation sometimes, as I'm sure you're aware. You know me - over emotional and terribly envious with a touch of insecurity. Not the most endearing combination of qualities. I'm working on it...

And yes - I love the fact that we are a team where the boys are concerned. I do value your support so much. 

And then I shut down my phone and went to bed.  It felt good to have been so honest.  And when I received Ex's response the next day, I wish I had been honest a little bit sooner:

Oh Nicola, your writing is so raw, so open and so honest. Its so you. 

Thank you so much. Your note and your support means so much. 

PS no dating anyone who's crawled out from under a rock. Top of the heap for you. 

Ex x

Within a matter of days, AG's visa had arrived and she was in the UK.  The boys drew her a welcome card.  I bought her the fantastic book "Rules, Britannia: An insider's guide to the UK" written by the amazing Expat Mum (does this make up for the previous shoddy post???) and wrote a brief message in it, along with my mobile number and the invitation to get together.

Which has resulted in AG and I planning to have dinner together next week.  I am trying hard not to find an excuse - any excuse - to weasle out of it.  I remember how hard it was to move to a new country and find my feet.  Woman to woman - if I can make this easier for her, then I know that I should.


  1. That 's such an amazing thing to do, to make AG welcome like that. I'm not sure I could do that, no I KNOW I couldn't do that because I still can't bring myself to speak to my ex's fiance.

    It's great that you and your ex are both so committed to putting the boys first, that's going to make such an impact on them for the rest of their lives.

    And by the way, if you can't find anyone then there's absolutely no bloody hope for me :-)

  2. Oh Nicola, I have tears in my eyes, and it's not because I've sold a book!! That must have been so hard for you, but definitely the right thing to do. Wow - you're an amazing person and AG is lucky to have you as the Ex. Hope it all goes well. Keep us posted. We're rooting for you all.

  3. You are quite simply fantastic. x

  4. Gosh, aren't you all being lovely. I don't feel amazing or fantastic in the least. I am just trying to cling onto the 'right' thing to do. Something good just HAS to come out of this situation - and I guess my philosophy is my life isn't going to get any better by making theirs worse.

    If only it was easier. If I don't get a blue Peter badge after all this effort I'm going to be well fucked off ;-))

  5. Well, I would be like Medusa in the same situation, even though AG didn't steal him out from under your nose or anything remotely like that. Given how most divorces descend into a constant stream of court orders and therapy for all, you two are being very grown up -and most importantly, putting the boys before yourselves.

  6. Blimey. Good for you. I'll put a Blue Peter badge in the post to you.

    What's your new job?

  7. Wow, your ex and his girlfriend are very lucky to have an ex like you. Now, start turning over those rocks (or heaps) ASAP gorgeous girl.

  8. Wow, he moved back! Good for you for sorting it out and being generous enough to welcome AG to the UK. (And yes, more about the job please - that's very exciting.)

  9. That was a very grown up thing to do and not sure I could have done it. So well done you.

  10. I just read your blog for the first time here and am so impressed! You rock welcoming the girlfriend that way. You get out of life what you put into it. I see fantastic things coming your way. Keep being so honest with yourself and others and it'll all work for the best.

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