Relationships can be tricky, and each one is a little different. Sometimes, you want nothing to do with an ex.
Other times, the two of you learn that you’re much better friends than romantic partners. But, it’s rare to move on romantically yet still have an ex in your life who has a key to your house.
That’s the situation that one Redditor found himself in. User Junker-Novel went on the popular site to try and navigate his unique set-up with his ex-wife. They separated years ago and moved forward, but are still in each other’s lives in a big way. “I’ve been married to my second wife for just over a year,” he explained.
“Before that I was single for almost five years following my divorce. My ex-wife and I parted on very amicable terms, so we’ve remained close and I still consider her to be one of my best friends.”
And, that’s a great dynamic when you have kids — which they do. And, the kids are why many of their policies are in place. “It also helps that we have children together, which has led to us trying as much as possible to still do activities together as a family,” he said. The two have also remained physically close, in that they live in the same neighborhood.
“We essentially have an open door policy so if she needs to borrow something or use my house for any reason she can,” he said. In a way, it’s almost as if he has two wives.
But the relationship does cross a line in some ways. His ex-wife still does chores for him, and even bakes for him.
“In return for that she bakes for me and does little favors for me if I mention needing something,” he said. “In particular, she does a lot of clothes shopping for me. I never ask her to do any of this and don’t expect it, but it’s how she reciprocates.”
“Sometimes she just buys clothing if she sees a good deal on something and she knows I’ll like, and she does that with other things,” he added.
Curious about how his wife views the arrangement? “While dating my wife I explained my relationship with my ex to her, which I admit is not traditional, and she said it was no issue as long as she respected boundaries and my wife’s place in my life,” he said.
But he said his wife is now a little wary on how things are going. “My ex has never overstepped, but my wife now says that she is irritated because I still let my ex do these things for me even after being married a year,” he said. “She thinks I am an [expletive] for trying to have my cake and eat it too (her words, not mine or my view).”
“I am puzzled that she feels this way when she admits that she doesn’t know how to shop for me and hates baking,” he said. “I don’t really care about either of those things, and I’m more than capable of doing each, but if those aren’t things she does for me, why is it an issue if my ex does them?” Truthfully, in that statement, it’s obvious that he has compared both women before — which is a situation no wife should find herself in.
She’s also starting to second guess the open door policy. “My wife also dislikes the open door policy and would like to see it curbed, but my ex has always been reasonable about coming over and never takes advantage of it. I also think it makes sense because of the children,” he said. While he didn’t mention how old their children are, the math makes it seem like they’re much older than 5 years old.
Based on what he wrote, it’s pretty obvious as to why the new wife feels like a third wheel in her marriage. While she knew about their dynamic before saying “I do,” it makes sense that she thought things would change when she was officially part of the family. But the husband doesn’t seem to understand this perspective.
“My wife admits it is helpful sometimes because my ex does a lot of things for us and couldn’t give a real reason for why she now opposes it other than feeling crowded,” he concluded. So, he turned to Reddit to get some advice on how to handle the situation. As expected, Reddit was a little puzzled by the arrangement.
“You don’t even want to see her point in this,” Redditor sneeky_seer wrote. “You aren’t just coparenting and you aren’t just friends. Your ex still does a lot of things that are way beyond that. And I can totally see how and why she’d feel like essentially there are 3 people in the relationship. Your ex having a key to your house, given how close she lives, makes perfect sense. Her just dropping by whenever does not.”
The commenter made a good point. While it makes sense for his ex to have access to his home in case of an emergency, it doesn’t make sense for her to drop in when she feels like it’s necessary. The OP also didn’t specify whether or not his ex had romantically moved on from the relationship, but that likely would have been mentioned in the post. Having an ex freely come by would make any woman suspicious, even if she knows the routine.
Speaking of wording, other Redditors also felt as if it was odd when he stated that his ex knows how to shop and bake, while his current wife does not. “It sounds like he thinks if his current wife doesn’t do it, then he’ll just make sure to have another wife who would!” one Redditor pointed out. “Also why can’t you shop for your own clothes?”
Redditor visewell felt as if there were some points that the OP made that crossed the line. “Ultimately, your wife is telling you that these are the boundaries she mentioned not wanting crossed,” the commenter wrote. “It isn’t your house alone, it it your house and also your current wife’s house. If she doesn’t want your ex having a key, your ex wouldn’t have a key.”
“Occasional baking is fine,” the commenter added. “Constant baking, in a way that seems like your ex is taking care of you, is not. You and your new wife are a pair. You’re partners. Your ex should not make it a trio. You can’t delegate things from your current marriage to your ex. It’s a crowd. She’s too involved.”
This is a big reminder that every relationship needs boundaries. It seems as if the OP has gotten comfortable having someone else help take care of him, but it’s simply not fair for his new wife. Even though they’re still close, there had to be something wrong with the relationship for the two to split. It almost seems as if his new wife is just filling in for the roles his ex may lack at. It’d be hard for her if this situation continued.
While it’s great to get along well with an ex, it’s also important to remember that they’re an ex. And if you feel the need to meet someone new and get married, you need to remember the “ex” part in order to happily move forward in a new marriage. Hopefully, things change for this trio. It’s apparent that three is definitely a crowd.