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harmless

June 10, 2010

Back in the days of MySpace I got tracked down by an ex boyfriend. It had been at least 7 years since we broke up, and before we’d started dating in our senior year of high school we’d been friends for several years. So when I got the myspace message from him I wasn’t displeased. It turned out he was married and local to our area. I didn’t have many friends here and was excited to get together with something of a known quantity. We met him and his wife for drinks, and then later a dinner. She was awesome, and we got along really well. He hadn’t changed much since high school, still making borderline inappropriate comments and jokes which I found annoying but harmlessly so. In fact that was the word I used to describe him in my head. Harmless.

We lost touch a year or so later, their lifestyle and ours were quite different what with the consistent partying on their end and the hermit like tendencies on ours. By the time I surfaced on the internet again I had a three month old, and and his wife’s FaceBook profile listed her as single and living in another state. Obviously I had missed something.

I asked, but he dodged the question and suggested meeting to discuss. I mentioned coffee and he mentioned cocktails. I mentioned getting a babysitter so we could meet up one evening and he mentioned meeting up without Topher. Then he mentioned cocktails again. I mentioned being busy. That was a while ago.

A few weeks ago Topher and I were watching that episode of Parenthood where the hunky stay at home dad confesses to his uptight workaholic lawyer wife that the super hot stay at home mom bossy playgroup yoga chick made a pass at him. Lawyer mom is livid, and demands they cut all ties. Stay at home dad sighs, their 5 year old daughters are best friends, but he agrees. Later in the show lawyer mom sees the little girls snuggling together while watching a puppet show. She relents so that her 5 year old won’t lose her best friend.

Bad call, lawyer mom. Bad. Frickin. Call.

I would like to state at this point in an effort to avoid any misunderstandings/hate mail that in advocating that couples protect their marriages I am in no way advocating remaining in or tolerating a relationship that is abusive in any way. Get the hell out of that kind of mess immediately.

A few weeks ago I got a text from the ex who was so keen about having husband-less cocktails, asking if this was still my number. I ignored it. Then I got a phone call but no voicemail. Then I got a FaceBook message talking about drinks again and telling me he’d moved, to which I responded with my good wishes and not much else. Later in the week I got another text inviting me to a party at his new place which I also ignored.

The night of the party I got yet another text, asking where I was, calling me “baby”.

I’m not your baby, you disrespectful jackass. Enjoy your party. Lose my number.

There was some back and forth after that wherein he professed his disbelief that I no longer had any interest in being “friends”. I could practically feel him trying to work his way back to “harmless” through the phone. But the truth is that he isn’t, no matter how much of an idiot I think he is, no matter how little of a “chance” he may ever dream of having.

I don’t need friends who threaten my marriage. My daughter does not need me to have friends who threaten the marriage which is the framework of the family life we are building for her every day. It is my job to protect that framework, to protect not only MY marriage but HER FAMILY.

I’m not saying that I think I can guarantee a happy and successful marriage by eliminating my ex boyfriends as FaceBook friends (pretty sure he was the only one, but whatever) or that I have all the answers for how to never get divorced. I know that I do not.

What I’m saying is that marriage is work, but it’s not just working ON the marriage in my opinion. I think we also need to take stock of what’s happening around the marriage and the contributions being made to it by people who aren’t in it. Because the people you surround your family with have influence on your relationships. It’s that simple. If what’s happening around my marriage isn’t going to help it thrive, isn’t going to help make this family strong for myself, my spouse and my children, then I need to seriously consider if that thing really needs to be a part of our lives or if it needs to be eliminated.

At the end of the day the accountability for the relationship between two married people rests on their shoulders and no one else’s. But that accountability isn’t just about reacting to situations that come up, it’s about the relationship as a whole and how it’s developed, cared for, protected and regarded by the partners who build it every day. And I can tell you that to protect my marriage I’d go a hell of a lot further than a text message, or disrupting the social life of a 5 year old.

How far would I go? Exactly as far as I need to.

How far would you go?

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. June 10, 2010 7:29 am

    Oh man, I could write a NOVEL about how staying friends with an ex can screw up a perfectly good relationship but I’ll try not to.

    Deciding to have kids was the moment I decided keeping in touch with my ex wasby worth it. Although I had mostly convinced myself he was harmless, the drunk text messages and occasional “when we’re back together” remarks couldn’t be ignored. Even though he was dating someone else, even though we lived 1000 miles apart, even though he eventually MARRIED the girl he told me he’d never really love. Absolutely nothing good can come of staying friends with someone who doesn’t respect my marriage or my life and who was an abusive ahole when we were dating anyways. The drama I used to love seemed stupid and petty once I had a baby.

    For the record, I am FB friends with everyone else I dated from 12th grade on. I’m also friends with their wives.

  2. June 10, 2010 8:00 am

    RIGHT ON, woman. RIGHT ON.

  3. June 10, 2010 8:23 am

    I have no notable ex-boyfriends that I even would have any interest in being friends with, but my husband has an ex-girlfriend that he was with off and on for four years before he met me. When we started getting serious, she started dropping by his work, calling him, wanting to meet for lunch. One night after we got engaged we were out at dinner, and he told me that she had called him and wanted to come by his office and go out to lunch. Um, no. The only woman who should ever be dropping by his office to go to lunch is me. MAYBE his mother. I knew she was trying to worm her way back in by attempting to be “harmless” as you say, but I was having none of it. The very next day he had a new cell phone number. Nobody needs to put themselves in that kind of situation. It just doesn’t look right, and may lead to something that is unfixable. I agree with what Suzanne said: “Absolutely nothing good can come of staying friends with someone who doesn’t respect my marriage or my life….”

  4. June 10, 2010 10:01 am

    Blah! This is one of the main reasons I do not have my space or facebook. I do not want to have any contact with any of my ex’s, harmless or not.

  5. June 10, 2010 11:08 am

    If I can’t see my husband innocently understanding the situation, I try not to get into it. Now, it took a few awkward conversations to learn that lesson but he’s the most important thing to me. He made a family with me. I chose him. I want to keep choosing him and make sure he knows I did that.

  6. June 10, 2010 12:05 pm

    Preach!

  7. June 10, 2010 12:43 pm

    well done Mae, well done.

  8. June 10, 2010 1:25 pm

    I could not agree with you more. We have a very limited relationship with my son’s father – he lives on the other side of the country – otherwise we have stopped all ex-communication. We have decided that on the top of our list, right under God, is our family – and protecting that comes before anything else. I will go to the end of the earth and back to make sure nothing destroys this marriage, harmless or not.

  9. June 10, 2010 1:38 pm

    What a well-written post.

    I am only friends with one past relationship. He is friends with my husband as well. If ever it were to cause an issue, we would no longer be friends.

  10. June 10, 2010 2:37 pm

    Ooooohhh, I abso-friggin-lutely agree! When that happened on Parenthood I turned to my husband, and was all like “Oh hell no…..oh no she diii-dn’t!”.

    I will go as far as needed to protect my marriage and my family. What else is there?

  11. June 10, 2010 3:36 pm

    I’m in total agreement. I don’t really have any exes that would be considered serious. My husband has one. She is not in any way a part of our lives. Not because we don’t like her-she’s a wonderful person-but because he moved on and she did, too.

    Protecting my marriage is just as much about the things I don’t do as it is about the things I actively do. I’m willing to do whatever it takes.

  12. thenextmartha permalink
    June 10, 2010 6:34 pm

    I think I would have had my husband call him. Sounds like that guy is not going to take a woman serious and needs another man to put him in place. I realize it sounds very caveman but that’s that guys level. Good thing you don’t have long hair.

  13. June 10, 2010 11:03 pm

    I completely agree. Although I am facebook friends with some exes who have requested it, if they were ever to start getting even near the LINE, I’d be done. Marriages take work and having an “out” is not very inspiring.

  14. June 13, 2010 4:05 pm

    Amen. I remember watching that episode and being livid that she gave in at the end. Also, livid that her husband didn’t grow a pair and tell that woman to leave him alone.

    Nicely put.

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