What did you find yourself thinking when you found out your soon to be ex has a new boyfriend?
Even worse…you may not even be divorced and your wife’s new guy is already in the picture. Or maybe you’re having trouble even dealing with your ex wife dating at all! Just seeing her with her new boyfriend may be totally disrupting your life, especially if she moved on quickly. Or maybe this new person has come into the picture long after the divorce. Whenever it happens, it’s usually a huge adjustment when our ex moves on with someone else.
Have you been instantly consumed with deep feelings of jealousy, hurt, anger, anxiety and a grave concern about your children? Were you shocked that she so quickly brought a stranger into the life of your children, and now you have to deal with both an ex and new boyfriend while you may still be reeling with pain about the divorce.
I’ve heard numerous stories about Dads being in this situation and immediately calling their best friend to tell them with a hint of incredulousness, “My ex wife has a new boyfriend!”
This can often make things worse, as the “best friend” will typically begin to berate the ex-wife, leading you into deeper depths of despair, and you end up really not knowing what to do. Hopefully, you’ll realize that you need to figure out what to do in a positive way before you start to react in a way you’ll later come to regret.
Do you want to call her and give her a piece of your mind? How could your ex-wife do this to you and, more importantly to the kids? Most people going through this post-divorce experience, typically point the finger at their ex. They blame their ex-wife not only for their own anxiety and stress, but for the contentious nature of the divorce, for hurting their children and even for the divorce itself.
Both parties may still be hurting. Without thinking, they each may reactively accuse, threaten and react in ways that heat up the animosity and make any and all “discussions” more difficult. The worst part is that no matter how the divorce happened, this reactionary behavior puts children in the middle.
Most parents never stop to think about the emotional and psychological trauma and resulting damage their bad behavior is causing their kids for the future, especially in the realm of their relationships. Without knowing it, we are setting a horrible example for our children. Is this what we want our legacy to be?
Coping With Feelings
The emotions of divorce can feel raw for a long time. You may still be experiencing the intense feelings of loss and betrayal that have been making you want to verbally lash out at your ex-wife. Finding out that your ex-wife has a new boyfriend can be a crossroads in your after-divorce life. This crossroads is not only traumatic for you, it can have a dramatic impact on your kids. You can determine this impact by the way you choose to move forward.
Reflect back to your wedding day… Remember how much the two of you were in love, how deeply you loved your now ex-wife back then?
What happened to this special bond of love and trust the two of you had? What were the choices the two of you made over time that led to your divorce? What were the choices your ex-wife made that contributed to your getting divorced? What choices did you make that led to things going awry? Why weren’t the two of you able to make things work out the way you’d dreamed about?
Whatever led you and your ex to this point of no return, it’s also important to eventually stop focusing on the past, to learn from the past, and then focus on the future you want to create for your children and for yourself.
Ask yourself, “What am I feeling? What meaning am I giving to these feelings? Have my feelings been clouding my judgment for making positive decisions? Think about what has been triggering the feelings deep inside of you. Take a few slow, deep breaths. For the sake of your children and for your sake, too, it’s vital to get back into balance and to not blow things out of proportion.
Realizing that your words and actions teach and impact your kids, think about what you need to do to stay calm and to maintain your composure during any and all interactions with your ex-wife no matter what as you move forward.
How often have you found yourself wondering about your ex-wife’s new boyfriend? What is he like as a person, as a man, as a lover? How will he treat your ex? Your greatest concern is most likely centered around how your ex-wife’s new guy will treat your children. What kind of example will he set for them? What kind of influence will he have? Will he be there for them or will he be a threat? Can he be trusted with the kids?
These questions can overwhelm you with worry, leading you into a pit of despair. This is normal. Also understand that for your sanity, you need to put a halt to where your fears will try to take you.
Get clarity on what you want for your kids and for you. Be aware that your words, choices and behavior impact your kids. Commit to be the best parent you can be…the parent your children need you to be. Set the best possible example for them that you can … always.
Now that your ex-wife has a new someone special in her life, how does it make you feel? Maybe a surge of jealousy consumes you. No doubt, you’ve tried hard to be a great husband and father. Now you’re jealous of this new boyfriend. You may feel like you let your wife down and now he gets to be with her. Or you may be jealous she has someone new and you don’t. Could these feelings be a part of the frustration and anger you’re feeling?
This feeling of jealousy is very common, but you can’t let it get in the way of making the best decisions for the good of your children. You just have to concentrate on continuing to be the best father you can be and remember the unique things about you that are good for your children.
You may feel betrayed by your ex-wife. Especially if you didn’t want the divorce, you may worry that she is trying to replace you as the kids’ father with the new boyfriend. You love your children so very much and your greatest fear is that of being replaced or estranged from your kids. You can feel the pain deep in your heart.
If this is how you’re feeling, remember that what you focus on determines how you feel. Again, it’s time to get clear on what you really want to create for your children. Know that it is possible to create an environment after divorce where your children can thrive. You are going to have to let go, get clear and step up and be the father your kids need you to be.
Even though most men struggle emotionally when your ex has someone new, some of you are actually relieved when your ex wife started dating. If you’re one of these men, you may believe this means your ex will stop antagonizing you and have a more calm and positive relationship with both you and with your kids.
Even though this may be true for some guys who also have a new person in their life, there are usually still lots of other emotions swirling around in your head when your wife finds a new boyfriend. Just keep in mind that this quagmire of emotions can affect the choices you make, and be aware that every choice you make leads to a related consequence for you, your children and the future of everyone involved. Choose wisely.
What Not To Do
When figuring out what not to do when you find out your wife has a new boyfriend, you have to focus first on the things you should be doing. If you’re at all like me, your children are the reason that is so much bigger than being self-centered. I wanted more than anything to create an environment of divorce where my children would thrive.
If you’re stuck in a reactionary state of anger, frustration, jealousy, and/or worry, you need to get yourself under control. If you don’t, you will be creating a negative environment that can end up traumatizing your children. If you stay an emotional mess, you are NOT being the best father to your children.
Don’t Stalk Him
Maybe you’ve thought about finding out who this new man in your ex-wife’s life is. Where is he from? What does he do? Is he a man of integrity? Can he support your ex and the kids? What’s in his past? It’s pretty easy to research the boyfriend on the internet and social media.
Again, take a slow, very deep breath and ask yourself where this will lead. I hope and pray it registers that this type of sleuthing would only further fuel your negative feelings, drain your energy and intensify your already high anxiety. And what about the waste of time, focus, money and probability of creating more of what you do NOT want?
I recommend thinking about how to have a well thought out, calm conversation with your ex, letting her know that, like her, your main priority and concern is the children.
Don’t Compare Yourself To Him
Have your kids told you they want you to meet their Mom’s new boyfriend? OMG!! Maybe they like HIM more than you, their own father! If you’ve had this thought, I’m sure the heartfelt agony ripped through your soul.
Have you found yourself wondering how you measure up against the ex-wife’s new boyfriend? Is he smarter? More polished? Does he make more money? Will he end up having a better relationship with your children than you do?
Wait! What if the new boyfriend is disrespectful and mean to the kids? What if he were to ever lay a hand on them? Hold on! This would be another waste of time and is an energetic vacuum.
Again, it is important to know without any doubt that you are the only real father your kids will ever have and that their love for you in return, is the love children naturally have for their true birth father.
Be comfortable and confident (without being egotistical), believe in yourself, and always be respectful, which of course is how you want to be treated.
Don’t Harvest Information From The Kids
If you’re considering asking the kids about Mom’s new boyfriend, I beseech you to stop in your tracks! This is a treacherous road to nowhere good! By asking the kids about their Mom’s boyfriend, you will immediately put them directly and firmly in the middle between you and their Mom, not to mention that you will be wearing your fear on your sleeve and setting a poor, jealousy, anger-fueled example for your children.
I certainly hope there is no way you want to do any of this! Rather, remember that deep in your heart, you desire to be the best father you can be to and for your beloved children. This means setting a consistently positive example for them, which equates to being calm, rational, compassionate, and loving.
Don’t Be Rude Or Condescending
Decide and know beforehand how you will behave if and when you actually meet your ex-wife’s new boyfriend. Recognize that if you are rude or condescending in any way, it will not be productive and in fact will make you look bad in the eyes of your ex, your children, and even the new boyfriend. You would not only be setting a bad example for your kids, but this blatant disrespect could also traumatize them.
On top of this, you would be inviting both your ex-wife and her new boyfriend to be disrespectful to you in return by setting the undermining example in the first place.
Meeting The New Boyfriend
Grasp that you need to be your best when you actually come face to face with the new boyfriend. For the sake of your children, the ex, yourself, and even the new guy. Reflect in more depth about this moment in advance and commit to being calm, rational, and to maintaining self-control. Yes, you will need to be the best version of yourself that you can possibly be. It goes without saying, that this includes being the best possible father to and for your children that you can be.
Instead of thinking about questions you can ask your ex-wife’s new boyfriend, think of positive things you can say about the children, and even about your ex-wife. Nothing over the top, rather simply being sincere. This would shed a positive light on the kids, on their mother, and on you. This would be a win-win interaction for everyone as you are setting a tone of respect and decency for moving forward.
Maybe you are feeling like you are in a veritable conundrum. The new situation may seem overwhelming and confrontational. However, these feelings are all in your head. Be sure your fears do NOT take over and get the best of you by causing you to react in ways you will later regret.
You’re Still Dad
As mentioned earlier, you are the only real father your kids will ever have. Know your children will love you no matter what. Of course, your love for your kids will never wane. Take another slow, deep breath as you now realize that just because your kids’ mom has a new boyfriend, it in no way means that you will ever be replaced as their father, especially as you strive to always be the best dad you can be for your children. This means consistently being the best version of yourself that you can be.
Also, know deep down that your ex-wife will always try to have the kids’ best interests at heart.
The situation with the ex’s new boyfriend is NOT a competition! You are, and always will be, the true birth father of your children. No one can ever take that away from you.
How To Learn and Grow From This Experience
As we come to the end of this article, one of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is, “What can I learn and how can I grow from having gone through this experience?”
Be honest. Be serious. Be deeply reflective. This will help you hone-in on insights, lessons, and how you can really learn and grow in empowering ways for your future. I imagine you are starting to realize it takes work to peacefully and positively navigate divorce. Yet, you also recognize that it is possible.
Believe that you are up to the task. The work it takes is one of the most worthwhile things you will ever do for yourself, and more importantly for your children.
The majority of divorces are contentiously reactive and conflictive with each party escalating the situation. Is this what you really want for your children? For yourself? Yes, it takes two to make the ultimate difference, yet it only takes one to make a difference. It just takes one person to STOP being reactive, conflictive, and contentious.
Start by being aware of the moments when you are about to lose control and react with vehement anger or be defensive when the ex says or does something you don’t like, something that triggers you.
Being aware of when your feelings are about to trigger you into reacting will help you be able to shift to focusing on saying or doing something that will create more of what you really DO want.
Think carefully about what you really want for your kids, and for yourself. Now consider what you are going to say or do to create more of what you want.
Yes, this takes courage. Courage begins with having clarity for what you really want for your kids, and for yourself, and knowing WHY you want it. Without any doubt, my WHY was my young daughter. I know your heartfelt WHY is your precious children.
Look deeply into your heart to find the courage to step up to put your children first, and to start making consistently caring, compassionate, calm, decisions to create and nurture an environment of divorce where your children can thrive … an environment where you are calm, peaceful, and feel fulfilled knowing that you are being the best, most integrity-based, loving parent you can be for your children.
Isn’t this what your children need the most from you?
About The Author
Peter Hobler’s heartfelt mission as a Personal Development Coach is to help Entrepreneur Dads of Divorce realize that it is possible to create an environment of divorce where children are thriving, even if the ex refuses to work together to co-parent.
Peter has personally been through the extreme challenges of divorce. He is the proud father of four now young adult children, has an 8 year old grandson, and is the loving and devoted husband to his wife Laurie.
Peter graduated from DePauw University and received his MBA from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. The author of two books, he is the driving force behind The EX-Factor brand and philosophy, architect of The Vicious Cycle of Subconscious Fear, developer of The 7 Principles of COURAGE, and keynote speaker.
This was a lot of helpful information
The challenge will be implementing all that is recommended
I did not want the divorce so its been very tough just trying to accept what happened
I have recently found out that there is someone else interested in her and I’m devastated
Its only been 4 months and I still feel she is my wife as I did not want this
This is very tough and I have immense anger but I have two boys
Just the thought of this makes me feel sick and I feel I want revenge in some way
The reality is Trying to stay calm and doing the best for your kids and being a good example to them
Thank you for sharing your studies and thoughts