Adapted from a recent online discussion.
DEAR CAROLYN: My boyfriend is divorced and the relationship with the ex is contentious and bumpy. I struggle when I hear the things he has to go through; I can’t imagine how he feels. I am the type to get super-emotional and overinvolved when I hear about what I see as injustices or unfair or inappropriate behavior.
Is it wrong to ask him to keep that part of his life separate? Or to tell me key things and not the mean text exchanges and issues that come up every day? They have a child together, so I recognize that if I stay with him, this will be part of my life for the next eight to 10 years.
He is great, but this part of his life, his past — I struggle with watching him go through it. How do I handle hearing about his issues with her every day in a supportive way?
Ignorance is Bliss?
DEAR IGNORANCE IS BLISS? This is a problem with two possible origins: bad balance and bad boundaries.
If his custodial drama is all he talks about, then that’s a balance problem, and it’s on him. If instead he’s sharing his mama stuff in proportion with other important things in his life, then your not being able to deal with it without getting “super emotional” is a boundary problem, and it’s on you.
So first you need to consider whether he’s under-, over- or just-right sharing.
Maybe before that you even need to decide what you believe is the right amount of sharing to begin with. You can talk about this, too; if he tends to convey every little detail of what transpires between…
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