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Single Parenting/girlfriend allowing ex-husband in her home

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Hi Bruce.

My specific question for the scenario below is:

Does it seem fair and reasonable for me to be concerned about my girlfriend giving her ex-husband access to enter / sleep in / rummage around her house, completely unsupervised after she leaves for work, and he comes at 6am to pick up the daughter for visitation every other Saturday morning? He ends up being alone with the young daughter in the house for several hours each time, and this is an ex-husband which has proven that he cannot be trusted as he was repeatedly unfaithful, dishonest, and he left his wife and daughter for a new less stable life. I believe it is an unnecessary security risk, and that it is also inappropriate given that her and I now have a serious relationship which is close to the engagement phase, so I would expect her to change the routine so that her ex-husband never has access to her house under any circumstances. Does this seem fair or unreasonable given the background below?
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Hi, Mike, it is not clear to me which specific behaviors that are a problem for you. You have mentioned many different issues, some overlapping. Could you be more specific about which ones are a problem / which ones you want me to comment on?

Expert: Bruce Borkosky, Psy.D.

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Your Question was:

My girlfriend and I are both in our mid-40s and have been dating each other exclusively for the past 6 months. Prior to meeting each other, we had both been married for nearly 20 years and had both divorced our spouses due to their repeated infidelity. We both remained single for several years after our divorces, and we had not dated anyone seriously until we met each other earlier this year. Our relationship is now very strong and we expect to get engaged within the next 6 months if things continue to go well.

My girlfriend lives in a different state, in her own home which she moved into after her divorce, and she has primary custody of her only child: a 10-year-old daughter. Her ex-husband has visitation rights to see the daughter every other weekend and every Wednesday night. My girlfriend works three rotating 12-hour shifts per week, and her schedule requires her to work every other weekend, so the ex-husband takes the daughter for visitation on the weekends when she has to work. This is convenient for the most part, however it has created an uncomfortable situation which I would appreciate some advice on.

My girlfriend has to leave for work around 6:00am each workday, and her daughter typically doesn't want to get up at 6:00am on Saturday of the visitation weekends, so the ex-husband will come over to my girlfriend's house at 6:00am every other Saturday morning, then she invites him into her house and allows him to sleep in a spare bedroom or otherwise rummage through her house as he sees fit until the daughter wakes up and they are both ready to leave, which is typically between 9:00am-noon. So the ex-husband has full access to her home and all of her personal space and belongings, including access to her master bedroom which is where the daughter sleeps (they sleep in the same bed together and have done so ever since the husband cheated and left both of them when the daughter was only 6). He also now has access to some of my personal items and gifts which I have given her or left at her house from my frequent visits.

My girlfriend describes her ex-husband as having been a decent guy prior to his cheating and their resulting divorce, but admits that he subsequently changed drastically and became somewhat less stable. He reportedly works many fewer hours now, makes far less money, purchased a motorcycle and joined a riding gang, shaved his head, grew a goatee, and has a new live-in girlfriend with several children of her own that moved into his new house even though they have told her kids that they never plan to get married. So my girlfriend isn't really comfortable with her ex-husband's behavior and new lifestyle, and she really distrusts his new live-in girlfriend, and she believes that it is best to minimize the time that her daughter spends visiting the ex-husband and his new girlfriend, yet she doesn't mind allowing him full unrestricted unsupervised access to her house and personal private belongings several times per month.

From my perspective this is not an acceptable practice, as my girlfriend acknowledges that her ex-husband is less stable to the point that she wants to minimize the contact with her daughter, yet she willingly trusts him to have full unsupervised access to her home several times a month. I suggested having the daughter go to the ex-husband's house on Friday night on visitation weekends so she wouldn't have to get up early the next morning and the ex-husband wouldn't need access to the house. I also suggested that it wouldn't be unreasonable to ask the daughter to get up early on those Saturday mornings to leave with her dad and go back to sleep at his house if needed. My girlfriend feels this is an unnecessary inconvenience, and she struggles with how she would communicate any change in this routine to the daughter since she previously allowed this access, and even now she personally has no issue with it other than she knows that it bothers me.

What do you think is reasonable and appropriate given the info above?

Answer
Should my girlfriend give her ex-husband access to the house?
---- well, the key question, to me, is whether one can tell someone else how to live their life / raise their children. Generally, unless it becomes child abuse, the answer is no, we cannot. Now, the question changes when it becomes your house too. So, if you begin living together, then you also have a say. Most people come to some agreement in such cases. However, if you make a request for her to change things, and she refuses, then your choice becomes either to accept her actions or break up. So, to answer your question, you might have a conversation about how things would go should the two of you live together - i.e., is she willing to change the arrangements if you lived there? Would it be ok for him to hang out there if you lived there too? would it be ok with her if you spent several hours at the house of another woman? things to think about.....

to enter / sleep in / rummage around her house, completely unsupervised after she leaves for work, and he comes at 6am to pick up the daughter for visitation every other Saturday morning? He ends up being alone with the young daughter in the house for several hours each time, and this is an ex-husband which has proven that he cannot be trusted as he was repeatedly unfaithful, dishonest, and he left his wife and daughter for a new less stable life.  I believe it is an unnecessary security risk, and that it is also inappropriate given that her and I now have a serious relationship which is close to the engagement phase, so I would expect her to change the routine so that her ex-husband never has access to her house under any circumstances.
---- I cannot tell if this is a question or not. It's a lot of allegations, few facts, and a little bit like a soap opera. I would stick to facts, simplify your issues into as few as possible. For example, there is no definition of 'stable', nor could there be. It's merely personal opinion, which makes it impossible to solve any problems. Similarly, who is to define 'unnecessary'?

Does this seem fair or unreasonable given the background below?
---- you have a lot of opinion and judgment, which makes it hard to solve the problems. The concepts of fairness and reasonableness change from person to person. Relationships are all about agreement, and opinions / judgmentalism doesn't help. If the 2 of you agree on a plan, then who cares if it is unfair or unreasonable?

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Bruce Borkosky, Psy.D.

Expertise

Questions such as 'what are some options for dealing with this problem' are easiest to answer. It's difficult, if not impossible, to diagnose anyone over the internet.

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I'm a licensed psychologist, since 1994. I have raised several step-children.

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American Psychological Association Florida Psychological Association National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology

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www.bruceborkosky.blogger.com

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Psy.D., Miami Institute of Psychology, 1993

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