As much as we would like to believe otherwise, we know that not every relationship is destined to last forever, and some marriages will result in divorce.
But when there are children involved, and we want to stay in their life, we have to get creative about staying in touch with our former partner, reasoned the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor LowGeologist8082 came up with a unique solution to share land, but not a house, with her ex-husband, so they could co-parent in close proximity.
But when her new boyfriend didn’t approve of these arrangements, the Original Poster (OP) was at a loss for what to do next.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for being ‘too close’ to my ex-husband?”
The OP and her ex-husband worked on co-parenting after their divorce.
“6 years ago, I got divorced from my now ex-husband.”
“here was no drama that led to this. We simply realized we were no longer happy or in love, so it would have been a clean break if not for the fact we had a daughter who is now 11.”
“Neither of us wanted to lose full custody of her or miss important moments in her life, and she is the most important person in both our lives.”
“We debated on trying to make it work just for her but realized that would only lead to all three of us becoming miserable, so we entered an arrangement that many would view as unconventional.”
The pair of them came up with a unique solution.
“When we sold our house, we used the money to buy two semi-detached houses that were joined and had a door installed between them.”
“The construction company tried to warn us against this as it would affect resale value, but neither of us had any intention to sell, so we had them go ahead with it.”
“We also had them take down the fence between both our back gardens so our daughter would have an extra-large back garden to play in.”
A very unique solution.
“Many of you may balk at the door but there is an agreement. It is strictly for our daughter’s use and neither of us can use it, barring any emergencies, say a fire, a medical emergency, or something being wrong with our daughter.”
“She has two bedrooms, one in each house, and every day she can pick where she wants to have breakfast, dinner, and sleep.”
“I won’t lie, it was awkward at first, but for her sake, we made it work and even regained a lot of the friendship we had lost, though it was of course strictly platonic now.”
But the OP’s boyfriend was not convinced.
“Last year my ex-husband married his girlfriend of three years, a lovely woman who I’m actually friends with, and I was even a guest at their wedding with my daughter being one of her bridesmaids.”
“All in all, it’s an arrangement everyone is content, with except for my boyfriend who I started to date two years ago.”
“He understood the arrangement entering into the relationship, and while he said it was a bit ‘weird,’ he never protested and all seemed well.”
He became increasingly uncomfortable the more serious they became.
“Things are getting more serious and we’ve been discussing moving in together, and he has made it clear he wants me to move as he doesn’t want to live next door to my ex-husband.”
“I understood that but told him that wouldn’t be happening as my daughter had to come first and our arrangement gave her a stable upbringing.”
“He got upset with me and asked me how he was supposed to be a father to my daughter when she already had a dad and he was literally a wall away.”
“I won’t lie, this took me by surprise, as I had no idea he wanted to be a ‘father’ to her…”
“I told him gently but firmly that he wasn’t her father, that she already had one and that even her father’s wife didn’t try to be a mother. Instead, she is called by her name.”
“I told him if he wants some kind of familial title, he could be an uncle, but I wouldn’t give him permission to take her father’s title when he is very much involved in her life.”
“He told me if I loved him, I’d move for him, and despite me trying to tell him I do love him, he isn’t listening.”
“AITA in this?”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some thought the situation was fair because the OP made it clear up-front.
“NTA. Sounds like you very clearly explained how things work in your world. Kudos for coming up with a unique parenting method that puts your daughter firmly as the most cherished outcome of your previous relationship.”
“Your new BF may not be compatible with your uniquely blended family. But one red flag is that he wants to appropriate the title of father. Good on you for nipping that in the bud. Well done, carry on… Without him, if he can’t get the brief.” – lalafia1
“NTA since you were honest from the beginning and your BFs ‘don’t love me’-arguments seem to be his ego and insecurities speaking.”
“Not gonna lie, but love the fact that you two put the love for your kid and her having some stability before your own egos and needs. Hope you have the strength and mental sanity to keep doing that, even if that would mean breaking up with your unreasonable boyfriend.” – These-Process-7331
“It does sound cool but I could see an insecure guy being unable to handle it. Too much space for ‘what if she still loves him or he still loves her’ with them being in such close proximity.”
“Their arrangement sounds great for them, and frankly, the boyfriend shouldn’t have stuck around for two years if he had this issue. He sort of was leading OP on.” – thinkingahead
“The boyfriend’s ‘If you loved me’ argument is easy to flip around.”
“She could say, ‘I do love you, but I love my daughter more. If you loved me, you wouldn’t ask me to take her away from her loving father and have us go through a horrible legal battle that will only hurt her, which is the last thing I ever want to do.'”
“He’s treating ‘if you loved me’ as a one-way street.” – BillyYumYumTwo-byTwo
Others agreed that this arrangement could work very well.
“My brother’s friends’ parents divorced and instead of selling the family home and forcing the kids out of it, they decided to get their own separate spaces, keep the family home, continue to split the costs of it, and switch off their time in that home so the kids could stay put and wouldn’t have to go back and forth between their parents every other week.”
“I love when parents come up with nontraditional alternatives to splitting time in order to center everything around the kids.” – Littlelady0410
“I knew someone who was divorcing her husband but they were keeping their current home and switching off weekly because they couldn’t afford to have two independent households big enough to support their children.”
“She was always complaining that she still has to do all of the regular house cleaning and laundry and still pick up after her husband, but now he has absolutely no incentive to try to make things easier on her and in fact seems to be doing petty things to spite her. Things like leaving big messes (including once a pair of his new girlfriend’s underwear) for her to clean up. There’s more bad stuff, but you get the gist.”
“So I think bird nesting can be done, it just really depends upon the people involved. The person I know could very well have been exaggerating to make herself sound better, but there is definitely potential for abuse.”
“OP’s version of it sounds much more equitable, but OP and her ex are also grown ups who seem to put their child first and their own feelings second.” – cant_be_me
“My ex and I stayed within walking distance of each other so the kids could go where they wanted to be at the time.”
“We had no custody arrangement which didn’t make my lawyer happy but my thought was, ‘no thanks, we’ll take it from here,’ knowing that we didn’t want the court involved with our kids. This was long ago… the early nineties and fortunately it worked for us.” – joyfullypresent
“I actually think this is genius. I believe there’s a cognitive shift that happens when you transition from ‘inside’ to ‘outside,’ and that can contribute to a feeling of separation between mum’s house and dad’s.”
“Having the transition on the inside means she’s never actually *leaving* a house to get to the other one, so it feels more connected.” – SSTrihan
While the OP was feeling discouraged because of how her boyfriend was responding to her living arrangements, the subReddit insisted she was in the clear. Not only had she made her life clear up front, leaving no surprises for her boyfriend, but she was also prioritizing her daughter, which so often comes second during a divorce.