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'AITA for prioritizing my ex-wife over my girlfriend because of our kids?' UPDATED 3X

'AITA for prioritizing my ex-wife over my girlfriend because of our kids?' UPDATED 3X


"AITA for telling my girlfriend my ex comes first?"

I know the title sounds bad, but...hear me out. I (m37) was with my ex-wife (f36), we will call her Elaine for 15 years, we were high school boyfriend and girlfriend and married after university. We have three kids, all boys (9, 8 and 5).

We divorced a few years ago and have remained friendly so we can co-parent our boys as easily as possible. She has remarried and I get along with her new husband who seems to be a good stepdad to my kids.

I was single for a while as I focused on my boys and work but I met my GF "Nicole" (27) about 3 months ago. I haven't introduced her yet to my kids which has been upsetting her, but I have told her that 3 months for me is not a long enough or committed enough relationship to involve my kids yet. I do not want them getting attached, or otherwise uncomfortable until I know for sure that this is the real deal.

It was Elaine's birthday last week and I told Nicole I would be doing for her what I always do with our boys and I wouldn't be available until later in the day. Nicole was upset with this as she wanted us to spend the day together but it wasn't for anything special.

Anyway, what I do on my ex's birthday is go over in the morning and with our sons I help them make her breakfast, I get some flowers and a nice card and a present from them and then they take it to her and give her breakfast in bed. My sons love doing this for their Mom and I always like to hear how happy it all makes them.

Nicole was angry I did this as she said it made her feel less important and like she would never come to ever mean as much to me in my life. I replied that Elaine is the mother of my children and that even though we are not in a relationship or in love we have our boys and i want our boys to grow up knowing that I always treated Elaine with respect even though we are no longer together.

I do not want them thinking that we never cared about each other. Nicole says she doesn't want me doing this again whilst I am in a relationship with her and that I am the a$$hole for not putting her feelings first. She said it's obvious I still love Elaine and I won't even give up this one day to put her over Elaine.

I told her that I will always have a love for Elaine as we were together a long time and have 3 kids and nothing will ever change that. Nicole said if I do not promise to begin to restrict communication with my ex to make it just about the kids, she doesn't see how I can ever prove to her I care about her. So....AITA for still doing this for my ex on her birthday when I knew it would upset my girlfriend?

EDIT: Just to clarify, I do not take the breakfast to her in bed, our oldest carries the tray. I just help the boys make the breakfast and they go and present it to their Mom.

EDIT 2: I will add the extra details people need clarifying:

- Her new husband and I will talk/have coffee, watch TV whilst the kids take the breakfast up. Her husband is the one who will have the boys awake and let me in so the kids and I can make the breakfast.

- Her husband will generally take Elaine out for dinner or plan something special so I might end up taking the kids so they can be alone as I understand he is now her husband and I have a diminished role in her life, but not my kids.

- The tradition started with my oldest when he was little and wanted to do something special for his Mom on her birthday, so we have carried it on together as the boys have come along. I do understand in a couple of years they will be old enough to do this themselves and not need my help, but I enjoy spending this time with them to do something nice for their Mother.

- Elaine did not initiate the divorce, I did. The marriage ended amicably as possible as we just grew apart. There was no big fight, no infidelity, we were two adults making a decision that we would be happier apart than together. And we are.

- I was the youngest in a very messy divorce when I was a kid and my parents used to be awful to each other. I did not want that kind of memory lingering for my own kids just because we did decide to divorce.

- No, it was not Nicole's birthday or a special event, she has not yet had a birthday in our relationship. I had planned to do something special for her birthday (which is in December) if we were still together at that time. As said, our relationship is still very new.

- I did tell Nicole that Elaine and our kids came first on THAT day only, Elaine's Birthday. This is simply due to the tradition I have with my sons. I can see why she took it out of context but I didn't mean Elaine comes first always, but I did say my boys always will.

What do you think? AITA? This is what top commenters had to say:


ESH. Your girlfriend is clearly jealous and long term, she will have more and more ridiculous demands. But dude, going over to your ex to make her breakfast in bed for her birthday !?! No woman will ever accept that. I don't even know how your ex's husband doesn't want to kill you every year. You can show your boys that you respect their mother without doing things like for the next 10 to 15 years.

LordAlom said:

NTA, seems pretty cut and dry. You're not putting your ex first, you are putting raising your sons first. You and your ex are mature people who were able to settle your differences amicably enough, but your new girlfriend sounds petty and immature.

She is probably insecure that you're not 'over your ex' (and maybe she's been burned in the past for this, it's probably more common than a married couple mutually splitting after 15 years). But if she's going to issue these ultimatums about you talking to the mother of your kids, it seems like she doesn't understand where your priorities are. Probably a good thing you didn't introduce her to your kids.


Nicole is not mature enough to be in a relationship with a single dad, much less one with a healthy relationship with his baby momma. I know that's not what you want to hear, but it's the truth. At some point you are going to have to accept that this relationship has had an expiration date from the beginning. NTA


NAH. If this is something you want to do for your boys and your ex, and if her husband is ok with some other dude coming into the house and making his wife breakfast, hey, enjoy.

But your new GF isn't "controlling" (a favorite word among Redditors) by thinking this is just weird because it is, well, weird. And it does tell her that she's way down on your priority list (understandable, at 3 months) and is likely to always be. I'd be surprised if you said she was ok with it. Again, though, if it makes you happy, go for it. Just understand the natural consequences of it.

Relevant-Economy-927 said:

You misspelled “ex girlfriend”. Nta. Good for you for being a positive role model for your sons in how to treat women. You’ve known this new girl 3 months and she is already making demands like this of you and showing incredibly high insecurities, I think it’s time you re evaluate that relationship.

Commenters' reactions are mixed. But most are divided between NTA and ESH.

About a week later, OP shared this update on the situation:

Thanks so much for the comments, insights, and even the private messages. I even take on board the YTA comments and this is what happened. A couple of days after I posted, I called E;aine's husband and asked him if he would be ok to meet me for a beer or something. He said yes so we met up in a local bar.

After the pleasantries I told him what I had done and showed him the post, I then asked if he did feel uncomfortable but had just been too nice or polite to say so and if he had I wouldn't hold it against him as he was now a big part of my kids lives.

Elaine's husband said he didn't have a problem with it and never had because he understood the kids enjoyed doing the breakfast with me and it was time for us to bond. Then he said Elaine was pregnant with their first kid together and that next year, how would it be?

As he wouldn't want their child left out of this tradition. We both went to see Elaine and we all talked and from now on, all of us are going to make the breakfast, including their new baby when it comes along (obvs when it is old enough but in meantime, he will carry the baby in or oldest will, either way, we will make it all about the kids).

So, we left knowing that this tradition will evolve as the years go on and when they can, it will just be the kids and their Mom. The following night, I took Nicole out for dinner. I was very honest with her and said that my children always will be first and part of that means sometimes, their Mom, her husband and the family dynamic we have, will come over and above her.

I said I fully understood if this was not something she could commit to as I know this is never going to be an easy thing for any woman to understand, but I told her how bad my own parents divorce had been and how even now, they cannot be in the same area (serious, my Dad didn't go to my wedding due to their animosity)

I told Nicole this is not something I ever want for my kids, to feel like they have to choose, I want a happier dynamic and this might be different to a normal divorce, but this si what works for us. And that I was the asshole but I wasn't prepared to change it because it makes my kids happy.

We decided we would go or separate ways as Nicole said she doesn't think she can be in a relationship where she will never be the priority. I did correct her and say she would be a priority as it would deepen but I had children. They always will be first. I wished her well with her future and dropped her off at home. So, yes. That's the update. Thanks againfor the advice, for the comments, and even the bashing.

Sources: Reddit
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