Ex-wives can pose special problems, particularly if they are the ones who wanted the divorce. “I think if Jack had been the one to leave, if it had been his decision and his choice, everything would be different,” Kerry says.

“I don’t think Jack believes the marriage has ended even though his divorce has been final for five years! His ex-wife keeps in constant contact, we hear about her latest boyfriends, her breakups, her health problems, every little tiny detail of her life! If I say something, she changes her tactic and uses the kids to manipulate him!”

Kerry and Jack met through mutual friends and took a long time to let their relationship develop. They were hesitant about becoming intimately involved until their common interests and needs signaled the next plateau in their relationship. Kerry would like to marry Jack and she believes they could have a very strong marriage. Jack is reluctant to commit further into the relationship although he says he feels that she’s the woman for him.

Jack’s constant contact with his ex-wife makes Kerry cautious about their future. “He says he loves me, but every time she snaps her fingers or whimpers, he’s there by her side,” says Kerry. “Sometimes I think he likes the fact that two women are fighting over him, and it makes me mad that I actually do fight over him with her! She left him, for pete’s sake! How many more bricks does he have to have dropped on his head?!”

Although Jack says he’s done with his ex, his reassurances do little to calm Kerry’s fears that someday his ex could return and he would go back to her. She listens to his words, but, to Kerry, Jack’s actions say he’s still way too emotionally tied to his ex to be good marriage material.

Jack and Kerry discussed moving out of state when he received an excellent job offer, but he’s reluctant to go until the children are through college, an excuse Kerry finds less than acceptable even though she would have less respect for Jack if he didn’t have such strong feelings toward his children. It is Jack’s feelings for his ex-wife that Kerry cannot tolerate and because of this, theirs is a relationship that may not survive.

When children are involved, there will always be a tie between the divorced couple. In some cases the ex-wife will use the children as a way to draw her ex-husband back into the relationship. A man who hasn’t fully disengaged emotionally from his ex-wife is not ready for a new relationship. Before getting too seriously involved with a man in this situation, determine if you can handle having the ex-wife and the children as an ongoing part of your life. If not, walk away.