A Q&A with blended family expert, Shirley Cress Dudley
A Blended Family Mom asks:
We can’t plan our holidays because my husband’s ex-spouse keeps changing the visitation schedule. We want to plan a vacation with all of our kids, but we can’t do it, unless we get definite visitation dates from my husband’s ex. My husband usually just let’s his ex-spouse change the schedule whenever she wants and he doesn’t confront her. I don’t think I should have to issue ultimatums or direct my partner on how he deals with his ex-spouse, but I also realize that this is impacting my attempts at a successful blended family. I have had this same discussion with him and though he agrees, I see few attempts on his part to change his communications with his ex-spouse. Any advice for us?
Shirley Cress Dudley responds:
A visitation agreement is put into place for a reason- to keep these kinds of disagreements and inconveniences from happening. I know you don’t want to give your husband ultimatums, but you can educate him on how his inactivity effects your family and your marriage.
Ask your husband if he supports you or his ex-wife more. I’m sure his immediate answer will be “You, of course.” Then, explain how his inactivity favors his ex-spouse. By letting his ex take advantage of the visitation schedule, repeatedly, he is putting you and your blended family in last place. Hopefully, after discussing this, he will realize it’s time to take a stand.
He should then inform his ex-wife that you will now follow the visitation agreement exactly. You can add some accommodations by allow changes among all parties if over ____ days notice are given, or unless it’s an emergency. Being willing to work together on the visitation is fine, but if one party is constantly changing the schedule, especially at the last minute- it’s time to take a stand and communicate your expectations. Also read Chapter Nine of Blended Family Advice.
Shirley Cress Dudley is a licensed professional counselor with a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Counseling, and a master’s degree in Education. She has a passion for helping blended families grow strong and be successful, and her book, Blended Family Advice, has been touted as the ultimate must-read for couples contemplating or undergoing such change.