How to keep the ex-wife out of your relationship

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I can’t help but be surprised at the number of stepmoms who are thinking about leaving their partners (or have left) because of his ex. It’s not that I don’t understand why these women would want to run and never look back, but it saddens me that their situations became so bad that they felt it was the only option.

So for those of you who remain but find yourself challenged by the ex on a daily basis, here are some ways to prevent her from having so much power over your life.

She can’t call the shots for your family

Mom probably hasn’t adjusted her vision to include you – in any aspect – even though the reality of the situation is that you are very present. Therefore, there will always be conflict where she’s concerned. Because you are a part of your partner’s and stepchild’s family, you and your partner have to be the one calling the shots for your family. If you let the ex dictate what should happen in your home, then you’re letting her manipulate her way into your house and relationship.  The couple is in charge of their household and must stand in their power.

Acknowledge that these are extraordinary circumstances

If you’re kicking yourself for getting so wrapped up in the negativity of the ex, quit it. Stop thinking that this should be as simple as other relationships you’ve had. It’s not like having a toxic coworker or friend that you can remove from your life if you choose. You’re not blood related to her, so there’s no positive history with her or unconditional love to fall back on. And you didn’t choose to have children with her, so you didn’t get here (directly) by your own choice. You’re faced with her because of choices made by the man you love. Yet you’re paying the price for his choices, which can feel very unjust.

It’s easy to obsess about the unfairness of it all, but that’s just one more way you’re giving her power. So give yourself a break and acknowledge that this is one of the most challenging types of dynamics you’ll ever encounter. In fact, give yourself a pat on the back. You’re still standing.

Close the door on no-win situations

Some situations are just impossible. And by impossible I mean that no matter what you do or how hard you try, there’s no appeasing the other household. You know the type of situation I’m referring to. It’s as if you’re standing there telling someone that the sky is blue and they’re yelling at you to “stop saying the sky is red!!!” It doesn’t make sense. There’s nothing rational about it. And there’s nothing you can do to change it – because it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. Yet, inevitably, that will be the situation you end up spending all your time and energy on. That is a mistake. When you’re able to see that you’re backed against a wall with very little chance of resolution – shut it down by disengaging. Don’t validate her absurd accusations by responding to them. Instead, turn your attention elsewhere.

Take responsibility for letting her in

If the ex is causing conflict between you and your partner, it’s because you and/or him have let her. Think about it, regardless of what she’s doing or saying, it can only cause conflict if you choose to react to her by turning on each other, instead of supporting one another. If your partner lets her do things that are clearly disrespectful or threatening to you, or if you obsess about her, engage her when she acts out, or get angry with your partner every time he makes a choice you disagree with, then you’re giving her a power she wouldn’t otherwise have. It’s up to you and your partner to keep your relationship intact and keep her on the outside.

Additional ways to minimize her impact

  1. If you must discuss her, set aside a fixed amount of time to do this. Set a timer, and once the timer goes off, put her away. 
  2. Create boundaries around talking points. It’s vital that your partner create these boundaries. The focus should be the kids. If she tries to veer off into the personal, your partner should remind her that he’s not interested in discussing those topics. If she continues, he should leave the conversation.
  3. Retrain your brain. Get out of the habit of thinking and stressing about her. Focus on what’s going right in your life, don’t ruminate about the past. Stop reliving every awful thing she’s ever done to you. My favorite method is to add a helpful mantra as an event to the calendar on my phone and then set it to alert me 3 times a day. For example, “I am peaceful and in control of my life.” After about a month you’ll have a new habit of NOT thinking about her drama.
  4. Remember that whatever is going on with her – you can’t fix it. Even if you were correct in your assumptions and knew the perfect thing to say to her, you are the one person she is unable to hear it from.
  5. Whenever you find yourself getting upset about her, stop yourself and use that energy to do something nice for your partner. The goal is to focus more on cultivating a stronger relationship and less on things that steal your happiness.
  6. Find humor where you can. I’m the last person to think any of this stepfamily drama is funny, but after you’re repeatedly called a liar, from someone who consistently lies, even when she’s under oath, you just have to laugh at the absurdity. Find the funny in the ridiculousness of it all.

In order for your relationship to survive the difficulties of someone so intimately connected to your family, you and your partner must support each other. You must listen to each other and be kind and forgiving when missteps are made. You must maximize the strength of your marriage and minimize the ex’s effect on you. Your family is counting on you.

Ready to regain your sense of freedom from the ex? Join my 2-week, online Intensive: Dealing with the Ex

This article first appeared in the March 2015 issue of SM Magazine.

© 2015 Jenna Korf     All Rights Reserved

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53 thoughts on “How to keep the ex-wife out of your relationship

  1. I distanced myself right away from his ex. In 10 years if I’ve said 5 sentences to her that’s all. I made it a practice early on to not get involved in the mama drama. She has told my step daughters some bad things about me which aren’t true. I brush it off and realize when you judge others your condemning yourself. So if others want to act that way do be it. I’m responsible for me.

    • Carol, you’re my hero! The ex in my life isn’t awful, I just see her almost daily, the kids come to our house every day before/after school even when it’s her time (we’re 7 days on/off) it’s been an agreement but at the same time its challenging for me because I feel like we share a life with her. We also see each other several times a week because my step-children are involved in sports…it’s just challenging!

      • I also have had this problem, I used to let her drop of the girls before work and we used to hang out at all the sporting events . We were “friends”
        For about a year but it has gone downhill and now I take the approach of not dealing with her at all. She used to text me all the time and call about the girls but we got into a fight and now she only texts my husband again. And I’m ok with that. Slowly becoming a huge burden off my shoulders .

  2. As always, Jenna, fantastic advice! Since I’ve been a stepmom for ten years, much of this I’ve learned over the years… But, in the beginning, it was not so easy, and I didn’t have anyone to turn to. Many mean things were said about me to the kids, many lies were told, and many nasty things were said about their dad. We simply stayed solid and true to who we were. We never said anything mean, but we never lied either. Over the years, the kids have, sadly, learned who their mother is, and they now know how to deal with her. I do know she loves them in her way, and I tell them she’s doing the best she can.

    What I have learned through all of this is that letting someone effect you with their negativity is toxic. I now have a small support group of stepmoms. We are all helping each other learn the fine art of letting go… 🙂

    • Yep, kids often grow up and see their parents for who they really are. Which can be sad and difficult for them. And it’s true, protecting ourselves from toxic people is crucial to our happiness and well-being. 🙂

      • The birth mother of my two step children was in prison for eight years and when she got out planned to break up our family. She introduced our children at 13 & 14 years old to drinking, sex, and lying to us. Which led our daughter to sneak around behind her dad’s back and have sex with a boy and got pregnant at 16yrs old. She also threatened us and told the kids she would not have anything to do with them if they didn’t lie to the judge about us. She also runs a body rub business under the table and tried to get on SSI saying she can’t work due to PTSD from being in prison. She hasn’t paid taxes in five years. She had her oldest daughter working for her when she was 15yrs old. Now the kids are 18 & 19 in next couple weeks. They are afraid of what she will do if they tell anyone about what she does with the massages. She has girls working for her and they do what they call happy endings. She does so much fraudulent stuff it is unreal. She even convinced there dad’s mom that we are lying about what she does for a living. Her own mom called the kids liars when they come clean about everything a couple years ago about their oldest sister and her lying about things. She is delusional and she gets away with living so illegal.

  3. Trying to do this for about a month and its better but i think I fall into the impossible category sadly 🙁

      • Yes I did tried to disengage but She is a High conflict person who still looks for a way of causing trouble for my husband after 13 years of being divorced. The worst is that her daughter is completely manipulated by her and her loyalty is with her. Dad is just a bank account…and she always starts a new conflict when things are at peace….she is impossible and a really bad person…

        • I am in your same situation. The only contact we receive is about money. One is 18 and the other is 14. They are both girls and mom has manipulated them to think dad is bad. She grew up without a father and thinks she turned out fine! She has been married twice since my husband and numerous boyfriends. We have been married 8 years and are financially stable, but she always plays the victim. The children stopped seeing their father 4 years ago, but he still call weekly and drives 7 hours to attend events even though he is not invited. He went to graduation last year even though they refused to tell him the time or place. Thank goodness for the internet! I just pray daily that they turn out to be functioning adults.

      • I have disengaged completely, no longer speak to his ex(it was her choice. We were friendly and spoke often, but something in her head switched and now I am her #1 enemy), and I am perfectly ok with that. But, what should you do when his ex uses his children as pawns to manipulate and gain control over him? His children are his top priority and he will do anything for them. His ex knows this. Almost a year ago, she forbade him to let me around their kids and told him if I did, she would no longer allow him around them. On his custody weekends, she forces him to stay at her home(she stays somewhere else) so that he can see his kids. Recently, I’ve seen the kids and I know the ex is going to retaliate. So, what do I do to help him through it and help him keep his control in the situation?

        • Hi Christina, I know about the manipulation attempts well. She can’t legally keep him away from them on his weekends unless the custody order isn’t legal? He might need to go to court to have it enforced, her held in contempt if she tries to withhold them from him. Of course, he might not want to do that initially for many reasons, but she will only get worse. In the meantime, just try and be as supportive as you can, validating his experience and letting him know that YOU know how hard this is for him.

        • Wow your the wife so why should she have a say in you being around their kids (your step kids)? You guys are one and married. Take it to court because it’s foolish.

    • Me too. I have been trying diplomacy. And keeping her out by not responding to nasty texts. But my partner unfortunately has decided that he has to keep giving the ex everything she demands. So I must leave because she has demanded that while he is with me , there is no chance of seeing his daughter.

  4. We have cut the ex out completely. All interaction before was pointless. Even the simplest things.. Like a text about what time to pick up kids. The ex couldn’t even just answer with a time to pick up. She ALWAYS had to do something hateful and spiteful. Example- instead of telling us a good time to get the kids, she would tell us “pick them up at 4”
    So when we we went to get them at 4, they are not there. But ex is there, and says “oh they wanted to go to the park with friends, come back at 530”. Then at 530 we return still no kids, they are somewhere else blah blah etc… So we finally go home, ( we live about 25 minutes from her). Then we get a text at 7 “where are you, kids are waiting!” So husband would go to get them. When he gets there at 730, the kids are there, along with 2-3 friends each. And the ex says “oh friends are staying the night tonight, hope it’s ok” She just assumed we would be ok with 4-5 extra kids staying the night. We have a hard enough time taking care of my husbands 2 kids and my daughter who is younger than them, not to mention we have 3 cats, 2 dogs. She knows that we would not be cool with that. But it’s a game to her. So if my husband says he didn’t agree to that. The ex makes a big deal, and makes him look like this A$$hole dad that doesn’t want kids having any friends, then says “well you can take their friends back hom then”
    Remember he has been back and forth since 4:00 trying to get his kids. Finally in the evening they are There. But now the ex is insisting he must take 4 friends (all live in different parts of the city) home. By the time he gets all this done. He doesn’t even get home with kids til almost 10.
    The ex did this all the time before I met my husband. But it only last about 3 months after I married him, because I couldn’t do that. My husband like to just do, pay or say whatever to keep peace with the ex, because her wrath is so hateful and evil it’s scary. This woman has no qualms when it comes to destroying ones life, reputation, and emotional, mental, and physical health.
    I believe her to be a sociopath… She lack empathy, but she can put on a fake front and pretend to care, and worry and be concerned. But I have seen the real woman behind that mask. And it is pure evil. No soul whatsoever.
    We have had no contact at all with her in over a year, and life is so much better. Things are simple, and easier. The kids are older now (16,13). And we got them cell phones, and we communicate directly to them. There is no point in cop parenting with someone who has no intention of doing right by her kids, but her only intention and agenda is to make life unbearable and miserable for their father. She dosent care and never has cared who she hurts. She wants to be in control, in a sick like way. Controlling everyone in her life, by demanding them do crazy things, that make life difficult, and eventually wear you out…
    No contact is not always possible if kids are very young. And my advice is if you want to see kids and you have a mentally unstable person to coparent with, you just have to
    deal with crazy, until kids are able to communicate with you. 11-12 years old is when our oldest was able to communicate via text cell phone. It was much easier to go directly thru a 12 year old than her mother, since the 12 year old was more mature and competent

  5. I have started distancing myself from all aspects of the ex. I can only control what happens in my home. I love my step daughter and I just want the best for her. Her mother is a very angry person and tries her best to destroy everything she can when it comes to my husband by being difficult in all aspects of the parental agreement and me being in my step daughters life. She tends to believe that I am a threat and I am not. Her mother is not going to be able to control my home. Therefor she can keep her thoughts and opinions to herself and never even enter my mind.

  6. It’s so nice to know.. that I am not the only one dealing with this. I can’t even begin how upset i am about what my fiancee ex wife is doing to us. We were suppose to get married 9/24/2016 but we have had to stop our wedding plans. She uses his daughter against him in so many ways it is unreal. She tells my fiancee that he has changed since he has been with me, that I am the reason he doesn’t want to talk to her. Even told her child that I am a bully that the reason her and daddy don’t get along is because I told her daddy lies about her. When this woman text’s him the most rude and horrible things to him. She even told him that her old boyfriend was a better father than he was. When she was confronted about what she said to him. It was all lies that I was lying about what she said.

  7. I’m so discouraged. My husband was cheated out of half custody with his ex but due to a technicality in wording from the mediatorch 8 years ago his ex’s attorney discovered the issue and she has used that to her advantage. She has a PhD in psychology so she really knows how to get her way. My husband has been out of work for close to a year and recently got a great job, he’s behind on child support due to the job loss. My husband has requested mediation so they can work out the details of the new custody arrangement but she’s saying she doesn’t have the money which is a flat out lie, she recently put marble counter tops in their bathrooms (she is married to a man who also has his PhD and has a great job) In order for the case to move forward my husband’s father’s righas attorney suggested we pay for mediation with the understanding that the ex deduct the amount we are paying on her behalf from his arrears child support. This woman and her attorney have been extremely slimy in getting her way. I want to support my husband but I’m really struggling because she has been supported by two men for many years. I work as a paralegal and have supported my family by myself this year. We can’t afford to put gas in our cars rights now or put food on the table but we’re going to pay her share on mediation. How do I resolve this in my mind and heart! I desperately wish I could go on the step mom retreat! I could she use some hugs from women in my situation. Any words of wisdom would be great. Thanks!

    • Hi Sara, it sounds like you’ve been through a LOT in the past few years. I know it’s hard to reconcile in your mind, because things feel so unfair, but it does sound like a good option. Hopefully through mediation things will get smoothed out and changed in your husband’s favor. If it does, then it will be worth it to pay her part. And hopefully you’ll get in writing that the amount you pay for her will be deducted. Good luck!

  8. Where do I start.. I stumbled across your site while researching being a stepmom and coping with some emotions I have.
    My husband has a 19 year old son. I’ve been in his life since he was 10 years old. From the start my husband has never learned to mesh our blended family together. We married with the intentions of having children, but somewhere along the line my husband changed his mind about having children with me based off his interactions with his sons mother. And he never told me until it came out 5 years into our marriage during couples therapy. I was devastated. Not only would my husband not allow me to play an active role as stepmom because of his sons mom, but he also made decisions concerning our marriage and our family based around her.
    Having bore no children of my own, time running out at age 35 going on 36 years of age, and no finances to have children because money is tied up in his caring for his son (who doesn’t live with us). How do I move forward?? My husbands solution to my feelings is to now force me and his son to have a child adult relationship. But he’s 19 going on 20 years old. He’s no longer a child. Trying to force us together now will not change the fact my husband took away my choice to have children and to be somewhat of a parent to his son. Please help me? I want to be better, not bitter. I just don’t have the tools to deal with the situation I’m facing because my years of research have yet to find a situation similar to mine to model after.

  9. Jenna I am a grandmom to a beautiful little 4 year old ( going on 16 sometimes) girl. My son, her father , is in the divorce process which is finally coming to fruition. My son is a good soul, a kind soul and many readers will say I’m saying this because he is my son, but I’m not. The fact is : he is just that. He is my first child. I say child, but he’s an adult ( 38). He married a young woman 6 years ago. I cannot explain why it happened or even how and I’m sure your followers might not care to know the reasons. Love is blind as the saying goes.Sometimes it is so blinding that it takes awhile to see clearly. I know for I have been down that path too. For whatever their reasons for divorcing, ( again he never came up front with his father and myself about it) it happened. They saught the help of mediators due to lack of money to hire separate attorneys. The beginning of the process according to his soon -to- be ex blogged about how their divorce was so “amicable” in its embryonic stage. It all sounded so good- less stress for both of them, us his parents and for his little girl. Now it has become ugly. It suddenly changed when my sons ex ( who blogged about this on every social media format out there ) learned he had “moved on” as she hoped he would and found himself a wonderful woman. This poor young woman who never met his ex was written about on every social media outlet by his ex. His ex became jealous that he moved on first, not her, and she became enraged when she learned how loving and caring his girlfriend had been with his little child. She blasphemed her in the New York Times online blog spot titled MOTHERLODE.
    Reading your thoughts in this article is not only beneficial to his girlfriend who I hope one day becomes my daughter in-law, but has also helped me. Thank you for such enlightening words. We believe there are reasons for why things happen and both myself, my son and his girlfriend will keep a positive outlook on all this and their new life . No one wants to take a child away from their Mom. Unfortunately, his ex keeps thinking his girlfriend will do that. Thank you again and God bless you.
    Linda in New Jersey

  10. Thanks to everyone for sharing their stories…at an overwhelming time it’s nice to know I’m not alone in my stepmom issues. I’ve been with my husband for over 6 years, married for 5. He has 2 kids from his previous (toxic) marriage, ages 9 and 13. It’s been years of learning which is not always easy; especially the changes/growth/fights my husband and I have had to go through. I tried to take things slowly with my step kids, always trying to be respectful of their bio mom regardless of how she’s treated me (I’m sure she’d be thrilled if I left my husband just so he’d be miserable and alone like her – even though she ended their marriage). I’ve never tried to be “mom”, it’s not my place. We have the kids week on, week off and my husband works a lot so on the weeks they are with us, I often end up doing the bulk of the parenting. After years of ups and downs, multiple attempts by his ex to get full custody (unsuccessfully), having the kids in counselling, my husband and I going to counselling and the 3 of us (yes, my husband, his ex and I), I feel like nothing has changed for the better. The only time there is ever some relief is when I’m in the middle playing scheduler and referee. I appreciated the ex allowing me to attend doctor’s appointments and school meetings eventually, however every time I’ve tried to be honest with her about my feelings, she reacts and cuts me out of all communication and things kid-related. It’s a difficult yo-yo to be part of – going from included/active step parent to cut-out-chopped-liver. Most recently her direct attempt to hurt me personally ended up really hurting the kids. Having seen how selfish she is I made a decision to stop dealing with her. I told my husband I couldn’t be in the middle anymore and that they had both taken advantage of me. I still support him and give him advice when he asks how to deal with/respond to his ex. I know (or believe) that even though disengaging with his ex is the healthy, right step for me; it’s really hard on my husband. He doesn’t know how to deal with his ex and doesn’t want to. She wants to be in control of everything and constantly finds reasons to stop by when the kids are at our house for the week (most often unannounced, multiple times a week). Since I’ve stopped communicating with her she texts/emails/calls my husband most every day and night. I’m not sure how to help him deal with her and he always asks me what to do. I have encouraged him to set some clear boundaries with her but he doesn’t know what to say without causing a huge fight. I think his ex has gotten the message that I’m done with her but it’s pissed her off as she used to use me to present her side/ideas to my husband and hoped he’d be more receptive (I was guilty of enabling this to be included). She recently made another threat about redefining things (custody? co-parenting? who knows), if we have an issue with her coming by our house. Correct me if I’m wrong, but our home doesn’t have to include an open door policy for his ex wife…does it?? I honestly (ignorantly) thought things would be better after 6 years together but it seems like this woman is intent on making us miserable. I know we’re not supposed to let her but when dealing with someone like her who continuously, literally inserts herself into our lives far more than is necessary or appropriate (and communication is a must given the kid’s ages)…what do you do??

    • Hi Elle, you did the right thing by stepping out of the middle. And you’re right, you do not (and should not) have to have an open door policy for his ex. The thing with creating boundaries is that they’re for you and your family, not her. So yes, when someone like her has a boundary placed she’s going to get mad, because the boundary is preventing her from behavior that is meeting her needs. For example, she loves showing up unannounced because she likes drama, she gains something from it (connection, significance, etc…) so when a boundary is placed that prevents her from meeting those needs in that particular way, she’s going to act out. But you and your husband don’t have to respond to her. I would definitely let her know that if she continues to show up unannounced (or without your permission) you will not be answering the door or responding to any communications from her. It’s going to piss her off to no end initially, but it will preserve the peace in your household. It will show her that YOU are in control of your household, not her. Eventually, she will likely learn and give up. Hope that helps!

  11. By far the most amazing advice I’ve read. I’m new to all this and it’s been so overwhelming to deal with an ex wife that refuses to let go of a marriage she ruined on her own. She doesn’t necessarily want him, but she doesn’t want him with anyone else either and uses to kids against him/us. Yesterday I hit my breaking point and considered that maybe this life wasn’t for me. After reading this, I can honestly say this column saved my relationship! Thank you

  12. Ive been married for 3 months. My husband has a six year old boy who lives 3 hours away. They were never married and split up when the boy was two. I thought I was really level headed and mature, I am really but some emotions that come up are so difficult to deal with. My story isn’t even close to what some women are dealing with on here and I cried today. It’s just tough. I’ve done good about keeping distance I’ve met her once before she would let him come over (as if thats her decision alone) and relayed a fb message to my husband for her then she unfriended both of us for no reason. I thought my husband was exaggerating when he said she was screwed up I thought we could be friendly, keep the child’s interests first. Boy was I naive. Now there’s an excuse every time we ask to come get him for a weekend but we’re welcome to spend the night at her nasty trailer on the hideabed. She doesn’t work. Her fiance supports them. I chose not to have kids yet and I couldn’t even if I wanted to because 100% of my money goes to bills. She’s on every kind of welfare imaginable. Won’t let us have the boy cause of “special plans”then he calls and he’s staying at his gmas that he sees every day. I don’t like it when she’s mean to my husband. Tells him to get out of his sons life. And on top of that there are intense irrational feelings of insecurity and unfairness. She gave my husband porn to throw away for her just weird stuff. I want to stay out of it but sometimes my husband’s no help. I have to constantly be on his ass to remember to call twice a week and pay his cs instead of expensive groc. He feels bad he can’t provide for me at all. We’re struggling.

  13. It’s helpful to know other people are going through similar crazy things. I’ve been married for 5 years and with my husband for 7 years. I am a very loving, kind, and warm-hearted gentle person who never thought my love and kindness towards our children would result in such cruel destructive behaviour from the mother of my husband’s children. We have been through so much, and both my husband and I have sometimes struggled to keep going in this situation. I do not know what to do, right now. I am slowly being destroyed and know that my health is dependent upon leaving my husband and family as this will be the only way to remove myself from the cruelty of his children’s mother; however, I know this would further hurt my husband and his kids who, although learning alienation and battling their mom’s battles, desperately need and want a balanced and loving person in their lives. I’ve loved my husband so much. And I love the children. But I am slowly breaking — I’ve started getting a number of health problems and the doctors have all said my health issues are caused by chronic high stress. I’ve learned, now, I will never be able to have a child of my own … due to the impact of chronic stress disrupting my hormones such that I’ve been diagnosed with premature ovarian failure and now early menopause. I’ve long ago accepted that the children’s mother has issues; however, I believed the justice and legal system would help — really help do what is right and helpful for the children and their families. I am so floored at the systemic biases and injustices built into Canadian family law. The system has acknowledged alienation of the children but we have actually been advised to give in to the craziness of the children’s mom in order to prevent the kids from experiencing additional conflict between the parents. The advice we constantly get either drives us around in ineffectual circles or suggests we should simply accept the alienation and jump to her command for the sake of peace. My husband was paying more than his entire monthly pay check in support payments and living off savings for several years; although his ex fought to get substantially more than this, having threatened to ensure he ended up homeless on the streets. In other words, we cannot give in to all of her demands because they are simply unsustainable. She is a very charming, intelligent woman who has successfully lied about all of us, even putting her own kids under the bus to protect her version of reality as the victim and decent, single mother. The kids just desperately want a relationship with their mom and will do anything to get her warmth and approval, including lying, rejecting, ostracizing, bullying, and carrying on her battles when she’s not there. I find it incredibly disheartening that the professionals involved in helping our case are so narrow-minded and bent on the stereo-types of the past that they cannot believe the children all bonded to me, their step-mother, and that this bond has been severed in cruel ways. I feel as if I am on the verge of giving in to being brainwashed and changing my reality and my past just to survive, and as I type this I feel a twinge of pain and acknowledgement on behalf of my step-kids, because now I understand why they did this themselves. Their memories have been completely re-programmed, and they finally gave in to this just to find a way to survive with the emotionally chaotic and harsh environment experienced living with their mom, whom they also love. It’s so heart-breaking — and I’m breaking — and my husband’s breaking. And this shouldn’t be this way. It doesn’t need to be this way. Why are we, as a society, letting this happen to so many families?

    • Distressed, did you find the support you needed or have you jumped ship? I can fully relate and would be happy to trade advice with you.

    • Distressed, did you find the support you needed or have you jumped ship? I would be happy to trade advice as I can fully relate.

  14. I’m at a crossroads, the mom is abusive, negligent, and manipulative. The dad is my partner and says, he has a plan and will talk to the mom. If I hear her voice I’m resentful of what she has done and what she is doing. I blocked everyone on my phone and am wanting to go back to another city. Any advice would help. I’m being targeted as bad, but is really plotting to have her son taken from the dad, because she.doesn’t work and has 5 kids with different dad’s to support her way of life. Help

  15. I couldn’t read all the comments, but the ones I did read was awesome. Fortionatly I’m not married yet just engaged. The problem is my fiancé loves his son dearly. The problem is knowing that it might be a chance after tying the knot this will not change. My fiancé loves his son more then me and allows his ex-wife to use their son to her advantage. She’s really over stepping her boundaries. I feel like my fiancé is allowing her to because he is scared of what she will do regarding their son. At this point I called everything off as of today. He wants to work things out but I feel like this is going to be a ongoing thing that I can’t handle emotionally.

  16. My husband and I have been married for five years; together for seven. He and his ex wife have one son together who is 8. My husband and I also have a two year old son.

    The exwife can be nice, but once the separation was official, she became extremely religious. She still wears her wedding rings and claims she is still married to my husband. She continually inserts herself into my husband’s family gatherings, etc. She has refused to take his name off the bank accounts, vehicles, and other bills. She has lied about spending weekends with him after their separation, and over the last year, has made herself at home within our home…camping out for 30 minutes to an hour or so while dropping her son off for the weekend with us. And even more recently, she has refered to my son and her son as “her boys”, “her sons”; and when my son says “momma” to me in her presence, she responds. Frankly, it’s beginnkng to worry me that she may be a little mentally unhinged. And anytime I have tried to talk to her about it, she apologizes but says God is leading her to do everything she does.

    Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • It does very much sound like she is not “sound” ! You and your ex need to put a stop to it. Don’t let it go any longer. Your partner needs to see how disturbing this is too. I hope he does. Sometimes the men can be disillusioned and selfish thinking it is not hurting anyone.

      It will get worse until you break up. Then she will be happy.

      I am sad for your situation. I think the men have to take the responsibility. It is their ex and their problem to deal with. We have no power in this situation.

  17. I only have short chit chats with my fiancé ex wife when he picks up or drops off. She is civil but not someone I could be good friends with. I am very careful to not say anything bad about her to the kids….even when they tell me something that she has said about their dad to them. I even give him a nudge if he even remotely says something negative about her with the kids around.

    But I find it difficult to watch her pull the strings and make him feel like he is a bad dad. She has now bought up the fact that we live 4 hrs away and if he wants to see them then he should move. I do wonder if this is a reaction for her as we’re have just got engaged and have a good relationship. But if we don’t move from the home I own and family around us, then my partner won’t get to see his kids and she will make it harder for him. He doesn’t want to move …..but how do I support him and not feel like I am coming in between him and his kids relationship? How do I stop letting her control my life by default. How do I have the type of family values in our house that I hope the kids can learn from?

    The kids get upset and think he doesn’t care which is so far from the truth. His ex then uses this and says she is left with dealing with them being upset when things don’t go to plan….but the kicker is she is the one or the kids are that make the plans go up in smoke….I just don’t understand why people have to be like that….thanks . It was just good to get it off my chest

  18. It’s good to see I am not the only one suffering at the hands of a bitter ex Wife.
    I too am an ex Wife, but I choose to get on with my life and not be a part of my Ex Husbands, so I cannot understand why she won’t let go after 2 years of being separated.
    My partner’s ex wife has tried every trick in the book to make his life hell. The divorce was horrific, she told their Daughter “I’m going to f*cking screw your Dad for every penny” she has used the children as weapons and continues to do so.
    She is continually sending petty e-mails, and I have to say it’s taking it’s toll on our relationship.
    His divorce was finalised last week, she took him for almost everything, he accepted it with dignity, and we thought that would be the end of it, how naïve were we! She is clearly trying to be very present in our lives, and we feel very trapped and powerless.
    I will definitely be using this advice, although as I’m sure you all agree, it’s easier said than done 🙁

  19. Well I’m back again and the one thing I can say I learned to not play nice anymore. I do not communicate with my fiancé’s ex. There is no Mr. nice guy anymore because she definitely took advantage and took me for a fool. She played nice with me for the most part but always overstepped her boundaries. She thought it was ok to bash my fiancé to me on things she was wrong about. She also thought it was ok to use their child against him. She didn’t know how to stay out of our household once she dropped her son off and thought it was ok to come in without any invite. She just does not know her place at all. To top it off she could communicate with me when my fiancé wasn’t around but soon as he gets around she started acting funny and wouldn’t even say hello . I confronted him and asked him what was that all about and I just came to the conclusion that she doesn’t ever have to talk to me again in life. Ever since then it’s been great because I don’t want to hear anything about her and that’s how it is and that’s how I like to keep it. Plus she was calling trying to have these long conversations with him on the phone that was inappropriate because it was not regarding serious issue with their son so I confronted him and he decided not to communicate on the phone with her. He’ll go through his 12-year-old son or he’ll text. Anyways guys the list goes on it’s a full-time job dealing with ex-wives or exes even for that matter that won’t move on.

  20. There are some of us who can move on and some women who get disgruntled for years. It is very sad for the easier going woman to try to get along in life, and be bullied by someone who hasn’t got anything better to do, than split their ex up .

    I feel the answer is that the man has to have a NO tolerance to bullshit rule. And don’t let the ex play the kids against you . Only speak of the kids briefly on parenting. Fathers should have their own relationships with their kids. Not have the ex tell them how their child is feeling

  21. I really needed this today. There has been so many transgressions against my husband and I, but at this point it is me not being able to let go and focus on my life. I loved this.

  22. Great advice, thanks! And thanks to everyone posting here. It makes me feel less crazy and alone. My partner’s ex has been causing trouble for 4 years with no sign of letting up or moving on with her life. It is definitely the most challenging relationship I have ever had to navigate, even indirectly, and it has taken a toll on my happiness.

    At the same time, I am conscious that every hardship in life also presents the opportunity for the greatest growth, and for me this growth has come in the form of learning to detach from someone else’s hatred.

    This article has articulated very clearly the ways in which I invite the poison into my life by ruminating over her, when I just need to keep on letting in go, and trusting that the universe will look after her on her life’s journey. It’s not my job. I have a strong tendency to want to “fix” things so the advice about taking that obsessive fixing energy and using it to do something positive for my man is gold. I also appreciate the suggestion about detaching though humour. Wonderful!

    There is a good book called co-parenting with a toxic ex which may also be a valuable tool for the primary parent. Virtual hugs all round!

  23. I just ended a 3-month relationship due to a toxic ex of my boyfriend’s. My boyfriend and I were perfect for each other. I was falling in love. No issues except the ex. The reason I walked away was not jealousy over her. It was because boyfriend refused to instill healthy boundaries. He was with his ex 17 years and they had adult children together. They’d been apart for 7 years, yet she texted him constantly and made it known she wanted him back. The slap in the face was when he told me he was having dinner with her, the kids, and his parents–and I was NOT invited! How humiliating. Then, he reveals he will be driving her back from his daughter’s college, though she has money and a car of her own. I told him the fact he made these decisions without my knowledge and refused to change them was disrespectful. I ended it and feel great about it! I will NEVER allow a man into my life who has poor boundaries with an ex. I am a beautiful, intelligent, strong, confident woman who deserved better. He was in shock over breakup, which I find hysterical as I warned him I wouldn’t tolerate this. NO ex should be texting my boyfriend numerous times a day, riding in cars alone with him, and going to dinner without me. This woman is the craziest ex I’ve ever had to deal with–total borderline personality disorder. At the end of the day, it is up to our partners to respect us and set healthy boundaries. If they refuse to do that, RUN!

  24. Good on you. It is not about their relationship. They may have kids, but he has supposedly moved on so he should be parenting with the ex. Otherwise go back to her.
    These men are selfish in wanting both. they don’t see a problem with it. No woman should share her man. Kids are no excuse to be texting and going on outings without you.

    I have moved on and am happy with a man who has no kids. what a relief!!!!

  25. Well, after reading several comments, I feel a bit silly now. Because I’ve only been in it for 3 years now. Because it’s all still new & geting into a groove so to speak… But I am already at my wits end… Because, not only has this lady has lied to the boy about me. But when my husband doesn’t want to answer her for whatever reason, she always likes to text him & say things like “I forgot your at home you can’t or aren’t allowed to answer me” When that is not the case.. I was raised in a mixed family & have had to deal with my childrens fathers wives.. So I let it be known to my husband thats his childss mother I would never try to come between that..But then we have the other issue where she lets the boy do certain things that me & my husband would never allow or we keep strong supervision on him…Plus when ever he gets in trouble here her newest thing is hes not being supervised right or his dad needs to take it easy on him because my step son is having it rough.. I want to say WOW the kid is having it rough? he is allowed to stay up late on a school night he is allowed to have friends over even tho he got caught by her with maryjane in his room….Yet his dad needs to be easier on him?? I am sorry to go on & on about this.. I am just stumped & it was making my husband & I argue but that part is better now & im an inch away from telling her about her self but deep down inside I know thats the wrong thing to do.. but idk what to do.. any advice??? please ty

    • I have the same issues with my bf’s ex wife. When school started, she gave us a list of demands, like when the kids need to eat dinner, showering, bedtime etc, but somehow it does not apply to her or to her parent’s when they are over at their house. She still has things in the house which have been there two years, that she refuses to deal with it but gets mad when we mention that we will throw out eventually. But the few times she came to clean out the house, she insisted that I not be anywhere in the vicinity.

  26. This sounds so much like the situation I was in. I am free now, and enjoying life with a nice man with teenaged nearly grown kids. I don’t have to deal with this. If your partner doesn’t support you, leave! It will only get worse, and you will be on the defensive every time they say that YOU are not allowing something.
    For some reason their ex is idealised, and you seem to be the baddy. He has the power to change the situation, but is choosing to have you as the problem maker, which you are not.
    The man is the one with the power to not accept the horrible treatment of you!

    As much as it seems heartbreaking now- Get out and be happy once again!!! 🙂

  27. How do i not let it bother me my bf of 2yrs made a deal with his ex paying her rent and half car insurance under his insurance policy and still she doesnt want their kids around me.. and hes ok with it.. should i be? Whh does it bother me.. we been together for 2yrs live together and have a 1yr old child..he doesnt think..i really do want to .but i do and only fair our son can play with his other sibilings.. if we gonna have a life togwther i feel its time to allow us ibteract with his kids regardless of what his ex wants..i feel its desrepecting choosing what she wants …i rather end this then keep livibg like this… or what should i do…im ready to give up on us…

  28. My bf’s ex wife is exhausting. She gets mad when I am around the kids, I told my bf to stop mentioning anything about me to his ex. Unfortunately, I cannot control what the children say to her, because that is there mom. The kids are 12 and 8. I try to just ignore her. She thinks the world revolves around her and she has anger issues towards my bf. She tries to make me look like a bad person and tells straight up lies about me.

  29. Not sure if anyone still commenting here but could use some guidance! My partner and I are on the brink of a break-up because I’m struggling to deal with the fact his ex seems to be so involved still with him and his family.

    We have already had arguments because his 6 year old son is badly behaved. I tried to gently raise this with him and it resulted in me “having a vendetta against his son” “bullying a child” being “evil” towards an “innocent” child . Apparently he can moan when his son is a nightmare but I can’t dare ask that he address it! Anyway that’s for another comment chain ….

    I’m becoming increasingly angry and upset about the issues with his ex yet my partner makes out I’m “unreasonable”. I just feel like he doesn’t understand my perspective on it all – I don’t have children and i sometimes feel likes screaming “if the shoe was on the other foot you wouldn’t be happy!!!”. But instead we have had a massive row, haven’t spoken in days and I’ve eaten my body weight in chocolate whilst lying in my bed miserable.

    The latest argument is because I noticed him having a conversation with his ex via text about a matter private to his family – completely unrelated to his son – which had nothing to do with her. At that point I reached my limit and kind of had a meltdown – this is after a number of similar incidents whereby him and his family seem to treat her more like a member of the family than me (despite the fact they all keep telling me how awful a person she was and they are glad her and my partner split) I felt like “what the hell has this got to do with her” “why are you even engaging in this conversation” “why is she still being treated like part of your family” . Is that really petty? My partners response was “it wasn’t a sexual/ flirty text so what’s your problem” “ your nuts”.

    Please someone tell me if I’m being unreasonable and crazy becuse I’m starting to doubt myself and whether I’m actually a horrible person and nobody else in my situation would react that way.

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