Put Down Your Good Intentions and Step Away From the Ex-Wife

We often talk about stepmoms overdoing it and needing to step back from all their responsibilities; needing to take a break from taking care of everything and everyone.

But sometimes it’s not the stepchildren they need to back off from.

Sometimes it’s the ex-wife.

Stepmoms usually start out innocently communicating with mom around things like schedules and logistics. If that goes well, she starts thinking “Great, mom is receptive to me. She’s accepting of me.”

She then takes mom’s receptiveness as an invitation to move into position and start taking the reigns around other aspects of co-parenting.

She also starts to think she can heal the relationship between her husband and his ex. Oops…

What starts out with good intentions on the stepmom’s part, often turns into an ugly power struggle or war between mom and stepmom.

Before she knows it, she’s crossed a boundary she couldn’t see and mom is up in arms accusing her of overstepping and trying to take over.  (Cue the barrage of nasty text messages from mom)

The stepmom is often an easy scapegoat. We’re the new kid on the block (even if we’ve been around for years). And it’s so much easier to point the finger at someone else and tell them what they’re doing wrong, than trying to see how their presence could benefit the family and wanting to find solutions.

Stepmoms, when you start getting frustrated about this, remember these four words: YOU CAN’T FIX IT.

It was broken long before you showed up.  And as much as you might love your husband and want to make things better for him, you can only do that in your household. When it comes to his ex, it’s HIS job to handle her.

There are some moms who do communicate better with their child’s stepmom and choose to deal with her rather than her ex. For those of you who can make that work, I commend you!

But for all the others…

Your husband has a choice. He either chooses to lay down some ground rules with her or he chooses to continue letting the dynamic be as it is.

Either way it’s his choice.

So what do you get for  “getting out of the way”? You get to improve your marriage. What your husband wants is to feel supported by you. By letting him deal with his ex and NOT harassing him about his decisions, or hers, you allow the space to simply support him.

And you get to go about your business focusing on all the things that bring you joy, knowing that whatever stress she brings, you’re more protected from it than you would be if you were right in the line of fire.

This will be a challenge for those of you who define yourselves as control freaks. You might feel like bursting at the seam every time something happens, but eventually you learn to enjoy not having the pressure of needing to know every gory detail of the interaction.

And you might need to fake it ’till you make it. Put notes around the house reminding you to bite your tongue.

Your husband is a big boy, let him handle things in his own way (which I guarantee will be different than the way YOU would handle them).

If it’s something that affects you, then have that conversation with him. Otherwise, learn to let go.

You’re making room for more peace in your life and at the same time showing your husband “ I trust you, I believe in you.” And more than anything, that’s what our husbands want to feel from us.

So stepmoms, do your best to remove yourself from fights that aren’t yours.

Your marriage will thank you for it!

© 2012 Jenna Korf    All Rights Reserved

(Photo credit: Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot)

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82 thoughts on “Put Down Your Good Intentions and Step Away From the Ex-Wife

  1. Bravo! I stepped in this pile of crap years ago, and learned this lesson the hard way. It’s taken years to repair the damage of being helpful! Also, for some reason in my case it’s the opposite for the stepfather. The more involved he gets the better things work out (and the more marginalized I get, my husband gets, and the worse the exwife looks). Hope you can save others!

    • Thanks for the comment, Lara. Most of us learn this lesson the hard way. ;)

      Jm, that’s great if you can diffuse the situation and not get pulled into the drama yourself. I think that’s where most women have difficulties. Sounds like your family has found a way to make it work! :)

      • Wow, it really has been great to know that I am not alone in all this mess. I have been with my husband for 11 years now and waited on getting married till 5 years ago. I had been in a 15 year marriage that was not good and basically scared to do it again. I have a son who is now 24. I also raised my ex husbands son who is now 26. I raised him from the time he was 14 months old. He lived with us. When I left his dad he was pretty much told I abandoned him and he has not directly spoken with me. He has made statements through facebook and also keeps up on the family by watching some of their posts. I know he still cares but to go against his dad is a bad thing. I do understand that it is part of my punishment in his fathers eyes for leaving. My hands were tied, I would of taken him with if I could have. I never even met his mother in the 15 years we were married. I came to the conclusion that I don’t think he likes women much, as he used up another after me, and is working on a new one now. God help her, she has money and he is looking to set his retirement I gather. So I didn’t have all the drama after the divorce was done, I had gathered my strength before I left and knew what kind of fight would be ahead. So everything was cut and dry not to mention the help of a 2 year restraining order. That may help you understand why I was in no super hurry to marry again. The upside is that both boys are doing OK in their life. It was unfortunate some of the life lessons they had to endure, but they are both strong young men.

        Now for the relevant part of this post.
        My husbands ex has been a hard one to deal with like so many of you. I have done everything that I can think of to try to make peace with the situation, but most of the time it came back on me. Even when I was asked to help out in a situation by either of them. My husband has a day job, but he also is a drummer who plays in a band. She has shown up to his gigs with his ex-girlfriend, (she lives with one that asked him to leave her for her) and even found one of his childhood friends hooked up with him and came to a show walked up to him and said “I am dating him is that ok with you?” This post could go on for hours if I gave you more examples, as they are never ending. I have slowly learned to cut her out of my life. I do not acknowledge her presence most of the time. My husband always says she does what she does to get under my skin. I feel that she just wants everyone else to be miserable because she is. I have always tried to protect my husband as I know he is a good man, and she does nothing but talk him down to his children and anyone else who will listen and then send him e-mails that she will always love him and will wait for him for when he leaves me. Now it gets even crazier than that as there are several people in my husbands family and now his eldest son’s mother in law that like to as they say “stir the shit” This makes having contact with them something that I don’t look forward too. I feel like I am around a bunch of crazies at times. My breaking point came a week ago tomorrow. My husband met his daughter for the very first time. She is 32. It was a great celebration. It was bad enough that he had to fight to have his youngest son for the weekend as she had called demanding to know why he wanted him for the weekend. She actually said if he didn’t call and tell her what we were doing he wasn’t going to see him. Turned out she thought we were moving or something. Don’t know were she got that idea He told her no we were not moving and he wanted to see his son as it had been a month. Anyway the weekend went uninterrupted and without drama, till everyone went home. My husband got to enjoy the time with all his children for about an hour. Then the phone started ringing text messages started flying. She was pissed because she did not know about them meeting his daughter/ their sister. How hurt she was because she always wanted a daughter. It was down right crazy. She threatened to keep his youngest son away from him. Then told him that he had taken their eldest son and grandson away from her. It threw us both over the top. My husband did stand up for himself to a point, told her that this made no sense, why would she care, and that she was no kin to her. Well I wish I could say that is were it stopped. But instead she went to my husbands brother with her woes. He told her she would probably meet her some day like when the youngest boy got married or something. She took that as he promised that he would introduce her to her. I then ended up in an argument with my husband as I felt this was just going to far. All the sudden it happened again, and I was the one bringing him all the drama. That was it for me. I love this man, but there is nothing I can do to help him anymore. I won’t for my own health. I since then have disabled my Facebook, and blocked e-mail addresses. I told him I was not going to be involved in this anymore. I also told him that I do not have to subject myself to this person and will no longer do so. If we go somewhere and she shows up I will leave, and that I will not be present at events that she is at. I am done. I have to stand up for myself. I get blamed by her for him not doing everything she wants. In one of her last texts she told him that he better tell his wife that he wears the pants in this family, and he will start communicating with her on a regular basis to inform her of things. I spoke out and I got blasted, yea I am mad. No more!! It won’t be easy, as she tries to get him alone all the time and I have been his buffer to not have to deal with her, but it is the only thing I know to do at this point. He will get mad when I say I am not going with him to a school function or to pick his son up, but then maybe he will see that I have been his buffer. I always did it because he hates confrontation with her, but what other alternative do I have? I am open to suggestion here, but let me tell you I tried the sit down thing and all she could say was that I am the problem and she has never had closure with my husband, her ex husband. That was only last year. It has been 11 years and I thought it would have calmed down by now, but I was dead wrong.

        • so to be honest you will never forget this moment but you will let it go. been there done that. i have been married for twenty two years and have had to deal with maniacal mom for about 17 of them. thats when i learned to let go and not get involved. really hard to do but life is ooh so much better. it is not my business and she is not my daughter. i am okay with being her fathers wife and now i focus all my parenting on MY kids.

      • Here is the latest, and I am just don’t know what to say, think, or feel. Yesterday I got a text from my daughter in law asking for money because my step sons mom was fighting with my step son. I forwarded the message to my husband and that was the last of it. I felt pretty good about myself. I didn’t get involved. Then my husband got home. My husband informed me that he talked to his son and his ex-wife that day. He told me that his son told his mom no to the request that he come and stay at her house this weekend to take care of her many animals while she was gone for the weekend. So she told him that she was going to cut off his phone, and so on. She holds things she does for him over his head when she doesn’t get what she wants. He also told me that his ex-wife wanted him to one give her some money, and two wanted him to come over and work on her house while she was gone. This made me so angry, as first this is fathers’ day weekend and she planned to go out of town with the youngest son, and then had expectations for the older son and her ex. This is the older sons first father’s day. My husband told me he told her no and she got angry. He said he told her not to call him with problems she is having with the boys like this. He will not tell them that they have to do what she says in these situations. He also said he old her that as far as the money and the work it wasn’t going to happen. My response to him is that I would rather him not tell me these kinds of things as they just upset me. He then said “What, did I not tell her what I should have?” I told him that had nothing to do with it. I told him the fact that she thinks she can call and expect this from you in the first place is what makes me angry, so please refrain from giving me details. I told him he is the one who needs to set the boundaries, and until he does this is what he will have, and I don’t want to be a part of that drama any more. This is for self preservation.

  2. It’s the opposite for me. My husband seeks out my assistance. He is at a loss with how to deal with BM. I often defuse the situation, as over the years of bad treatment he is quick to get upset. I would say it is more of a mentoring role I play. He is feeling more confident now, but it sometimes slips.

    • Same here… My husband gets frustrated and needs someone to talk to and find out what he could possibly do…

  3. “YOU CAN’T FIX IT” – no should she try.

    The step-parent dynamic is precarious to say the least. Especially for the step mom. Primarily due to the sensitivity that the ex wife feels regardless of her personal relationship status. Her insecurity is blamed squarely on the step mom and directed towards the father…which impacts the step mom and her marriage.

    It’s a very fine balance between being involved and going too far and that looks different depending on the couples involved.

    It’s been my experience that lines of communication need to be clearly defined and understood. Egos are like kindle and tempers far too quick to ignite and miscommunication is a ready-made match.

  4. our situation is sort of a lost cause all around. basically, BM is only happy if we are doing what she wants, when she wants it. if my husband says no, she flips out. if i try to do or say ANYTHING related to my stepdaughter, she flips out. she has said multiple times now that she will not discuss anything related to *her* daughter with me, yet when her fiance contacts us to make arrangements for schedules and such we are expected to work with him. if i think about it too much i get frustrated, so i try to just ignore it…

    • Amichelle, you’d be surprised how common that is; that you guys just can’t win. It’s important to have healthy boundaries around her and make a sort of bubble so she doesn’t invade your marriage. Thanks for commenting :)

      • This honestly blows me away. Ive been with my husband for 4 years and I have 2 step daughters and 3 of my own. The BM is always texting him trashing my name. Its so annoying but I have learned to stay out of it. I myself have an ex husband which is remarried and I never would treat her with so much disrespect.

  5. Jenna, I agree with so much of this including the fact that I definitely tried to fix TM and DH, with all my social work and communications and human resources and mediation training. I finally realized it wasn’t my place!!!!

    That said, I have developed a nice, separate relationship with TM and we collaborate on behalf of her kid. And I get along great with my son’s stepmom as well; by agreement with my ex, SM and I have often coordinated logistics for holidays because we could do so with less emotion.

    Jenna, I could be way off base here but I believe that some stepmoms become over-involved in the TM relationship because they want to monitor their husband’s interactions with her (or hers with them). In other words, a little bit of jealousy and insecurity going on. Just a theory.

    • Hi Krista, I love that you found a way to make it work with your counterpart. That means that she was also willing to be open and adjust as necessary. :) I wish that could be the case more often than it is.

      As far as jealousy and insecurity being the driving force, I agree that in some cases that plays a part, but I would venture to say those cases are in the minority, at least from I’ve seen. I think that more often stepmoms innocently and perhaps ignorantly (with the best of intentions) think they can fix something that isn’t theirs to fix. Thanks for reading and contributing! :)

    • I can relate to “becom(ing) over-involved in the TM relationship because they want to monitor their husband’s interactions with her (or hers with them)”. This fits me to a tee. But I believe I know why.

      You see, my DH is a strong man and is also a smart man, but he spent 14 years with his ex and she is a master manipulator. It’s her way or… well, there is no other option. It’s always her way. She was my DH’s first relationship and he gave everything he had to it, and she took everything she could from him. But he got so tired of trying to assert his opinions and thoughts into a situation in which compromise was never allowed, that he just got used to letting her run everything.

      Well, that was okay when they were married, and even after they divorced. But now that we are married, she has tried to run our household and that doesn’t work for me, my DH or our five kids (his two and my three). So I feel like I need to protect my family from her trying to control everything. My husband will stand up to her and I do trust him. But she is soooo good at twisting EVERYTHING and manipulating, that it wears him out. She does not know how to step back and see anyone else’s side if it is different than her own.

      I don’t have contact with her after she verbally attacked me on my property and came beating on my front door last summer. Yet she still says horrible things about me to my DH. She tries her best to drive a wedge between us, to include trying to get him to keep secrets from me (which he has told her he refuses to do).

      I wish she would just stop being so narcissistic and actually think about the kids. All her trash talking and lies about my DH and me are going to end up being exposed to the kids and SHE will have to face the consequences of destroying the relationship with the kids, much like she did with her marriage.

      But until then (which I doubt will ever happen), I have to figure out how to deal with the stress and craziness she brings in with her antics.

      • Sounds exactly like my situation. What upsets me the most is the fact that the “family relationship” centres are all geared up around the “old” family. The new family has no say and feel powerless in having their needs heard let alone met. The court system allows women to use DVOs and the like to manipulate and control when men, often having been the ones cheated on and then left with no house, no kids and no rights, try and stand up for the rights of the new family they are trying desperately to make work. In my opinion, the court should do mental health examinations on parents before they decide on care arrangements for divorcing families. Giving crazy manipulative women control of kids serves no one.

      • your only way to deal with this if it is that out of control is threaten her with a restraining order or call her bluff. we spent years attempting to protect the sd from the things her mother said and doing what she wanted because if not she would take it out verbally on her daughter. looking back, i know now that i would never do that again. i think that my own children suffered for that and that is wrong. this woman will go away trust me. as soon as they figure out they cant control and are faced head on they back down. unbelievable that people like this actually exist but it happens. have faith in yourself and your choices. your own children and your husband come first. they are your future. no matter what any one says, as much as you love your step children, they will never be yours, just as you will never be their true parent. harsh i know but it is a reality and the sooner you accept it and act accordingly the easier life becomes

      • It’s been almost a year and a half since I left the original comment and a lot has happened.

        Due to her ongoing harassment and refusal to respect boundaries, my DH has been forced to sever all contact with his ex except through Our Family Wizard. (Of course she has now changed her mind after agreeing to use OFW three times prior to DH signing up for it. It’s just an

        He also blocked her on his cell phone because she would call and text even during sleeping hours. He asked her repeatedly to stop and of course she refused.

        She complains that this is all my fault and that I’ve ruined their great relationship. (In reality, her repeated long-term infidelity is what ruined their relationship.)

        I will say that since placing these very stringent boundaries, everyone in our home has been much happier and relaxed, kids included!

        • I know this post is from last year, but today I am standing in your shoes =( the only communication is when my DH drops or pick his kid up… reading your comments, it seemed like I was reading my life… does it gets better?

  6. I am entering a marriage with a wonderful man. We have 3 children between us. He has a daughter & son and I have a 3 year old daughter. My Husband’s ex wife tries to fill the kids’ head with alot of foulness. Sometimes I feel like maybe I am competing secretly with the almost 13-year-old for time with her father, because as I know we cannot see them often, I want to spend time with my step children too. I’m so terrified of the day that she starts the “playing parents against one another game,” because I’m really laid back & I have my dignity, so I would never bad mouth the BM in front of the children. However, the children admit that the BM talks ill of us and it really upsets me. She has gone as far as to bash me verbally on a social network & disrespect my husband. I defended him & was told “mind your own F—ing business, you poor stupid girl.” My husband was married to this woman for 12 years & she is hateful, money hungry & spiteful. He almost hates* her to the point he will not speak to her if he doesn’t have to. She is remarried and puts her non working lazy husband on a pedestal and the kids live in a messy home in which they share a 2 bedroom duplex, and they take turns sleeping on a couch in the livingroom because noone “has time” to put their beds together.. I tried to call & get their clothing sizes so I could do Christmas shopping last year, and got my husband chewed out for it. I was just trying to be good to these kids because I love them like I love my own child. She completely avoids me whenever possible, and my husband tells me everything she says or does that is ugly, because he wants me fully involved not only in our lives at home, but the kids’ lives as well, because he loves his children of course. Sometimes I dread going to get them because I have to hear all about the BM but I smile & keep quiet or my husband changes the subject. I’d love to be on a level plane with this woman but I fear it’s never going to get better.

    • This is exactly what’s going on with us. I’ve been with my boyfriend for over 4 years now. I don’t have any children, and he has a 10 years old son. I love my stepson very much and I do anything to help him and his dad. If I be to nice, the ex bashes me out and turns everything upside down. She has called my cel phone often after I pick up her son at school (I picked him up almost every friday, since he doesn’t see his dad in the week) just to say hi and ask how his day went, which I’m fine with that. But last week, I picked him up, and she wasn’t notified of it, she was expecting him to be back at her place…there was a misunderstanding between the boy and his dad). Anyways, the boy never told me I wasn’t suppose to pick him up…then she calls my cel over 45 mins after he was supposed to be at her place, telling me she had no clue where he was and that he was missing, and that she almost called the cops to find his son. But, she never called me before to ask if I picked him up! And she never called his grandma either that lives 2 minutes from the school. She kind of knew I picked him up, but she just wanted everything to look really bad on us! She bashed me on the phone, and told me I was never to pick him up again (even though I had nothing to do with the misunderstanding). She left 2 nasty messages at our home, swearing and telling us she’s f..ing tired of this bullshit and that its going to stop! But really, this is the first time it happens. She has no other reason besides jealousy to tell us that I’m never to pick him up. Jealousy took over her and she hates my guts! But all this time, her son loves me. I have a really hard time do deal with that stress…

      • Hi Josee, as I’m sure you know, her response isn’t really about you, it’s about her. There’s likely nothing you can do to help the situation, so as the article says, best to stay away from her and let your husband handle it. At 10 years old, can’t your stepson call her or can’t *he* pick up the phone when she calls for him? If I were you, I wouldn’t be communicating with her. I’d be keeping my distance.

  7. Ding, ding, ding! After 10 years of marriage and 12 of being together, I’m finally starting to see the light on this issue. Your post is excellent and just what I needed to hear. Thanks!

  8. This is fine if the bio-mom has custody, which seems to be the assumption. What if the stepkids live with the stepmom and her husband? And what if in that dynamic, the bio-mom is nearly uninvolved and provides no contributions? How does this advice help the stepmom in that particular situation?

    • Jamie, if the mom isn’t in the picture, then this article isn’t really relevant because mom isn’t there for the stepmom to avoid. This article refers to situations where mom IS present and the relationship is contentious.

  9. My situation is like “jamie’s” we had custody of my step son but the BM was always dictating what we do, controlling our house. Yet she paid no CS nor provided any other financial support. Somehow this summer she has manipulated stepson to move back with her and now the stepson is telling her lies about me, DH and even DH father (a preacher). My DH has yet to stand up to her about anything. in fact stepson even traded in a Christmas present BM bought him and now he want dad to go buy it back because mom doesnt know he he traded it.

    This has cause so much stress on me and continuous arguement btw me and DH.

  10. This is an area that is really tricky in our situation. Five years ago, BM would contact me regularly, mostly to yell and rant and rave–DH believes that she has been diagnosed as borderline and/or narcissistic personality disordered (based on info from her current boyfriend, who is in touch with DH). On the one hand, that was really hard and I set some pretty firm boundaries with her (I am happy to talk with you as long as you are willing to not yell at me and to not call me names or say insulting things, because I want to keep my heart open to you), so she stopped calling. On the other hand, by the end of the conversation I could usually help diffuse the hatred and intensity–we had a pretty good rapport.

    I did not try to deal with any planning or logistics at that time; the contact was always initiated by her. Now, I have very little contact with her. We recently went through a custody evaluation, and one of the things the evaluator recommended be required is a form of coparenting counseling where I would be present….this did not go well, but it is now over.

    So my present plan is to have as little contact with mom as possible.

    The issue for me comes up as two difficult things with DH. First, he is a really scattered planner. So he will make agreements with his ex without really looking at his calendar, and will make plans with me without looking at his parenting plan. As a result, I have come to be a bit more overbearing with him, asking to be cc’d on emails to his ex or to review them before he sends them. I would love to be out of the loop, but because the past effects were having to cancel OUR vacations last minute, or having to cancel my meetings or work stuff, I would rather deal with looking at planning emails than deal with radical last minute changes.

    Second, he has a hard time sticking to boundaries. BM goes through periods where she regularly leaves abusive and angry messages on our machine, or more typically calls dozens of times until one of the kids picks up, then demands to talk to DH, and yells and rages to him, sometimes for hours at a time, calling back if he hangs up. Very overwhelming. Last year, DH decided to communicate only in written communication, and that worked much better; this is included as the form of communication in their parenting plan. But recent co-parenting counselors tried hard to get there to be more phone calls, which has resulted in BM calling much more often, and again with rage and anger (and not at all goal oriented).

    So here is where I come into the picture. I am not directly involved in these communications, but we live in a small house and hearing DH on the phone for an hour and hearing her yelling on the other end of the line, or dealing with his being really sad and upset after the calls (not to mention the specific threats she issues and both of our concern about how that may impact us) is REALLY STRESSFUL.

    I have addressed that by talking with dH about my needs and his, and making agreements that work for him…right now, it is that we do not pick up the phone when she calls. This is not a normal step-parenting situation, and I really believe in DH and his ex having the best relationship they can–I am not threatened by BM being in our lives (except to the degree that she is ACTUALLY threatening me, like saying she will kill me), and even with her instability, I think it is important for the kids to get to communicate with her when they want, while they are with us, etc. I am not jealous about her at all, do not want to be a mom, am more of a worker and community oriented person than home oriented, so I am not really into being the dominant female here. So it feels bad to me to not want the mom of my step kids calling our home regularly, but I also really do not want to listen to rage and anger and blame as a regular part of my life. It feels painful, makes it easy for me to do the same. We live in a rural area, so using his personal cell phone is not really an option, due to bad reception.

    So I am often torn between wanting to create some buffer between how this woman impacts me, or the impact on DH of interacting with her and the effects on his actions and feelings, and my desire to not be involved in or controlling DH’s relationship with her. I chose to stop attending co-parenting counseling sessions that the court suggested (custody evaluator’s recommendation) I attend, because it is totally overwhelming for me to listen to her anger and rage and blame for more than an hour at a time. And I am a person with pretty high tolerance for listening to intense feelings of others. But hearing her often makes it harder for me to say to my 8 year old SD when she misses mommy, “Of course you miss mommy. You love your mommy and she loves you. Do you want to draw her a picture?” It makes it harder for me to celebrate the kids’ love for their mom and the harder to feel the gratitude I do have for the fact that the kids have a mom, that I do not need to be one, and that the kids feel mostly loved by their mom.

    So I have come to being willing to sit down with DH and ask him what he thinks, etc., but really suggesting boundaries like not picking up a call. I know it is his relationship with her, but the effect of talking to her is that he is absent when the kids are here for an hour or more, and that when he returns he is really upset, insecure, and has a really hard time for hours. She does things like threaten to call CPS about made up stuff, threaten to kill us, and most impactful are her efforts to push dH’s buttons and paint him as a terrible father and someone who is unlovable and who the kids hate. That is the real impact of talking to her–that there is a little part of him that starts to believe that his kids hate him. That really affects his parenting.

    On one hand, it is his choice to be involved in that kind of communication. On the other hand, I want to be a stepmom, not a primary parent. I want to live in a home where people rarely yell, and where we express love and not primarily hate and fear. These things are really important to me, and when BM calls in a terrible rage, it affects all of us. So is it legit to make the request that DH not pick up the phone? He agrees this is a good idea. I think he just has a hard time dealing with the exceptions–SD12 handing him the phone, etc.

    For those of you with “normal” moms, I am sure this seems really extreme–when I started down this road 5 years ago, I was absolutely confident that I could be fine with whatever DH’s and his ex’s relationship looked like. I just had no idea the level of persecution and distortion that she would employ. And I did not know that it would not stop. I assumed that she would “get over him” and the anger would die down, but it has ramped up. I work with some pretty crazy people–have volunteered in homeless shelters, worked with mentally ill people, so usually I have no problem dealing with someone who has different ways of communicating, and am not easily offended or territorial. But this past 5 years, I have felt under siege, and am finding that my tolerance for the drama has waned. The result is that I am asking DH to have boundaries and to stick to them. Ethically, I believe that is his job; but practically, my stress level has gone through the roof, and I need more peace. And the reality is that I do not want to have to leave my husband and stepkids to get it.

    This is a fairly intense first post! Just to get the rest of the picture, I should say that DH is really the love of my life, a great friend and lover and husband for me. So I really do not want to leave him ever. The kids are great, too, and I am lucky to enjoy two very different but equally wonderful relationships with each of them. So there is lots that is great, and no real clear way to protect myself from the really painful and hard stuff. I am 43, and have had a number of long-term relationships that just did not feel quite right, and now am so glad I waited to marry such a great man! So I am conscious of how valuable this relationship and family are to me. The hard part about being a step-parent is that the only real power I have is to leave when it is too much; there is little power I have to work things out along the way.

    • Ditto everything Erin says. I felt lke her post was written by me. Every paragraph in her post I can relate to 100%. I thought that over time things would get better but in reality, it’s gotten worse. If only the BM knew how her actions will ultimately affect the kids………

      • I think Erin brings up a really good point. There comes a time when it really is up to your husband to create healthy boundaries that protect the rest of his family. Usually some big event has to occur for them to come to this conclusion on their own. They can’t be forced into it. Luckily, in my experience, I’ve seen that most men do eventually get there!

    • I have nearly the exact same experiences as you describe. I agree with you that you sometimes just want to turn and run. Sometimes I feel like the only relief I can get with my anxiety is to leave, and walk away from all of it. But my husband and I are on our second marriage each and don’t believe in divorce and I could never leave my kids. I don’t like to call them my step kids, they are my kids! But my stress level and anxiety are through the roof from dealing with the raging ha’re filled ex-wife that lives to make trouble. I understand you.

    • I feel your pain… I have the same situation, and it sucks. She threatens to send me to jail for things that I didn’t even do, we haven’t seen the kids in over 2 years. But in the end, in her eyes, we’re the bad ones. Always have been, always will be.

  11. I am married to a wonderful man. We have custody of his son, because the son’s mom is schizophrenic. She constantly attacks me verbally and tried to physically (that is why we have him now). She constantly tries to run our home, she calls whenever she wants and if we dont answer she continues to call. My husband kind of takes up for her because of her illness, but I find that it is driving a wedge between us. I try really hard to put up with her because of my stepson, but when she gets away with so much, it is hard. I sometimes want to ask my husband if he would rather be with her. But, deep down I know he got out of that relationship because she was literally crazy. How do I deal with her? Even when I am not directly involved, her calling all hours of the day and night, affects me.

  12. I made the mistake of listening to my partner’s long list of grievance about his ex for the first couple years of our relationship. Now he’s unburdened and moving past it, and I’m left hating her. Even now, if he makes sideways comments about her after a phone call or in-person interaction when they exchange their kids, I can hardly stand to hear about her. If I could go back in time, I would have established boundaries in this area long ago and told him, “I think it is better for me and for us if I don’t know all the dirty details about your ex and how she wronged you. We don’t need a third person in this partnership.”

  13. I’m on the other end. I’m the birth mom. I came here by searching for ways to work with my children’s step mom. My ex and I had a good relationship and problems were always easily resolved without friction. In fact, while they dated and lived together for a year, no problems. The MINUTE they got married everything changed. She turned on the kids and me. We share joint custody. She began to demand any communication about the kids be between her and I. I put my foot down and said no. Now, he wont even respond to my communication for days on end and many times not at all. I don’t know what to do. I have offered to have lunch with her and discuss issues between us (she’s the other woman, turned wife). I have offered the four adult have parenting counseling together. Nothing. I am at a loss. I don’t know how to joint parent when they refuse to participate. I have tried so hard to be nice, yet I am the one constantly being attacked. I so commend those of you who have shown grace and respect to the mothers. I am so sorry they have treated you the way you all have stated. Our divorce was amicable. We did so well in the beginning and I really felt like things would be hunky dory. I don’t even know what to do anymore. It’s getting very hard not to take the attacks personally. My counselor says to just ignore her comments and such. Which I do, but we still all have to work together. Our kids share equal time at both houses. My son was recently diagnosed with ADD and now we have to come to a decision on how to proceed with his treatment. I’m really nervous about it because it just seems that she does things to try to bother me. How do I handle this?

    • Hi Emily, that sounds like an extremely frustrating situation. I have heard this before, where the stepmom insists communication occur between her and mom. Legally, she can’t do that. She has no legal rights over her stepchild and you have no legal requirement to co-parent with her. She can’t force you to do that. So, my advice to you is to seek legal council to find out your options. If dad is refusing contact with you, that’s probably in violation of the custody agreement. Although legal action is expensive and nasty, it may be your only option. I hope you get this resolved.

      • Hi Emily.
        Much the same circumstances for me as well. The good news was using a mediator who advised my exhusband that communication should only be between me and him. Seriously recommend getting a third party involved to try and settle things down.

        Cheers, sonja

    • Hi Emily,
      As an ex-wife, I advice you to communicate with her regarding the kids if that’s what it takes. Soon she will realize that you are not a threat and that you don’t want to make her an outsider. Try to embrace the fact that she IS part of the kids life and although you are their mother she is also involved in decisions made in her house even regarding your kids. This worked for me and my ex-husband’s ex-wife and now we are even friends on Facebook. Amen!

      As a stepmom, I can tell you it really sucks when my husband’s ex-wife wants to exclude me out if everything all while she sends her husband (the children’s stepfather) to call my husband and coordinate for the children. She wants her husband in the loop but not ME. Mind you, I’m the one that takes them to school and picks them up, cooks for them, helps with homework etc. she wants control of everything and what is worse is that now she has taught the kids not to talk to their dad in my presence. They tell me to butt out if I join the conversation.

      I wish she would show me the same respect I showed my sons’ stepmom. I always had my boys call her for Mother’s Day and her birthday and still do. I taught them to respect her and they learned to love her. I myself text her and thank her for loving my boys on Mother’s Day as well as send her blessings on her bday.

      I pray you guys can work thru this as I pray I can work thru my situation with my husband’s ex.

  14. I have learned so much from reading these – thank you. But I need to tell you what it feels like to be the “ex wife”. I have called him and cried, and yelled, and called her names. Why ? 14 months ago my husband walked in and stated that my age and appearence were not what he wanted, that he was leaving me for a younger woman. He walked out and moved in with her the next day. She went around town telling people that I am crazy – and mean, and abusive, and was unable to satisfy my husband. In a small town this is horrid. My daughter lives there half time and is happy in both places. For Christmas, he gave her a big diamond ring. He has never bothered to divorce me. The two of them just pretend that I don’t exist, and when she sees me downtown she makes disgusted noises and sticks her nose in the air.

    I am sure that she would write a letter here saying the same as you – that his “ex” wife calls and yells or cries and it upsets him. That I am crazy or a bad person. Because it does upset him – he feels bad for having destroyed me, and wants to at least talk to me when I am so overwhelmed with pain I can’t stand it. But I wish that you could see how much it hurts to have another woman do everything in her power to destroy your life – taking your husband, children, and then say that you are crazy because you feel devastated my her actions.

    Try to have some compassion – write her a note saying that you respect her, and that you see what am amazing Mom she was through her children. Tell her that you will do your best to be just as good to them when they are in your home. She’s not crazy. She has just had her life destroyed by the man she loved and trusted – and if you came along while she was still married to him, then you played a part in her destruction as well. Have some compassion.

    • My parents divorced when I was 10. My dad wasn’t a very nice person to my mom or to us kids. He remarried my “step-mom.” Though his verbal abuse continued with her, she has been dumb enough all of these years to put up with it, but that what her choice. When I was 19, I married a man who had a young daughter. I became the “step-moM” He did nothing but downgrade the child’s mother, tried to buck paying child support, even at times would say “I am not sure she is even my kid!” He would call her lazy and vengeful and some pretty awful things. In my naivete, I believed and hung on his every word. Then, in about 10 years, we separate. Ha! Go figure! He was cheating and got a woman pregnant. By then I had realized how much of a cad he was and deliberately sought out my step daughter’s mother to apologize for my role in making her life miserable when she was already devastated. I just had no idea he was lying about her (even though my own father lied about my mom like that). Fast forward another 6 years, I marry a childless man (but I question that now) and we had two children. He turned out to be extremely manipulative and abusive but it didn’t show untill the 2nd pregnancy when it turned violent. I left him with two small babies still in diapers. He then went on to marry a female minister….she hangs on his every word. I am supposedly this and I am supposedly that when nothing could be further from the truth. The poor thing believes him! I can relate. I can’t hold it against her because she is just naive and I think she is thrilled that someone 13 years younger than her married her. I have been on all three side of this equation and the bitter pill I have had to swallow is that being the BM is by far, the most painful thing I have even been through in my life. It rips me apart every day that my children have to be raised in a broken home and it’s incredulous to me how as a mother, I am jsut expected to be “okay” with my child being court ordered to go to someone’s house that I fear. Even animal moms are treated better.

  15. My husband’s ex wife is really something else. I can’t even put my name here, because she internet stalks me….I made a lot of these mistakes. The ex and I used to get together once a month to go over schedules and discuss anything school things, or new rules, trying to keep consistent from once house to the other. It worked really well for a few years and then I began getting concerned that she was becoming too involved in our lives. What started out as offering a cup of coffee when she would drop off or pick up my step daughter would turn into her staying for several hours to chat. Then offering to babysit my husband and my two children. These things were little things that I found odd behavior but it didn’t upset me. My husband works in the travel field, and occasionally takes my step daughter on short trips with him. I got a big red flag when she asked to go with he and my step daughter on one of these trips. I felt like I needed to make it very clear that while I was please we all got along, and were united in our endeavors to raise a girl into a lovely adult, we needed to have some boundaries, and I was not OK with this. Since she couldn’t get a free vacation with my husband she began excluding me from school functions, saying it was inappropriate for me to attend Parent’s Night’s or school programs because I was not the biological mother. (Even though I help her with a lot of her school projects, and home work, pick her up and take her to school, and help her practice her musical instruments) She and my husband needed to go alone together to show our daughter they are still united when it comes to her. I’m all for unity and I’m not trying to take over her role as a parent, and I’m perfectly willing to back off if she is feeling uncomfortable with my relationship with our daughter, but not when she is clearly trying to get closer to me to get closer with my husband. When the system began to fall apart, she had my husband over for a meeting and explained to him that she felt it was important that they still appear as a MARRIED COUPLE when it came to their daughters schooling. She wanted him to attend all school functions with her and said she was prepared to go to court to make sure I didn’t go to any of her concerts and parents night. When my husband told her no, she began to cry, and blame me for her being alone! (I met my husband almost two years after they split!) Now we rarely see my step daughter, I feel like she is the one really losing here, I feel uncomfortable around my in laws because I don’t know if they blame me for them not being able to see her much anymore, and I’m left feeling like it’s all my fault but don’t know what I could have done to stop it! How do I back off from the ex wife without backing off from my step daughter, and if I have to back off from my step daughter, how do I assure her that I love her even if we don’t spend time together anymore?

    • What you did wrong is you put too much on your step daughter. I’ve been trying to avoid putting too much feeling on them. Remind myself: never be a free baby sitter! The blood is something hard to be replaced. No matter how crazy the mom is!

    • I totally relate Katie… My husband’s ex-wife used to call him daily and text him while he was at work several times. She was never with the kids because she worke and went to school and the children were always with her parents or her husband. When I questioned my husband on why she needed to calm him daily several times and why her texts were erased (after reviewing the phone bill) he said it was all about the kids. She never wanted to talk to him while I was present. I told him to set boundaries and when he did she began her stack because she no longer had control over him.

      Now, about your step daughter. For 3 years now I have loved, spoiled and pampered mine and guess what… She now hates me. They will always listen to their mother not us. When she was 10 she used to say she wished I was her mom. She is now 13 and her mother has turned her completely against me to the point that last Aug 23rd she called had a panic attack screaming at me and her dad and called me a controlling bitch. Yup… Because we were going to CHURCH and she didnt want to go to the youth group. Her mommy says she doesn’t have to if she doesn’t want to.

      Mind you she goes to a Christian school but this is what she is taught at home. I’m so frustrated because now we stopped going to church on Fridays because my husband doesn’t want to bother his daughter. I blame him too for allowing his daughter (and his ex) to decide what in done in my house.

      So my advice to you is… Get over the thought that she will love you unconditionally. I have cried and felt unappreciated but thanks to this site I now understand this is a normal thing. Concentrate on you and your relationship with your husband and see your stepdaughter like a 3rd cousin or something. The ones you know are related to you but doesn’t hurt if you don’t see them every holiday. Lol

  16. Hello,

    After searching for a site I could relate to, here it is. I thank you.
    After reading, I must say, that I almost feel the reserse. For years, I bit my tongue, I did not get involved in argument not scheduling of my stepdaughters. We had a system to share all of our schedules and we would do our parenting for all of our children, without the ex’s input into how we ran our family. In the past 3 years, my husband has basically become unemployed due to the lack of his ex helping the girls schedules, to the point he became a stay-at-home Dad for all of us. The unfortunate part to this, is that she would take advantage of this, to the point that my husband and I no longer have time to spend alone let alone with friends, as she would say that she wants her own time, which she has always had more than we ever have had. Her CLH takes her travelling more than anyone I know, and of course without the children. There has always been fights, struggles in her family amongst her and her daughters, about many things, I could go into detail, how I feel that it is just the way that they were taught tihngs by Mom, but I won’t go down that road, we all parent in our different ways. Recently, my husband chose to take his ex back to family court, after she told us that she wanted us to have the girls half of the time, (which we have the youngest 95% of the time anyhow), and we noticed that with the increases in living expenses, we no longer could afford to be paying the child supports my husband had been paying her, even when being primarliy unemployed, so the other factor in the court hearings, was to reevaluate the child support based on his current income, which in fact would be something, as we were told, that if the custody agreement was split, there was not payments to be provided to either parent, however, we were willing to still provide just not to the extent we do currently. My husband and his ex chose to talk, to come to an agreement before heading to court, she pulled out her expenses and began to cry asking why he is doing this to her, which made me so angry. My husband not only drives to her home to get the girls ready for school, to school but we also prepare their lunches at home for them. His ex doesn’t have to do anything but get ready to go to work, which I might add is a p/t job, which she could apply for f/t and help not only herself out but everyone else in this situation. Her CLH is more than capable of supporting her currenlty but she refuses to have him pay for certain things, instead she wants my husband to. The hard part, was my husband fell for her crying and put the court on hold, as she requested, so that she could get her affairs in order, as my husband left their meeting very upset and said that the Judge can then figure this out…a few days later, her lawyer contacted my husband.
    I am doing my best to not get too involved, but as much as this is their fight, this includes me and our family.
    In the past, we would be friendly and do family dinners together, if nothing more than the kids, at one point it did feel almost like a friend type bond but at an arms length.
    Now I do not want to have her in my home, as I feel she is being unreasonable. She has no idea how difficult this can be on everyone.
    I do not want to go to my husband just yet to ask how things are coming along, I would like to give some breathing room, as I support him going through this.
    However, I will not brush this off like it is just the way things are, I find it too uncomfortable to see her dressed all up and being able to get her nails etc. done while I cringe at the thought of buying the one pair of shoes I would love to have for the summer.

    What can I do? How can I get through this, without putting more pressure on my husband and the situation?

  17. Sorry for any grammatical errors in my previous post. :)
    I would like to just add, that even when my husband’s ex does decides she can take the girls to school etc., my husband will get the calls, that they do not have lunch and have to go and deal with this anyhow, and when he gets mad at her, she barks back. We tend to put our children ahead and take the time we can together, where as his ex, for the most part of what you would see, she does the opposite.

  18. I have found that after 10 years of anger and jealously I decided that i was tired of feeling that way all the time when I knew I had to be around her. So I contacted her and apologized for all the negative things I had said and done in the past and and she and I quickly became friends. It’s been almost a year and we are more like sisters now we have slumber parties with the kids and hang out together. I am very glad i let go of the negativity and learned she is not the person she once was and she is a really wonderful person that i have come to love.

  19. Hello, I hope that everyone is doing well. I have been working on not worrying so much about my husband’s ex and her new life and family and more on my family and me. I know I still have work to do. Life for my family is changing and for the better, however, I find that there are still a few areas that I revert back to getting upset about, and yet there is not much I can do about it. I just learned that my hubby’s ex and her hubby have left for the weekend (today is Thursday) and have left my step-kids to their own devices, fully aware that we are working full-time and we don’t live or work near her home. We are also a family with only 1 vehicle so we need to coordinate as well. I am sorry but that just seemed like a selfish act on her part. She could have either taken them with her, or waited an extra day. I know for me personally, my kids are much older and are able to be left to their devices, in fact, they could drive out and meet me later, but my younger SC is not even a teen yet. Maybe it is just me, wondering why she just seems to be rather selfish at times.
    I also found out that my husband’s ex told my youngest SC, that she really doesn’t like the fact that she wants to live with her Dad and I, as she doesn’t think our marriage will last, she put this in my SC’s mind, thank goodness she is home more than not and sees for herself that is not the case.
    I guess we just have two different styles of parenting and they mix like oil and water and I am not quite sure how to make this all work so we are all happy, especially when my husband has asked me to speak with his ex and when I attempt to she gets annoyed and calls him on it and therefore, nothing comes of it.
    My ex happens to stay right out of my family, and with our children being older, we have less to do with one another. Thankfully when we do we argue less unfortunately when we argue we argue.
    My children are at the point where they do not like my their SD’s ex, for more than one reason. And my older SC is now turning out to have the same attributes and attitude as her Mom, which makes it very difficult when she comes over, as she does not get along with any of the children and I grin and bear it, even her Dad has kicked her out of the house and sent her back to her Mom’s. Now my oldest SC comes to our house very very seldom, and when she does, she doesn’t even stay for one night. She finds reasons to get into fights (usually with her own sibling) and then leaves.
    If I could figure out how to work/live with this, I am sure my stress levels would decrease. My stress levels have gotten so high, that I am now have a medical condition, which my hubby and I are seeing doctors for, but I am not able to not work etc. to take care of this
    *sorry for the length*

  20. I want to share the situation that happened last night, this is not the first of its kind. I tend to take it to heart and then brush it off but for how long?
    It was my MIL bday yesterday. I found out that my MIL sister had planned a bday dinner for her, apparently it was the “girls dinner”. I was not included in this dinner party, even though I am her DIL. Those who were invited and in attendance were my MIL, her sister, my two SD and my husband’s ex-wife!

    I was not even asked to attend, I think my husband slipped this out to me accidentally. This type of situation seems to occue more often than it should, my husband’s ex-wife tends to be more involved than I am.

    My dinner with for my MIL, is a BBQ at my MIL’s with my Mom, husband, SD’s and my husband’s ex-wife and her hubby, (my kids will be with their Dad, and will not be able to attend), so my question is, why is his ex-wife and hubby coming along and why were we not invited to the first dinner?

    What do I do with this? Can I do anything with this?

  21. I wonder if they felt pressured to include the ex-wife and thought it would be awkward to include both of you? How does your husband feel about you being left out? One option is for your husband to ask his family why you were not invited or to at least share his feelings about it with them. He can’t *make* them invite you, but he can make it known what he thinks about it.

    I don’t know that the mindset of not wanting her invited because you weren’t invited is beneficial. I don’t think it will really solve anything.

    • That is the part that I don’t understand. His ex and her hubby and my Mom and my MIL have celebrated kids bdays, Christmas, Dad’s Day, etc. together in the past. In fact, it was his ex who went to my hubby when we were having difficult times and told him what he had done wrong and that he needed to stop and look at what he had caused. In the very past, my hubby’s aunt has also had Christmas, Easter etc. with all of us but since the time that hubby and I got through our rough time and kissed and made-up (if you will), his aunt has not spoken to me once since this time and that was over 2 years ago. I am just stumped. Me being invited was completely his aunt’s choice to make, it really had nothing to do with anyone else’s decision. And what hurts a bit, is that his ex chose to go. When my ex moved on, I stepped out of the picture, as I felt his family was just that, his, not mine any longer, anything to do with or for our kids and his family, is his to have.
      Next weekend we are getting together, the whole family minus his aunt, I have invited her and hubby’s cousin and wife, only time will tell if his cousin and wife decided to join us or not.
      My hubby is certainly not the talking kind, instead he uses actions. So he did not go, in fact, I don’t think he meant to even tell me about the dinner to begin with.
      That is his family, they don’t ever seem to talk, they just go about their business, so I have learned to pretty much do the same thing, and it is sad.

  22. Hello, I know that this is going to sound urgent but a situation just arose, and I have no idea how to handle this!
    Sunday, my family (my 3 kids, plus 1 friend, my Mom, my 2 SD’s and hubby) and possibly hubby’s ex and her man were to go to my MIL’s for a BBQ and a swim to celebrate my MIL’s bday and SD’s 16th bday. Hubby was happy to hear that everyone wanted to join in.
    I just rec’d a text that his Mom doesn’t want everyone there on Sunday, and he thinks it’s best if it is just he and I and my son Wes (Wes happens to live with us full-time, my other two live part-time between me and their Dad as they wanted to get to know their Dad and his family). So my other 2 kids my daughter’s friend and my Mom have been nixed from the invitation list!! This is suppose to be a family event and most of my family just got told they can’t come!! I feel like crying, I don’t want to go, if for no other reason to show how that was just a low ball thing to do!! My kids are not going to take this very well at all when I tell them that they cannot come, how can I possibly go and not take them with me, and how are they going to feel that their brother got invited but they didn’t. My hubby said that we can have the whole gang out to her house for a BBQ and swim soon, just not now!! What is the difference!!
    I almost have a feeling that my oldest SD is behind this, as she doesn’t get along with any of my kids, and in return my kids do not like her, for the sake of this sort of thing going on.
    How is this a blended family, how can you pick and choose who gets invited to a family dinner event? This will be the first time in along time that everyone wanted to join in, not doing b/c I asked and it got stomped on, how do I tell my kids and my Mom this news?
    Help please

    • My question is this: since the get-together is at her house, did she explicitly invite everyone on your guest list? If not, is it possible you got ahead of yourself and decided to bring more people she was ready to handle? This might not be personal at all; it could be that she is overwhelmed by too many guests OR that as host she wants to reserve the right to invite who she chooses.

      The part about two of your children not being included however, seems worth addressing. You could call her directly (I would) and say “That’s a weekend I have all three of my children with me. Don’t you agree it would be hurtful to leave two of my children behind?”

      The part about your friend and your mom might merit some self-reflection, though. It would require an exceptionally generous host to welcome your mom and your child’s friend without a clear invitation.

      • It was my husband who invited everyone, not myself. He was very happy when all of the kids wanted to come along, as it has been a very long time since we all got together as a family, as this is not the first time my kids have been “asked” not to come along, even when the party was not happening at her home. As well, we have had all of our family at her home in the past for such events.

        My kids already don’t feel included in my husbands family for various reasons and this is going to throw a huge monkey wrench into getting our blended family to be just that, no one excluded.

        Since becoming a blended family, I have never once not included anyone due to my own reasons, as this is my family and you do not pick and choose amongst them, that is just not fair nor right.

        My issue now is, that I am in a position that I do not really want to go, as how would my kids feel if I did go but they were not allowed, nor my Mom. What is that saying about their self worth in this family, they are not old enough to understand this as an adult, they are going to hear that they have been rejected by their stepdad’s Mom, essentially their stepgrandmother, to not be included in a family event. If this was made aware at the time by my MIL to my hubby, then this could have been avoided at the beginning, as I was not privy to the converstation regarding this, I have no idea what was said or not said.

        And now I need to do major damage control, so that my kids don’t feel rejected. I can already see that they will not really be so excited to join in the next family get together, and I do not blame them.

        I do not know how to convey to my husband how upset I am feeling, and how wrong it is that one child out of 3 got invited and just what message this is saying to them?

        How would my SD’s and MIL and such feel, if all of a sudden they were no longer to attend a family function that I was having or that my Mom was having, for crying out loud, my Mom is more than happy to have all of them over all of the time

        It is all about family, and at the end of the day that is all you really have, and if this is how you treat them, you will be treated the same way, I would hate for my MIL to need some help from my children one day, they might just not be availabe to assist her.

        • My opinion: Your MIL should have been looped in before any invitations were extended. Everyone has a different idea of family. Yours (and mine) are that everyone is always welcome. But lots of people don’t share our idea on that. It doesn’t mean they are bad people. Sometimes it means they are a little uptight or are intimidated the complexities of blended family life.

          Maybe if you talk to her directly and explain that your children feel excluded, she’ll change her tune.

          My in-laws, for example, are kind to my children, showing up for their special events and having them over. But they also like to have alone time with my partner’s children (their biological grandchildren), which seems really fair and reasonable to me.

          But creating divisions at a child’s birthday party seems unfortunate and unkind. If I were in your shoes, I would let my emotions cool overnight and then call the MIL to explain the situation. If all three children still weren’t welcome at that point, I’m afraid I could not go. It would be wrong to leave my children behind. I would plan something else that my kids would love to do, and I would keep conversation about it at a minimum with the kids, to shield them from knowing they were rejected. If they asked why the plans had changed, I would say something like, “It’s a perfect day to go to Sea World. That’s why.” But then my kids are young and it’s still fairly easy to redirect their attention.

          • I agree with you, however, my children are 17, 15 and 13., as much as I could make a day for the 4 of us, they are old enough to understand what happened and they are also old enough to decide for themselves, if they want to attend any future family functions or not, if they were younger they would not be the wiser.

            Never will I say that my MIL is a bad person, she certainly is far from that. She is a wonderful Mom and Grandma and loves her granddaughters to the moon and back, and I would never expect her to feel the same for my kids, nor my Mom for my SD’s. I can also understand and respect where she is coming from, and perhaps my husband should have had a more clarifying conversation with his Mom regarding this dinner, however, if they had already been invited, as in this situation, regardless of your own feelings, for the couple of hours, would it not make life happier and easier if you pur your own feelings aside? Would that not make your entire family feel together?

            As I was again not included in this second conversation this morning, as I am at work, and was texted this information by my husband, I would presume that he mentioned all of the kids wanted to join in this 2 birthday/belated Mother’s day dinner and if I know well enough from previous talks, his Mom probably nixed this, and if not, then my husband did not have the guts to inform her that all of us are very excited to go, but I would guess that she said no.

            I have no desire to contact my MIL. My hubby should be the one to deal with this situation, he is the one who has been speaking with her, he woudl have had the opportunity to explain the situation but he didn’t do so.

            My children rarely see their stepgrandma, I believe the last time was at Christmas, and that was at my house, where I also invited my husband’s ex and her husband so that all of our children could be together and not have to choose who they wanted to be with on Christmas Day.

            My SD’s see their Grandma quite a bit and I believe that you are right, they should spend more time with her, as my children with my Mom.

            I know in the past there have been times when my parents were looking forward to spending time with their own, but dealt with it when it was all of them, then never once said ‘no’.

            I don’t want my husband and I to get into an argument or quarrel over this, as I am sure he will see this differently, as this is his Mom and his kids (and apparently my 1 son), as my husband is very relaxed, sometimes too relaxed for my liking, however, I am just not into going, even if my kids are okay with me going, even if my kids decide to make other plans, even if my kids then decide that they are going to not stay with me and hang out with their Dad instead.

            If my kids were younger and if my husband clarified things, this would not be happening and I do not know how to convey that to him?

            And I do not know what it will say to him, his Mom and whoever else attends the BBQ?

            I do believe that my ex’s wife and hubby will attend, which would not surprsie me, his ex is still a very huge part of his Mom’s family, and I know that if she was in this predicament, that she would also just make room at the dinner table.

  23. I just was told the truth behind the scenes. Grandma was the fall guy. Turns out that oldest SD, doesn’t like some of my kids. My hubby told his OD to suck it up for a couple of hours and do not blow up the family party. Next thing he knows, his OD went to her Grandma (my hubby’s Mom) and freaked out on her, causing my MIL to just step back and not want any part of her GD’s drama and is when this all went down. My MIL was quite happy to have the entire family at her house and was quite looking forward to it, until her GD did what she did.

    My hubby was suppose to go and pick up his OD bday dress from a store across the border as well as pay for the majority of her 16th bday party with 7 of her friends, which was a very hefty bill, and has since gone to his ex-wife and told he flat out that he is not going to get her dress and he is no longer going to help pay for her party with her friends. Her party with her friends was booked in a hotel for this coming Saturday, so I am not quite sure just how that is now going to happen, and to be quite honest, she has been the thorn in our sides for quite sometime, to the point that she will go above her own Dad’s authority to get her own way.
    Because of her selfish choice, our entire families plans to spend a mere 2 hours together have been dashed, the only ones who will show up are her Mom, stepdad, grandma, sister and probably her dad, because it is his daughter, but there might be some hostile feelings between the two of them due to the fact that he will now not help her out.

    I am certainly not going to attend the dinner, even though I am more than welcome to,it is to set a point.

    I don’t think my hubby is expecting me to go either.

    I am lost in this drama that she has created and that she is now bringing to the entire family.

  24. Well that is a huge bummer and in a way even more depressing than the original scenario. I hope you guys find something great to do this weekend, like really great. Hugs to you and keep on truckin’! XO

  25. this is a very big bummer and I wish the first scenario was the real deal.
    DH and I spoke last night and it was a good talk, some things were said that have been a long time coming. For years his OD has for a lack of a better phrase, not liked me, my 3 kids and my Mom. She has been walking around with a very serious attitude towards us for the past 3 years, my DH finally after all of these years, has finally said this out loud to me, although the way that he said this, was as if he thought I was completely in the dark, but my sixth sense and Mom radar has known. I also have known a few other things, that he might be surprised to learn. I was upfront and told him that for sometime, we were all bothered by her feelings towards us, and uneasy that there was no action taken from anyone, including SD to try and work through this, and I was even more upset to find out that SD’s Mom was saying bad things about my DD, that I do not know if my DH knows and I have a feeling that it would wind up in a “he said, she said” kind of scenario, so I am leaving that one until it is brought up by someone else. In the meantime, my kids, myself and my Mom have gotten past how she feels about us, have moved on and are not looking back, I will not allow how she feels, to interfere with family or relationships, and until she can let go of the grudge that she is carrying with her for the past three years, and can communicate what her beef is, there is nothing more I can do. I told her, right now, the only person she is really hurting by all of this, is herself. We just don’t care anymore, because it has gone on too long and we are all tired of it.
    My DH has made it clear that he is done being apart of this with her, and having her “ruin his life” and will not be around to help her out anymore, and when she is mature enough to go out for coffee with my DD and my Mom to apologize for her attitude towards them, that is when life can resume normalsy.
    By the end of the night, DH was wondering if he should help pay for her party, as it is her sweet 16th, and he doesn’t want her to have bad memories of it. Again, I personally don’t feel that he should, but at the end of the day, is it really my call? I did let him know how I felt, because this entire situation encompasses me and mine, how it was completely wrong of her to go over his head and bring DG into her drama, how he really needs to think about reversing his decision re: her party, and what message that will send to her, as he took it away for a reason, as well if he does move ahead with the orginal party plans, I suggested that he put some pretty heavy conditions with this, conditions that will not budge what so ever, as this entire situation that she has created on her very own, is now blowing up and it cannot be ignored, and she should not be able to get away with this, as it will just continue & I can already envision that when they are out on their own, that they will not have an open door for her, because of how she treated them, their Mom and their DG. What comes around goes around, karma has no predjudices.

    My DH is even defending all our kids minus the one to his ex and letting her know just where he stands with his OD, so that his ex understands why he is not willing to help her out as much, why she might be more upset with him and so forth. DH told me that his ex is now telling her that everything will be okay, and that she will get Dad to change his mind blah blah blah….

    No wonder I have Crohn’s, alopecia and drag my feet to get out of bed!!

    All I want to do, is go out with my DH and not have to think or worry about anything for just a little while.

  26. I can see how and why you are upset BUT I also think there’s no good in resenting a teenager. When I think of the moronic things I said and did at that age, I feel a surge of empathy for this young lady trying to find her way. What approach can lead to the best outcome for everyone involved?

  27. Unfortunately, if only you were a fly on the wall. I am far from resenting her, I have been there for her, I do things for her, I will remain being there for her, and this is a very long and drawn out story, and she is the current writer of this, and she is hurting her Dad in the process and it hurts me to watch this. If you feel empathy for her, that is wonderful, I would hope that you would also feel empathy for the struggles that my DD went through with her stepdad, a few years back, when he called her a few choice words and yelled at her like there was no tomorrow and there was zero reason for it, and she was only 13 at the time, and three days later he felt so horrible, that he didn’t even know how he could fix things, it took time and councelling and alot of me and her time for things to be okay with them again. My DD and DH now have a great relationship, my DD learned the pain and uselessness of holding a grudge and being mad and upset all of the time and let it go. My DH took this as one of life’s larger lessons, about a number of things, as well as an example to everyone else, and therefore; with the situation with his OD not letting go and moving on, instead she is holding onto something that is unhealthy for her, and that will not go away until she just let’s it go, and her Dad is doing everything under the sun for her, and she is stomping all over him.

  28. Today is the day that I was so elated that my entire blended family wanted to share some chill family bonding time together.
    My DH and MIL over road DH OD freak out about not wanting certain ppl to be there (those of who are from my side of the family), after my DH and I had a chat and I pointed out what her actions caused and did not understand why this was happening. When my DH and I got together, we made a rule together, and that rule seemed to be for everyone else but her, and that it was time he also included her in it. Once he realized things, I wasn’t all too sure what this weekend would be, but I was prepared to stand by my children and stand by my DH decision as well.

    The end result was very wonderful. DH really listened to me, he took that and thought about it, and then included her in the rule we have had for years. After speaking with his Mom, it was all arranged, DH, myself, my Mom and my children and YSD will be going to my MIL’s to share in a belated bday dinner for my MIL and the first family dinner for this season. There will be BBQing, swimming, laughs and just a good time, not a long time but a good time. Everyone is aware that my OSD will not be joining us, they understand it was totally her choice, and know just why she made that choice.

    I am so very elated that our family will have this time, and that it was not cancelled because of one person, who cannot put her difference aside for a mere 2 hours. As much as it would have been nice to have everyone, sometimes, we have to be happy that the majority of us will be together and take it for all it’s worth

  29. Hello – I just wanted to say how fantastic of a family time we had, despite all of the drama that happened at the beginning. Neither one of my SD came, even though my YSD was suppose to and was suppose to spend the night with G’ma (however DH and I and YSD were not made aware of this, DH’s ex made the plans and didn’t think to let anyone know), so a lesson was certainly learned there, hopefully DH has a talk with his ex to let her know what happened and how upset G’ma was.
    It was quite interesting, my MIL was quite upset at her bio GC and was so very happy that her SGC were more than happy to spend time with her, and help out. My Mom and MIL had a great time and DH and I had such great laughs at them all…it was so nice to see everyone so happy and happy to be spending time together.

  30. Now onto my next question, (they are never ending). Does anyone know of a forum site that they could recommend for co-parenting with your ex. As much as my ex and I have moments that we can get along, we also have moments of not getting along, one being that we have different views and styles of parenting, sometimes they match but other times not, and that winds us into arguments, and I am starting to get very tired of this. The other point is that, we both have different homes, different rules etc…the kids have lived with this since they were extremely young and get it, I stay out of his way and he stays out of mine, and so we should. I have nothing against his wife, or how she has raised her children, my children like her and get along with her and I am glad that she is there for them, when they are at Dad’s, there are just some underlying issues, almost feels like a tug-o-war situatioin or a power struggle situation instead of working together.

  31. I am reading the post and comments trying to find out how to deal with my husband’s ex in the near future, as I am preparing to move in with him (I live in another country right now).
    It is scary to see how common the ex-wife problem occurs… My husband is a very good man and does everything to keep the peace, such as doing things that are not up to him anymore (he is painting her house, mows her lawn, clean her pool, fixed her basement and changed it’s doors and so on) while his ex hates my guts although she doesn’t even know me and she is making very clear she will do what she can to not leave us alone. They have 2 kids and share their custody as the kids spend 3 and 1/2 days of the week with each parent. He pays child support although the kids stay with him half of the time but she wants more money to keep the life standards she used to have when they were married
    I don’t care about the fact he helps her, he does it for the sake of the kids but she clearly takes advantage of him.
    She is always talking me down me for my DR and for the kids and often use the kids as excuse for many of her behaviors. She even got to thread my husband saying the kids won’t sleep over once I get there.
    Lately she started calling my ex almost every single day as she also texts telling him about her love life, very odd.
    My husband doesn’t want to make her mad, it’s like he is afraid of her or thinks he is responsible for making her happy. He doesn’t draw boundaries, he never says no and it makes me mad at times.
    It’s not looking good for me. Fortunately we’ll live in another town, 100km away from her, but that won’t stop her from doing what she does…
    How to cope with this situation?

    • Hi Crissy, there were much needed boundaries drawn when me and my DH began dating. I was shocked to find out that they both had keys to each others places, and one morning when I was staying at his place (before we moved in together), I woke up in the middle of the night to find her asleep on his couch. She had previously gotten ready for a date at his place (which I happened to walk into when I arrived, which was the first shocker but since she knew about me, I didn’t let it get too me too much). After a while, my DH realized that he needed to make the boundaries in order for our relationship to move ahead.
      I also feel that my DH gets taken for, and he is aware of how I feel to an extent. He doesn’t go as far as helping around her house (other than the time that he decluttered her kitchen while she and her DH were on holiday, I thought that weird). DH mainly does it for the kids but since his work position has changed he is not as available for them, in turn they have had to learn to have less help from him.
      His and ex and I get along, even though I am sure behind close doors, we equally say things, and we also get along with her DH which helps, b/c in the past we did spend time together for family events. Which I have noticed is getting a little less as I think her DH is starting to want them to do more with his kids as well. In any event, your DH should really start placing boundaries, and it is too bad if his ex cannot accept this and move on, there is a reason they are not together, and really all he has to worry about is his family and kids. I wish I could give a simple solution, try and take things a little easy, knowing that it takes time for change, and in the end, things tend to work out. And have a great support team there for you when the going gets tough. Do not let her get to you, be the bigger person and everyone will see this.

  32. so here is question for all the parents out there who are having communication issues with their ex. I just found, from my own investigations, that my ex-husband has not communicated important information to me regarding my DD. Today things blew up between them, and when I confronted him, he told me that I am taking her side on a complex situation but would not tell me what that situation is. After talking to my DD, I was able to get to the root of this, and was able to make some calls and get more clarification for myself, and at the same time inform those ppl, that I was not aware of this and in the future to contact me, as for some reason he felt that I did not need or have the right to know this about my own child, we have shared custody of her. My DD is now nervous of her Dad and her stepmom is being no help to her. Thankfully, she has the ability to get to my home on her own at any time, if she wants or needs. I could have resolved or began to resolve this, if I had of known this at the time, now there is bit of a time crunch. My DD and I now have a plan in action, and I will make sure that she follows through with this.

    Why do ex’s feel the need to put the children in the middle of what is clearly nothing to do with them. Use them to get back at each other? This only harms the kid(s) in the end. The result of divcorcing certainly wouldn’t be the kids, I can’t see any child demanding that their parents split up so that they now have a broken family. I just don’t get it! If you can’t stay together fine, but grow up for the sake of your child and do what is right.

  33. This article helps a little, but not.
    When I met my husband (2nd), he had not been married before, but did have two children with a woman he was with off and on for 22 years. He was living with them and their mother “for the girls”. Our first date, his youngest (15 yrs old) commented on facebook “daddy stealer”. I can tell you this has set the stage for our entire relationship. Their mother will not communicate with me, insists that “we didn’t marry you” and will still call him at least daily – and he deletes it from his phone. My husband told me how uncomfortable he was with the interaction between my kids’ father and myself, I set boundaries and have no unnecessary contact, not even FB friends. But he says it is different for him “because of the girls”. So, he goes to family gatherings like birthdays and just regular visits because it makes his girls happy to have “family time” and then I have to explain to my children this as they don’t understand. I really don’t know what to do, and am ready to end my marriage.

    • That sounds really unfair, Laurie. By him attending functions that you’re not invited to, he’s telling the rest of his family that you don’t matter. He’s telling them that it’s OK to disrespect you and that you’re not an important part of his life. He’s making a mistake that some men make and it usually ends in divorce. I hope he’ll agree to counseling with you or at least be willing to educate himself on how to have a successful marriage when you’re part of a stepfamily.

  34. I’m the step mom

    Husband was never married to his ex but have a 4 year old son.

    She is now married with two step kids.

    My husband and I have a 10 month old baby.

    when she found out i was pregnant (before we were married), she flipped out and said that their son could not be around either me or his own dad. She withheld him for over a month but constantly texted messeged him saying that we were trash and that he is going to end up having 5 different kids with 5 different moms and that her son will not grow up in that environment. She called me trash and told him that his son calls HER husband daddy. so on so forth. constant texting about nothing that had to do with the wellfare of her son.

    I wrote her an email basically saying that I respected her as her sons mom and that I have no other intention but to be her sons friend and to set the best example for him. I explained that I understand that both her and my husband are their sons parents and that i wont interfere with their parenting decisions . I told her that her comments about me being “trashy” and all of that were far from being factual and told her that I hoped that both her and her new family and our family can one day get a long for the sake of her kids.

    she never wrote back.

    she continued to withold her son from his dad. eventually only let him spend 4 to 5 hours every other sunday with him. no overnight stays.

    my husband had enough and got a basic/common parenting plan allowing him to have his son every other weekend and also on his vacations from work as long as a 10 day notice was given.

    the parenting plan is in place now and has been since last year. its been better but she still, to this day, plays games. the holidays that my husband gets to spend with his son are listed in the parenting plan but she recently handed us her “vacation” schedule (even though she is unemployed and a stay at home mom) claiming she would have vacation time with her son on every single holiday that we get to have with their son. (in the parenting plan, the vacation schedule overides holidays with parents which we are now trying to change/modify.)

    she does things like this all of the time! trying to twist and turn the parenting plan to accomidate her needs and jeporadize my husbands rights as a father and his time with his son. my husband calls his son just about twice or three times per week. not too long ago she literally blocked his number for about a week and a half. Finally, my husband drove over to her house to check on his son and find out why she even blocked his number out of nowhere. she stated that because he does not pay for his preschool (mind you again she is an unemployed stay at home mom, who has a child growth and learning background education AND just bought a new car) lol (my husband works two jobs, current with child support ALWAYS and our budget is so tight seriously we can hardly get by as is) that he does not deserve to talk to their son while they’re apart because he does not pay for his preschool costs and that she is “too” busy to answer her phone and let her son literally have a 2 to 3 minute conversation with his own dad. Its usually a very short “hi i love you how are you what are you doing i miss you….etc”

    THEN after my husband told her to unblock his phone number regardless of what he can afford to pay for and left, she still had his phone number blocked. a week later my husband was served a restraining order against his ex and his son. in this restraining order she claimed that he came to their house that day unexpectedly yelling and screaming at her and banging on the door infront of their son.

    TOTALLY (and i put this on the bible, on my own son) exaggerated the situation.

    at the hearing, the judge didn’t find that there was any reason to place the restraining order on my husband and dismissed the case.

    his ex was SO EMBARASSED and upset that her game did not play out as planned. she continued to ignore/block phone calls, interfere with his parenting time. texting him to insult him. just on going.

    i finally text her and asked if her and her husband and myself and my husband could meet and talk about disagreements and resolve issues cause clearly there’s hard feelings/and or resentment and that my husband and i want to move on and get rid of the negativity. she then threatened to place a harrassment order on me for contacting her. it ticked me off cause here i am just trying to say HEY LETS GET A LONG WE DONT HAVE TO BE FRIENDS BUT LETS MAKE PEACE AND MOVE ON
    so i told her to stop playing games and threatening my husbands time with their son and to get over whatever she is mad at him for and to focus on their sons well being instead of picking fights constantly.
    she continued to threaten a harrassment order and then claimed that i am clearly jealous of her and that i need to work out my insecurity issues lol. I then brought up the fact and sent her AND her husband pictures of our phone records showing text messages sent from HER to my husband at 1:30am all the way until 2:30am where my husband never responded to any of those texts and asked her what her husband thinks about her contacting her ex at that hour. she just continued threatening me and saying that every message i write to her is only jeporadizing my husband’s time with his son. I told her she has no right to take away my husband time with his son and that he has rights as his father and that she needs to realize the importance of her son having a stable and consistent relationship with his dad without her trying to interfere with it. I also told her that i do not think she is a good mother because of the way she toys with my husband and their sons relationship. i told her to file the harrassment order and that it would be just a waste of her time and the courts time and that no judge will view anything that ive said as harrassment.

    she placed a harrassment order on me but at the hearing the judge did not find a reason for the order to be placed on me.

    i regret contacting her and telling her that shes not a good mom. i do think she is a good mom but do think that when she plays these games that it’s in no way beneficial for their son. I regret getting involved but I just got so fed up with the constant insults toward my husband for no legitimate reason and the games. I want to make peace but is there any point? it seems like no matter whats said she will always have resentment towards my husband and now towards me. what do i do?

    • HI Lindsey, you asked “I want to make peace, but is there any point?” I would say not. It’s clear that she has her own agenda. Her behavior towards you and your husband have nothing to do with you two. Her behavior is hers to own and you could probably spend a lifetime trying to figure out why she does these things and how to make her stop. But you can’t control her. And I know you want to protect the child, but mom will face the consequences of her actions when the child grows up and can see the situation and her actions for what they were.

      Also, it is not your place to get involved. I know you want to protect your husband, but he’s a grown man and will take necessary actions when he’s ready. You should start protecting yourself from her by staying away from all communication involving her. Do not allow her into your space; physically or emotionally. You need to find your peace again, and it doesn’t involve her. Focus on yourself, your marriage and your family – Not mom. Good luck!

      • so do I write an appology letter? and promise never to contact her again in any way and promise to never say a bad thing about her to her son?

  35. You could just write a brief letter owning your stuff, apologizing for what you did. Be sure not to make excuses or justification for *why* you did it. And don’t have any expectations of her response or attachment to the outcome. She may ignore it or she may respond aggressively or she may be appreciative. But unless she specifically states she’s open to communication with you and trying again, I would cease communication after the apology.

  36. When I first married my husband, I instantly jumped into the stepmom role. I have a daughter from a previous marriage and my husband has 2 children from a previous relationship. My husbands ex did not do much with their children. She had her mother, sister and friends taking care of them. She did not work. My husband works all the time to pay her $3500 in child support monthly. I never tried to be the children’s mother, they had a mother and didn’t need another one. But I was able to help my husband and he began seeing his kids more because I was picking up from school, I turned his house into a home for them. Before I moved in, they slept on the couch. I fixed up their rooms, and made them so they actually wanted to sleep in them. Our home became a place where they finally had a stable environment. I paid attention to them, listened to them, interacted with them, just as I do my own daughter. Then their mother became aware that her kids wanted to stay with us and not the people she had arranged for them to stay with and she all the sudden started being a mom to them. Which I think is great. But at the same time she started hating me, and doing things to ruin my reputation, and telling the children things so they became skeptical of me. She felt we were in a competition. Who is the better mom. I never wanted to be in a competition with her. Pick have always understood she was their mom. I was only trying to help my husband because I love him so much. But because of the constant harassment and rumors she was making up about me. I had no choice but to step away from the situation. And I told my husband he needed to handle things because the stress became to much for me. I was his ex’s target. She was creating fake profiles, pretending to be me, impersonating me in a very negative light. She really tried to make me look like this horrible person. It was all lies but it took a toll on me. It caused me to feel isolated and depressed. She just wouldn’t stop making up the most disgusting lies about me. Even though I did take a step back. She vilified me, and she was always the victim. She has numerous blogs she has created claiming I stalk her, harass her, and that I do not let my her children see their dad. When that is so crazy because it is what she has been doing to me. My husband texts her to confirm he is getting when it is his wknd, and she will say the kids have this activity and that activity and can’t come. And then turns around and tells everyone that he is a lousy father and he didn’t want to get his kids again, or that I wouldn’t let them come to our home. Which is so frustrating because it’s not true. We try to talk to the children. We got them phones just so my husband can talk to them. Every phone seems to disappear and get lost. I have had to remove myself from the situation and focus on my daughter and myself. My husbands ex is manipulative and lies just to lie. I have given up that things will change, and that she will ever have some sorta spiritual awakening and see what she is doing is wrong. I now only worry about the things I can control – which is myself and my interactions and love for my husband and my daughter. If we are able to get my husbands kids, I am happy and I am always good to them. If the ex won’t let us get, I do not become angry, or sad. I just accept this is how it is. It’s my husbands problem, not mine. I still do feel guilty though when we haven’t seen them for a month. I worry if they are ok and happy. I wish I could 100% let go of worrying but I am only human

  37. This is a great post and much needed! My husband hasn’t seen his kids, my step daughters, in almost 2 months because of issues from the past and between him and their mother. They don’t want to see him (they are heavily influenced by their mom) and their mother does not make them, even though she is legally in contempt of court per the parenting plan. In the beginning of our relationship, me and the ex would talk and I thought all was good until the manipulation came into play on her part, and I was falling for it. So I felt very uncomfortable with communicating with her and told my husband that I no longer want to communicate with her for anything, that it’s better if it goes through him. It might be a little more peaceful for ME but she is making it even worse for HIM. The kids deserve a relationship with their father and she is denying them that. It’s tough to stand on the sidelines, but in all honesty, your post is right, it’s not my place to butt in. It’s so frustrating to see your husband so at a loss. Supporting him is all you can do.

  38. This is all so ugly to me. I’ve been married for 3 years whose ex wife was always abusive to him, and it’s horrified me to see her using her kids as pawns to now abuse both he and I. I have a counselor and know law folks who mention conduct like this is illegal, and is parental alienation, as some are mentioning here.

    I end up worrying about our health as a couple given how strong and “psychotic” her conduct is and words toward me are, as well as the ability for the kids to grow up with healthy boundaries and communications skills when Mom is modeling this abuse.

    Aside from avoiding her, any tips for talking to kids about this abuse, and healthy boundaries to insist upon in our household? I would love to see some family counselors’ tips on this ugliness here, in case some wander in!

    Thank you for your site, I really appreciate finding it.

  39. These last posts address an issue very close to my heart. One that I have had my fair share of – dealing with a contemptuous ex situation. You ladies are right: you can not control someone else, the children do deserve a relationship with all members of their family (step members included), and you sometimes need to recognize that you should take a step back in order to preserve your emotional stability. While it is true, it doesn’t make it any easier to see a love one go through the pain and the toll the conflict takes on the people involved.

    Some strategies that I’ve tried that have made a huge difference on this front are limiting communication to written forms. While things were still very hot-tempered, we found that switching to email helped a great deal. It curbed things from getting out of line, and (sadly) provided proof of what we all said and did. Two, I worked hard to support my husband, and asked him specifically how I could support him. This helped because there were times that I wanted to jump in and help, but he let me know that all he needed was for me to listen. I also let him know when I couldn’t take or hear any more. I can’t support someone if I am tapped, and it’s no use trying to support him if I am in a negative space. Three, I learned that since I could only control myself, it was incredibly important what I said and did in front of the children in order to combat the messages being presented by the ex. Many children will come to their own conclusions, in time, when faced with years of experiences that don’t match the rumors.

    While I am not sure what is being referred to by boundaries, some possible solutions are limiting communication to written formats until verbal communication is possible, pursuing legal action for behavior that clearly breaks the law or court agreement, setting up neutral drop off/pick up locations to minimize conflict, and seeking counseling or other third party to mediate.

    In terms of talking to the kids, the old saying of “honesty is the best policy” has worked for me. The trick is that it has to be age appropriate honesty (i.e. the appropriate version of the truth and the extent of information needed for a 6-year-old is vastly different from a 13-year-old). The other trick is that you need to focus on you, not the ex. If you “trash talk” the ex, you will have proved her negative remarks about you correct and you will most likely never recover from speaking poorly about a child’s mother, no matter how rotten she may be. Speak the truth about yourself, what you are trying to do, and solicit their input of ways you might achieve that goal together.

    Good luck to all; I know that we just want to see our families at peace.

    http://www.blendedfamilysurvivalguide.com

  40. This is so unfair on ex wives who try to remain as detached as possible whilst maintaining some sense of balance to family values – especially when teenage children beg you to remove the situation of what they term as “another influence” It is not just ex wives that have the problem but your new husbands who don’t tell you the complete truth – as always outside influence distress families. I’ve kept quiet as an ex wife and I’ve seen my children’s spirit utterly destroyed. Not all ex wives are bad!

    • I don’t think this post is about the ex-wives who are respectful. I’m an ex-wife and I leave my husband to run his household as he sees fit when the kids are with him. However, their spirits aren’t being destroyed. Their dad has created a great home life for them. I’m not saying I agree with everything he chooses, and there are even some people that they spend time around that I’m not crazy about, but overall they are very happy with their lives at their dad’s house and at mine. If the children were to begin complaining about something going on at their dad’s house, I would pay attention, but I would be careful that it wasn’t manipulation, as children of divorce often create conflict to force interaction between their divorced parents.

    • This post was not for the ex wives that remain detached, or are able to co-parent in a healthy way. It’s a post about step moms that need to detach from step children and step back in order to preserve their own sanity, because the step children whom she obviously cares for – have a mother who is so miserable and spiteful, so she attempts to make her ex husband and his new wife’s life just as miserable as hers – and she USES her OWN children to do so. There is no use trying to reason with someone who is bitter and vengeful. The way I see it is – I gave everything to help my husband with his children, because I love him and I love his children. I see them as innocent bystanders in this dysfunctional and unstable environment that their own mother has created. So while he is working 10-12 hour days, I don’t mind picking his children up from school and taking them places. They are actually very sweet children, despite their situation (having a mother who trashes their dad and me every chance she gets).
      Point being the reason I have had to step back is because the children are now 13 and 16, they are older, and the ex still acts as if they are 5 and 8. Because she knows the older then get, the less control she has on my husband. It is hard to detach from children that you see so much. But I have realized that I have my own child who is much younger to care, and the more involved I am with my step children the more problems my husbands ex wife causes. My husband has even had to distance himself from the situation because of the harrasment he endures everyday ( and still endures currently) from everything to telling him how his weekend with the kids should be spent, to interfering with his work, and asking him to hire one of her cousins who is a known drug user. My husband just ignores her and doesn’t respond

    • Hi Elizabeth, of course not all ex-wives are bad! ;) My mom was a great example of an ex-wife who was able to co-parent peacefully with my dad. I’ve known many ex-wives who are healthy in that way. There are also ex-wives who have shits for ex-husbands. But what I blog about are the very difficult ex-wives. Stepmoms often don’t know how to cope with this kind of person, because normally we would just remove these people from our lives. But we’re stuck with them here, so we must learn how to survive their attacks.

  41. I agree Sarah. And if a mother sat back and watched her children’s spirit being destroyed – then that’s on her. Not the step mom and the ex husband. When I would pick up my step children and do things with or for them – their mom said I was over stepping my boundaries. When I would try and step back. She would say I was a horrible person, and didn’t love her children. So either way I can’t win… So I stopped trying. I would never be mean or neglect children. So when they are here and my husband ask for my help – I help. But I don’t jump thru rings of fire to try to win them over so they will like me anymore. I can’t live my life worried about if children who’s mother hates me, simply for marrying her ex husband. She was remarried immediately after their divorce was final. To the man who is 40+ years older and who she was having an affair with. When I met my husband she had been married well over a year. Yet she seems to have convinced herself and the kids that I am the problem. She even said to me. Before you, my children’s father and I got along great. She must think I never speak to my husband because he says they never got along. He would give in to her because she was so crazy – he rather give her what she wants than hear her constant nagging and have to be harassed until he gave in. Since marrying me my husband has become stronger and realizes that he does do right by his children so her guilt trips won’t work anymore. The older the children have gotten (16 and 13) the less control the ex has over the children and over her ex husband. She knows this. And it is making her crazier than ever. We have watched her on a spiral down ward for years. And it just gets worse. Because of her constant lies and rumor spreading. Even writing in her blog that she feared for her kids safety because I was mentally unstable… That upset me because after she said that and was telling people that for no reason. I was afraid of the children coming over to their dads. Because of what their bitter mother might makeup about me next. I have been nothing but good and helpful to them – and she is telling people she is afraid for their safety. What is next? My husband loves his kids and I want him to see them. But considering her lies and rumors I have just kept my distance lately and me and my daughter will sometimes even leave and stay a night with my best friend who lives down the road. Just so my husband gets one on one time with his kids. And because I worry about what the crazy mother will say next. I am an ex wife and a step mom. My ex husband remarried a wonderful woman! Her and I get along fine. I never get in her business because she has shown me that she cares for my daughter and i trust her. I rather deal with her than my ex just because she is so organized and easy to talk with. She has had 2 children with my ex husband so my daughter has younger siblings who she loves and wants to see. My husbands ex wife has created an emotional block between her children. And my daughter and I. My daughter was so happy when I married because she was going to have a big brother and big sister. But that’s not the case. My step kids do not treat her as if they even know her. It’s hard for me to watch cuz there is nothing I can do about it. The ex wife has Made life hell

  42. It is written well and to the point. Since I am down this road currently. I had disengaged my self and first focused on our marriage and our children and now family. Only to be lectured by my husband ex wife That I am not allowed to stand up for any of our children feelings. We are blended family. Since I had noticed some sad feelings with 2 of 3 children they each had asked about visits each on their own. I Said I don’t make the rules but when your here feel free to bond and make the best of it. I get all kind of stories said about me mostly coming from the ex saying I am hurtful, not respecting of her wishes. I never have done anything wrong I don’t engage in any conversation with her but yet her words are hurtful towards me because of the rumors she spread about me. My husband ex wife had the nerve to say he has to stand up to me and stand up for his daughter feelings. Trust me he does “we all do”. She just never says anything. So by focusing on my immediate family unit is ok. But How do I help my 5 yr old who is hurt by husbands ex wife who is not hers but “my child” because she asked she big step sister when can I have my sister visit me. Awesome sister that she looks up to. We already lost one stepsibling bond because it was drilled in to 13 yr. old that no blood there is no relation but yet she been there since she was a baby 2months so big step sister is a person of interest too her.

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