May 10, 2008,
L.M. asks from Gainesville, TX on May 08, 2008
What to Do with My Husband's Ex Wife?
I've been miersable for 6 years putting up with my husband's ex wife. I have 2 stepsons now 14 and 9 year olds.
Everytime they come for the summer, hoildays to visit and when they had to go back home, She always ended up sending us a email blaming me for doing this and that, trying to make me out to be a real bad monster, and when they came last summer, I was afraid to touch them, or to discpline them so I had to leave it all to my husband.
Now my stepson whom is 14 years old hates me saying Im a monster, he talks just like her and it really hurts me.
My husband and the ex always sending emails, fighting, cussing at one another and I cave in to try email her to solve problems, I get replies like butt out, and such.
What can I do?
I left him 3 times since 6 years because of this, It is very stressful and it not good for me and my 6 year old son!
It's like I'm a very bad person running from law or something!
6 years is long enough, At first I thought it may be like 1-2 years as others told me but it contiuned!
I'm not really looking forwarding for the 14 year to be here for the summer because of his behaviors, his threats. We used to be close when he was younger, I been in his life since he was 7 years old. I'm close to my other stepson whom is 9. Im afraid when summer is over, We both would be fighting with the ex all over again! She is now refusing us to have the boys this summer but I dont know.. Court orders not being followed.
Do they still love eachother? I offered them to get back together few times, My husband hated her but I dont know what else to do, I told him if it happens one more time, I am leaving and filing for a divorce!
So What Happened?™
Thanks for all the advices..
I m feeling a lot of power lately and things are goinng a lot better these days..
My 10 year old stepson and I are still extremely close and hes here for the rest of the summer, We went and got him on June 5th, along with polices and left the 14 year old son behind, we never said ONE WORD to the ex wife and to the 14 year old as advised.
His ex wife and his 14 year old son called last night (june 23rd), ASKED FOR ME.. and said, I AM SORRY!
I know now, Things will get a lot better!
Thanks so much for all the advices you have given me!
H. answers from San Antonio on May 09, 2008
Don`t do anything! When she emails you, don`t respond. If she calls you, don`t answer. Eventually she will get tired and give up. If all else fails, contact a lawyer and ask his advice.
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J.L. answers from Beaumont on May 10, 2008
Let him handle all the discipline and his ex. He should confront the 14 year old when he's in your home if he disrespects you. Sounds like a jealous ex wife.
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R.N. answers from Beaumont on May 09, 2008
Dear L., I had a similar situation with my husband's ex. There were four children who lived with us and were raised by me. It really never got any better. I loved the children, so I prayed and kept a low profile where she was concerned. She did not pay child support or offer assistance in any way. This was a blessing in disguise because she did realize at times she had to watch her step.
Here's the bright spot, those kids did grow up and in most circumstances had an awareness about their mother's behavior.
This was me. You are you. If, indeed, you cannot wait for the boys to grow up, perhaps you should make plans to leave the relationship. Nobody can fully appreciate your circumstances because we don't have to live your life. Follow your heart, and go if you must.
Best wishes and God bless.
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S.V. answers from Houston on May 08, 2008
Why don't your husband and you take the offer of not having the kids this summer? I think it will be a good idea to be away from them this summer and maybe they will realized that if they love their father so much and are not going to see him this summer, they will change their attitude. Also, it will put a little more work for the ex-wife this summer and maybe you, your 6 yrs old and your husband will have a great summer. Listen, the more your husband fights with his ex the more she is loving it, tell him it is not worth the time and effort spent doing such a wasteful thing, at the end your husband and you are more stressed with each other and it is not fair. Your husband does not have to respond to her emails, unless they are about the kids health and problems. Other than that, let her say what ever it is that she is saying and let her be miserable with herself, but if you repond to her emails than you are letting her know that she is still important to you and your husbands lifes. Please don't let her control your lifes, just let her say whatever, at the end you know she is wrong and why argue. Right???? Have your tried writing the 14 yrs old a letter? Just a simple letter telling him how much he means to you and your husband. Tell him how much you miss the good old days, when the two of you were close and that you would like to be his friend and not his monster step mother. Ask him what it is that you need to do to be his friend and have his love and trust. Make sure you tell him that you are never going to even try to take his mother's place, you are his father's new wife and you love his father and his family very much. I don't know that might help!!! Sometimes we express our thoughts better in paper than verbally. If your husband is a wonder man, don't give the ex the satisfaction of breaking up your marriage. It didn't work for her, but that does not mean that it won't work for you. By the way, how do his kids get along with you son? Sometimes we just have to have more patience than the one that came along with us. Just hang in there is he is a good husband, then don't let him go. If you know that you are not a monster than don't worry what the kids call you, right now the 14 yr old is going through a very, very crucial time for him, puverty, which if you remember is a confusing age and they are between a kid and an adult. Which to me that is very confusing. Good luck!!!!
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A.G. answers from Houston on May 10, 2008
I was in the same situation. Sometimes the children don't understand. It is natural for them to want their parents back. We ended up sitting down and talking it out. You, husband and exwife need to discuss your concerns about what is best for the children. Fighting is not the answer. Discuss your feelings with your husband and go from there.
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S.O. answers from Houston on May 09, 2008
There is alot going on here. Well since there is not a positive way to reach this ex,your husband needs to just cut her out in the respect of communication she's not willing she just wants to badger. It sounds like your husband plays into her hands as well as the 14 year old. So what he needs to do is treat her as an ex she's not trying to work with him in the best interest of the kids. If your ex is caught up on child support shouldn't be a problem because she is breaking all the rules of the court order. For instance he can have the police escort him to her house to pick up his boys if he feels theres going to be a problem he needs to have the court order with him for the police can look it over. She will be arrested if she is out of hand with the police. She would have to have a police report on file on why it is dangerous for the boys to leave with him. Another thingis he needs to stand tall by yourside and leave her out because she is running the show and the 14 year old knows it. He the 14 year old is in a position that he can't like you because he'd never hear the end of it. She picks them up or they get dropped off and all she is doing is questioning them and if they give the wrong answer there she goes nag nag nag the kids feel like their going to make mom mad. As soon as he stands up to her by the law and not arguing down to her level then his kids will respect that and see that dad is in control. Your husband needs to stand by your side and expect respect for you as his wife, then they will naturally do it. It doesnt mean you have to be a big discipline figure. I don't know everything about the situation but his discipline will be sufficient enough if he is honoring you then the kids will fall in check. This woman is winning she is determined that he's not going to be happy with someone else. Prayer works wonders promise, it will open doors for you, soften hearts and give you wisdom and open your eyes to do and say the right things. Also tell your husband that he shouldnt have conversations with her she is noboby if she wants to act like this he can have the law on his side. Back to court or an escort at his side. She'd shut up then, she needs to see your relationship as an unsinkable ship, your husband needs to feel that way about it when he's dealing with her. Then his kids will to. Also just keep being a loving person as you are those kids will figure things out on their own. Its hard when your parent is the one in the wrong we all want to hold our heads up and be proud of our parents and be secure in knowing they're right, but once they see you and their dad as a power house they'll fall in place. Its frustrating for kids when mom is in control because God designed us where the man is the head of the family, and she the ex doesnt need to be the one who turns the neck anymore. Well after all this if this doens't help and your hubby is non compliant I'd walk because she shouldn't have this control. He has to cut out the arguing with her, he has to know how much more he'd get to her if he just ignored what she was saying and followed his court order. Not thats what we want we want to be able to talk as adults and have the kids best interest at heart. Anyway trust me I've been divorced with 4 kids for like 8 years now my story is a little different but trust me the law is on the abiders side. I'm the ex but for some reason his new wife had a need to prove herself as the perfect mom for all our kids and he was trying to cut me out and I guess he really thought they would want to live with him. Well now my baby is 12 and nobody ever left me, anyway he got behind on child support so I don't hear to much badgering anymore its crazy because everything they'd accuse me of it would be stuff they are actually guilty of. He got behind on child support really thinking the kids would come live with him and then it would even out because I'd pay him anyway he is in a big big mess now so I only hear good stuff. She smarted off around Christmas and I was back on line with the AG asking where my back child support is, so two days later he's contacted and has been sweet ever since. Which reminds me I need to write the AG again he hasn't paid in a couple of months. Long story but he's hiding under a contractor and the company the contractor works for can't take money out of his check on behalf of my ex. I try to think of it as a blessing in disguise because he still owes the money and when he is caught up they are both always making ways. Well she got better when she had her own child with him. She thought I'd be jelous but I'm liking she doesnt feel to be in competition with me. Actually the child is 3 now and he is a bother to them. Kinda ironic he left me for a young thang with no strings now our kids are 12,16 20 and 21 and I can pretty much do whatever I want and he is always stuck with their baby while she is out with her friends. He'd never help me with the kids when they were small. Oh well sorry this is about you!!!!
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T.B. answers from Houston on May 09, 2008
First I am married and have 4 children and let me say marriage is hard and kids are hard. So dealing with an ex and children of your husband and another woman would be even harder. But one thing I will say is to remember the thing we are taught as children, treat her like you would want to be treated. She is his ex, true but she is the mother of his children too and if you treat her with respect maybe just maybe one day she will return that respect. Now will it be easy, no it won't but one of you have to start and try to remember it is for the betterment of the children. Your child is being involved with all of this and the stress it brings to you and your husband. Do you want him to remember their childhood as mom and dad always fighting over the ex? No you don't....but do what you can but remember sometimes you can only do so much, they have to want to work it out as well. Hang in there and do what you can...
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H. answers from San Antonio on May 09, 2008
Don`t do anything! When she emails you, don`t respond. If she calls you, don`t answer. Eventually she will get tired and give up. If all else fails, contact a lawyer and ask his advice.
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M.H. answers from San Antonio on May 09, 2008
First of all you have to ask yourself do you love your husband and be honest with yourself. Then when you get that answer do what you think will be good for you.
When you come to the conclution you love your husband let him deal with this part of your lives. He sees what you are trying to do and he will understand. I understand that you want to do the right thing but you can only do so much. If the ex-wife can not see that you are try to keep peace and unity with father and kids let her not let them come to your house and visit, sometimes it takes that. Then she will realize that, when the kids are away she get a peace of mind. Your husband has to decide what is more important to him the ex-wife or his marriage, we already know that the kids will be taken care of, I say that because no matter what you do or don't do thing will not be enough. Hard love is what you have to give sometimes.
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A.N. answers from Austin on May 09, 2008
This is really out-of-control. Can you talk with your husband and tell him how you feel about how out-of-control this all is? - I will bet you that he feels the same. Then, can you both find agreement that you don't want to get sucked into all this negativity and would like to enjoy your relationships with all your children? If so then I would suggest you make a phone call to a good therapist BEFORE the kids come to see you and get it worked out and planned on what you want to accomplish when these kids are with you. A great person to talk to is at Child Guidance, named Sherri - just tell her the basic situation and ask her if she can give you any suggestions or if she can recommend anyone who is a good teen therapist to work with locally. Also excellent therapists who work with parents and teens - Lynn Henton, PhD, at ###-###-#### or Annie Drake at ###-###-####. Therapy is not cheap but I am pretty sure both of these fantastic ladies accept most insurance coverage. At any rate, I think it would be ideal for you and your husband to see them a couple times before the kids get here - get a game plan and keep each other in check. Also, when the kids are then with you, if any issues arise, you can call the therapist and just talk with her for 10 min on how to handle. You both clearly need support in this area and you both seriously deserve support. This is not easy to deal with.
And the key here is for you and your husband to keep it all between YOU and HIM, not the ex. This is YOUR TIME, not hers. Although you would take into consideration what input she needs to convey, re the kids, the final decisions are yours - this is your time, not hers.
Also, don't try to do too much. There is an AWESOME camp for teen kids - per week, throughout the summer, so if you want a break here and there you can sign up the kids once a month or something like that - go to www.wetwildcamp.com and check it out. This is run by Mary Robinson - www.familyconnectionsonline.org, ###-###-####. Mary is awesome and she also can email you a great reading on spending quality time with your kids - it's a superb article and you can share this with your husband. Mary also is a great resource on teens and dealing with troubled teens - she is very helpful if you explain your situation to her.
Remember this is YOUR time with these kids and you get to teach them what you and your husband would like to teach them, about your way of life. You get to have fun, and get to know them, and they can get to know you more as they get older.
Also a fun idea for dinner-time is a "conversation box" - type out little questions, cut then out, fold them up and put them each in a box. One of the kids gets to pick one per night and everyone answers the question - i.e. - "If you could have lived in a different time in history, when would it have been and who would you have been?" "What is your favorite animal?" "What is the most enjoyable thing our family has done in the past three years?" "What toy or thing did you want and never got?" "Share something you appreciated this week that another family member did." "What would you do if you were invisible for a day?" "What is the strongest part of yourself?" "If you could have a special day, what would you want it to be like?" etc.... This gives parents so much insight into their kids minds and vice-versa.
Try and focus on the positive and take things into your own control. Your husband needs to stop and think - is it really worth it to engage with his ex - to spend his energy on her or to spend it where he will actually see results - his family! He needs to send her an email telling her he won't partake in negative conversations with her about the children. And, then he needs to discipline himself to pull out of that and keep out of that. He MUST follow through with her - he must see her as a child who just wants her way. He needs to be reasonable and respectful and hold the boundaries at the same time with her. Do not engage anything negative and keep re-stating he will not do that, keeping it very short and to the point and then not sending anymore responses if she keeps on. He can have you check the emails if it helps - you are a team. If you see she is still inappropriate on the same issue then just delete it. Otherwise he can respond when she behaves. This is how you would treat a child and sometimes we do act like children as adults and need to be treated as such! Eventually she will get it. And, if she doesn't he has not wasted energy on it. And, you can help him with this.
The therapist will help you both with this. I am sure once you discuss with your husband he will agree that the focus should be on your family and the kids, and being as positive and close as you all can be.
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A.S. answers from College Station on May 09, 2008
You need to leave.
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G.T. answers from Houston on May 09, 2008
I feel your pain. I have the same problem. Your husband and mine both seem to be afraid of their exes. The only thing that has gotten me through my ordeal (8 years worth) is prayer and venting to my friends. My husband says he will take care of it and then caves at court hearings. I do firmly believe that what goes around comes around. It seems that both of us are waiting for the comes around part.
But telling your husband that you are going to leave has just placed you in the same category as his ex. I know that it is extremely difficult. What it all boils down to is how much you love your husband and 6 year old son. If this is hurting your son, you might have to walk away for his sake.
I will be praying for you. I wish I could offer you more advice. It is a tough one.
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B.B. answers from Houston on May 09, 2008
i also have a 14 yr. old stepson as well as 2 grown children of my own (1boy, 1girl) i think there are several issues. the teen years are hard whether you are the biological or step mom, especially with boys (my experience). it is also difficult to try and parent children who you only see occasionally. my advice is never engage in discussing your feelings about their mom in front of them, regardless of how you or your husband feel about her she is and always will be their mom. also, try not to argue with your husband in front of them, kids learn really quick that they have the power to come between you and they will continue to do so if it works. i read a book called "the courage to be a step mom" it really gives good advice and i recommend it for all step moms. sometimes the best thing we can do is step away from the situation. i find this works best for me as my husband and i have very different parenting styles. also, you may want to start and step-mom support group, i am sure there are others who could benefit from it. goodluck
C.F. answers from Houston on May 08, 2008
Your husband needs to have a talk with his ex-wife. First of all, why is SHE allowed to make the rules of YOUR household????????? I have step-children as well. Well, when you come to MY house, we have rules. They may or may not be the same way at the mothers house, but, it doesn't matter. I refuse to put up with disrespect in my home. Their mother is obviously extrememly immature. Your husband needs to also have a talk with his kids. He should be standing up for you when his kids have the nerve to disrespect you. He needs to be a man and have a talk with all three of them. If he's going to allow them to disrespect you in your home then he doesn't sound like much of a husband. The ex is obviously very bitter still and she really needs to get over it and he needs to tell her that. The kids should know before they come that they are to respect you while they are in your home and that if discipline is necessary, it's your decision because you are the boss, not them. Your husband can deal with them when he is home. You might need to take them to some counseling or something. If they can't work together civilly, and your husband won't put his foot down, maybe it's time for a change. If he really wants his marriage to work, he'll step up to the plate with his kids and his ex.
D.B. answers from San Antonio on May 09, 2008
I am a step mom. My husband has problems with his ex. I have worked with pediatric fields and in the middle of going into a pastoral field that involves counseling. So I am speaking from experience.
First, you and your husband need to run, not walk to a counselor to fix the problem in YOUR marriage. The fact that you have left 3 times speaks volumes. You are not a united front. Threatening divorce puts stress on a marriage. That does not create a strong unity. There will ALWAYS be stress as long as the ex is angry with both of you. That you can not change. What you can change is how the two of you deal with it. Counseling, as long as you accept it, will change how you deal with the stress. And there is no magic number of years. You may deal with it until both step children are 18+ years old.
Second....YOU are not the parent of the 14 and 9 year olds; you are the step-parent. Only your husband and the ex-wife are. Let them be the parent and you step back and be the step-parent. So you need to BUTT OUT as hard as it is. Your husband is the only one to discipline him as hard as that is. You are there to support your husband...not do all the work. Also, do NOT get caught up in the middle of THEIR battle by e-mailing the ex. Completely and totally STAY OUT OF IT!! You do not know what the 14 year old is being told by the mom when he is in her home. It is difficult to be torn between two homes and then to be a teen on top of it.
As far as she threatening not to let your husband have the children, that goes against court orders. If needed, he needs to contact an attorney. If his custody decree states he has them, she will be contempt of court. Someone posted that the 14 year old is old enough to say he doesn't want to come. Actually that is not true. He is only old enough to tell a court where he does not want to live. That does not apply to visitation.
Good luck. It will be hard but in the end worth it.
S.W. answers from Houston on May 09, 2008
I am sorry for your situation. You are right, it is not good for your 6 YO son to have such an unsable home environment. Could you have the court assign an arbitrator to your case. Your husband should also not fuel the fire by sending nasty email messages. Your husband will need to hire an attorney to follow court orders. While the children are visiting your house, then they are expected to follow your rules, albeit they may be different than their mother's rules at her house. Talk to your step-children and set the boundaries up front at the beginning of the summer (if they come). Also, tell them that you are not perfect, but do the best you can. Ask for their help and cooperation. Also, tell them that you are open for reasonable suggestions and ideas. It doesn't sound like your husband and his ex still love each other. Also, are your children and step-children involved in church? I believe it would help your situation immensely if they heard God's word every week (at least while they are with you). Is there a way your family could go to group counseling to resolve your issues so the same problems don't continue to surface every year. My heart goes out to you. I wish you the best.
D.C. answers from College Station on May 08, 2008
L., don't get to concerned about if the kids are coming for the summer. If they don't show up, think of it as a blessing in disguise. That would mean more time for you and your son. Also more time and less stress for you and your husband. Let her have her ignorance. Normally, she knows she has summers to herself. If she doesn't send the kids, that it on her. She can be held in contempt of court.
Remember what goes around, comes around. You keep being that loving step-mother that you are. Teenagers are butts anyway.
They think they know it all. But once he is grown, he will be able to look back and see how bad he was and how good he had it. he will be back to thank you. The way he is treating you, he will receive back 7 times worse from his kids.
As for the ex, don't give her the satisfaction and pleasure to know that she is coming between the 2 of you. Basically she is jealous b/c you have him now and she doesn't. Just write her off as if she does not even exist. Trust me, I had to do it. I have found that giving people like that "a good leaving alone"! What that means is when they call, email, or try to make any kind of contact, don't respond. Let them argue with themselves. I know you and your husband care deeply for those kids. But they are being brain washed by someone very ignorant and they are picking that stuff up from her. So if you guys don't accept her calls, don't respond to her emails, and not respond to any form of communication from her, she will eventually get the hint.
I am praying for you. Like I said, I went through that before. I would not wish that on anyone.
K.W. answers from Corpus Christi on May 08, 2008
The 14 year old, in addition to the stuff his mother puts in his head, is also in the heat of puberty so some of his behavior is to be expected. Not having them for the summer would be punishing the 9 year old for his older brothers behavior and that isn't fair, plus if you allow their mother this, she wins and can fill the boys heads with lies about how their father didn't want them.
You knew what you were getting into when you married this guy. I understand its hard to deal with but you're an adult, they are children.... you and your husband need to be the strong ones. Every time your husband emails or calls his ex to fight she wins... she gets the attention from him that she wants. So tell him to just ignore her, he has no reason to talk to her except to make arrangements for his children, any other conversation isn't necessary at all.
If she starts a fight on the phone, he needs to do what my husband does, just hang up on her... she will get the message, trust me... and things will get better.
You two are wasting so much time and energy having all this contact with his ex... just stop it.. raise the kids how you want to when they're in your house and leave her out of it. Don't call her to report their behavior, etc.. it isn't her job to discipline them at your house, its yours. The more you leave her out of your life the less influence she has on your life.
Be pleasant at pick ups and drop offs and aside from that don't have any contact with her. She hates you, and you emailing her , etc is just fueling her fire. Leave her be and maybe you can have some peace in your home.
K.L. answers from Austin on May 09, 2008
I too married a man with 2 children from a previous marriage. The ex is impossible and definitely always makes sure we know she's in charge. As long as we keep her happy, we can have the kids almost any time we want (on the weekends of course, b/c she decided to move an hour away!) If she gets mad, she gets very strict on only letting us have them by what the papers say. We pick them up, we take them home, we spend butt loads on gas every month, just so we can have time with them. But it's so worth it.
When they're at your house, that's just it... they're at YOUR house. That is your time with them. She has no room to comment on your parenting at YOUR house. While they're there, they need to respect you and your husband and follow your rules. But you have to show them the same respect in return (which I'm sure you do). As for disciplining them, you are their stepMOTHER. You are a parental figure in their life to provide guidance. If their parents (you included) do not teach them how to treat others and deal with anger and aggression, who will? Our parenting style is much different than my husband's ex. She has bounced from house to house, guy to guy. To me, she kind of buys the kids off. They are constantly out shopping (buying them whatever they want to keep them happy). They eat fast food for dinner every night, and have no sense of manners with her. With they come to OUR house, they know there are rules and we expect to be respected. Yes ma'am, no ma'am, please, thank you, and so on... But in return, I say these things to them. Children need discipline and structure. You can't just leave the discipline up to your husband or else they'll walk all over you and treat you like dirt forever. I get on to my step kids and a lot of the time they listen to me better than their dad! haha! Anyway, you just have to earn their respect, and you can't do it by rolling over all of the time.
I understand that people say "let your husband deal with his ex" but you ARE a part of this too. If they can't get along, you have got to be the bigger person and step up to the plate. After all, it's all in the best interest of the kids!!! In dealing with the finances (everything but child support) like doctor bills, prescriptions, school supplies, etc... I talk with the ex. It's easier to cut the middle man out. Of course we aren't best friends or anything, and we can hardly stand each other, but we don't let it show. We put our feelings aside and discuss what's important... the kids!!! Good luck! Hope I helped some!
N.M. answers from Houston on May 09, 2008
These are your husband's kids we are talking about here. It isn't fair to play the "them or me" game. Ex wives can be and will always be a hassle. I had two younger step brothers and their mom was a NIGHTMARE. A total lunatic. My mom had to bite her tounge about SO many things. The youngest turned 18 2 years ago, and my mom had a little mini celebration to not have to deal with their mother anymore. Now its just both of their weddings whenever that happens. Anyway, its part of life, you married a divorced man with kids. You need to support him. Let him deal with her.
Now about the 14 year old... it is YOUR house. He needs to follow YOUR rules. What a boring summer it would be if he had to sit at home all day, every day. Make sure you AND your husband lay down the rules. Him calling you a monster isn't acceptable. Don't be afriad of what "she" is going to say. Its possible they aren't getting the best parenting while with her, so take it upon yourself to teach these kids the things they need to learn. Good luck!
C.W. answers from Houston on May 09, 2008
Hi - I have walked in your shoes!!!
First and foremost - You should "Butt Out." The fight is between your husband and his ex wife. From personal experience, it is for your protection that you stay out of the conflict as much as possible. Do not email her or contact her directly.
My ex husband always puts his girlfriends and other wives as the go between. In theory is works if all parties are on good terms; however, for situations where there are bad feelings, it is best for just the parents to communicate about the kids. Takes away any chance of confusion or miscommunication regarding the kids and stops that he said/she said stuff.
If YOUR husband suggests that you be the main contact, just refuse. This is a clear indication that your husband does not want to be a grown up and deal with an unpleaseant situation, aka his ex wife. He married her, had kids with her and divorced her - that relationship between them will be there for the rest of their lives. He needs to learn to deal with it. Remember - you married him - not her.
In the event that you must communicate with her in person, always be pleasant. If she says something catty, rude, etc., maintain your composure. If she tries to discuss the kids, defer the matter to your husband. Chances are she is taking notes on you and will use them against you. Document your interaction with her (and the kids) in a journal. It may sound petty and time consuming - yet again it is for your protection.
If she emails you, respond with a firm yet polite "I do not think that it is appropriate that you and I discuss the kids. Please address this matter with their father." or something to that effect. Copy him on the email that way he knows you are not going to be caught in the middle and he is aware of whatever issues there may be. If she continues to email you after you have requested that she stop, simply forward to email to your husband and do not reply to her. (She needs to learn to deal with her ex-husband as well.)
As far as your relationship with the kids, you should not be the main diciplinarian. That is their father's job. There are some really good books availalble on step-parenting and if you do not have one, go get one and read it. Do not re-invent the wheel on this situation. Take guidance from those who have experience.
On the visitation issue, you will need to consult with your lawyer. If you end up going back to court for enforcement issues, be sure to ask that the other party pays ALL court costs - you would not be there if she followed the court's instructions in the first place.
M.K. answers from Austin on May 09, 2008
I'm so sorry that all of you have been going through this. This is definitely hurtful to all. It's too bad that peace is not something that both sides are striving for. I'm a step-mom, too and at the beginning and sometimes still the peace maker. Here's the difference, ex-wife WANTED her child to be happy not only with her but with dad. And really, here's the basic foundation to dealing with exes and divorced famiies. IF all adults put the best interest OF THE CHILDREN, then peace CAN be achieved. Now that's those are the key words: the best interset of the children.
It's in the best interest of the children that the their biological parents be at peace and/or at least cordial not this hateful, disfunctional relationship. It is in the best interst of the kids and your marrriage for your husband to take control of himself and of the kids when they are with y'all. Of course, I'm not there and I do not have all the story. I'm hopefull that you are kind and loving to the boys or at least as much as they allow it without letting them run over you, of course. But here's where your husband steps in. He must show you respect and even his hateful ex-wife for the boys' sake. If they are being disrespectful to you, then he needs to step in and not just you disciplining the kids.
The boys are confused and sadly follow in their mother's steps. But if you and your husband are united and talk to the boys of right and wrong behavior (without saying their mom is crazy or putting her down), then perhaps slowly your actions will speak for themselves.
We actually went to mediation AFTER the divorce and AFTER they both remarried. It was the best thing we could have done. Misunderstandings, expectations, got cleared and agreed to. We've come a long way since then and I recall at the mediation telling my husband, his ex and her new husband (who didn't like my husband) that my hope was that she and my husband would make peace. If they did that, then our child (she's my baby too) would have a secure life in both of our homes. She's now 15-years old and is a wonderful young lady. She knows she's loved by both sets of parents. And there is peace between all of us.
God bless you and I pray that y'all seek help in how to handle this difficult situation. If the ex won't agree to mediation then I hope that your husband learns how to better handle himself when dealing with her.
Good luck and feel free to contact me.
M.L. answers from Houston on May 09, 2008
What an unfortunate position. I am an ex-wife with kids and I have friends who are the ex wives with kids. My ex has also remarried. I have heard of stories like you are saying and it is only hurting the kids...shame on the ex wife for that!! It is my opinion that kids need their dad and she is not allowing for a healthy relationship with dad. Is your husband being a good dad to his kids by paying support on time, making frequent phone calls and being around during his visitation, etc? Are you supporting this relationship and tolerant to different family ways while they visit? It is difficult for these kids to get to a different house and adjust in to different rules and family members. There is usually an adjusting period in my house that I allow for.
Maybe if you can get all the kids together in a sport in which the older ones can teach your younger one. This may create a bond between the half brothers.
I just want to offer my support. Not all ex wives feel this way. The ex is successfully making you feel like you are the monster...try not to allow her to get into your mind. The ex just wants to hurt him still. If you leave him she will win.
D.T. answers from Houston on May 09, 2008
The 14 year old is old enough to choose not to come if he wants to. Maybe if just the 9 year old came that would help some. Send him to camp. It is not fair when you are put in the middle. Yes as long as she has the children as a bond between her and your husband she will use it. Has she moved on with a new spouse? If not this could be why she gives you all such a hard time. She see you happy and she is miserable.
I don't know if this helps at all. But good luck and God Bless.
J.H. answers from Austin on May 09, 2008
First, let me say that I sympathize with what you're going through. I am a stepmom, too, to a 13-year-old boy, and his mother has been extremely difficult for years. Despite that, we've formed a close relationship that is great, but not without its problems, as all relationships are!
First, I would try to remember that 13 is a tough age, even under ideal circumstances. Some of what your 14-year-old stepson is going through is probably typical, early-teenager moodiness, which can take the form of being surly and rude and can feel like a real rejection. He and his siblings are, no doubt, also getting a lot of difficult messages from their mother where you and their father are concerned, and it's really tough for kids to sort through that.
If I may suggest, first, that you NOT discipline your stepchildren. Talk with your husband, privately, about what behaviors you both agree are reasonable and not reasonable and let him know, in no uncertain terms, that you expect him to speak to his children when they are violating those rules. That's his job; not yours.
Second, it's really odd to witness a divorced couple that can't seem to stop arguing. It does make you wonder if there are unresolved feelings there, but I doubt it. I think that a lot of divorces where children are involved wind up this way - dysfunctional, just like the marriages must have been, at least at the end. So, I wouldn't threaten your husband. I would sit down and ask yourself what you can and can't live with and whether you think this situation - first and foremost - is good for your son. Set some ground rules for yourself and then let your husband know what you're feeling and what you plan to do if things don't change.
If you stick to what you say - don't shout, don't threaten - I have a feeling things will turn around.
D.B. answers from Houston on May 09, 2008
Find professional intervention (family law coach, family therapist, group parenting classes) and both of you go. If you leave before gaining new communication skills (both you and your husband) and problem solving skills, you will take yourself into the next relationship (and teach your son by example) with the same or variations of the same problems showing up. With new skills, you and your husband can create a team for all of the childrens' sake and your marriage, too.
As for the ex-wife and your step-children, pray for them, often and fervently. Wish them well in thought. Take the high road with her; ask her what she wants and how she wants it done. Ask for it in writing before any visits. Let her know what you can and will comply with, for the children's sake, for harmony. Show your husband how this is done, again by example. And consider stopping using "leaving" as a tool to take the pressure off. You go back, it doesn't change anything long term, and you are breaking your marriage vows every time you leave. That has to have an effect on your child and your confidence in yourself as well. Take one step at a time.
L.S. answers from Houston on May 09, 2008
No, I don't believe that he still loves her, I think that she is just jealous. Remember the old saying you can get more flies with honey than with vinegar. If they come this summer. Just be nice. Tell your husband you do not want to fight with him anymore and from now on you will just keep a list for him to dicipline them when he gets home. If it really isn't such a big deal let it go. Sometimes you have to pick your battles. Be nice and keep being nice. i am sure those boys feel like they are betraying their Mom if they like you. So tell them you are not trying to take their Mom's place, you just want them to enjoy their stay when they are there but it takes a little work on everyones part to make it work. Don't talk their Mom down, let her do the talking. They will see your sincerity in time. God Bless.
P.M. answers from Austin on May 09, 2008
I am so sorry for your having to deal with this. Truly, the last voice I have is advice for the situation; yet I was so drawn to your plea... Take a deep breath and a deep step out of the situation (so hard); and try to get some focus. Obviously you have a child invested in this situation with your husband; well divorce does not sound like your wish but your last resort for some peace. Stress is not good. The way I see it, YOU are the source of peace for the situation. Before your step-children get here - why not list all the problems and put in solutions to include what you will do and what you will not. This is for your boundaries not anyone else, this way you can look to your list for direction. Prepare your son, positively. REFUSE to get into the situation-AT ALL, and don't. When you love someone, your husband, it is easier said than done; however, you see your limitations, they are not getting anywhere, so do not allow yourself to be pulled into negativety. You see that the other mother has chosen negativity and now you see it in the son. With adolescence and hormones (read-up on this), you just need to be kind and straightforward, "Honey, your mom and dad were married so long ago, I do not know the details, but I have tried and are trying to have a happy vacation with you while you are here with your dad, can we try to have a nice summer?". Sit down, repeat as often as needed. To the dad: "Honey, I know that it must be hard for you dealing with the situation, could you try to understand and mend bridges for the childrens' sake (have him read up on this and all the childrens' needs)." Put articles on his desk. Do not stress yourself, you have enought with family, meals, organization, home, work, etc. I enjoy praying for others(even enemies), it really maintains focus. Your situation is SO HARD. You may need to be the bigger person for everyone. Take care of YOU, and try to survive and make a home for you and your son.
No answers, just coping advice!
T.D. answers from Beaumont on May 09, 2008
L. I feel your pain. Im in my 3rd year of putting up with my husbands ex and its not fun. She still calls me his girlfriend (although we are married) and tells everyone its just a phase hes going thru that it wont last long. She has even gotten to the point that she wont let their daughter come and stay unless me and my two kids have made arrangements to go somewhere else during her visit! Well summer is coming up and he is anticipating her arrival....I blew him out of the water last week when I sat down and told him that this year me and out children refuse to leave our home to accomedate his ex!Our children have the right to know there sister! His daughter dosent have a problem with me. You need to sit him down and explain to him very calmly, that you know he loves his children, but you are his wife not her. Then when the boys get there he needs to have a talk with them and tell them that like it or not you are their stepmother and they will treat you with respect! That dosent mean that there wont be any problems, but you have to reassure them that you love them as well. If you show the kids a good time this summer and they have minimal things to complain about then she wont have as much to include in her email! I know its tuff because he did have a life before you and him had one together, but he needs to realize now that You and Your son are his present life not her. The children shouldn't suffer because she has issues and its not right for her to push those issues off on their children. But you have to step up as well and take your place as his wife let him know that you are serious! Don't let her ruin your marriage and take whatever she says with a grain of salt. The court ordered his rights to visitation and there is nothing she can do to keep the kids from seeing their father. She could be held in comtemp of court! Just talk to him communication is a great weapon if used effectively!~~~~GOOD LUCK!
D.S. answers from Houston on May 09, 2008
First of all, x does not need to have your email. That needs to stop. Get a new address and don't give it to her. When the boys come to visit for the summer, shorten their stay. Have them come for only a short time so the welcome doesn't wear out. I'm thinking two weeks max. I'm not sure why they say you are a monster, but you, hubby, and stepsons need to have a serious, but loving talk to let them know you will not tolerate their behavior any longer. You all are in this together and need to be family and support one another. Nip it in the bud now and set some standard rules and stick by them or they go back home. Simple as that. I don't know if this is right, but it's worth a try.
J.R. answers from Austin on May 09, 2008
I'm so sorry to hear your struggle. Blended families can be so difficult. Be very careful though about threatening divorce. This may not force your hand, just force a divorce. He may need you to be a support for him not just another "nagging" wife. Make sense?
Remember, 14 yr olds are just that. 14! They are seeking their independance, trying to figure out who they are and how they want to be when they grow up. I would take some time and really think about what the 14yr might need. He is possibly really struggling and hurting inside because of the behavior he sees the adults in his life are exhibiting. I would try as hard as you can to approach them all with love. Even the ex. Love covers a multitude of sins.
Have you ever heard about the "Five Love Languages"? It's a book by Gary Chapman and it's wonderful. You can even check out the website www.fivelovelanguages.com. It talks about 5 different (typical) ways people tend to give and need love. Usually there is one that is prevalent in each of us. We will generally give love the way we want to receive love. I am a "words of encourager" and "gift giver". This is how I usually show love and feel love in return. Check out the website to learn about all of the love languages. Watch your family and see how they may need love. It seems like a simple place to start, but it's a start.
Instead of threatening divorce, try counseling first. I'll be praying for you.
A.R. answers from Houston on May 08, 2008
I understand how hard it is to deal with a controlling ex who wants you to be the monster in the situation. We dealt with it for years.
I am a strong believer in marriage and hope that you will not allow this to destroy your relationship with your husband and the father of your son. If you allow this woman to break up your marriage, then you have allowed her to win. It seems to me that she is thriving on the attention she is getting from your husband. My suggestion is to advise your husband to only respond to the emails and phone calls that deal with the needs of the children, but to let her know that as soon as she starts to start in about you, then he is hanging up the phone or ignoring the emails.
Your husband has the control in this situation. He needs to learn to talk to her only about the children and discontinue the conversation when he feels himself getting to the point he is going to yell at her. He can simply inform her that she has crossed the line with a particular statement and he will be more than happy to continue the discussion as soon as she is ready to be as calm as he is. (Then he MUST remain calm). If she refuses, then he hangs up the phone or walks away from the conversation.
Unfortunately, you will probably always be the monster. Nothing is going to change that in her mind, and honestly...do you really care? It is hard when it comes to the kids, but keep the same approach. Tell your step children (just as you would your son) that you will be more than happy to interact with them as soon as they are respectful and nice. They have no right to mistreat you or your husband in your home. Let them know in a firm, but loving, manner that it will not be tolerated.
I hope this helps! You will be in my prayers.
C.T. answers from Austin on May 09, 2008
I have an ex husband who used to be like that...I finally learned the very hard way...that if I don't respond to his antics, he looks like a fool! When he calls if the kids are not there to answer the phone, we always have him leave a message. If I need to respond (sometimes its just ranting and I usually just delete before listening to the whole thing) to a question or whatever, I call back and very calmly give him the answer (I try to call when I know I can leave him a message)...if he tries to start an argument...I usually just say i have to go, we can discuss it later (which gives me time to think and workout a calm response)... By the time my daughter was 14 we started having her discuss visiting plans, etc with her dad...she and I would set boundaries as to what day to go and what day to come back, but she and her dad would discuss the details and then check with me to make sure I was available or able to work with their plan. If I was I made it real easy, but occassionally I would have to change their plan if my schedule didn't permit, but I still tried to be accommodating. Since my daughter started working out plans with her dad, he and I rarely have to speak to each other about anything. It is so nice! When we do, I try to control the situation by having all my information ready and if he starts getting hotheaded or disrespectful...I immediately get off the phone (I do not ever just hang up on him, I alway say I have to go, we can discuss this at another time).
As for the threats to not let the boys come for the summer, until she actually does keep them from you all...that's all they are...threats. Don't react to something you have no control over. If she does keep them from you all, then your husband and you need to decide if you are willing to hire an attorney to take her to court. If the answer is yes, then do it (don't threaten her or even let her know) and let the attorney handle the situation from there. If the answer is no attorney, then have your husband and you and your son continue communication with the boys, ask them to call you or call them in the summer when you know mom is not around, send them letters, card, pictures to let them know you are thinking of them and miss not having them. There will come a day when they realize she is the one making them miss time with their family. Remind them that they have a voice in this and can let their mother know their wishes. Also, make sure you husband is doing all the things he is supposed to be doing...keeping up with child support, medical, requesting visitation by letter, etc. Then she can't use that stuff to start arguments or put down your husband to the kids. Oh, she'll find other stuff, but all of that will be petty stuff and the kids will see through it one day. Believe me...I never thought the day would come when my kids would see my ex husband for who he really is, but unfortunately for them...at 15 and 10 they both were very clear on the type of man they had for a father. Fortunately for them, they have an amazing stepdad who loves them and cares for them more than the ex ever could have in the best circumstances of life.
The bottom line is...take the HIGH ROAD...it will be very hard most days...but it will make you and your husband the better parents for those three boys!
Also, get some marriage counseling for you and your husband...those threats of divorce are not a complete result of this horrible ex situation...If your marriage is strong and your relationship with your husband is working, then dealing with your ex will actually be easier b/c you two will be each others support. Good Luck to you and your family!!
M.G. answers from San Antonio on May 09, 2008
Hang in there, don't give up on your marriage yet. My husband, too, has the wicked witch for an ex. My step daughter is now 11 and I have been in her life since the age of 5. The first and foremost way to deal with her is ignore her. You should have no need to ever speak with her or read her emails or anything. Because she is so bitter (which I can assure you is her real problem), you need to let your husband handle her. She will find some kind of fault no matter what you do, so make it easier on yourself and humor her. And please dont think they still love each other. He left her for a reason, and married you for one too. Fighting back the temptation to tell her anything will be really difficult, especially when she ticks you off. But responding to her will only feed the fire. She is apparently not the type of ex that you can have a relationship with for the sake of the kids, so dont even try. Anytime I extended any warmth toward my husbands ex, I was met with her telling my stepdaughter that I wanted to take her place and that I'm not her mother so she doesnt have to listen to me....yadayada.. Secondly, your husband needs to stop fighting with her too. It sounds like she is not the kind of person he can reason with so there is no point. I know it feels good when he cusses her out, but for the sake of the kids, you guys have to be the "bigger" people. I have no doubt that she goes and tells her boys all the bad stuff he says, blames it on you, and makes herself the victim. She is just out to make your life hell so him engaging in these battles with her just give her satisfaction and you guys grief. Thirdly, about the boys. It needs to be made clear to them that your house is your house and you and your husband make the rules. Both of yall sit down with them and have your husband explain this to them. He needs to make it clear (especially to his older son), that they will respect you in your home, and will be discipline for not doing so. There isnt much you can do about the 14 year old's attitude right now, but when he starts to see that his mom is the one fighting all the time and you guys stay united in your marriage and pay her no mind, he'll start to see who the "monster" really is. But still treat him kindly and welcome him into your home, this is hard on him too. The quickest way to get those ideas out of his head is to not even worry about them and continue to love them and treat them like your own sons. I hope this helps, I know how you can start to feel that there is no end in sight, but there is. Even if nothing changes, one day, the boys will be adults and then you never have to deal with that woman ever again!! That's what I look forward too. But please dont leave your husband because of her. He needs you. Your marriage is between you two, so get her out of it.