Why Can't She Try?

Updated on July 06, 2015
R.G. asks from Hazleton, PA
13 answers

I am married, for the second time, to an amazing husband and father. We have been married for the past 3 years and have a very loving and healthy relationship. He has a beautiful daughter whom I love very much, she is an ever present angel in my life. I love her, the same as and equally as I love my own two children. My children's stepmother is a good woman and wife to my ex husband and I am very grateful that my children have a stepmom that cares and loves them when they are with her and my exhusband. Our issue is my husbands ex wife. She will randomly, like a flip of a switch, be decent towards me and my husband and then all of a sudden start verbally attacking me to my husband and also to their daughter. I have never, nor will ever, put my stepdaughter in any situation that would cause pain or harm, never and will never speak ill about mom to stepdaughter, and most importantly never and will never overstep any boundaries nor try to ever want to take the place of MOM. I have never even provides a situation to ever make MOM think this, that I know of. I have many titles I wish MOM would continue to realize. I am an adult woman; mother, stepmother, wife, ex wife, and a stepdaughter also. Recent attacks at me are calling me "messed up in the head" "why would he marry a psycho b*^#$" and "Evil Step-Monster." My stepdaughter knows I am none of these things and I am extremely grateful for this little girls understanding and love. She did not have to accept me in her or her fathers life but SHE did. I know my role in her life and I don't ask for anything more. I am, she calls me by my first name. I have no jealousy or hatred towards MOM. I don't seek
Vengeance nor hope for anything bad to happen to her (my stepdaughter would be devastated if that happens). I only ask that MOM back off of me and my husband. I especially ask that she stop telling their daughter that it's wrong to NOT hate me. Stepdaughter doesn't want to hate me and never has. She is and always will be number 1 in her daddy's world. And God bless this little soul because she is confident in the love her daddy has for her and that I never want to be the number 1 in his life when it comes between her and I. MOM married 4 years prior to my husband and I meeting on our first date. She has another child with her husband but yet still, at random, begins to feel threatened by my very presence in her ex's and daughters life. She had to have known that he would eventually remarry and that daughter would have a stepmom present. I always wonder why, if she's so happy in her own marriage, she is threatened by our marriage. When she stated: "why did he have to marry that psycho B-word" I can't help but wonder if she still loves him (she says she doesn't) (and she cheated on my husband many numerous times)
or if she is still pissed (after 10 years) he left and never came back. Why can't she be happy or neutral to the fact that her daughter has a stepmother who loves her and cares about her well being? Why does MOM WANT her daughter to have an evil and hurtful StepMother? I can't help but feel as if this woman would love for me to be high conflict. She acts as if it would be better if I were mean and cold towards this little girl. I think she secretly wished for that type of stepmom. Why can't she just be happy that her daughter doesn't have that type of stepmom in her life? I'm at my wits end with this and I honestly don't know how to approach and neutralize the fear this woman has of me. I really need some advise.

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So What Happened?

I posted an update on the first question a few days ago. It's not a question from me. It was a question my SIL asked after I was telling her about this site and my current dilemma.
In regards to MY question posted above thanks for the advice. I am definitely going to be looking at some online books and taking everyone's advice or suggestions on roads to take. I'm not the type to make matters worse, I'm the type to try and try and try and then if that fails ask others for advise and go from there. I don't want this woman to hate me. I would like her to just respect me and leave me out of any issues she may still have in regards my husband and the past they share. He's pretty good with handling it and he does know it's between him and her. One of many reasons I love this man. He even tries to apology for his ex's actions but I always say he has no need to say sorry to me. I know what I signed up for. I knew years prior to marrying him. I didn't expect it to be easy. I just want to grasp an understanding on why she still feels threatened and I would love for her to know that, as a mom myself, I understand where she would be coming from. But 3 years later into our marriage is an awful long time for her to keep holding on to that emotion. Thanks again everyone and again sorry for the confusion.

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answers from Columbia on

I wouldn't bother to try to change her behavior. Stepdaughter knows that her mother isn't speaking truthfully about her stepmom. You don't need to neutralize a thing, nor do you need to approach. Keep being you, loving and seeking after emotionally healthy self and relationships. You're doing a good job. Don't let this stress you or eat you up inside.

Here are two phrases that are very helpful in many areas of parenting, not just in dealing with the ex...

"Hm. What do you think? Do you believe that to be true?"

And, "I'm sorry that she feels that way/I'm sorry that happened."

All the best to you.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Boston on

Well the confusion in this question and your prior one was answered in the SWH of the other question, as follows:
"Sorry for confusion. This question was not my own. It was from my sister in law who, as you can see, is in a better situation, than most. SIL doesn't sign up for forums and I was telling her about this site and she asked if I could post a question regarding the one asked."

As to the erratic behavior of your husband's ex - she's either insecure in herself or in her marriage (which is why she can't handle the rejection of being left by your current husband and the love that her daughter (your stepdaughter) has for you, OR she has some form of mental illness or personality disorder that causes her to swing from mood to mood. She sounds like my husband's ex almost to the letter.

What I've learned is that you just have to keep your distance, let your husband handle her, say as little as possible in front of the stepdaughter (at most, when Mom is raging, say, "Oh I'm sorry she feels that way. I'm sure she'll change her mind when things settle down for her." or "Sometimes people use very strong language when they are frustrated or angry. Don't worry about it." Change the subject.

Don't keep trying to do nice things for her because it makes you look even more accomplished, you know? Be nice, be civil, but don't give anyone in your life the story you have given us here about never coming between them. I know you mean well, but it comes off as so noble that someone insecure, like his ex, can get even more threatened.

And I'd be careful about letting his daughter know she is always #1. That can actually serve to undermine his marriage to you (if push came to shove, would he choose her over you? Doesn't that empower the ex wife?). It will also change her view of her dad's relationship with your children. If she's #1 with her dad, then your kids must be #1 with you, which is contradictory to your statement that you love her the same, equal to your own kids. Make sense?

Let your husband handle all the childrearing stuff with the ex, even if it's stuff you would normally handle. Take a back seat, don't be obvious with your mastery of the blended family stuff (which may feed into the mom's insecurities), and just make your home a haven for everyone but without sacrificing your own needs as a wife.

You can't fix people sometimes. You know that annoying driver behind you tailgating? You can wish for him to be nice and calm just like you are, or you can pull over and get out of his way without confronting him or trying to sweet-talk him! Don't get walked on by this mom, but don't always be in her face with either your calm demeanor or your asking her to be different. Some people just aren't reachable. You didn't cause it, you can't fix it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

You cannot control her outbursts, but you can control how you react to them. I would be stay as far from her as possible and only let your husband deal with her. No phone contact, nothing. She is his ex wife, not yours. When you do have to be in her presence, be polite and don't get personal. If you feed into her drama, you will feel the wrath. Be nice to the child and if there are any issues, it is your husband's responsibility to handle them. It takes two to conflict. If you don't engage, she will look like a fool.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Fayetteville on

Some people are just awful! Your husband's ex sounds like one of them. Keep taking the high road. She is insecure and her mama-bear instincts are out of control! She's obviously intimidated by you and threatened by your relationship with her daughter. Sorry.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

If I were in your position and she started off with "why did he have to marry that psycho B-word", the first thought I'd have was:

You can't control how she feels and YOU'LL feel better just letting this go.
She's only hurting herself when she loses her cool.
I might feel a little sorry for her lack of self control but I wouldn't waste anymore energy worrying about her.
The only thing to tell anyone if they give you any feedback about her outbursts is :
"Not all step mothers are evil step mothers. So sorry I can't seem to live up to her expectations of me!".
And then laugh it off and go on as normal.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

This totally contradicts your previous question.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Your post is very hard to read.

I would look up articles on disengaging. Disengage from your SD's poor behavior and her mother's drama. Focus on your kids. Many times it is not the person but the place, and even if you were Mother Theresa, you'd be evil because of circumstances no one can control.

ETA: Many new (and by new I mean within the first 10 years) stepmothers get wrapped up in wanting to be superheros and end up villains. You can't change your DH's ex. So don't try. Do your thing. Disenage from her. Don't look to her for any kind of respect or kudos if she's just not interested in offering it. You can't make her feel anything. She needs to come to that conclusion herself. Nevermind how happy or unhappy she is in her own marriage, you are a threat to her with her child. She didn't have to share her daughter with someone not of her choice til you came along. It's not YOU it's your PLACE. So you can't change it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

She is jealous of your relationship with her child. She doesn't like any other female figure in her child's life. If her daughter comes home and says, your name here, and I went to the store to get groceries...this mom is going to be jealous because she probably has to ask her daughter to help do shopping, clean her room, do chores, etc...mom's and daughter's have a hard time connecting and moms often have the ideal that they have to be authoritarian to their child and can't be the fun one too.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I have been in your situation and i would advise you to continue to take the high road. It sounds like your husbands ex is very jealous and honestly, it does sound like she continues to have strong feelings for your ex. Emotionally it is easier to be mad at you and want their daughter to hate you because that might be the only way she knows how to deal with it. Maybe she totally regretted cheating and now wants things to work and knows that it won't. Shoot, i wouldn't either! Your husband did the right thing by leaving. Just continue to show love and support towards your husband and your step daughter and no matter how hard it gets, remember you chose to be involved with a man who had a previous life/marriage and child with someone else. Obviously we cannot control how other people behave, but we can control how we react to those people. You are doing the right thing. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I'm a bit confused. Didn't you just post another question last week on this same woman? And saying you wanted to give her a birthday present? I thought she was great?

Maybe I have her confused with someone else ... I find your post a bit hard to read. Sorry .. I just found it lengthy :)

Remember - you can't control other people. You can just control how you react. I would just let it go - who knows why she's like this. I wouldn't spend one minute trying to figure it out.

If it becomes a problem for your step daughter - where it confuses her or disturbs her, then your husband can talk to his ex-wife and sort this out.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I knew a woman whose husband dumped her for his secretary, and she had to share custody with the father and his new wife. A new baby came along pretty quickly too.

The woman was very bitter about the new wife and she called her names, like you're talking about. The boys told their daddy that mom called new wife these names, and he took this woman to court and she didn't get to see the boys for 6 weeks, and had to pay court costs and legal fees (several thousand dollars). The judge told her that she could not badmouth the father and step-mother, or she wouldn't see these kids. It took THIS to get her to behave.

Perhaps your husband needs to step up to the plate and put a stop to this by taking her to court. Your step daughter may be fine now, but when puberty hits and the teen years are upon you all, you may find that this girl is lost to you BOTH because of her mother. It may take into her 30's for her to end up having a relationship of value with her father.

I'd really sit down with your husband about this. His ex needs to have a consequence for hurting her child like this. Sooner is better.


answers from Kansas City on

I wish there was a solution for you. Honestly, I don't think there is. I had a similar situation with my "stepmother" who was nothing shy of just pure hate and evil towards my mother.

You and your husband have to have faith in his daughter/your stepdaughter. She is not stupid. She knows who is treating her with love and respect. And as she gets older (if she doesn't already) she will see that her mother trashing you constantly is disrespecting you, your stepdaughter and her father. She will figure it out. She will see this woman for who she is.

And as she figures that out she will have a ton of difficult emotions to wade through. It's her mom and her mom isn't supposed to be wrong - especially SO VERY VERY wrong. It may be hard on her.

All you can do is exactly what you're doing, and ride it out. Hang in there. As she matures into an adult she will figure it out, and it will be your house she comes to, to hang out, for holidays, to introduce boyfriends. Believe me I have seen this play out, now twenty years later. Trust me. Karma will work things out. Good luck - and come here to vent when you need to.



answers from San Francisco on

Like Michelle said, this question is a contradiction. Care to explain?

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