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ex-wife with no boundaries (kids are grown)

OverItAlready's picture

Hi all, I am new here.  Just would like some advice on how to handle my husband's over-bearing ex-wife in regards to his family and showing up to his family functions.  The problem is, she insists on coming to EVERYTHING his family does.  And there has been no love loss with her, either, she has made our lives a living hell for the last 16 years.  I have 6 police reports against her myself, I just never signed the warrants bc I was afraid of how it would affect the kids if I had their mother arrested.  I had hoped it would force her to stop some of her antics, but it took telling her attorney about them to make it happen - sort of.  She just has absolutely no respect for boundaries, and has made stalking an art form. 

Let me preface:  they have 2 children from the marriage, both are in their early 20s and in college.  We ended up being custodial when the kids were in middle & high school.  This was per the kids' request, and she eventually let them move in with us.  My husband had always been close to his daughter, and she had been pushing to live with us for several years prior to this happening.  Not long after they moved in with us, the ex met a guy online, married him when she went to visit him the first time, then moved 1500 miles away to his state 2 weeks after her initial trip.  She has since moved back home with him. 

The problem is, she refuses to stop showing up at any family affair my in-laws have.  When my husband's grandparents were still living and before she moved back home, she brought her new husband home with her for her visitation.  While here, she took the kids to see the grandparents "so the kids could visit".  The grandparents were so stunned by her appearance at their door, they let her in and said nothing.  She has shown up to family reunions, and several of the in-laws have commented about her audacity.  She has shown up to his grandmother's funeral, and attempted to sit with the family during the church service.  The only reason she got up and left her seat next to my husband is bc his sister gave her a death glare until she moved.  She has NEVER respected any boundaries, to the point where she is banned from our property.  She now acts like we are all friends and wants to chat us up when we have to be around her for events such as their daughter's son's birthday.  I am not rude, I will respond to her greeting or question, but I keep it short and I do not engage her and simply walk away from her.  My husband is less so, he refuses to even aknowledge her presence when she tries to speak to him. We feel like there has been entirely too much nastiness over the years to turn around and start acting like we like each other when when clearly we do not.

As for HOW she is finding out about these events, she is very manipulative, and has managed to find out many things in the past that we still wonder about.  And no, no one is inviting her, but they do speak of these events on social media and such, so we can just make assumptions all we want. 

The last event was my husband's uncle's birthday party (which is coming up again after Christmas), and everyone decided it would be our standing family get-together every year at his house, since everyone is so spread out now and we dont see each other much anymore with the grandparents gone.  The problem with that is, if my husband catches wind that she is likely to be there, he will refuse to go.  I never mentioned to him that she showed up last year (we were out of town at the time).  While I feel like he shouldn't refuse family functions just bc of her, I do understand why he does it.  She caused many years of stress and hatefulness over the years, and despite what a good man he is, some things he doesnt let go of.  He stresses just being around her.  (She DID try to cut him out of the kids' lives on several occassions out of spite when he refused to come back to her.)  There are MANY stories I could tell that would explain all of the hard feelings, but hope that it would be understood that it was simply BAD for a very long time.  I am just looking for a little advice, and also, a bit of a vent.  Thanks in advance for taking the time to read this and comment.

Winterglow's picture

Why hasn't anyone said "I'm sorry, you weren't invited. Now please leave ... or I shall report you for trespassing."

Have her thrown out several times and her pride should stop her persisting. Call the cops if necessary and, for goodness sake, sign the warrant! The kids don't need protecting from learning their mother is toxic.

OverItAlready's picture

There alot of family members that haven't gotten involved, and dont know everything that has happend over the years.  Many are of the mind, "why is she even here?" but wont be rude just for the sake of propriety.  Also, if his uncle (who is extremely non-confrontational) doesnt tell her to get off his property, then what?  She thrives on being the center of attention, and always claims the victim.  Classic narcissistic reactions.  Not to mention, she THRIVES on attention, despite if it is negative.  Having her thrown out would keep her coming back with "why are you acting this way" or such responses while staying where she was.  There has been SO MUCH drama, that no one wants to cause anymore.  I think that is probably the biggest part of it.  While I agree wholeheartedly with you, I am kind of on the outside of it, if that makes sense.

Winterglow's picture

I'm afraid that if nobody is willing to tell her to leave, then they're going to have to keep putting up with her Smile

Telling her to leave when she wasn't invited isn't being rude. Turning up to events where you are not invited is being rude.

She can't stand there and play the victim if the cops take her away for trespassing ... 

Steppedonnomore's picture

BM respects no boundaries because none have ever been set.  If the event hosts don't want her there, and she shows up, they need to ask her to leave.  Perhaps if you and your DH stop showing up for the family events and give the reason that neither of you wish to be in her presence, family members may be motivated to start putting boudaries in place.  

OverItAlready's picture

I appreciate the feedback.  It helps to vent to folks that have had similiar issues and can relate.  And I always fear like I sound like the bitter new wife (despite the fact that its been 16 years and longer than they were ever together), but that isnt it, we just want to be able to close the door on her since the kids are now grown.  We understand there will be times we have to be in her presence.  I am thinking that maybe I can chat with MIL (uncle is her brother), and she can assist.  She is one of the few that has been privy to all of the antics over the years, and has had controntations with her before. 

Siemprematahari's picture

I've learned the hard way when clear boundaries have not been placed and executed consistently, people will continue to cross them. The BM here has not suffered any real consequences for her actions so of course she thinks she can get away with it...afterall its not like anyone will do anything about it-this she has seen time and time again. If his family does not want her there they need to stop fearing that they are rocking the boat and have her asked to leave. If she doesn't than she gets escorted out by police for trespassing.

I am not one to ask/tell people what to do in their own home but personally I wouldn't go to these functions if BM continues to go. Now it will be a situation of either the family puts their foot down or you both just don't attend these functions. 

You can't make sense or compromise with crazy. Any attention is attention and this is what BM thrives on. Her @ss needs to be shut down ASAP and it's long over due!

hereiam's picture

I am not one to ask/tell people what to do in their own home but personally I wouldn't go to these functions if BM continues to go. Now it will be a situation of either the family puts their foot down or you both just don't attend these functions. 

Yep. DH's family knows that if BM will be there, we will not. Period.

Jay_Dead's picture

Your DH's BM sounds like my DH's BM.  I have disengaged to the point where this woman doesn't even know what to make of me.  After years, I'm a mystery to her and that is exactly how I want to keep it.  Others are absolutely correct about the boundaries.  She is not going to respect an imaginary line in the sand that is dependent upon propriety because she is inappropriate.  With people like her, you have to not only draw a line in the sand, but dig a moat and build a wall.  

Rags's picture

DH needs to file a RO/PO against BM keeping her at least 500ft away from him. If he is at a place she shows up at.... she has to leave.  If he shows up at a place she is at, she has to leave.

Own her ass and bring the public humiliation and embarrassment to play to purge her from DH's family.

CLove's picture

Back when they were separated, DH would invite her for holiday family gatherings (his family is HUGE, lots of food, etc), and she would spend the time there doing"image management", saying to his OWN FAMILY that he was abusive and mean - trashing him at every opportunity.

They all got sick of it, and do not want her at any family gatherings, ever. DH does not want her there, I do not want her there. PERIOD.

Someone needs to unleash their inner beast on this BM. Boundaries - DH needs to have discussions with his family. When she attends, she certainly can and should be asked to leave.

strugglingSM's picture

Does your DH's family notice when he refuses to go? Has he said anything to his family?
It seems as though, they may need to start backing him up a bit more or risk not seeing him again. 

If they know how difficult your DH's ex wife has been, they should be willing to put in the effort to keep her out 

I can understand being a little shocked the first time she arrived at their door, but after that, someone should say "while we appreciate your interest in staying in touch, this event is for family only and we no longer consider you to be family" or something to that effect. 

Otherwise, I think someone in your DH's family is looking to stick it to him. 

The only way to maintain this boundary is for your DH to let his family know that the two of you won't be attending events if she is there and stick to not going if you hear she will attend or leaving if she is there. You can't force others to make her leave and at this point, since no one has told her to get lost, she probably feels entitled to keep attending. The only way to set a boundary is to be clear about what you can and cannot accept yourself, letting others know what you can and cannot accept and what the consequences will be if they cross the line, and then holding to those consequences. Many people ignore boundaries even after consequences have been enforced, but many don't. At this point, it sounds like your husband has to prioritize his own mental health over seeing his family members, who don't seem to support him. 

tog redux's picture

It's not BM who has no boundaries, it's DH's family (and him) who has no boundaries. He let BM sit next to him and did nothing? His sister (who does have boundaries) had to glare at BM to get her to leave? The family just lets her waltz in to family functions and no one does anything - after SIXTEEN YEARS?

I'm sure there are others who think she shouldn't be there. Find one of DH's cousins/brothers/nephews who is a big guy and make him bouncer. He can request BM leave when she shows up and call the police as needed.  A few repeats of this, including charges filed, should do the trick. Will it upset the "kids"? Well, I assume they are all adults now, so this can be discussed with them.

OverItAlready's picture

DH didnt say anything to her at the funeral service bc he was heavily greiving his grandmother & barely aknowledged me being at his side, much less the BM.  I honestly dont think that the family members (which consist of extended cousins and such, he has a large family), are aware of the issues with her.  His sisters are aware, but were also thick in the situation, having witnessed alot of it over the years.  That is why I am going to enlist MIL's help prior to the uncle's birthday.  DH is from a small town, which we no longer live in, and BM has moved back to.  It is about an hour from where we presently live.  Mind you, she was absent for several years when she moved in with InternetHusband, and has only been back for about 2 or 3 years now, so this has been fairly recent.  And she used SD23 and SS21 as excuses to attend when THEY were invited.  SS23 lives with her now as she is separated from her DH.  Its a sticky situation, as she and DH actually share some distant relatives down the line as well.

Exjuliemccoy's picture

I understand that there were extenuating circumstances at the funeral, but tog's point is still valid: unless/until your DH is willing to speak up and inform his relatives AND his kids that he doesn't want BM around, nothing will change. The message has to come from him, and it has to be clear and firm.

tog redux's picture

Right, THEY have to set boundaries, instead of waiting for BM to do it. She never will.

strugglingSM's picture

It might be worth it for him to sit down with his family and tell them straight out that it bothers him when she is there. That she has caused problems for him in the past and he tried to keep it quiet for the children, but it means feels anxious / uncomfortable around her. He should specifically ask them to support him and tell them that he will choose not to attend if she is there. 

The risk is that they will not believe him / not support him, but at the end of the day, if they do that, they are probably not worth hanging around with. 

Someone is telling her when these events are...and it shouldn't be your DH's responsibility to tell her to leave if she's there. 

DH's family used to invite BM to events, I believe, but fortunately have stopped. They still keep in touch with her and tell DH he is just being mean / ridiculous / vindictive, because they don't believe what he tells them about BM. It would be one thing if they only spoke with BM about the children, but they speak to her about DH and for some reason, believe that what she says is the truth...even though they don't believe DH. This is so counter to my family...I was raised to believe that you support your family and you don't do things that you know will make others uncomfortable. Being around DH's family, which is toxic to say the least, has been an eye-opener for me. 

Rags's picture

My XILs pursued me for many years to attend family events at their home and at their ranch.  They made the invitations open to my wife and SS as well.   

I never accepted an event invitation though I did accept an invitation for lunch at their home during a work week.  My office at that time was a few miles from their home and I had run into them

.   When I showed up for lunch and entered their home on the walls of the family room were the wedding photos of their daughter and I.  It had been many years since the divorce was final.  They had wedding pics of me and of their daughter and I together on their bookshelves and on wall of their family room the bride pic of their daughter from our wedding.

It was a strange twilight zone episode.  When I arrived my XFIL started with the tears my XMIL was all "welcome home". It was bizarre.

For many years they sent me a birthday card with $10 in it.  Other than the one time I went to their home for lunch I did not engage with them.

Except in the rare situation where everyone involved is of character and cares about each other there is no reason to extend the pain of a shitty marriage and a divorce.  If just one person in the mix takes exception then the kumbaya crap needs to end. Far too often a core or peripheral member of a family gets uptity and steps beyond their place in the broken family and new blended family and cause upheval and drama that does not need to happen. Those people need to be shut down and put back in their place.

Every time they overstep.


IMHO of course.



Loki's picture

IMHO - Her boundaries (or lackof) are irrelavent, you can only control your own and act acordingly if someone violates them.

Time to construct and maintain extremely rigid boundaries, Enforce those boundaries and standards without exception, It’s BM problem if she doesn't like it, you don't have to explain or defend yourself to her for any reason.

And I suspect that DH's family will breathe a sigh of relief that they no longer have to 'entertain' a manipulative cuckoo.