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Advice for the SD question?

marblefawn's picture

SD has been so disrespectful to me over the years, just hearing her name makes me cringe. I've disengaged and that's been better -- I like to pretend she doesn't exist.

So that makes it uncomfortable when a friend of my husband asks me how SD's doing and I have to fumble through an explanation about SD, who has utter disregard for me and who I haven't seen in more than a year. (OK, it's not as bad as when people ask ME about my husband's ex-wife -- now THAT sucks. What is with people asking ME that????)

The SD question happens often, especially with my husband's friends, who apparently have no idea how ugly the relationship is between SD and me, nor how much trouble SD has caused in my marriage. I imagine if they knew, they wouldn't ask me about SD's status and I'd love that.

Does anyone have a good way of handling this? Is there a way to hint that I don't want to be asked about her without coming right out and saying, "SD's a cockroach -- strictly something to be avoided, so I can't tell you if she's still the same snotty little princess she was 1.5 years ago." I mean...I could say that, but I'd love a more nuanced answer to stem future questions. Any ideas? Thanks!

ldvilen's picture

I'm not sure if this is a good reply or not, but I remember just lately someone asked my DH how his son was doing.  DH just said, "I don't know.  I haven't seen him for about a year."  There were crickets for about 3 seconds.  I think my brother answered back something like, "Oh, OK," and then the conversation moved on. 

Even I was somewhat surprised DH was so honest about it, but that was what his comment was: Honest, and didn't really imply much of anything; yet, at the same time kind'a at least hinted that it wasn't the best question to ask.  So, it probably won't be asked again.

Now that my DH hand I are coming close to 20 years of marriage, both of us are starting to be more open about, "Yes, we may not have the most perfect relationship with DH's children."  When it comes to DH's family, however, I let him flag those questions, and if people ask me directly, I'll either add something like, "Well, last time we saw him/her. . ."  Or, just say, "I'm not sure, you'll have to ask their dad."

I think part of it is that the older you get, the more you you realize that keeping up conventions or playing games is a lot of work, and you just don't want to play THAT game any more.  You're over age 50!  You have the scars and experience that go with it.  Who wants to care what other people think?  And, I think in a step-situation, it is even more important to just say it like it is, because many seem to have an almost Twilight-Zonish attitude regarding blended families, such as you say, asking how DH's ex- is doing.  Next time, say, "I don't know. I was never married to her."  Or, ". . . I never cohabitated with her."

hereiam's picture

I would just say, "I don't know, you'll have to ask DH."

You don't owe anybody an explanation and once they figure out that you don't have an answer, they will stop asking because it will be more awkward for them, than for you.

SacrificialLamb's picture

I promptly respond to people that they will have to ask DH; I have not seen her in a while. It does not necessarily mean a bad thing that you have not seen someone in a while; it could just mean that schedules have not crossed. This has worked for me with no awkwardness for me at all.

Stepaside-1987's picture

I agree with hereiam  - I always just say "I don't know, you'll have to ask DH" and then he usually replies with "I don't know haven't heard from her."  We have noticed that most have stopped asking.

Iamwoman's picture

Maybe “I wish I could answer that for you,” (this shows that you DO or at least would like to care) “but I hope things are better than they were.” (This shows that there ARE problems, but that you are not a part of the problems and you only have well wishes for those steeped in the problems).

notsobad's picture

“I have no idea. I haven’t seen her in over a year.”

Honest without being mean. If someone is stupid enough to persist and asks why, again be honest. “She doesn’t like me.”

Merry's picture

Just dealt with this, including questions about DH's ex. I did know enough about the skids to respond briefly, but a whole bunch of "I don't knows" about the ex. I think those questions were really "is she still crazy?" I wouldn't know even that and I'm not going to badmouth someone I've seen twice in 15 years. But they wouldn't let it go. Happily, my drink was empty and the bar was within 10 feet of me...

marblefawn's picture

Yes, unfortunately I've found the questions usually do persist beyond the first. I think female friends of my husband especially predicted SD would be a nightmare based on them telling me early on, "SD is going to be your nightmare." (Why the hell no one said that BEFORE I married him, I don't know!) I think they want to know if SD ever came around and in a way, I guess that's normal

But there are the others -- people who just ask because they haven't been in a step situation, so they don't know not to ask about something that is frequently painful and tension filled.

Now the questions about the ex...those questions to me are wholly and fundamentally inappropriate. I would never, EVER, ask anyone about their ex in front of a SO, let alone ask the SO about the ex!!!! In the past, it has occasionally been a cultural difference -- people from a culture ask me about his ex because they are used to living with other wives of their husband and when there are exes, they never truly go away in that culture. I forgive them.

But in American culture, I find it unbelievably tacky. When I was a new bride, I went to a conference with my husband and met some of his extended colleagues. One asked about his ex - he had known her. Then he went on to tell (both of us!) how beautiful she was and interesting and fascinating. The man had not a word to say to me, even though he'd just met me for the first time and we were having drinks. I honestly felt he was doing it on purpose because he was so over the top in his praise of this woman about whom I'd only heard such terrible things! My husband uncomfortably sat there with his mouth shut and never said he was thinking of killing himself if he didn't divorce her. Should have been the first sign of the rest of my life would be with this mute.

Yes, I'm going to keep my eye on the bar too at the upcoming social occasions where I am certain I will be asked about one or both of these women.

Thanks, everyone. I'm going to figure out what sounds most natural and practice, practice, practice!

hereiam's picture

I can't imagine being asked about DH's ex. It is rude, tacky, and just weird (unless we were friends, which we are not). If anybody did ask me about her, I guess I would just say, "Well, she's on her 6th marriage, so..."



sandye21's picture

"Now the questions about the ex...those questions to me are wholly and fundamentally inappropriate."  I am just amazed at how tacky some people can be.  You can understand someone asking about the ex who does not know your DH is divorced and remarried.  If your Husband introduced you as his wife, then it should be assumed he divorced BM and is now married to you.  In my opinion the a$$ deserves to be put on the spot.  Smile as if you are speaking with someone who is mentally challenged, "Why do you ask?"  If they offer a lame excuse look at them as if they are garbage and say, "Hmmm."

The same goes for SD.  If the person is aware that I have disengaged from SD, "You know SD doesn't like me,  Why do you ask?"  If they are unaware of your disengagement, "I don't know.  You'll have to ask DH."

Recently one of DH's nieces sent me a private message on Facebook asking me for SD's phone number and going on and on about her memories of SD - even though when she was younger she detested SD.  She has done this before and I didn't answer.  I know she is aware that SD and I are disengaged so she must be getting something out of this besides simple curiosity.  I don't think her post is worth a response. 

Another thing - THEY always have a ghost in their closet.  My Aunt is one of those people who knows I am estranged from my Sister but she just can't seem to resist asking me if I've seen this Sister.  The last time she asked, I replied, "I guess it's the same kind of relationship you had with your Sister."  She doesn't ask anymore.

Rags's picture

I would take the direct approach and answer with the facts.

In response to questions about the SD.... "She is very unpleasant do deal with so I don't have anything to do with her. You will have to ask my husband about anthing related to his unpleasant daughter."

As for the coworkers or friends referencing the XW... "She is the X for a reason so you might want to rethink your infatuation with her.  It is rather low class to engage in worshiping my husbands X when his actual wife is present."  Then just smile and radiate happiness.

Seamus853's picture

About your SD, I agree with everyone else and would just say, "I don't really know" and then turn to your DH. "He might know."

About the person who keeps going on and on about your husband's ex, I wouldn't feel bad changing the subject. Like " how about that speaker (at the conference)" or talk about some TV show or movie. People can be really so rude.