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Ho to stop feeling upset by the ex-wife

canucket's picture

My husband and I have been together for six years and married for one year. In the last few years my husband's ex-wife - sweet social butterfly - seems to me to do hurdles to maintain her position in his extended family. She and I have zero relationship - she emails my husband but will not phone our house and it's obvious that it's because she doesn't want to hear me answer the phone. It is clear to me that she wants zero zero zero contact with me. Fine - I have no wish to have contact with her. What upsets me is that she seems to have put a lot of energy recently into relationships with people in his family, people who we particularly have close relationships with. She does not seem to pursue people that we do not have close relationships with. My husband's nephew has moved into her house as a boarder. Last year she travelled to visit the parents of that nephew AND STAYED IN OUR COTTAGE. This year we are going on holidays to our cottage and I hear now that she would like to go at the same time and stay at my husband's brother's house down the street from us. I don't understand why this woman who not coincidentally cannot look me in the eye or greet me if we run into each other, wanted to stay in my house last year, and now wants to be on holidays in the same town where we will certainly daily be visiting houses back and forth because of the close relationship between my husband and me, and his brother and the brother's wife. Am I crazy for believing that she is doing this all to bother me? More importantly, I have been looking and looking for information on how to stop being bothered by her, and I find no good help out there. If we are both on holidays at the same time, do I decide not to play her game and simply not visit the brother-in-law's house where she'll be staying? How do I keep her out of MY house if my brother-in-law and his wife drop by to visit? I'm at my wit's end here. My husband appears to get nervous about how I will behave, but on the other hand other than to say we shouldn't care about what his ex-wife does, I don't get any ideas from him about how to handle this stuff. Anyone out there have any good advice on how to be dignified, how not to enter into competition with this woman, and just not be bothered by her emotionally? I would like not to care what she does, but I feel like she's widening her circle and I'm being forced into a lonely corner out of what is my own family of in-laws, who are all really good people. Thanks for any intelligent advice.

Jsmom's picture

Why are these people associating with her. They are divorced....This makes it very hard to maintain any relationship for a step. If it were me, I would tell them they can't hang with BM. My IL's did this recently and now they are no longer welcome in my home. Long, long story, but I am done with the whole lot of them.

lmac's picture

IMO, you can't tell people who they can and can't hang out with. BUT, YOU and your BF has to back you up here, can choose NOT to associate with people who choose to associate with her.

My SIL is BFFs with BM. Good for her. I'll never have anything but cold civility for her. Same thing goes for anyone in DH's family that wants to be BFFs with BM. They lose us.

DH will go for Christmas or whatever, but I do not. I go to my family's house. I'll tell you right now I feel like when DH and I have a kiddo, no one in his family will lay eyes on it.

Delilah's picture

Sorry am confused slightly :? BM stays at a property, while visiting your BIL&SIL, which you and DH own?!!

If this is the case, say no.

How is her stays there arranged? She asks DH? :jawdrop:

I can appreciate if exes wish to remain amicable and friends and that is something that should be commended however that friendships shouldnt bleed unhealthily into any relationships they then go onto have with new partners i.e. if that new partner is uncomfortable with certain behaviour. There are boundaries, as there would be in any mixed platonic friendship, just because there is a shared history and children doesnt give that person blanket rights to a free pass to every aspect they want. I never *get* it when people just assume because there are children involved, that the new partner has to be okay with everything that is thrown at them by the ex. Would they if the shoe was on the other foot?

Personally, I would feel weird being *friends* with my DH's exes - purely because hes my husband and it doesnt feel comfortable. I was polite and courteous to my BM, but even if she had been nice and sane, I still wouldnt be friends with her.

So tell DH this. Tell him you dont want BM staying at your home again, that there are certain boundaries that you have had to respect - as BM is skids mother and DH's ex, however people have to start respecting your right to have these boundaries too and this is one step too far.

I think if your BM is kissing up to your BIL&SIL and they wish to remain friends with her, then there is little you can do about that. It is their right to do so, although I cannot imagine how uncomfortable this would make me as if I am honest it would affect what I said to them - esp if I thought there was a chance certain things would get back. However your In laws may be different and can actually retain a good relationship with you all.

Perhaps its time for DH to state that HE isnt comfortable with socialising with BM, given he doesnt particularly like her anymore and has a new partner- you and he respects you too much to put you in an awkward position. So it may mean a) either rearranging your visit (I wouldnt be inclined to do this as its giving BM too much power) b) BIL&SIL respecting your right not to have to be around her if she insists on gate crashing c) not seeing them at all if they dont feel comfortable making plans just to see you guys at time (I dont see this as a problem given BM is a guest, she shouldnt expect to be included in everything).

Your DH needs to ensure he plays this cleverly and state something like "not sure why BM feels the need to be around when we are there on holiday, slightly weird on her part and imo sneaky as it makes you guys effectively having to choose :O He could go onto say, he has no issue with them being friends however he would appreciate not having to see her more than needs be and certainly not on hols!

I find it weird too that they scheduled this when they knew you were due, obviously they are clueless and maybe this will let them know?!

canucket's picture

Thank you to all of you for your thoughts on this extremely uncomfortable and yes, painful, situation. I know I can't dictate who can be friends with whom, so I'm well-adjusted on that point, though it still hurts me, uspets me. Fine, I won't say a word there. I don't want to kill the relationship I have with my in-laws either. I'm not a timid person, but neither do I want to look like a nasty person, which is why I've been wondering whether I would look like a party-pooper if I quietly decline to attend dinners etc. down the street while the "gate-crasher" (love that) is there. I hope my husband backs me up on this and doesn't take the stance of, "if you don't want to go, that's fine, but I'm going." I really hope he doesn't do that. I'm trying to keep in mind how much it must bug and infuriate her that he's remarried, and that makes me feel a little bit better. Also, though I don't want to kill the in-law relationships I have, I think I need to realize that they might never really care too much about whether I'm around or not. I used to bring gifts for them each time we travelled, though I was staying in my own house. They don't reciprocate, and when my husband and I got married, not a single person sent a card or phoned to say congratulations. So I think also I should really do some personal analysis about why I continue to care about these people if they seem more and more to be only politely indifferent to me. I think I have my answer. Again, thank you to all. The good thing about this web forum is that I realize there are lots of ex-wives who won't let go, and there are lots of wives who are infuriated by these women. Oh, and to answer the one question, about being confused about how the BM got to stay in my cottage? she had asked my husband, he said he didn't see a problem with it, I found out only accidentally after the plane tickets were already bought, I raised the roof, and then felt guilty about "ruining everyone's fun" and gave in. It was a few months of hell - counting down until she left, counting the days while she was there, learning to relax once I knew she had left my house. And yes, I've made it utterly clear that that is the last time such a situation will happen, and that part of what put me through the roof was finding out after everything was already arranged.

Madam Hedgehog's picture

wow. you are a much bigger person than I am. I would have had a complete melt down if DH had allowed crazy lady to stay in our house. I suppose we have a pretty strained relationship with her though. There is definitely some line-crossing going on there that is pretty unhealthy though. DH should have realized that would upset you, and should have refrained from doing it on account of your feelings.

I am currently re-evaluating my relationship with DH's family as well. It's occurred to me since the wedding that they don't actually care about me and that they have no respect for DH and my relationship. It's an odd feeling to suddenly just "get" that.

hippiegirl's picture

When she divorced your husband, that means she has no more rights to HIS family. WTF is wrong with this woman? Why on earth would anyone want to hang out with their ex's family? Sounds like she needs to get a life, and stay the hell out of yours!

canucket's picture

Funny, I'm divorced too, with no children, and when we separated, that was it, I made no contact with my ex-h's family and never have since then. He for a while hung on to my sister's husband, and my family was nice to him, letting him know they care about him, and that didn't bother me one way or another, and then it dropped off pretty quickly. It's possible that my ex-h and my brother-in-law still go for a beer once in a while because they really got along well, but I never hear anything about him and I don't ask, and so he simply is not in our lives, and it's like I was never married before. So I know that it is entirely do-able, to let a former marriage go away.

Madam Hedgehog's picture

Our BM is the same way. She is actually closer to DH's family now that they are divorced than she was before. It's just a crazy-a$$ power game. She is one of those BM's who are simply obsessed with controlling/interfering with their ex (DH) to prove she is still important/powerful/whatever.

In reality, it's pathetic and awkward.

I think your BM is probably the same way. This is just a way for her to prove to herself (and everyone else) than she still holds some sort of sway over your DH's life.

I don't think it should be unusual or awkward for you to tell the in-laws that if they want to hang out with her, then they should do that and leave you out of it. Tell them that under no circumstances should they even consider bringing her to visit you.

My DH's father let her in the house while we were in the shower one day. I was literally wearing a towel when I found her in the boys' room. We should have told him beforehand that she's not even allowed in the house. Believe me, you are way better off telling them ahead of time so that they don't "accidentally" bring her.

Effing inlaws. I am so bitter at this point. I envy your patience and even-headedness, but don't put anything past them.

canucket's picture

Thank you for sharing your similar story! I like your suggestion of letting them know beforehand that she's not to be brought over as part of the group if they drop by. I won't put them on the spot and invite them specifically and say, "but don't bring her - she's not invited" - that would be juvenile and I would be the one looking bad. I like gossip as much as the next person, and I don't want to give anyone any kind of material for someone to say "ooooh, cat fight!" I absolutely HATE that image. I do believe it is a power show for her - great, let her have her fun, I'm thinking. What I really want though is not even to care, not to feel bothered. I'm trying to remember I'm the one with the great guy, I'm the one with the nice little house, and when everyone wants to have a big party with her, I will just treat myself well and enjoy some quiet time, and she can enjoy all her in-laws, my in-laws, whoever they are. thank you again.

cincystep's picture

You will never stop feeling upset by here. My advice to you is to watch her closely and never ever trust her. Put your foot down early and dont let his family guilt you into letting her in all your lives because "its for the kids." I was really uncomfortable when the ex wife started randomly showing up at his family functions and stopping by the house. He use to go over her house to help her with small home repairs. Everytime I said something I was told "it's for "insert daughters name" and he wanted to show his daughter that they could all get along. His parents gave her loans, advice, gifts, you name it. I was not allowed to come to some family functions because it would upset the daughter and the ex wife. She would even walk into his house because she had a key (in case she needed to get to his daughter if she was hurt). I kept my mouth shut for years and just sucked it up because they convinced me I was being selfish.

After four year she calls me out of nowhere. She had spoken to me one other time before then asking me what I was going to do after I lost my job and if I was going to move away. Anyway, she calls and tells me that her and my boyfriend had been sleeping together for all four years. Yup. Four year! I felt so stupid and foolish.

He says it's a lie and they only slept together the first year. I dont know who to believe but I have him another chance, under one condition, that he and his family cut all ties with her unless it was an emergency. It was okay the first couple months but it started again. A visit here, a text message there, a joint bday party. I couldnt take it so I ended it. I wasnt be played a fool a second time.

Now he and his family think Im the bad guy. Im over reacting. I'm asking for too much. I might be a little sensitive since I was SCREWED OVER for what might have been YEARS but Im not stupid. Not worth it.

Love yourself and dont let them tell you your intuition is wrong! They are DIVORCED!!!! That's it.

canucket's picture

Wow, that's a story. And yes, it's the default answer, that it's for the child. One thing I've stopped doing is apologizing for my feelings. Also, I've made it clear now that there are limits, a line not to be crossed. I try also to imagine someone I know and admire - man or woman - and how they would behave or react in the same situation that I'm having trouble with, and I imagine that person being pleasant but not engaged in the situation, whether it's meeting the ex-wife in an appropriate situation of her making, or spending time with in-laws who have allowed her to hog a seat in the family.