18 Nov
There’s Room for One Female Only

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

My husband and I have been married three weeks. Recently his daughter performed in a school musical and my husband’s ex wife was there. It was the first meeting between her and me.   The ex saved seats for my husband and our family, sat by us, chatted with his family, and joined us post-performance in the lobby while we were waiting for his daughter. I was surprised she didn’t ask to go home with us, show me their original wedding pictures or join hands for a round of Kumbaya.

My husband says he has tried hard to keep his relationship with his ex civil for his daughter. I didn’t witness any civility but I did see a whole lotta “the ex wife is still the alpha female” going on. How do I get my husband to understand good co-parenting doesn’t include still joined in holy matrimony? There is room for one wife and that’s me.

Sincerely,
Vexed by his Ex

__________________________________________________________________________________

Dear Vexed by his Ex,

Having been married to the same man for over fourteen years, I admit I don’t have a lot of experience with ex-spouses. But I do have a lot of experience talking about things I know nothing about, so count this as your lucky day here at TMH!

This his ex-wife really takes the jungle cake, doesn’t she? Who does she think she is – the daughter’s mother?! Honestly I don’t know what to think about people nowadays who go to their own daughter’s musical performance and expect to somehow share the proud experience with the father and extended family.   What, with the recital seat-saving and family chatting I’m just shocked she wasn’t thrown out of the school auditorium! Gesh.

And again, you are totally right that there is only room for one wife. In my not-so-humble opinion there is only room for one FEMALE in a man’s life, which is why I drank nothing but screwdrivers when getting pregnant. This made me not only morally loose, but also caused my vaginal environment   to be less acidic, ensuring I conceived male children only. But before that, I cooked up a diabolical alpha female coup d’ etat where I systematically destroyed my husband’s relationship with his mother and sister.

Of course, on the other hand, the fact that your husband is able to co-parent successfully with his ex and that their daughter can have both of her parents attend her recital is pretty fantastic. And so much preferable to their daughter having to put on separate recitals for each side of the family.   Reciprocate her civility and don’t worry:   your husband knows who he’s married to. You’re the one he chose after all.

Signed,

Heather, TMH

17 Responses to “There’s Room for One Female Only”

11.18.10#1

Comment by vodka tonic.

At the end of the night, he gets to put it in you. For this, I am happy.
Sincerely,
The Ex-Wife

Nicole Reply:

Wahahahahaaaaaa!

11.18.10#2

Comment by Betty Herbert.

I can imagine why this feels weird to you, but I bet your step-daughter is breathing the biggest sigh of relief.

11.18.10#3

Comment by Jenni.

I know exactly what you’re talking about. I’ve been married 13 years, my stepson is long grown, and my husband’s ex is STILL a part of my life. I try so hard to be kind to her, but she makes me crazy. I just want her to GO AWAY.

To someone who isn’t a second wife, it probably sounds unreasonable, I know. What? I don’t like her sending Christmas presents to my children? But she’s being nice! What kind of an unreasonable bitch am I?

It’s hard to put into words. I guess part of it is territoriality. I confess I do find it comforting when my husband sees her number on his cell phone, makes a face, and hits ignore.

There’s more to it, but I would guess that Vexed is probably coping more with the territoriality than anything else right now. It’s a little scary watching your husband interact with another woman that he has that much history with.

Vexed – It’s not easy to get used to, I know. Having gone into a blended family, however, you’re going to have a lot of uncomfortable things to get used to. Your stepdaughter and any other children involved are going to have to be your first priority, though.

As much as you dislike the ex’s behavior, you’re going to have to bend over backward to get along with her. Keep reminding yourself of what this must be like to her – all of a sudden there is another woman who is playing a huge role in her daughter’s life. The man she couldn’t stand to stay married to, the idiot she was so glad to get away from, has remarried. She didn’t think much of his judgment before, but now she has to hope that he made a good decision in you. It has to be very difficult for her.

Her friendliness is actually a good sign. Believe me, she has the power to make your life a living hell if she wants to. If she poisons the kids against you, the strife and agony that will cause in everyone’s lives will go one forever, and maybe destroy your marriage.

If the three of you can work together, though, putting aside your differences and discomfort so that you can present a united parenting front to the kids, then you all might just be able to make this work.

It’s hard. Believe me, I know exactly how hard it is. But, it’s worth it. Your husband and his daughter are worth the sacrifice you’re going to have to make. If you can suck it up and do what you have to, you’ll be rewarded in greater family happiness and stability.

I still can’t stand my husband’s ex. She makes my skin crawl. I hate the way she parents her son. (In the dictionary, “Helicopter parent” uses her picture.) But I’ve managed to keep those feelings to myself. I’ve developed a working relationship with her. I’ve gone out of my way to let her know that I wasn’t going to compete with her for her son’s affection. I’ve even smiled and accepted her horrendous and inappropriate gifts to my children. (I remind myself that she means well and she’s trying to get along too.)

Stepparenting is difficult at the best of times. It’s impossible if you aren’t all working together, and the kids are the ones who suffer most. When the ex makes you feel crazy, take a deep breath, remind yourself it’s at least as hard for her, and use your best and kindest manners. It’s worth it. After 13 years, and the hell of the teenage years, I can promise you, it is worth every iota of effort. It WILL pay off.

11.18.10#4

Comment by skchord.

I, too, have experience with this. I say, if she is being chatty after her daughters recital and wishes to sit with you guys but she is not weilding any sharp object, voodoo dolls, or outright flirting with your husband…LET IT GO! Count your blessings that they have a good relationship and trust your husband…remember, he divorced her for a reason. Now, if he running errands for her during the day, doing her banking, receiving and making phone calls to her daily, that might be a little overboard and you should handle that firmly and swiftly. Invest in caller ID and play nice…she may just be a jealous ex who gets her jollies by watching you squirm.

11.18.10#5

Comment by Marinka, TMH.

I’m definitely in the “let it go” camp, with a toe in “count your blessings.”

An adversarial relationship with the ex doesn’t make you closer to your husband, it’s an all around pain in the ass for everyone involved.

11.18.10#6

Comment by Plano Mom.

Awesome advice. My oldest is my step, now almost 19. She’s been with my husband and I full time since she was 4. It is my job that carries the benefits, there has never been child support from the mother. Mother left husband and daughter, not the other way around.

This last June, at our daughter’s graduation, the ex walked up to my husband, gave him a hug, and said “WE DID IT!!!”

Now, I could choose to make a stink about such a rude and obviously vindictive statement. Or I could choose to ignore it and focus on my daughter and her special day. I hope I’ve always chosen the path that causes my daughter the least distress.

Does Mom try to draw attention to herself to your detriment, or is she merely paying attention to her daughter and the history they share with your ex? It’s a world of difference to be ignored in favor of the child and to be obviously shunned and rudely discounted.

Plano Mom Reply:

Oops, I meant the history shared with your husband…does she merely mention the history that is shared with their daughter, or does she bring up shared memories of the two of them as a couple? In my mind it’s a huge difference. Does she try to include you in the creation of new shared memories? Then you have a gem of an ex-wife who is in your life. Be thankful.

11.18.10#7

Comment by Daria.

Dear Vexed,

Please, please, please pay attention to what Jenni says. You are incredibly lucky to have an ex (and yes, she is your ex too regardless of how you want it to be) that is gracious enough to include you and play nice for her daughter.

She can absolutely make your life a living hell – seriously – she has more control over your life than anyone else in it. She affects your husbands daughter, can pull your husbands strings either directly or through court, and you can’t do a thing about it.

Welcome to step-parenting. That is what you signed up for, at least until your daughter is grown.

Want more convincing? Read my post:

Do Stepmoms Count?

http://www.mominmanagement.com/1041/do-step-moms-count/

Rojopaul Reply:

Wow, I just read your post and I’m so sad for you. What a tough situation to be in. Hugs to you and hubby as you try to do what’s best for everyone involved. I can only say someday I think “your boys” will realize who was the good guy and who was the bad guy and love you for what you did and tried to do. Until then, hang in there. ((HUGS))

Daria Reply:

Thank you. I hope so, but life is funny sometimes and when you don’t play dirty and the other side does, it certainly makes it tougher.

11.18.10#8

Comment by The new wife.

Um, holy shit, can we trade places? My husband’s ex-wife has been nothing but a nasty bitch to me for going on five years now. Granted, I haven’t seen her in a couple of years, but I know how she feels about me, I know what she has said, and I know what she thinks of me (which, for the record, is pretty much the oppostite of who I really am). I don’t mean to sound rude, but hearing you complain about her being NICE kind of made me mad at YOU, lol.

11.18.10#9

Comment by Kelly.

As a (now) adult who grew up with divorced parents, I can say that it is a GREAT gift that you, your husband, and his ex are giving to his daughter by being civil and gracious to each other. You are making her life easier and modeling for her GROWN UP behavior and not childishness.

Don’t put your husband in a position of having to choose between his past (child, inlaws, etc) and your present. You don’t want to look petty and you don’t want to make people consider if he really “upgraded” with the second wife.

Beyond that, I think you should decide what you “get” each time you have to make nice-nice with the annoying ex. A pedicure? An expensive bottle of wine? A footrub from your (grateful) husband? Treat yourself with whatever it takes to get you through!

11.18.10#10

Comment by GrandeMocha.

Am I the only one dying to know about the “I cooked up a diabolical alpha female coup d’ etat where I systematically destroyed my husband’s relationship with his mother and sister.”? Details please!

11.18.10#11

Comment by Fragrant Liar.

Yeesh, I think you’ve hit the jackpot. Exes are typically not so personable and friendly, so I’m not getting your real complaint. You’re the one he goes home with. My good friend Jennifer Marine wrote a novel on this and appeared on Dr. Phil to discuss it. Might be worth a look for you, and note, the perfect title:

http://www.noonesthebitch.com/

11.18.10#12

Comment by Mom again.

It was the little girls event. Not the step moms not the moms. The mom seemed to be setting a precedent for ‘how we all behave.’ Enjoy the event together and make polite chit chat like the modern extended family you are.

Were you expecting to sit apart and interact minimally? Forget it. You’ve got years of school events and holidays to work through and pretending the other half of the children’s family isnt a part of your life will cause you nothing but heartache.

I tried to think of my ex’s new spouse like a 3rd cousin of his that I didn’t know well and expected the same uninterested good manners in return. Worked for the two of us though he felt the need to carry on being an ass in most situations.

02.12.11#13

Comment by Maggie.

Speaking as a 17-year-old daughter of a blended family, I can tell you this: your step-daughter will like, and eventually love, you much more if you can get along with her mom. Kids know that our parents won’t be getting back together, and we usually try to like potential step-parents (unless we know they caused the divorce), but not even trying to be friendly with our real parents is just going to get you a one-way ticket to being hated by the whole family.

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