Saturday, April 12, 2008

Coping With a Hostile Ex Wife, Part Three

NOTE: I am not an attorney, psychologist, counselor or therapist. These are simply my suggestions and thoughts having dealt with a hostile ex-wife for the last 3 years.

So, what if you are the new wife or girlfriend of a man with a bitter ex wife? How do you cope?

First--if you are dating, make sure the divorce has been final for at least a year before getting involved with anyone--male or female. There is a grieving process, and even mentally healthy people can experience anger and bitterness over a recent divorce, so give everyone time to heal and move on. Normal people will generally be over it and moved on after about a year.

Second--if you are dating, find out if the ex wife has moved on. Does she work? Have friends? Is she remarried? Dating? Some women do manage to remain bitter & hostile even after remarrying, but a woman who is working, remarried, and has a life of her own is far less likely to be a problem. In the cases I'm familiar with, the ex wife continues to need to blame the ex husband for her unhappiness, no matter how long ago the relationship ended.

Third--if you are dating a man with an ex wife, be respectful of legitimate boundaries. It can be hard for children to have people entering & leaving their lives regularly, so the ex-spouses may have agreed to not introduce the child to a new love interest until the relationship is solid & looks like it could be permanent. That is a fair request. In our case, they had determined ahead of time that a relationship had to last 6 months until their son could meet anyone. That was fine. Red flags burst out when WAY before the 6 month mark was even reached, Andy started receiving hostile emails from the ex about me--threatening that he didn't ever want her to meet me, then she demanded to meet me before I met their son, she sent hostile emails saying the son was never to come to my house, I was never to be in the car during drop offs, that their son was "upset" and that he wasn't ready to meet anyone new, sending "statistics" on how many second marriages fail (my personal favorite), long tirades about how much she had worked at their relationship & how much he had hurt her, long blathering emails about how much she had loved him, and on and on and on. Obviously, this woman was trying to control Andy's life and stop him from moving on. THAT is not normal behavior--THAT is a bitter ex wife.

NOTHING ABOUT YOU OR YOUR LIFE WITH THIS MAN IS ANY OF THE EX-WIFE'S BUSINESS. Period. You and your boyfriend/fiance/husband need to be clear on this point. If he cannot stand up to the ex wife, it is time for counseling FOR BOTH OF YOU. You may be dealing with someone who has been emotionally, verbally, or physically abused. Women do abuse men, though there are far fewer resources for men. For information, visit:

Fourth--ask to see the communications with the ex wife. If you are seriously considering marriage, you are about to become part of the equation, and before making that decision, you need all the information. If this man is being verbally abused, he may have a long history of hiding the abuse--even from you. Even though I had long suspected Andy had been a victim of emotional and verbal abuse, I was astounded at the viciousness of many of the emails he had received since the divorce and since I entered his life.

Fifth--make an effort. Attempt to establish a working relationship with the ex wife. I know that sounds difficult, but sometimes marriages have gone so badly and there is so much bad feeling that neither party can ever deal with the other one calmly. Offer to be the contact point for the ex wife in order to put a buffer between them. I can't say that it actually made a difference for us in the long run, but I know in my own heart that I have always been civil, I made the effort, and that there just isn't a way to cope with her.

Sixth--If you do move forward with your relationship, get a support group of other women who have been coping with a hostile ex wife already. You will need someone to help you through this, and if they have already survived a similar situation, it will bring a little perspective to your life.

Seventh--Your relationship with this man is going to require more work, more understand, and more love than most marriages. The ex wife may have more control over him than you do--especially if there has been a history of verbal abuse. Fear is a more powerful motivator than desire for gain, and there will be times when he will choose to do something that may hurt you because he is more afraid of making her angry than of hurting you or making you angry. My advice is to see a counselor immediately--he needs to learn about establishing boundaries, and you need to understand what he has been through. BE VERY, VERY CAREFUL TO NOT DUPLICATE HER BEHAVIOR. If you are angry with something he has done, make sure you address the action and not the person. There can be some very deep wounds there. It will get better. Once he learns that you can be angry with something he did without attacking him as a person, once he trusts that you mean it when you say it is okay to do something at that you aren't just setting him up to yell at him later, and once he learns that you continue to love him unconditionally, he will learn to trust you and you can build your relationship together.

To be continued......


PrincessPea said...

This is a fantastic set of tips.

I became involved with a man with an ex-wife and toddler when I was just twenty, and while she wasn't quite as bad as the scenarios you describe, I do wish I'd had more help in dealing with her at first, and over the years. She used to call me Miss Perfect to her son. That was twenty years ago; we are still together, I have a wonderful relationship with my step-son and we have two further sons together.

Anonymous said...

This is a very good site for new wifes that have to deal with ex wifes! I have been married to my husband now for 8 years now and his ex wife is still very hostile with him the kids and myself. She has played every game out their against all of us to look like the poor ex wife. I have tried to work with her over the years and their is no way to work with her she wants me total out of the pitcure point blank. She cheated on him through their hole marriage and verbaley abused him. He left when she said she was done with the marriage. I came along and picked up what she throug to the curb. Were happily married when were not dealing with her and that kills her inside! She's remarried her self now for 8 years also. Any advise for me all? I come up with she's so unhappy with her life she's not happy unless she's trying to break up or marriage or turning our house upside down! WHEN WILL THIS CRAP STOP?

Anonymous said...

This rings such a bell with my current situation. I am divorced (3 years) and have a young son. My fiance is divorced (took him 3 years to do it) and has three young daughters. We met a year after he started his divorce and it has been a wild ride ever since. His ex-wife probably would give Andy's a run for her money. She pretty much supports the law office in town because every time she doesn't agree with something she has her lawyer write our lawyer a letter. She does not work and doesn't ever plan on working. The youngest of the girls will start kindergarten this year.

This woman has accused my fiance of being a sexual danger to his children. Based solely on her accusations he had to go through a court ordered evaluation with a psychologist and during the time he could only have the kids for supervised visits. This lasted three months! And, I was appointed supervisor and then when she saw that her created situation was not having the effect she wanted she went to the court and complained that I wasn't a "fit" supervisor. I, too then had to go to the psychologist to be evaluated. Again, based on her claims. Anyway, the court appointed psychologist ended up issuing a report that said she was a bitter ex-wife and that there is absolutely no reason my fiance and I should not have the children. We pose no threat. When she heard this she was irrate.

Ever since then it has been one thing after another. She has caused such problems between my fiance and I and between myself and the girls that I cannot even put it all in writing. She doesn't work, doesn't have many friends and spends most of her time with her parents. This woman is over 40 years old! She has done such a number on their oldest daughter (11) that the daughter now tells us that we are hurting mommy because we do things that mommy and daddy used to do and it hurts mommy to see us together. GEEZ...nothing like giving your kids psychological problems right? Who does this to their kids? I have tried to communicate with this woman in regards to the kids but she then sends her attorney a letter telling her that I should be informed that "significan others" don't have any rights and that any communication regarding HER children should come only from their father. In other words...butt out. So, I have done that thinking that giving some space may help. But, it hasn' has continued and now it is such a sore spot with my fiance and I.

My relationship with my ex is the complete opposite. We have a great relationship and focus on the well-being of our son. I am at the point where the girls come to our house and I completely brace myself for what may happen next. Due to the last three years of dealing with her, it has damaged the way I see the girls. I look at them and I really NEED this kind of pain in my life? If it weren't for their mother brainwashing them, they would be great kids. I do love them and I love their father very much but how much is too much???

Jim Pleace said...

WOW this is good. VERY insightful. Thank you!!

A divorced father trying not to be bitter

Anonymous said...

Fellow new wives to remarried men,

I married a christian man that professed to have a great relationship with his ex-wife and while dating him it did seem they got along reasonably well. It took him some adjusting to the idea of less contact with her once we were married (keep it to a minimum), but that seemed to be addressed adequately in premarital counseling.

Be cautioned from my mistakes - PLEASE read on. Once I got married and we moved in together I realized that something was not right - TRUST YOUR GUT. What he said and what seemed to happen were just not feeling right, and she was very spiteful and manipulative towards me - almost like I was the other woman. I also noticed that his friends basically avoided me - and many of them had never met me! I also noticed that people did not act interested in getting to know me and were short of ignoring me, many on the first meeting of the new bride! I could not figure this out as he said she had left him and everyone was disappointed in her, not him - why was I feeling like I was the other woman???

Months into our marriage I started to unfold the lies........ turns out they have had A LOT of phone contact that I was unaware of, like three to four times as much. Also he had been telling her things about me that she did not need to know and also he "stretched" the truth to make him look better in her eyes. I also discovered that he was not backing me in front of the kids and she was lying to the kids - fortunately with the kids I was as genuine as they come and they still have been very good to me and I to them despite their parents.

Needless to say, anytime she didn't have money, he would pay the kids expenses, including approximately $15,000 of miscellaneous expenses that should at least been paid in half by her. She now has a new car and I know that we have paid this and also purchased her new clothes by all of the kids expenses we are paying for. This was discovered when my "husband" refused to comingle funds after we were married - saying I was a risk to him, manipulating him for money, etc.!!! Say WHAT??!!! We are married and working on joint financial goals and budgets is what healthy marriages do.

After months of counseling and me telling the counselors I just had a feeling like he was cheating on me - I couldn't prove it, but I felt it.... turns out he was! Not physically, but emotionally and spiritually - that is why my gut always told me something was wrong. The phone records showed he had entirely too much contact with an "ex" and the financial disclosure showed huge gaps in his accountability. I would have NEVER known these things had I not, with the demand of a marriage counselor, insisted on seeing bank statements, credit card status, phone bills, etc.

Trust me on this..... if something doesn't feel right, it isn't. It has been seven months short of marital hell on this up and down rollercoaster. Once he admitted is unfaithfulness we were able to move forward as a couple. He is going to be in individual counseling regarding boundaries, boundaries and more boundaries.

I do not know if we will make it, but if I could turn back the clock of time I would. I would NEVER, EVER marry someone without full financial disclosure and now.... I would ask to see their phone records to see how much contact they truly had with their ex. I learned the hard way. I write this to hopefully save one of you from the absolute and undeniable hell of deception based on my trusting a man that for all purposes was simply a "sales pitch" to get me to marry him and fill his physical void.

It is short of hell to live in an empty marriage based on deception. Trust is given freely, but once destroyed it is almost impossible to regain. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE tell your fiance how much you love them and want complete honesty and openness. Provide all of the documents you are requesting and ask them to show you there's. They may think it's a little uncomfortable, if it is, then show them this message - my "husband" is a well-known, liked man by almost everyone. No one has any idea what a liar and deceiver he is - no one except me and his ex. With all due respect, he and she deserve each other, they are two of a kind and I am and will most likely be, the other woman.

Please learn from my mistakes and do not settle for anything except COMPLETE honesty.

Hold out for the true and honest love!

Anonymous said...

To anonymous
I agree with you. I was in the same boat. Not allowed to open up mail. Did not know how much salary he earned, yet he had my bank card and I had to ask each time I needed some cash. Note. Pennies. Babysit his child every weekend. His lifestyle carried on exactly the same as it had done when married, still seeing his ex every weekend at the same sport club with her boyfriend she had left him for (to me I didnt care she had a boyfriend) not right to see your ex at the same social venue they had frequented before. The child would go with like he had done when they were still married. She was still in with his family. His family never accepted me even though she had numerous affairs whilst married to him. I am still married - 2 children inthis marriage and 26 yrs later so many things have gone wrong, I became stressed, ill etc and I pushed for a divorce becuae I could not take it anymore - my husband made a complete turn around, says he always loved me and would never have gor invovlved with ex again etc. But he allowed her to stay in his family and I was the outsider. It looks like it is now too late. What do you readers think?

Autumn said...

I know I'm way behind, but I'm glad I came across your post. I'm dealing with a hostile ex-wife right now, who continues to badger and belittle my boyfriend to the extent that she threatened his life. Just yesterday she "found hard-core evidence" that I'm an alcoholic and a drug addict. HUH?? My worst enemy couldn't even come up with something like that.

There are days where someone tells you so many times that you're wrong that some of it starts to stick. Although I'm not happy that anyone else is going through this, it's nice to know we're not alone.

Better Than Ever said...

I agree with most of that, and disagree with some of that. Just assume I agree with everything but what I comment on here.

I'm not sure "1 year from divorce" makes any sense. It depends on the person, the marriage, and the break up. Sometimes, a year isn't enough. Some times it's ridiculously long, for example when spouses separated, lived apart for a long period of time, and then only spoke to get the divorce done. If all divorces were the same, then maybe 1 year would make more sense.

1 year is a cop out, generic time frame. The real issue is if they have really moved on, if they are emotionally stable on their own, if they are really over it and you are dating the person, not the chaos left by the divorce.

The only other thing I disagree with is to establish a relationship with a "hostile" ex-wife. If they are truly hostile, and if there are no children, then she should be removed from his life completely.

Contact attempts to the new girlfriend or wife are just going to encourage her to continue just as much as if he engages her. Why give her any excuse?

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