Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Other Woman

Ex-wife, Other woman, step mom, stepmothers, blended family, blended families, stepmom
Okay, I know you are probably wondering who is the other woman.  Who can she be referring too? The other woman in your marriage is your husband's ex-wife. Early on in my marriage there were a lot of times where I felt like he is still married to his ex-wife.  Because whenever she called to ask him to do something he would jump and say how high and never thought about checking with me first before saying yes to her.  It felt like he was just the “YES Man” for her and it drove a wedge between us.  We had a lot of arguments early on about how I would like to know what’s going on before committing to something she requested of him to do.  He rarely ever said no to her, and even still more so today than ever he drops everything and does whatever she needs.  I think he does this because of guilt parenting and not wanting her or the kids to say he is a bad father.
There were a lot of times where she even interfered with discipline at our house, which really got me very upset because it’s our house, our rules.  In yet, somehow she would always get my stepchildren out of trouble when honestly they really would do something wrong and all my stepdaughter would do while she was in her room for punishment is text or call her Mom.  Then the ex-wife would call my husband and he would go out in the garage and they would have this all-out battle over what my stepdaughter did.  Then he would come back in the house and all of a sudden she would be out of her room never having to apologize for anything she did wrong.  This happened over and over again.  Until finally my husband had enough and finally stepped up and took her phone away from her when she was in her room for punishment.  It just felt like the ex-wife had more say and control over of what goes on in our home than we did. 
Then emails started coming after every other weekend, it was always a guarantee that my husband would get a nasty email every Monday morning about something we did wrong in her eyes that the kids told her about.  I told him to stop responding to her emails and eventually the emails will stop coming.  Because any time he would respond, it would just fuel the fire with her.
I started keeping a notebook of all of the things she calls him to do for my stepchildren. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind that he helps out with my stepchildren. But sometimes, she would call late Sunday night and ask him to take one of them to a doctor’s appt on Monday morning (the next day).  This would really annoy me because she could have given him more notice than just less than 12 hours’ notice.  Then there are loads of other times where my stepdaughter was sick from school and he either had to pick her up and take her home from school.  It felt like he was always taking time off of work, as if the ex-wife’s job is more important than his job.  I would get worried about his job being in jeopardy because of all of the time off, he had to take to run them home from school, doctor & dentist appts, or if they missed the bus he would have to take them to school because she wouldn’t. 
Then there was a time when it was our kidless weekend and we were out spending time together his ex-wife called to say she needed help with her car because she ran out of gas and she was at a park with the kids.  We had to drop what we were doing and go out of our way to help jump her car.  Then there was a time where she asked him to go to a store for her to buy something for her. It just always felt like she was taking advantage of him and yet would turn around the next day and call him a bad father. If he ever were to say No to her, she would turn it around and tell the kids that he doesn’t care about them or love them and that his wife is more important to him than they are. The next time we would get them the moment the stepdaughter would get mad about something he did, she would tell him that he doesn’t care about them and doesn’t love them.  We finally started realizing that the ex-wife was saying bad things about us to them. Of course out of loyalty they always side with their mother and always believe whatever she says.
We started going to church early on in our relationship and when the ex-wife found out about it, she was livid about it because it wasn’t a Catholic church. The ex-wife doesn’t even attend church anymore; however she started sending emails saying they are not allowed to go to our church and that they can only go to churches she approves of. My husband would say it’s not in the divorce papers on where they can go and where they can’t go to church.  My stepchildren even told the kids that they had to stay home from church because if they went they would be in trouble with her when they get home from our house.
Then there was a time where my stepchildren weren’t allowed to take any medicine from our house unless they called to ask her permission from their mother.  Just to take Tylenol for a sore throat or a headache. Cold medicine had to be the kind their mother uses; it couldn’t be any other kind. It was awful.
The ex-wife wanted to control everything in our house from discipline to even to where we go to church. It just felt like it was never going to end with her.
In the meantime, all I did was pray and to this day all I do is pray for her and that she changes her ways and attitude towards us. Early in the relationship, I wanted to call to set up a time to meet with her to talk and introduce myself to her, but my husband said no and that it wasn’t a good idea.  I keep wondering if I did meet with her, that maybe all of this would be different, maybe she would treat us differently.  Eventually, I had to let it go because my husband knows her better than I do. 
I started reading books on many different topics regarding ex-spouses and learned that there are many different types of biological mothers.  I learned that my biological mother is a “Protector Mom” and a “Destructive Mom”. I learned that the best way to deal with a Protector Mom is for her to see and experience my goodwill toward my stepchildren and a non-threat message is crucial for her. Unfortunately, my husband wouldn’t let me send her an e-mail.  I tried showing her goodwill in different ways, for example, I threw my stepdaughter a sweet sixteen party and invited her into my home for it.  I was trying to show her that I do care and love her daughter.
I have realized something over the years of her being unreasonable, bitter and downright mean that it’s going to take God to change her, there’s nothing I can do or say that will help her see that I truly love and care for my stepchildren.  It will not happen in my own strength, this change will only happen through God.  All I have to do is continue to pray for her. There’s a scripture that sums it up Psalm 40:1-3  “I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.”  Read this and know God is in control and there will be a day where the ex-wife will see that you are a good person and that you didn’t mean any harm to her children. We just need to pray for her hard heart to soften and for the bitterness, hurt, and resentment to go away and that God will redeem, restore and heal her.  Even when there seems to be no way out of the pit, pray, and pray harder and patiently wait for God to do a miracle.  Here’s a prayer that I originally got from the Smart Stepmom book, however I changed it around to fit my needs.

Dear Lord, 
You have called me to be a stepmom and it’s been a large task. I praise you that I even get the ability to have faith in you.  For when I am weak, you are strong. I know I am not alone and that you are with me every step of the way.  Right now I do not like my husband’s ex-wife and much less have a hard time showing her kindness or compassion after all she’s done to us and continues to do. I confess there have been many times where I wished she would move far away from us. I confess there have been many times where I have said I hate her.  Her words and actions she does wound my husband and me. She treats my husband and me with such contempt and I don’t even know how to respond anymore.  But I know you do. Please forgive me for detesting her and hating her at times. The desire of my heart is to honor you more than I desire to retaliate and hurt her.  I know you are willing to lift me out of this dark pit and place my feet on solid ground and transform my mind to think like you do, I thank you for that. I know that only you alone can teach me how to forgive his ex-wife. Please teach me how to live in harmony with this difficult woman.  Lord, I can’t do this on my own, I need your guidance and strength, help me see her through your eyes and not my own. Please heal the ex-wife’s bitterness, help restore her and heal her hard heart, I pray for her salvation.  Help me to extend the same grace to her that you have shown me. You know the desire of my heart and I want to obey you. I put my trust in you and I know your ways will bring peace into my life, my marriage, and my family. Thank you for all you do for me and for loving me as much as you do. Amen. (R. Deal & L. Petherbridge; 2009)

I hope this prayer helps another stepmom as it is helping me. I pray this prayer every day over the ex-wife and the thoughts I have about her.  It has helped me but every time she does something else I try to find somewhere, where I can be alone somehow and say this prayer. It usually helps take away the hatred I am feeling at that moment.

Have you ever felt this way towards your husband’s ex-wife? Has it felt like in some way that he is still married to her?

References:
Ron Deal & Laura Petherbridge, The Smart Stepmom (Bloomington; MN; Bethany House, 2009)

10 comments:

  1. I really appreciate you sharing this. As someone who gained a step-mom late in life, I have come to love this woman as another mother, but in reading this I truly have to say that I did not consider everything that you shared and I have a deeper appreciation for my own step-mom now! Thanks!

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  2. Wow. Thank you for sharing. I'm blessed to have never been in this situation, but I really appreciate your point of view.

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  3. I don't know how you do that. I have a friend in a semi-similar situation and I just don't think I could deal with the extra relationship baggage with the ex. It sounds like there is a lot of enabling going on. Dave Ramsey recommends a really good book called Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud that might help.

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    1. Thank you for the book recommendation I will add it to my book list to read.

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  4. So sorry you had to go through all this. It's so hard being remarried. I would have such a hard time dealing with her butting into your business.

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  5. Stories like this make me so glad that when my parents divorced my mom was very careful about never badmouthing our father. We learned all on our own how terrible he was, but it never came from our mom. And she made sure that her family was under the same gag rule. She maintained a great relationship with my dad's extended family, to the point that my dad's parents came to her wedding to my step-father. It was a great example for me of how those complicated family relations could be after a divorce. In my own divorce we didn't have kids, so that was never an aspect, but I still tried very hard to stay positive and never badmouth my ex.

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    1. That's great that your Mother took the high road and never spoke bad about your Father. Wish all patents from divorces would do that with their children. I know my and husband and I only speak good things about their Mother in front of them or we don't say anything at all. Thanks for sharing information about your life.

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  6. It's so hard going through this. It adds even more pressure to a marriage. But, I know your strong and your marriage can withstand the pressure. I know how much you love those kids. Hugs!

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  7. fortunately never had to deal with this situation. Good luck with your struggles sorry to hear its been a tough road in life for you lately.

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  8. I've never been in this situation either, but I don't know how you handle that! I would go crazy! It's great you have the blog as an outlet for support and to vent!

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