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ex wife - need some perspective

(25 Posts)
mummyisamilkmachine Fri 13-Sep-13 11:33:06

Hi I have name-changed for this but some of you may recognise me but please don't out me. My DH has an ex wife and a son with her. I get on well with the boy, but ever since DH and I got together the ex wife has made things difficult for DH. Contact arrangements, have to be on her terms. She constantly blames DH for everything. Earlier this year she tried to blackmail him for money using contact as a weapon.

Their marriage ended because the ex had an affair and DH found out and left her, she has recently married this man and relocated her life to live with him. When DH and I went to collect last few belongings from their garage when she sold the FMH, she made a point of giving him all her old love letters, I think she hoped it would get to me. DH just left them behind without even looking at them.

During the course of the settlement (it took a long time), DH and I started dating and we got married and had our first child. Meanwhile the ex was trying to deny she was in a relationship with her now husband. Now that DH has moved on and settled down with me he says she has gotten worse. Last year their financial settlement went to court and she lost out, basically DH got what he had proposed as judge said it was fair. My finances were examined for the settlement also, and she knows how much I am worth so to speak. She knows more about me financially than anyone apart from my DH and bank, and I hate it. She was happy when DH was sofa-surfing and begging for contact with his son, and trying to screw him for every penny.

We had DC2 2 weeks ago, he was slightly premature and needed hospital treatment, and she knew all this. Yet the ex played another game with contact, keeps sending bitchy emails and texts when DH tries to reasonably discuss future arrangements. We are home now and I am not looking forward to the next contact weekend, no idea when it will be.

She is so full of venom towards DH. It's like she gets a kick out of messing us around. I feel like she is a thorn in our marriage, who dictates when we can go on holiday (so we can take stepson), which weekends are ours etc at the last minute. She is getting worse as time wears on, and I thought time would have healed things for her.

I just want to understand why she is behaving like this she has been with her now husband for nearly 5 years, why can't she stop hating my DH? And why does she hate him/us? If I knew the answers I feel like I would be able to disengage a bit better, and perhaps anticipate what might cause her to flare up again. Basically I know she is not going to stop existing, but DH and I need to cope with her behaviour better for the sake of our own marriage, which is otherwise very good. At one point in time I hoped that we could have become more amicable for sake of the children, but it doesn't look like she is interested in this. Although we are both willing to forget all the crap that's gone before if we can achieve this.

Does anyone have any advice on how to best handle someone like this? DH is ignoring all the venom and trying to just focus on his son, and keeping what he says about him. I have no direct contact with the ex-wife, although she did want to meet me not long after the settlement, but I refused as she had just cost us an arm and a leg in legal fees, had my finances picked apart, called all sorts in emails, and I was heavily pregnant with DC1.

cestlavielife Fri 13-Sep-13 11:38:51

you can never get insisde someone else's head and it isnt worth trying.

keep your distance, dont engage.

focus on your baby.

dont read her emails/texts.

Llareggub Fri 13-Sep-13 11:39:27

All you can really change is your feelings and behaviour towards her. You'll feel a lot better if you and your DH agree a position with regard to her and stick to it. Ever heard the saying "accept the things you cannot change?"

You'll waste a lot of time discussing her unless you do this.

Wellwobbly Fri 13-Sep-13 11:41:09

You can't make sense of crazy.

She is furious that he has found happiness, and that she doesn't feature any more.

Follow your H's sensible example. Don't give her head space.

Ezio Fri 13-Sep-13 11:59:23

Its a case of control,

Im having an affair for the thrill, DH found out and left, how dare he ruin our family and my fun, no more thrill, but thats ok, he probably be miserable without me, beg me to take him back, oh no whos this, its mummy, what exDH is happy, well thats not fair.

Ezio Fri 13-Sep-13 12:00:32

Point is, some people just cant bare that others make them happy, when they didnt even wanna try too.

FunnyRunner Fri 13-Sep-13 12:02:13

I have a lot of sympathy for you OP. An ex of mine was the equivalent of your DH in this. She was living with another man but seemed to get a kick out of inflicting misery on her ex-H (my then BF). He sucked it all up for the sake of contact with his son. His strategy was: deal with it until DS is old enough to express his wish for contact in the clearest terms (his DS at the time was only 3).

I haven't seen him in a long time but although it meant we parted company (not just because of this but it didn't help) he was probably right to play the long game. His ex-wife - a highly respected professional in her field - was a head case, plain and simple. She was controlling to the point of having a personality disorder and her whole family enabled her behaviour. He knew that she would stop him having any relationship with his son just for the hell of it - to be the 'winner'. So, he played along. I'd say now the little boy is probably 13 or so and will have built a relationship with his father. His father has never had another significant relationship but that is a choice he was willing to make.

Anyway, my point is: play the long game. Ignore, refuse to engage. How old is your DSS? Respect your DH for standing by his son and also having the courage to make a new life with you (my ex didn't). In a few years you may well find that his son will see his mother for what she is and call her on it. He will be in a position to see his father without her consent.

Try and treat her like a stinging fly - irritating and persistent, but a nuisance. She can only make you as miserable as you let her. Good luck x

Charbon Fri 13-Sep-13 12:47:00

The best way of dealing with this is for your husband to get residence sorted out legally. Why wasn't this done at the time of the divorce?

mummyisamilkmachine Fri 13-Sep-13 12:59:52

DSS is 11, and I do respect DH. He never backs down to her silly demands, but at same time is fair when needed, I.e. If she needs some money towards a school trip. Maintaining contact with Dss is important to us, for the kids.

mummyisamilkmachine Fri 13-Sep-13 13:02:39

It has only become an issue post settlement. She used to be reasonable. Dh has tried via a solicitor to get a formal agreement. Next step is court and that's expensive and we can't afford it rught now.

Charbon Fri 13-Sep-13 13:54:47

You say he's tried to get a formal agreement with a solicitor. What was the outcome of that?

Has he actually scoped how expensive it would be to obtain a residence order?

mummyisamilkmachine Fri 13-Sep-13 14:02:40

Agreement negotiated when we knew they were moving, it worked fine for a bit. Then this summer came and she changed her holiday dates at last minute and decided she wasn't going to do anymore driving.

We would need to use a solicitor, DH works FT and we have 2 little ones. I am on mat leave and our household income is about to halve until I go back to work.

something2say Fri 13-Sep-13 14:12:20

Where there is a formal child contact order, don't deviate from it and dont expect her to do you any favours - you may see this as her dictating when you can go on holiday, and that may be how it seems. But don't give an inch and don't expect an inch, and avoid / report. x

Charbon Fri 13-Sep-13 14:20:56

Sorry I'm not clear at all. Was the agreement negotiated, a formal residence order or not? If he went to see a solicitor to get it, I'm assuming it is and is therefore legally enforceable. Whether she helps him to see his son by driving is irrelevant. He should assume that he will be doing anything he can to facilitate his son's contact with him, even if that means doing all the driving.

If he hasn't got a formal residence order and didn't pursue action with a solicitor, I think he needs to get a true idea of costs instead of assuming he can't afford it. This is going to sound really harsh and it's not meant to, but from his son's perspective he might conclude that his father wouldn't spend money formalising his rights but was happy to have two further children. Formal residence orders aren't really a luxury in this situation when parental relationships are fractious and have broken down.

somersethouse Fri 13-Sep-13 14:23:05

She sounds utterly dreadful.

Congratulations on your baby OP.
I know you say you can't afford it, but, if I were you I would spend any money I possibly could on a lawyer and having it all down in writing to prevent her from trying to ruin you life.

mummyisamilkmachine Fri 13-Sep-13 16:12:10

It was negotiated via solicitor. It is not legally binding like a court order. Its the first step before you try mediation, then you have to pursue that option. The courts want to see you try all reasonable steps first, better for everyone. That's the legal advice DH has.

DH has said to her we must try mediation she is refusing. DH may push for that via solicitor. Solicitor advises you must still arrange mediation even if she doesn't attend (evidence for court).

I don't know what the costs are for court action, but we have limited funds its not something we can pursue in next six months or so. Last time they went to court legal fees went well over the 10k mark.

I understand from others that even if this got to court, an order was drawn up, she could still go against it and DH would have to take her to court again. They hardly going to send her to prison.

Also when DH and his ex were in court last time it upset DSS as the ex told her son DH was trying to make them homeless. He wasn't btw she just didn't want DH to have a charge.

We don't have a crystal ball we thought things would improve with time now settlement is over. I can't send DC2 back he's here now and our finances are what they are.

Its not just the drving, which also costs a lot in fuel, its the last minute change in weekends and school hols contact. That's what annoys me most. She doesn't care, she will just do what she likes and not inform DH now until last minute or on the day. This is why I feel like she is affecting our marriage, but if we don't agree we don't see DSS. Its all timed to coincide with birth of DC2 its like she's trying to make this a battle between which 'mum/child' will DH jump through hoops the most for. I don't want us to get sucked into her game but we have to. She is a former legal sec and self reps and probably enjoys all the legal drama and knows how to draw things out to create more correspondence/cost for us.

Charbon Fri 13-Sep-13 16:22:07

How old is the son?

Distrustinggirlnow Fri 13-Sep-13 16:30:35

On OP she sounds a nightmare and a bit like she doesn't want him, but doesn't want anyone else to have him either. blush

In time your DSS will see her for what she is, a scheming, manipulating so and so. For now you have to keep plodding on and suck it up I think. I'm sorry it sounds like she is causing as much disruption as she can for you. Like you say, almost making it a competition between your two families.

I wonder what would happen if you said no one time, that you couldn't accommodate her change of plans. Use DSS as a weapon I expect. hmm

Karma will prevail in the long term, she always does!

TalkativeJim Fri 13-Sep-13 16:32:28

If I were your DH, I'd tell her pleasantly that every instance of blocking, refusing to communicate, changing plans last minute, and especially instances of her upsetting their son by telling him inappropriate and/or untrue things relating to their coparenting was being recorded. That he would hope for her to be reasonable, attend mediation, and stop messing their son around by making contact and communication difficult. However, if she couldn't do that, he'd ultimately be very happy to go to court - and when he got there, it would be to go for residency.

mummyisamilkmachine Fri 13-Sep-13 16:53:35

DSS is 11, loves both his mum and dad. I don't think he would want to live with us. But I wouldn't stop him, I would welcome him.

I believe DH will do as you suggest talkativejim, just not right now. He has a file of all the emails, letters etc.

I just wondered niavely if there was something I was missing that could explain her behaviour. Something we could do to change things. But it looks impossible.

Honestly we never had this issue when DC1 was born. Never thought we'd end up going backwards.

Thanks everyone, and I'm not going to waste anymore time trying to understand her. It is driving me mad.

Bogeyface Fri 13-Sep-13 17:24:23

I think it comes down to the fact that she had never planned to have her marriage to your H end.

He found out about the affair and kicked her out, she didnt leave by choice and I wonder if she begged him to try again. So, she married her OM because your H wouldnt have her.

She hates him for leaving her and you for making him happy.

Wellwobbly Fri 13-Sep-13 17:34:29

Reallly good incisive points Charbon [admiring]

Charbon Fri 13-Sep-13 17:42:15

There might be all sorts of hidden things that cause her to behave this way but assuming your husband pays a proportionately fair amount of money for his son's upbringing and isn't playing the 'good cop' parent when he sees him, usually this sort of behaviour can be traced back to unhappiness of some sort. It's possible her new relationship isn't a bed of roses on the greener grass, for example.

I suppose the relationship between them has gone beyond the point of your husband asking his ex to meet up so that they can try to come to a new agreement? I wonder whether that might be worth a try before positions become too entrenched?

If that doesn't work, it will be a case of your husband trying to get enough money together to get a residence order. Meanwhile, as his son is 11 I'm presuming he can keep in touch a bit more independently (on a mobile for example) and know straight from his dad that he wants to spend time with him. In a year or so, he will be getting even more independence and assuming you don't live too far away, might even be able to meet up with his dad under his own steam.

I think it's very important that your husband reinforces to his son that he is loved and that theirs will always be a special relationship regardless of the new members in the family. Sometimes children from a failed marriage can feel pushed out when a parent goes on to have a new family and if this is being reinforced by an unhelpful dialogue from the other parent, it can take on a life of its own.

Ultimately, you cannot change his ex-wife's behaviour and although it would be helpful to know why this is happening, you can only control what you do and how you respond to it.

nkf Fri 13-Sep-13 17:43:27

You need to detach emotionally and get a court order to ensure regular contact. It is not on to.mess with a child's right to maintain a relationship with a good fathr. It doesn't matter why she does it.

balia Fri 13-Sep-13 19:27:51

I imagine she does it because she feels she can. That she can suit herself and get a little kick out of being petty and nasty - some people are just like that.

I think your DH is in denial about the effect this might be having on his DS. Contact with an NRP should be consistent, not cancelled on a whim. You're an adult, you can find ways to cope with not knowing when you might see him again - he is a child.

DH needs to get his finger out and sort it as far as he can. Forget asking her if she will mediate; get an appointment booked and attend the first session. This is useful anyway to get clear what he wants to achieve. They will contact the ex and ask her to attend.

Join these people for fantastic advice, particularly on representing yourself in court - it doesn't have to cost £1000's. Keep a really thorough diary of all contacts denied/changed.

Then download a C100 off the net and get it filled in and lodged with court (assuming she refuses mediation). However, I very much doubt you will get residence, from what you've posted. It would be more realistic to go for joint residence (this doesn't mean 50/50 care necessarily) with a defined contact order.

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