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Dealing with a pain in the arse ex wife

(30 Posts)
greenman99 Wed 20-Sep-17 13:30:19

My ex-wife and I separated 3 years ago, divorced for almost 2 years. We have 3 children together aged 12, 10 and 6. She was cheating on me with a work colleague. Just a month after separating she got pregnant and moved in with the man. She has had another baby just a couple of months. Our children spend half the time with me in the long-time family home and half the time with her (& partner & half siblings) in her house nearby.

Generally the kids are happy and seem to have dealt well with all that has happened over the last few years but sometimes I find it very difficult to deal with my ex wife.

Since we separated we have been able to raise our children in the way we think is best. I try to make sure they eat healthily, get outdoors, participate in school clubs, stay off phones & tablets as much as possible etc. Whereas my ex –wife doesn’t do these things because she doesn’t view them as important.

I’ve discussed it many times with her but she just doesn’t care about our children being healthy. So I don’t bother even trying with her now. I’m OK with that but I have found that getting the kids to eat new and healthy food just makes them think of me as the ‘bad guy’ making them eat things they don’t want to try (at first!) and encouraging them to participate in activities which they’ll enjoy is only they tried it! I’m hanging onto the belief that they’ll realise I did the right thing when they hit 25 

At times my daughter has tantrums – stamping her feet, rolling around, wailing etc. Like a toddler rather than a 10 year old. They always happen when she’s been reprimanded for something but she always turns them into her wanting her mother. She mostly then rings her mother and cries down the phone saying she wants her and I don’t understand her etc.

This came to a head earlier in the year and my ex-wife said that she thought our daughter should spend more time with her. She’d already discussed it with our daughter and sons and they were OK with it. Apart from being hugely pi55ed off with for talking to our kids about it first I said that I disagreed with the idea. My point was that whilst our daughter might be in her house more she wouldn’t actually spend any more quality time with her as she has a toddler and a baby to look after and perhaps pour daughter just missed spending quality time with her. My ex-wife of course dismissed this and said the only solution is for our children to spend more time at her house.

My ex-wife has developed a narrative that always seems to paint me a the bad guy and her the saint. I’ve never told our children why we really separated. Her version is that we just argued too much! She tells our children that I earn more than her and her partner so can buy more stuff! She says (to our children) it upsets her that I’m not friendly to her partner. And that some of our mutual friends are no longer ‘nice’ to her. She talks to the kids about things before we have agreed on it then presents it as a fait accompli – “I talked to the children and they were horrified that they might not continue with the current arrangements at Christmas time”.

How do I deal this without getting supremely frustrated by it all. I don’t want to constantly have this conflict in my life.


OP’s posts: |
Smartiepants87 Wed 20-Sep-17 13:39:31

Oh course it's all your ex wife fault hmm tbh it's clear you seem to put a lot of blame on your ex but in your posts you come across extremely over bearing especially with your 10 year old. It sounds like they are desperate to spend more time with their dm and 50/50 isn't working for them sometimes they need a stablity, you sound bitter over your ex's behaviour and the fact she's had another child to her dp.

greenman99 Wed 20-Sep-17 13:50:16

Thanks. I think!

I'm not bitter but I do blame her because it was her fault!

Perhaps the point I didn't get across very well is that it was only my daughter who wanted to spend more time with her mother (not my 2 sons). But even when she is with her she is being generally looked after by grandparents, or in her room on her tablet, because her mother is looking after a baby and toddler.

Do you think I should just let my children eat crap, sit indoors rather than do what's right for them rather than what's best for them?

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greenman99 Wed 20-Sep-17 13:52:05

Sorry should what's EASY rather than do what's right for them.

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LadyLovelace Wed 20-Sep-17 13:54:26

I think that's a bit harsh, smartiepants.
The op has posted for support and actually sounds quite reasonable to me. He is correct that they need to be on the same page as much as possible in terms of discipline and sanctions; whatever that page may be. He's also correct in his assertion that his ex should be discussing things with him first before talking to the children about them. And she has no business telling them that their Dad earns so much more (unless he's not paying his way) or that he should be nicer to the man who played a part in breaking up his marriage. hmm

Op I get where you're coming from. Of course your DD is going to throw a strop if she is disciplined at yours and not st her mums. She's a preteen and thus needs careful handling. However, she undoubtedly is feeling as though she isn't getting enough attention from her mum. This is just a fact of life when there's younger siblings so her mum isn't to blame here but maybe you could suggest she has a few days away with her mum or does something nice just the two of them. You really need to try and avoid getting into a situation of you just seeing the boys and not your DD as ironically, despite her initiating this, she will end up feeling as though you have abandoned and rejected her. Good luck

I realise I've given no real advice but I'd suggest some form of mediation if possible.

Starlight2345 Wed 20-Sep-17 14:08:37

I have a 10 year old boy so one thing I would say is you may need to go in from a different angle.

I would maybe sit down with all your children and draw up a list of reasonable rules, you may well need to negotiate a little more with 10 year old..She is coming to puberty and starting to get her own ideas.

Reasonable tablet use.

I think it is common in split families to want to go and live with other parent when not getting there own way. My DS despite been a LP doesn't see his dad so he is going to run away ...Its a I don't like the situation.

Can I also suggest you do some stuff with her that makes he understand she is growing up.

I am not sure you will be able to do much her side. I think you need to come in making it work from your side.

greenman99 Wed 20-Sep-17 14:12:34

Thanks for your response LadyLovelace

I think it would be great for my daughter and her mother to do something together just the two the two of them but unfortunately I can't see it happening anytime soon. She has a 2 year old and 2 month old baby!

And would also mean that my ex-wife would have to accept that she doesn't spend enough quality time with her which I doubt she would.

I have considered just letting my daughter spend an extra night here or there with her mother but I don't think that will really address the issue. Both my daughter and youngest son still wish we all lived together. Even now. Which is hard to hear. It's sad for them.

OP’s posts: |
greenman99 Wed 20-Sep-17 14:18:19

starlight Thank you.

We have the rules thing which they helped draw up. Star charts etc. and it sort of works!

I have started to do activities with each child separately - pizza, cinema, shopping etc. Which I think they appreciate. And would be a good thing anyway.

I am giving them more responsibility. Walking to school. Allowances etc. Even dish washing which I'll admit is more beneficial to me really!

Perhaps my daughter would be like this anyway but can now fall back onto me and her mother not being together anymore.

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Smartiepants87 Wed 20-Sep-17 14:20:31

Your dd isn't reacting to your behaviour it comes across as extremely over bearing. My 9 year old is currently into mind craft. I'm also a capable parent even with a baby and a 4 year old. The dc you have are a lot more independent just give them a balanced meal but don't make a big deal out of it. I do think your feelings on their dm are giving you an unbalanced view on your dc.

Smartiepants87 Wed 20-Sep-17 14:24:29

You sound just like my ex when I had my dd kept telling my DS I should be taking him out all the time for treats out. It was very easy being a Disney dad but we are a family unit and treats aren't a given but we do stuff now and again. I certainly didn't go out as a child all the time and my parents were together. It's amazing now as ex has had a baby with his DW and remembers what's it's like, he now doesn't go out with DS on there weekly treats anymore because it costs more and attention is shared rightly so.

greenman99 Wed 20-Sep-17 14:24:51

I don't understand the minecraft comment?! My 12 year old is into Minecraft. And......

What is unbalanced about my view on my daughter? Is she just being a standard 10 year girl then?

OP’s posts: |
Oly5 Wed 20-Sep-17 14:27:22

It aoubds like your daughter is throwing a strip when disciplined by you... The answer is not to say she should stay with her mother more.
Take our daughter out on her own, tell her you love her dearly and that you want a good relationship but that she has to respect your rules.
Also, love bomb her.. With cinema, treats, lots of quality time with her.
I don't think you can control what your ex wife does on her turf so just let that go. Every time she presents things as a fait accompli, just tell the kids you'll discuss it with them separately.
Love your kids, continue to do fun things wth them and they will love you for it.

greenman99 Wed 20-Sep-17 14:27:23

I am not a Disney Dad. whatever that is?!

I'm the one trying to feed them healthy food and make sure they go for walk in a wood!

I think you're projecting your issues with your ex partner onto me.

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Oly5 Wed 20-Sep-17 14:28:04

Strop not strip! Sorry for typos

Bluntness100 Wed 20-Sep-17 14:28:09

I try to make sure they eat healthily,....I've discussed it many times with her but she just doesn’t care about our children being healthy

Do you think I should just let my children eat crap, sit indoors rather than do what's right for them rather than what's best for them

My ex-wife has developed a narrative that always seems to paint me a the bad guy and her the saint

well, that's definitely your narrative, that she's the bad guy and you're the saint, I'm unsure if it's hers as she's not posting.

Let up, you sound controlling and bitter. Telling the kids you argued too much is fine, what do you want her to to tell them?

Smartiepants87 Wed 20-Sep-17 14:31:18

The minecraft comment is in relation to the devices. My 9 year old loves it and is the latest thing he enjoys a lot of dc have tablets the same as playstations so their behaviour is no different to most dc, it's how you handle it on your time not what goes on when they are with their dm. It sounds like she wants to spend more time at her mothers house and 50/50 isn't working for her, sometimes it's having a base where your most comfortable at. You are using your ex's new dc as excuse that she isn't spending adequate time with her and that's unfair you should be positive about her relationship with her mother and siblings. You don't witness her dm interaction with your dd. Spending time with a child doesn't require spending money.

Smartiepants87 Wed 20-Sep-17 14:37:34

💯 agree with bluntness and glad someone else has picked up on the same thing. I'm not projecting my issues from ex but simply given another point of view from the other side. It's easy to blame the other parent and it's totally uncalled for to blame her new dc for her" not having one to one time with he dd" there's many dc who have siblings and managed just fine having a loving relationship with their dm. My ex also cheated on me and left me however I do not allow bitterness to affect the relationship my DS has with his father and I'm only positive about his new sibling. There is no issues simply we have gotten on with our lives, had our own families who our DS is equally apart of both.

GotToGetMyFingerOut Wed 20-Sep-17 14:41:06

Op you will always get women on here making out you are in the wrong and your ex is a saint and you are bitter. Sadly it's just the way it is on number.

Having been the children in your situation and being emotionally manipulated by my mum. I'd continue with the current arrangements. Our parents were similar to yours, my dad made us healthy balanced food, took us out, spent quality time with us individually. My mum tried to get us all to stop going as much (more maintenance for her then 😉) he was stricter. We had all moved in with him by the time we were sixteen.

Your daughters just got use to being lazy, doing what she wants and her mum probably let's her eat and do what she wants cause it's an easier life than fighting it when you also have two little kids as well. Continue to enforce the rules, children need them and they need to be out exercising instead of stuck on tablets all the time.

TheRealBiscuitAddict Wed 20-Sep-17 14:48:21

I think the reality here is that because you feel bitter towards your ex for leaving you for someone else you (perhaps even subconsciously) want your children to feel the same. They won't. She's their mum, and a bad wife does not a bad mother make.

While it's understandable that you're bitter towards your ex and towards her partner, the fact here is that they're now together, he is the father of your children's siblings, and regardless of how you feel about him and her the children's relationship with them is independent of your own thoughts and feelings.

It may be that the 50/50 relationship just isn't working for your ten year old. she's about to hit puberty and likely wants to spend more time with her mum. It's also entirely possible that she feels resentful of the fact that she has siblings who live with her mum full time while she does not, and that wanting to spend more time there is indicative of that.

What you need to do here is pick your battles. If the ex is taking the kids to McDonalds every night then while you might be put out about that there's little you can do, but your feelings are understandable. However if she gives them ready meals instead that's obviously the way things currently are in her household, and as long as the kids are fed no-one is in danger.

However you do both need to reach agreement on certain parenting issues i.e. Discussing things with each other before selling them to the kids as a done deal. She needs to learn to not tell the kids how it is without discussing it with you first and slagging each other off is a no-no at all costs. But conversely you need to be civil to her partner, through gritted teeth if you have to, but clearly not being so is having an impact on your DD and at this point you need to do what is best for her.

Twistmeandturnme Wed 20-Sep-17 14:50:12

In my experience as Mum/Stepmum of five: your daughter is pushing you because it's part of her developmental process to push. The fact that she isn't pushing her Mum is actually the abnormality here. Your DD is sure of you. Whether or not she'll acknowledge it consciously she's sure of you. You see her worst as well as her best.
She isn't sure of her Mum, hence craving her attention.

Over the years my DCs who live with DH and I have shown us some horrid behaviour while being all sweetness and light with their father. Likewise for a long time DH's DCs were on their best behaviour until they got to know me better, while giving their Mum a hard time on occasion.

It sounds like it's all going as well as can be expected OP. Don't let your anger at your exW show through in your dealings with the DCs. Sadly you can't moderate her behaviour, but you can lessen its impact.

Allthebestnamesareused Wed 20-Sep-17 14:56:45

Personally I don't think the Op sounds overbearing at all. I think he sounds like he is trying to be a good parent.

I think the problem is when there are split households it is very difficult to live the same way as another household that you are not part of.

My DH and I have both been married before and have a his, mine and ours blend of 3 kids.

In our house we have just gone by our house our rules and unfortunately have to live with that at the other parents' homes they may be different rules and standards.

Initially there is some push back from the kids trying to play you off against the other parent. However it didn't last long when they saw the no electronics upstairs, or put away an hour before bedtime, or staying sat at the table until we'd all finished would be adhered to.

Carry on being the parent in your relationship with your daughter. reinforce that you love her but that there are house rules and that is how it goes.

Unfortunately you can't impose your rules in your ex's household and that is what you have to come to terms with.

CousinKrispy Fri 22-Sep-17 09:19:50

Sounds like you are doing good things by trying to get your kids to eat healthy foods and walk in the woods rather than spend all their time watching telly. And it sounds perfectly normal for kids to moan about that, but someday they will appreciate it or at least will have reaped the benefits of it, and they will be grown and you won't have to listen to them moan about it anymore.

So maybe just accept that the moaning is normal (as is a certain amount of "I want to be with the other parent!") and rise above it. Don't blame your ex-wife for it, it's possibly nothing to do with her.

Of course she is going to be pressed for quality time to spend with the other kids while she has a baby and a toddler, but not sure what you are proposing as an alternative--your kids still deserve a relationship with her, even if she is currently distracted and time-poor and can't give them as much attention as they would like.

I guess what I'm saying is there's no point in being bitter about either of these things, they are just the realities of life.

If she is pressuring you for different arrangements then maybe mediation could help the two of you discuss it? Or just stick with the current arrangements but try to let go of worrying so much about what your ex is saying about you, what she's feeding them, how much attention she's giving them and keep being the best loving, responsible dad you can be.

greenman99 Fri 22-Sep-17 13:51:47

Thanks for all your responses.

smartieblunt you clearly view me as bitter and controlling. I don't think I am. And to clarify - I do not speak badly of my children's step siblings nor their step dad or mother. But I am accurate in saying that having a 2 year old and a 2 month baby means that my ex-wife has very little time to dedicate to our daughter at a time when she needs it most.

And I have made a point of not telling them what really led to separation and divorce (her cheating not arguing) because I realise that I'd only be doing it to make me feel better.


Thanks your for advice and thoughts. It's useful to hear from those of you who have been in this situation. You've all given me something to take away and think about.

I do believe I am taking the right approach to raising my children. I accept that what happens with their mother is nothing to do with me.

therealbiscuitaddict I agree we need to reach a position where we agree on things before talking to the kids about it. And the thing is I am civil to both ex-wife and her new partner but sometimes I really don't feel like getting beyond the bare minimum required. I don't want to be their friend and I won't forgive what they did but I'm not a dickhead.

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Userwhocouldntthinkofagoodname Fri 22-Sep-17 16:11:34

Have known people in same situation. You are doing the best for your children & your ex doesn't give a crap, its not uncommon to have such different views on raising children.

Because you dont agree there is no point talking to your ex about anything. IME - the problem is the 50:50 split residence which means split rules and split everything. Your children need stability, dont make contact different for your DD than your sons or the splits will get bigger.

In your position I would try and get arrangements changed so you have them at their home Mon-Fri and they visit your ex at the weekend. Your rules/routines during school time and ex's lack of rules at weekend time. And just ignore your ex wife as much as possible, maybe just communicate via email so you have a record of her unreasonable actions.

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 22-Sep-17 19:21:32

It is not uncommon for children to release all their frustration and upset with the parent they feel is the safe consistent one, because they know where they stand with you.
Having owned a 10 year old DD who suffered a lot of distress due to our divorce I saw this. She acted like a toddler and physically assaulted me on several occasions. I remained consistent the behaviour was not acceptable, but I understood why she was upset and was more than happy to listen if she wanted to talk in a calm way. I did arrange counselling for her a school and through the counsellor she was able to voice her true feelings.
We now have contact arrangements that she is happy with and we no longer have the violent out bursts.

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