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Help me explain to DP why I am foaming about this

(102 Posts)
wonkylampshade Fri 18-Dec-15 10:37:57

He arrived home with main presents for my DSC which his ex presumed to buy on our behalf, for us to give them when they arrive on Boxing Day. No discussion, no sign off. She did this last year as well, and it caused friction then too. This year I lost it. They are going back come hell or high water. She can include them in her own pile of presents for them! I have already bought and wrapped the presents we are giving them, as I had also done last year.

Background is that she is a seriously controlling, temperamental bully, who has walked all over DP since the DSC were tiny, and taken huge advantage of him financially. He actually had an awful breakdown a few years ago after years of persistent bullying phone calls - that's more or less stopped but she still hassles him by text sometimes. He doesn't like confrontation. I'm so bloody hurt and angry that she is now forcing herself onto our family Christmas. And I feel completely let down that he took them, rather than returning them and firmly saying "thanks for the thought, but we will choose what we're buying them for Christmas" (we are expected to pay her for these presents, of course). At this point in time I don't care if we have to return the toys to her, and then go to the shop and buy exactly the same things - it is that important to me that she doesn't presume to do this to us.

Am I being completely unreasonable in feeling this is totally intrusive given the history here, and to feel so let down by DP's failure to just stand up to her for once? Rightly or wrongly, it's just made me feel completely irrelevant in the whole scenario (yet again). We've ended up at loggerheads on our youngest's first birthday because of this.

His reaction is that he'll return them and tell her not to do it again, purely because I am so angry - I am now upset because he doesn't seem to 'get' that the significance of this feels much larger to me than it might superficially seem. I don't feel we have a united front about this and that really bothers me.

CharlotteCollins Fri 18-Dec-15 11:01:42

YANBU that this is intrusive, but just protect your boundaries: put the presents in the shed and ignore them. Let her know you don't need them and she can collect them before such and such a date.

But why are you now buying the presents and not your DP? Is he that passive that he wasn't even involved?

blindsider Fri 18-Dec-15 11:06:35

Have I got this right?

Your new husband gets given what you are going to give his kids and your step children for Christmas by his ex wife and then you are expected to pay for it all??

Your husband sounds a complete sap if he puts up with this.

QuiteLikely5 Fri 18-Dec-15 11:10:11

So you have to pay her for these presents? I certainly wouldn't be handing over any cash, a polite text should get the point across:

Hi xxxx

Please don't send anymore presents to us as we like to choose our own for the dc. We will return the gifts to you that you sent over, also we won't be paying you for them given we have bought our own.

Many thanks

If she decides that she won't let you return them to her, quite simply do not pay her. She will soon be annoyed that she didn't get her money and probably won't do this next year.

wonkylampshade Fri 18-Dec-15 11:13:06

Not all the presents - the main present for each of my dsc. We're not married.

I normally make arrangements for the the majority of the kids gifts as its a busy time of year for him - and actually I like doing it too. He usually handles their 'main' one himself.

wonkylampshade Fri 18-Dec-15 11:15:37

It's honestly annoyed me so much! How dare she stomp all over Christmas - and I'm really sad he didn't say no and mean no. He said no and then gave in to avoid a scene. Which I didn't work as now we have fallen out spectacularly about it.

Zampa Fri 18-Dec-15 11:18:47

YANBU and I can sympathise with you wholeheartedly. We've been criticised by DP's ex for not contributing to joint presents and if anything we buy them goes back to her house she either bins it or sends it back to ours with the children the next time we see them.

Your DP needs to stand up to her but please don't let this come between you. Arguing hurts you both more than it hurts her. Agree with PPs about not paying her if she won't take the gifts back.

Thistledew Fri 18-Dec-15 11:24:10

Just send her a message saying:

"Thanks for sending over some additional presents, however we have already bought gifts for DSC so don't need these to come from us. Would you like me to wrap them and label them from you, or do you want to take them back for a refund?"

You can put firm boundaries in place without letting it escalate into a massive drama.

ElBurroSinNombre Fri 18-Dec-15 11:24:37

Maintain boundaries at all times when dealing with controlling people. And you are not out of order in being upset - it must be intolerable.
If your husband is only taking them back to ex because you want that then I feel that this may be a problem. You cannot stand up to his ex wife on his behalf - he will have to do that for himself. He is now stuck between two women who are both telling him what to do. I would suggest talking to him and finding out what is the best strategy to deal with this. He may be worried about having access to his kids if he does not appease his ex.

LeaLeander Fri 18-Dec-15 11:25:29

Poor guy is certainly caught in the middle.

And ex wins either way as her gifts are controlling the atmosphere at your home.

Goingtobeawesome Fri 18-Dec-15 11:27:51

He's given in to a bully to avoid a tantrum. When you say that to him it might actually have an affect.


Goingtobeawesome Fri 18-Dec-15 11:28:07

Or effect. I'm not sure which one.

Yanbu Thistledew has an appropriate response. Deescalate the situation whilst maintaining your boundaries.

Penfold007 Fri 18-Dec-15 11:30:09

OP how do you know he didn't ask her to get them to save him the bother?

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Fri 18-Dec-15 11:32:17

Wow, talk about controlling

UsernameIncorrect Fri 18-Dec-15 11:33:19

I don't see how it has anything to do with you. His ex buys the gifts she knows the kids want/need, and they split the cost. Sounds fair enough to me.

BlueSmarties76 Fri 18-Dec-15 11:40:33

I don't understand why your OH has this sort of relationship with his ex, such that she thinks it's appropriate? I think he should cease all contact with her immediately as this sounds very unhealthy.

Also, she needs a 'what the hell do you think you're doing' letter.

And I think your DH needs to be told you cannot have a woman like this impacting on your family life.

Quills Fri 18-Dec-15 11:43:19

Username, that's exactly the point - it doesn't have anything to do with the OP! Ex is cutting her out of it all entirely, and I suspect deliberately.


SoupDragon Fri 18-Dec-15 11:46:40

How has she "stomped all over Christmas"? Just label them as being from their mother and send the gifts back with the children when they go home.

Don't let her wind you up.

wonkylampshade Fri 18-Dec-15 11:47:00

Username these are not joint gifts- they are OUR gifts for my dsc. Which she shouldn't have any role in choosing or buying. We wouldn't be sharing the cost either.

FredaMayor Fri 18-Dec-15 11:48:36

Bullies only listen when you stand up to them. There are no exceptions.

wonkylampshade Fri 18-Dec-15 11:52:12

This is what I feel and to be honest I think he has to draw a massive line right now. Not just because I want him to though.

ElBurroSinNombre Fri 18-Dec-15 11:56:13


Speaking as someone who has separated from a controlling woman, you cannot just cease all contact when there are children involved. I would have done that years ago if I could but I have to remain in contact because of my kids. My ex uses this and like the H in this scenario, I regularly receive nasty and abusive communications from her. The H in this case is probably petrified that he will lose access to his children if he does not appease the Ex - so it may not be a case of him not wanting to stand up to her.
I have found the best strategy is not to react and don't let it affect you. Take the presents but don't pay for them, don't explain why to the ex wife, just don't pay. Give the kids your own presents, explain to them what is from whom and send the presents back to the exes house after amas.

Optimist1 Fri 18-Dec-15 12:05:55

Sounds to me as though she's got some sort of hierarchy going on in her head where OP's status is significantly lower than hers, so she either doesn't consider OP to be a permanent fixture in her children's lives or is deliberately flaunting her perceived higher status to irritate OP. Either way, it's shit.

Your DP discovered how you felt about this last year, wonky, so he really should have got it right this year. Sadly, if you let it pass this year it will have already become a "tradition" that she'll continue for years to come. You're right that he should return the gifts, refuse to pay for them and tell her unequivocally that you and he take care of your presents to them. (Perhaps you could point out to him that one uncomfortable conversation with his ex now will avoid annual grief from you for ever and ever?)

M48294Y Fri 18-Dec-15 12:19:47

Don't be silly BlueSmarties! How can he cease all contact? They have children together.

Ffs the so-called "advice" on this site does my head in at times.

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