Can someone please give me some advice?(13 Posts)
I posted this in Relationships, and got a leetle bit of a battering - so on the advice of a lovely poster, I'll post it here for some more specialised advice!
I've namechanged for this, purely because I don't want DP reading it, I really don't want to cause him any more stress.
I moved in with my DP a little over a month ago - I have 2 dc, and he has 2 dc that he has every weekend and usually one night during the week. The children are all lovely, all get on great, no problems there.
His exw has been trouble since we got together, but since we moved in together, it's moved up several notches, and I really need help with dealing with it.
I'll start with some background... She threw him out when they split, and her new partner moved in within 2 weeks. He didn't have an affair with me, or anything like that, we didn't get together until they had been split up for a while, and I had been separated from my exh for 18 months when we met.
The last few weeks have been dreadful. When we were in the process of moving, I went with my dd to finish clearing my old house, and she visited when I wasn't there to look around the house - now I understand that she would need to know/see where her children stay, and make sure that it's all ok - but she went upstairs, along with her boyfriend, and inspected OUR bedroom.
Last weekend, we had all the children, and her ds was ill when he arrived. He had to be carried into the house from the car in his pyjamas. He proceeded to vomit all weekend - please don't get me wrong, I have no problems helping look after him, I'm a mum myself, and also a nurse - but he needed his mum. However, she refused to take him back because she was going out for the evening. After he had been up all night being sick, she still refused to take him back in the morning because she had a sore throat Eventually, she called, full of guilt, and demanded that he was brought home - at which point, DP was bombarded with texts and calls telling him that we'd been hideously irresponsible and allowed him to become dehydrated and it was ALL OUR FAULT.
Yesterday was the last straw. She had invited us to her ds swimming party at the weekend, and I really didn't want to go - I suggested that we have another little party for him at our house nearer to his birthday at the end of the month - so DP said no. She started shouting and screaming down the phone, calling him names and hung up on him - only to turn up at the house 5 minutes later screaming at him on the doorstep and when he closed the door, shouting through the letterbox that he's a bastard, etc.
She's asked if her and her bf can come to our house for Christmas dinner to make it nice for the kids - this one, I have completely refused. It's our first Christmas in our house, and I just can't.
She demands that he has the children whenever she feels like it, and if he can't, makes him feel guilty. She changes arrangements at the last minute. I could go on all day.
DP just wants a quiet life, and tries to pacify her, but it's got to the point where it's affecting MY life and my children too.
What the hell can I do? I don't want to go on at him all the time, he gets enough grief, honestly, I don't want to add to it - but I am trying so hard to remain civil.
You need clear boundaries, I think. Your home is your home, and when children are with you, they are your responsibility. Do not rise to accusations made by the other parent. They should not expect to invite themselves to your home at Christmas. I think if kids are ill when visiting you, you just have to deal with it, but you do not need to respond to immature and irresponsible bullying. Just ignore and so what you feel is best. Good luck!!
I agree with ladydeedy all around. Be clear and fair about the boundaries.
Giving her the benefit of the doubt , it sort of sounds (and obviously it is hard to tell from a post so I could be wrong!) like she is interested in co-parenting amicably and doing things for the good of the kids - at least in theory - but is having a difficult time putting it into practice. It would be nice if you could tap into what is good there; it might make her easier to deal with!
About the Christmas thing - and I can totally understand if you'd just prefer to keep it separate - is it possible to make a gesture here? Perhaps sticking to your own Christmas dinner plans, but proposing something else that you could all do together? Something where you wouldn't feel imposed on, and where it would be easy to keep the focus on the kids instead of trying to interact as adults - maybe a lunch the weekend before, at a neutral kid-friendly spot? I don't know though - if she is really that unpredictable and dramatic, maybe that would be a disaster.
I agree you have to get the boundaries sorted now before things get (any more) out of hand.
As far as christmas and birthdays go - I personally don't get involved anymore with doing anything with the ex. I know others on here will disagree and MJ in particular I think has managed to do these things with her ex in a really positive way. But your DP's ex doesn't sound reasonable and it will just give her an opportunity to cause trouble.
We had a birthday party here for dsd2 once and the ex came and made a scene which wasn't good for anyone. Another time we went to DSD1 party at a well known fast food establishment which the ex had organised. She left before the end and left us to pick up the bill!
My own dc's are grown up and I find christmas really hard as I would like to have all my family together but it's not possible. I don't want the added upset of dealing with DH's ex so won't even entertain spending any time with her.
Someone on your other post pointed out that you are worried about YOU. I agree that you are but in no way think that this is a bad thing. We are all entitled to live our lives in a way we choose, yes, we have to make compromises in a relationship or where children are involved but we do not completely have to self sacrifice for the sake of another woman and her children.
I agree with everyone else about boundaries but those boundaries are not boundaries for the ex wife they are ones you need to decide and put in place for your DP. He is choosing to pander to ex wifes whims and expecting you to put up with it. He can make his own decisions in life, but you are a couple now and those decisions affect you and your children too now.
If you don't want to go to the party, you don't have to, that is completely your choice, but you would be wrong to expect your DP not to go too.
If you don't want to spend Christmas with the ex, then don't. You are not obliged to and I doubt it is for the childrens benefit anyway. We share Xmas day with the ex wife and whilst I don't believe it is the best option for the children, it certainly means that both parents get to see their kids on Xmas day. Could you do this? Maybe the kids wake up at hers and come to you for a Xmas dinner in the afternoon?
She does not have the right to wander around your house just because she is the mother of your DP's children, she should be courteous and polite like she would be to anyone else. She can certainly ask to look around the house her children stay at, but you also have the right to say no.
As for the sickness thing. We have had that too. I think it shows a very uncaring attitude on ex wifes behalf. As a mother we have the right to time off, but to insist on that right when our kids are ill, is just downright selfish, especially when there are other children involved. We had DSD crying for her Mum and Mum simply had a cursory conversation on the phone with her and left her with us for another 2 nights while she swanned off with her boyfriend. Not much you can do about it though except get on with it as best you can and hope your DC don't get the bug.
Trying to answer all of you at once - she is very unpredictable, and that worries me, especially with regard to family events. I wouldn't dream of asking DP not to go to the party, as far as I am concerned, his children should ALWAYS come before me, that's how it is, and how it should be.
I do need to set some boundaries - but this is down to DP to sort out, not me. I have sort of decided to detach a little as much as possible - until the next time that she kicks off over something ridiculous
It's incredibly difficult to put in place boundaries and then your DP overrides them. It makes you lose respect for your DP because ultimately he is showing you that the needs of his ex wife come before your needs. Sometimes they dress it up as "the needs of the children" to try an get you to back down.
In variably these fathers are frightened of antagonising the ex because of the repercussions on contact or on their finances, so they spend their time trying to placate everyone and usually failing completely because you are miserable with the situation and ex wife is just trying to get a reaction and failing which just makes her up the stakes a bit more.
Detaching is good but damn hard!
I had a touch of deja vu reading this. It is incredibly hard as what would seem to be reasonable and best goes out of the window when you can't trust everyone involved to behave well.
We had the same issues re DP's ex wandering around our home, refusing to have anything to do with the kids during "her time", shouting and screaming and crying when she didn't get her own way. And so we have a pretty rigid routine. We are "lucky" in that DP's ex has always been very protective of her own time away from the kids so losing contact has never been an issue we've had to face. We ended up having a pretty rigid routine. It cut down on the arguments and has made life simpler but I do think its something that both you and your DP need to agree you are both happy with. My DP found it incredibly hard at first but realised that you need to protect what is important and in our case that didn't mean giving into the ex all the time.
Personally, I think if you are both invited to something it is worth gritting your teeth and showing your face even if for a short time. It is still early days and I would be inclined at this stage to give the ex the benefit of the doubt and see if she calms down. I only say this as, in my experience, if you can do some things together it will make life a bit easier in the long run. It took us about a year to realise things weren't going to change from the ex's point of view.
For me, Christmas is different. We alternate Christmas and Boxing Day and I think it is best as it means that its easier to relax and enjoy the day. I've never been convinced that putting on a show of unity on one day of the year is such a good idea.
The last piece of advice I would give is that everyone's situation is different. At the heart of this you need to decide what works best for you in order to ensure that your home life with your DP is as happy as possible. Sometimes this may mean making compromises but sometimes it doesn't. Don't feel bad about what you decide to do.
i agree with everything else, definitely, but on the illness thing - surely kids' dads can cope with the kid being sick? If DC is sick on 'his' time, that's just the luck of the draw, really... Of course, if the DP/DH leaves it to the current partner to manage alone, that's unfair of DH/DP, but I don't see why a sick child needs mummy any more than daddy?
Hi, I hope you've got a bit more understanding here than on the relationships section, I think a lot of people just don't get how hard it is being a step family.
Reading above you've had plenty of good advice. Only things I'd add is it all takes time, sounds like you're quite new to it all so don't worry that it is fixed, it will evolve over time and all of the people involved will bed into the relationships over time (hopefully, unless she really is off the wall in which case, sorry, no worthwhile advice from me at all!).
Also, on the Christmas issue don't give yourself a hard time about your decisions not resembling something from the guardian family section (you know the stuff - "we sold our massive house and bought two small homes next door to each other so we can live in utter co-parenting bliss with his gay lover and my new husband and his two kids from his last relationship plus our new baby. His ex wife lives round the corner so we just all walk in and out of each other's house and get on great" - OH F*CK OFF!!!!!). We have tried, but its just awkward with a capital AWKWARD. And I think SS looks itchy when it happens really, it just emphasises all the differences. The thought of Christmas altogether makes me feel quite panicky...
Good luck with it all, if the kids get on great that's a brilliant start, they're the ones that really matter.
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