DH's ex invading our space and ruining social events - WWYD? Help please!(42 Posts)
DH and his ex have a son, they have been split for about 6yrs. Ex is also re-married. DH has son every weekend and half of school hols and normally does all pick ups and drop offs. Timings/days have been flexible though depending on what events are happening in either family (weddings/birthdays etc) so DSS may spend more/less/different time(s) with us if something special is happening and sometimes his mum will come and pick him up if she's changed things making it difficult for us to drop him off at a different time. This started off ok but we've run into problems over the last few years.
Basically his mum keeps "invading" and damaging our special times, and it's really bothering me. So far there's been:
DH's sister's wedding - ex was actually invited but declined. We had DSS with us, she picked him up, he was knackered but she decided to stay for 2 hours carrying round a sobbing DSS who just wanted to go home.
My best friend's wedding - she picked DSS up, after the last time we did the handover outside but she decided to burst into the evening reception sobbing hysterically because one of her ex-friends was also there.
Our wedding - she refused to set a time to pick up DSS, instead insisting that we kept in mobile contact all day and rang her to collect him. Then proceeded to tell DH off for an hour outside while everyone was inside wondering where he was.
Birth of my DD - came to hospital with DSS but rather than leaving him with dh's family and waiting outside, decided to come into my cubicle with DSS so my family couldn't get in as we weren't allowed any more people there.
My 30th - by now we were getting wise to her creating scenes when she picked DSS up so we asked if he could go home later instead of being picked up by exW - she said no. Turned up and sat right in the middle of my family and sat there ridiculing all of my choices, how I dressed DD, what I fed her etc. Told me I was a control freak because I fed DD some veg
We have got DD's 1st birthday coming up and are having a small family gathering. DSS' drop off time is in the morning meaning he'd miss the party so we've asked if we can drop him off later and told ex when it finishes. She's said she wants him back by a time which falls right in the middle of the party meaning my DH would miss most of it. She has offered to come and pick him up but I really don't want her to do this given her past form - but I also don't want DSS to miss out because of his mum's awful behaviour.
These are the only pick-ups she's done since her and dh split but they always seem to be dramatic - she seems to put us into a position where we have to let her pick him up by not allowing us to change our timings with DSS, this forcing dh to either leave the event halfway through or stick to normal timings but rely on ex to pick up.
She still sees dh's family and their mutual friends so it's not like when she comes to these events it's unpleasant/awkward in that sense. I can't think of any reason for it apart from getting attention or just causing trouble. Worst thing is she comes across as a nice person in general and always apologises which dh always falls for (massive guilt issues) so he always lets her back into a situation where she can (and will) do it again. Apart from excluding DSS as well (which I don't want to do), I don't know how to keep her away - what should I do?
She sounds awful.
I'd tell her DSS would have to miss the party unless she can be more reasonable. And if he does then give him and you DC a separate "special" birthday event together.
Your DH seems to be a problem here as well.
'Massive guilt issues.' Did he have an affair?
Would explain her unreasonable behaviour, although it wouldn't justify it.
Yeah, you (and DH) need to be firm on this one. DH drops DSS off after the party or before. If before, do sonething special with DD and DSS next time you have him.
Yes DH is one of those people who always tries to see the best in everyone and give them the benefit of the doubt but never reaches the point where he thinks "that's it, they have done this too many times now".
He's especially bad over his exW and her behaviour as firstly I think he feels very guilty about initiating the split with her when DSS was so young plus he always says she is so set in her ways she will never change or see others' points of view so basically we need to work around that.
He is good at keeping her out of other parts of our life but the only issues happen when she manages to get in on things that we're deliberately trying not to exclude DSS from, like parties etc. Like I said before she makes it so difficult because changing DSS' times is not a "right", it is up to her goodwill to agree to the change and we have to suck it up if we want him there.
My family are just flabbergasted - I think it's giving them a warped view of the whole step-parenting thing and they are worried about me and how I put up with this. Obviously it's not the hugest issue in the world as it's quite infrequent but they don't know that...and they deserve better than to have her tainting their memories of what should be special family times. They have always included DSS as one of their own and are really disappointed that the ex is treating us (all) like this.
No patience he feels bad that he finished the marriage after 1.5 yrs when DSS was only 1. We got together a year after that, which she felt was too soon and I think she suspected an affair as she found it hard to accept the marriage had just broken down with no outside influences. I think she does partially blame me for some reason.
Could you just not tell her what you're doing so she doesn't realise it's a special event?
We could but she'd ask why we wanted DSS to stay longer and she also knows the date of dd's birthday.
May work for the future though for weddings etc. I feel bad that we'd essentially have to lie about why we wanted DSS to stay later/extra so that she didn't try to get in on it..
Start giving her fake times when it's all over/hasn't yet started. You need to get clever about this. And you should have kicked her out of your cubicle.
When you say you have step son every weekend, she is probably doing it because she doesn't have him any weekend, so what about changing to every other weekend, and pick him up Friday night/after school and drop home Monday morning/Sunday night? And then add one extra night midweek to make up for the alternate weekend? We used to have Step Daughter Thursdays overnight, and then Thursday to Sunday the next weekend.
We can't change contact times unfortunately
Our jobs are not flexible in timing at all and we'd never be able to get to DSS in time for a school pick-up, nor could we ever get him to school in the morning as we start way before he has to be there. We do Fri night to Sun morning one week, then fri evening to sun evening the next. So she does get every other Sunday with him plus if she has special things happening on a Saturday for instance then we change things to suit that.
And you're right about the cubicle thing, I'm still kicking myself about that. At the time dd wasn't latching well at all and I was getting upset desperately trying to get bf off to a good start so wasn't really in a fit state to do anything, plus dh had fallen asleep somewhere so it was a right mess really
binkie you may have to plan 'special events' around the agreed contact schedule - in high conflict situations, it's often more damaging for the DCs to try and renegotiate extra time/changes to the schedule.
I think you need to be really firm with your dh that this has to stop. This is no way for you to live your life. I think I'd rather leave my dh than have every single special event ruined by his ex.
I think it's really appalling that she came in your cubicle when your DD was born - that is a massive over step of the boundaries. You had just had a baby, you and she are not mates, why on earth did she imagine she had the right to come into such a private place like that?? And why would you DH allow her to have a go at him for an hour at your wedding. He should have cut her off with "it's my wedding day, we'll talk tomorrow" and left it at that. It's seems like there are no boundaries here, she thinks she can just swan into your big events because she was his wife before.
Presumably DH's family will be there for your DD's first birthday? And I expect they are aware of how she likes to cause drama, so one or two might be willing to help? Tell her that DSS will be dropped off at the time she wants, then when the time comes get a willing helper from DH's family to take him to the handover. She will complain that he's dropped off by someone else but they are his family, so he should be allowed to go with them if they have offered..
frog we do try to do that, we plan together every half-term. Basically we all sit down and say "right, carry on as normal, ok? Apart from we're doing xyz on this date so can we change that one, have you got anything special going on too?" So it does seem pretty amicable and when it's the normal arrangement or times have been changed for something non-special (medical appointment etc) this kind of thing never happens. It's only when there's an event going on involving dh and I as a family unit with DSS.
Yes using I think you have it spot on about the (lack of) boundaries.
That's a good idea about asking dh's family to help, but I just feel bad that they'd then end up missing the party too. Plus I know that when they got to exW's house she'd do the whole "oh it's been sooooo long, you can't just leave so suddenly, come in for a cup of tea" and I can't see any of them being able to say no to that as she can be firstly very charming and then pleading and then nasty if she thinks they're trying to get away quickly. I think we may need to invent a reason which keeps her on our doorstep rather than coming into the house...
Can you change the party time so DSS can be dropped off before or after? I know it's annoying but can you find a way to make this weekend work and thereafter you have to be clever and not allow the ex any opportunity to make a scene.
I really think that splitting weekends in half like this is part of the problem. There is a reason why most families where there are splits do EOW.
I think you should suggest Friday nights to Sunday nights every other weekend, and just stick to it. If something is happening on your weekend that he needs to be at hers, then just flip the whole weekend and the next is at yours, don't do mid weekend pickups.
It really is alot easier like this.
If you think he should be there, then why don't you arrange your dd's birthday party for a time when it fits in with your contact arrangements?
It does seem unfair that she only gets him every other Sunday, and then you're asking for more weekend time.
Your dd is tiny and won't care when her party is.
She sounds a nightmare!
I would change you're DDs party time, so your DSS is there for all of it. Surely you can fit in a one year olds party around your DSS's visit?
Basically we all sit down and say "right, carry on as normal, ok? Apart from we're doing xyz on this date so can we change that one, have you got anything special going on too?"
binkie All the while there are ^apart from^s you are giving her the opportunity to interfere and hijack your life.
Your DH has a choice. He can stick to a contact schedule, accept that his DS may have to leave early, or miss out, or he can continue to seek flexibility and give his ex the opportunity to gate crash and cause a scene.
A less tolerant DW would eventually leave him, but you are obviously prepared to accept a level of intrusion that would leave most women screaming like a harpie - so, I imagine that your DH will continue as he is, because he currently has the best of both worlds!
It doesn't really sound like a high conflict situation to me. If anything it's an overly amicable one - at least from the ex's point of view as she clearly feels she should be included in all your special occasions! There are a lot of benefits to being amicable and flexible with contact so I think I'd be inclined not to change too much but just to think ahead - as you're doing - and try and come up with a plan to prevent her attending and taking over things like parties. Be vague about the timing, plan a party for entirely within the normal access times for DSS (if you want him to attend) or offer someone else to drop him back at the time she wants him. She may even be enjoying making a thing of turning up because she knows it winds you up but your DP isn't going to do anything about it - so best not to let her know it bothers you.
I agree with frog.
Essentially you've tried the 'nice' way whereby you woukd expect adults to behave like adults but it hadn't worked.
Ex doesn't found like she 'll change, your DH obviously had issues with handling the situation so you'll need to organise events within normal contact time. The alternative is just too stressful and unfair on the whole family. ( dc 's) especially. Dss really needs stability not to worry that mum is going to hijack things and the inevitable worries that come with it, as do you.
I'm slowly learning that the more flexibility we give , the less we get back and dcs suffer as a result. Strange because I naively thought that we could behave as grown ups and work together, not the case here...
Good luck. Think you've been remarkably calm and tolerant considering, especially around the birth thing ( shudders).
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