This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
Step Mums and Bitter Ex Wives - My DP gets abused and doesn’t even see it.(76 Posts)
It seems taboo to be at all negative about Ex Wives. It’s ok to moan about ex husbands. However some Ex Wives do not want to let go and cause real damage.
I’m in the slow separation from my DP, and recently have realised how much the control and stress from his Ex Wife has caused this split. I wish I’d seen this and acted sooner. As a Ex Wife myself I played down her behaviour, didn’t want to bitch about her, and that was a big mistake. I’m not the OW btw! I guess maybe my experience might resonate with other SMs? Over the years:
- has been really intrusive. Kept her key to our house. Used it until I got DP to tell her to stop. Phoned the landline every single weekend.
- completely ignored my presence. Either blanked me at events, or told her children not to listen to me.
- put down my parenting, encouraged her kids to complain about me. The children started coming out with things like ‘it’s very hypocritical that do such and such...’ and realising it was straight from their mother.
- constantly messaging my DP. Sometimes angry. Sometimes intimate. Asking favours, rewarding DP with baked cakes and telling he was great ‘for looking after us and looking after ‘our baby’ (now 17 years old). Only if he did what she wanted. Telling him he ‘never did anything for the kids’ in front of them if he did not do what she wanted.
- not parenting her kids but dictating what happened in our house. She would tell the kids they only had one mother and I wasn’t to interfere, then boot them out to send them to me while DP was at work.
- we had half the kids full time and all of them every weekend. So she was not the main parent, but believed that she was and got maintenance for all and DP bought her a house.
The result was my step kids have no interest in me and their half brother. DP did stand up to her more and more, which greatly helped. However the ongoing stress of her constant psychological battering - guilt tripping DP, making him feel bad for doing right by me, the competing for her to keep being number one, was too much in the end.
And I’m relieved to be away from the stress even if it means losing someone I love and depriving my son of living with his father. It’s too late for me.
Has anyone found a way to cope? Or is anyone else out there feeling desperate like I was, feeling too bad for even complaining, yet can’t see how to make it better?
I feel your pain, especially the phoning at all hours... Saying the lights had fused, the burglary alarm had gone off, the dog had been sick etc...
My dp was torn, he did push back and say she managed all this kibd of stuff when he had been away for work so she could now, but he felt guilty so sometimes went to her aid.
I just used to raise my eyebrows and smile sweetly...
Then we moved to Cornwall and stopped telling her when we were in London flat.
The children were all older teens though by time we got together publicly and though there has been some issues it was easier
I have seethe before and often needed large swig of gin, but found that rising above it was best
Moving away... now that’s a great idea!
Yes too far to go to ex wife's aid is only way
Glad things got better for you jelly. My step kids are all 17 or over however ex DP has just got a slew of demands and guilt tripping again. He picks them up for College every morning while she sits in the house with the car in her drive, yet she’s demanding he calls in to her as he is ‘showing no interest’ - she is ‘raising them alone’ - ‘why haven’t you called in to me’ sent at midnight and 6am!
Never going to end...
I can't tell you what to do and I know how hard it can be, but are you really sure you can't try the just sweet smile thing.
Yes I used to fume etc, but found best tactic was to get on with my life, plans etc,... And just appear unfazed.
For example on way to dinner my dp got call saying the dog had been sick and his dd was crying worrying eyc.. (dd aged 13), ex wife refused to let dp speak to dd, refused offer of us calling taxi to take her and dog to vet (she refused to drive)... So dp was looking at me to make decision what he should do... Beseechingly... I just shrugged and said ' I don't mind, but I am off to dinner'... I left him standing outside restaurant, went in, ordered and ate dinner on my own... He went to ex wife and found dd absolutely fine and dog recovered.
When he got home, he was expecting a row, so I smiled sweetly and recounted my lovely dinner... He was shocked I'd gone without him... That was a turning point he now says... That I would carry on and have a perfectly OK life whether he was in it or not and I was not interested in drama hers or his... And he had to sort it out or I might just find life without him easier...
Secretly I had sobbed all the way home!
OK, just seen your post... Bloody hell he needs to grow a pair
Wow, She sounds a nightmare, But WHY is he going along with that? They are grown up!
I dont know how you have managed to stay with him so long!
Thanks Jelly. I did try the sweet smile thing, got on with my life. However a few weeks would go by and the intrusion crept in...
- DP would be later and later getting home... (fixing stuff or placating her over some emergency with kids that turned out to be fine)
- I’d get home with the baby to find my step kids had taken over the house... because their mother had her bf round.
- my step kids would start telling me I was wrong for doing this or that with my baby as their mum knew all about it.
- I’d be finally relaxing with DP and ping! Text from Ex. We ignore. Ping! Ping!
I’m not sure how I could realistically rise above such constant involvement. But believe me I tried!
The reason it's frustrating to berate the ExW is the same reason people don't like In Law bashing. You don't have a direct relationship with them, you can't affect their behaviour. Your DP can and its up to them to see the impact and step up.
You might have been living with DP but it sounds like his relationship with ExW is not over. You will be well rid.
Thanks ‘pretty’ - we went to counseling and it did help. DP made loads of changes, she used to absolutely scream at him because she knew I was making him put his foot down.
The trouble was, the obvious intrusions were easier to change, clearer for DP.
However the insidious chipping away, particularly by putting me down to her kids, that was way, way more damaging and DP could not see this. It was a vicious cycle, she undermined me to the children, and our fragile SM relationship collapsed - I stopped Ex sending them over while DP was at work as they became increasingly difficult- Ex told DP I was rejecting them - DP felt guilty - did more for them at Exes House -
Sorry OP... It does sound grim. He is being slightly pathetic tbh, and if you can't move 250 miles away then I think you have tried.
But if step children all young adults now can your dp not have a relationship with them outside of his ex wife?
Our dds all organise themselvess with seeing their other parents, we don't have formal custody arrangements anymore, can frankly if one of my older teenage sds came in to the house and said I was doing something the wrong way Cus her mum said so, I would have suggested that 1. She went back to her mother's or 2. She did it herself..
That sounds so awful. How soul destroying! Hope things improve with you and ex dp for good of your dc. Poor you @bananasinpyjamas11, feel sad that all your good advice comes from horrible experience.
I know my dp ew has said horrible things about me and dp to dsd in the past and she would get upset about it and feel like she was choosing sides. But that seems to have resolved itself with total lack of commitment to contact. It never bothered me though just dp
have realised how much the control and stress from his Ex Wife has caused this split.
Yes, this was a huge contributor to my split in Dec 16 (moved out last August). Ironically, 'DSS' is 17 this year so there will be a lot less control from the Exw, but I had got to the end of my tether with it/him, the way it affected our relationship.
He was a poor parent to be frank and the ex was an even poorer one. I don't have kids but I am blessed with masses of common sense, I read a lot, I have friends with kids and I am a qualified nursery nurse.
The way the two of them carried on did my head in. Leaving dss at home when ex went abroad for work, exw 'couldn't' have him (no idea why, but think it was to do with living in a caravan, too small, too noisy I guess) and me working in London and out of the house 14 hours - he was 15 then and I was coming home to a wrecked house, his mates had been round, they'd been smoking, dss was drunk one night (the exw had brought him a six pack of WKD and a Dominoes pizza all of which he seemed to have consumed in his bedroom along with the remnants of a bottle of absinthe from the drinks cupboard), he refused to go to bed, stayed up til 1am on his computer shouting into the mic - etc.
When I asked 'DP' to speak to him he said 'just tell him to go to bed, that's what I do' - derr, do you really think I haven't tried that? And 'well, he's a teenager, that's how they behave' - yes, but I don't want to live on my own with a teenager who isn't my child, thanks. It was OK when dp was there, he could deal with it all, but on my own, not home, needing to get up early for work........this sort of thing happened again and again and it all came back to the exw making very very bad choices (mostly with men, but also with things like jobs and accommodation - moving out of the area where dss could actually get to school, so in the end dss was living with us, but no-one ever checked with me if that was OK nor did we put any rules or systems in place to make sure it could work) and ex-'d'p just accepting her lack of interest and 'going along with it'.
So many things booked and not attended due to her changing her plans, so many things cancelled, so many things simply not done, never able to be booked as she was so flaky all the time.
To be fair, it wasn't all her - he was just as bad, not remembering the dates he was due to work abroad etc (I found out after splitting that he was on various sex sites and was advertising himself as 'in x hotel Fri night if anyone wants to come and join me' and thus I reckon now that all his flakiness around dates of travel was waiting to see if he could get a shag).
Between the two of them I was always deprioritised.
I should have left him years before, in fact it was clear early on (he had another ex who pulled his strings when we first got together) what a twat he was and I should have maintained y boundaries and just walked away. I can pinpoint now so many times when I should just have ended it.
But if step children all young adults now can your dp not have a relationship with them outside of his ex wife?
Exactly jelly! And he does, he sees them every single day! Takes them out to the cinema once a week. EOW. Yet this is what the latest outburst from his Ex was all about - call after call saying that as some were living with her she was still ‘raising them by herself - that he needs to meet with her regularly - to call him - that he took no interest...
He did meet with her a few times over the last few weeks, called her. She rewarded him with lots of texts thanking him ‘for taking care of her and our baby’. Then when he didn’t reply started texting and calling again wanting ‘updates on his chats with his kids’.
Me and DP were talking about possibly staying together however as soon as I saw this had been going on, I backed away. It will never end.
Gosh but there are some horror stories on here! @Bananasinpyjamas11 - like others have said, I'm so sorry that all your sound advice comes from such a rotten experience. I honestly don't know what's wrong with these women. And it does seem to be mainly women who carry on like this.
I honestly don't know if there's anything you could have done differently bar put your foot down earlier with dp - but if he wasn't going to listen he wasn't going to listen 😕.
Do you mind me asking how he feels about your split? As in, is he aware that his exw's behavior & his subsequent reaction to it has been a major factor in your break up?
When my exh left I experienced the opposite. He was so guilty for running off with the ow that he would offer to do my laundry, cut the grass, mend stuff, drive myself & kids to the airport for holidays, etc. My self respect would never let me lean on him like that & I told him that anything I couldn't do for myself I'd find a handyman (or woman 😊) to do for me, which I did.
As a result when I met dp whose ex was still on the phone at all hours with broken toilets, door locks, lift requests, queries as to where he was and who he was with, offers of no strings sex!, etc., I told him that if he wanted a relationship with me he had to reinforce his boundaries with her or I was walking. In fairness he coped on pretty quick but she had been using the kids as a hook & his missing the kids had him confusing doing stuff for the kids with doing stuff for her. He now realizes that what he needs to do for the kids he needs to do on HIS time.
There's was a mutual split as their relationship was just never happy but once divorced she seemed to realize what she had given up & went into overdrive. I just don't understand these women who use the kids to try to hold on to 'their man', a man whom in many cases they didn't even want anymore!!!
I honestly think a prerequisite for divorce/separation should be a mandatory course in establishing boundaries! Lol.
The really sad part about all this stuff is that the kids will eventually grow up & move on with their own lives & many guys will be left alone - only then realizing that they lived huge parts of their adult lives at the beck & call of their ex wives or partners & that life has passed them by.
Just saw your last post @Bananasinpyjamas11 - can your dp not see how crazy this is??? The youngest is 17 - almost an adult.
Can he not see that he's throwing away a lovely future with you because he won't put his foot down with this mad woman???
senior that sounds awful, and really neglectful of both the boys parents. Totally unfair on you. And awful for the child too. Glad that you got out. I did try to leave early on, however I had a baby and really thought I could make it work.
My DP is a lovely but soft Dad. His softness to the wrong people (ex, kids) is what ultimately split us up.
Magda thanks - he minimises has Exes influence. He admits he has low emotional intelligence - so he just sees Ex as needing him a lot - rather than Ex is invested in keeping him as under her control. So he’s a helper rather than a mug. In his eyes.
@Bananasinpyjamas11 - took me a long while to understand the saying 'being a nice guy does not make someone a good guy'!
Not saying your dp is 'bad' - it's just that nice guys (or gals) often have a deep rooted need to be seen in a positive light & as a result they often make bad life decisions as they don't make decisions for themselves; they make decisions to keep others onside. It's very dependent/co dependent behavior.
My exh is similar in that he wants everyone to love him & as a result he's never happy within himself. He functions, but he's not content.
I'd so love for you if your dp could see the light so to speak.
Bananasinpyjamas11 - I was on the old Prosecco threads, it was me who left a holiday halfway through when 'd'p was an arse. (I've kept a Word doc with all my contributions to that threads to serve as a diary reminder of how shit it was)
I remember your struggles well.
Mine didn't feel guilty to his exw (even though he had an affair, so he told me - not with me!) but he felt guilty to his next gf, ex when I met him though not properly finished (not that I knew that at the time) because they rented a house together and he left her when she hit him (according to him) and she couldn't afford the rent on her own, so he was forever on the phone to her, replying to hundreds of texts, rushing around doing stuff for her and she lived 2 hours away from him!
He said the thing he didn't like about her was the constant drama and that he liked me as I am calm. Yet, he totally played up to her drama all the time.
Funny since I was the one who left him (he left the other two) he's not even spoken to me since I left - not that I have any desire to contact him - but there is zero running around after me, no 2 hour phone calls at 1am, no demands from me that he drive down and bring me a weeks shopping because I can't work out how to do online ordering etc. I have also not pretended to be pregnant. I note he and the second ex are now back in touch on fb (even though he's blocked me, her page is partially open and I can see when she mentions him in replies) despite him taking her off there when he allegedly got fed up with her demands.
I am vaguely in touch with ex-dss and will try to keep a bit of contact. I sent him a Christmas present and will send him some money for his birthday. For a long time I was the only sane adult in his life.
It helps me to understand and hopefully move onto better relationships in the future. Guilt is a very powerful driver, and DPs Ex plays that card pretty well. I can’t compete tbh it’s not my way.
DP lacks the perspective to make good decisions. Like your exh he functions but isn’t content either. Being a martyr now to his children who now treat him the way they learnt from their mother.
Hey senior I remember! How are you keeping? I think you are right, you were the only sane adult to your DSS. And your Ex now in contact with his Ex? Even though she was so demanding, is he quite mad?! I’m glad that you got a clean break though, why spend so much time keeping up a non relationship. I really hope you find or have found a man who treats you much better than you were.