Dealing with a High Conflict Ex-Wife In 5 Easy Steps: A Guide for Stepmoms

As you float down the isle on your wedding day you smile radiantly at your knight in shining armor. You feel glorious and that absolutely nothing can ruin this moment. Except the ex-wife.

As you look lovingly at your groom, you remember the 55 text messages his ex-wife sent that morning outlining exactly how she was going to make his life (and therefore your life) a living hell if he had the audacity to marry you. Never mind that their divorce was 10 years ago. You quickly glance around the church to make sure his ex-wife isn't camped out behind the nearest flower arrangement with a bazooka pointed at your head. Then you wonder if you really can survive that much drama. Not to worry. With a little effort and some strong boundaries you can.

Sound Familiar?

Being married to a man with a high-conflict ex-wife is not for the faint of heart. I know because I am married to a man who's ex-wife is bat shit crazy. I met him years after his divorce and could not fathom that there was still this much animosity and abuse from his ex. I have dealt with everything from the ex trying to punch my husband at an exchange to her beating on my door at 6 am to see if my husband was at home. (He was by the way.)

I've been yelled at, received unsolicited phone calls to tell me what a loser I have married, been blamed for things I've never heard of, and called a horrible human being. For the longest time she only referred to me as the "chick around your dick." The ex-wife threatened to keep my husband and his son apart for the rest of the kid's life if the kid was ever going to be around me for even 5 seconds because she was not going to have "her" son around another woman. Odd, since I think all I've ever said to her is "Hello." and eventually "Stop knocking on my door at 6:00 am."

Sound familiar? If yes, keep reading to learn how to minimize the stress caused by a high-conflict ex-wife, maximize your own sanity, and keep your focus where it should be; on your marriage and your children.

Step 1: Recognize the Crazy

If your husband frequently receives 10 to 15 ranting and abusive emails (manifestos) from the ex-wife in a 24 hour period, this is not normal. If the ex-wife has ever texted your husband to the point that his phone battery dies, this is not normal. If you have ever accompanied your husband when he exchanges the children, and the ex-wife starts beating on his car. Yep, you guessed it. Not normal!

The first step is to recognize who and what you are dealing with. Any time two people with children get divorced there are going to be some squabbles over the years. Minor, and even a few major, disagreements are completely normal. Do not expect your husband and his ex to co-parent in perfect harmony all the time. Do, however, expect that there will be no cussing, name calling, threats, withholding the children, or banging on your door at 6 am for no apparent reason. If any of the latter are occurring in your life, keep reading.

Step 2: Get On The Same Page As Your Husband

High conflict ex-wives intrude into every last fiber of your being and into every last corner of your home. If you have a high-conflict ex-wife in your life, then you are all too familiar with that awful feeling in the pit of your stomach when your husband lets you know she is at it again. If you let it, the drama will consume you and bury you in a big pile of steaming high-conflict poo.

Tell your husband the constant drama stresses you out and tell him you need it to end. Some men take an exceptionally long time to understand the havoc an ex-wife is wreaking on the current marriage. I don't care if you have to use smoke signals, get your husband to understand what the drama is doing to your well-being, to his well-being and to the marriage. Most importantly, get your husband to understand the negative effects the drama is having on the children. Children are very aware, even from a young age, when Mom and Dad do not get along. If your husband is a sane one, its up to him to end the drama for his children. He has to stop waiting on the other party to calm down and he must take action now.

Stepmom Support

Who do you talk to the most about your stepmom problems?

  • I talk to people in real life
  • I talk to people in online forums
  • I don't feel I can talk to anyone
See results without voting

Step 3: Find Some Like-Minded Stepmoms

We are out there! In droves! I had no idea that there were so many other women who were in exactly the same position: married to a man with an ex-wife who had vowed to make his life a living hell. If you have attempted to vent or sob about the crazy in your life, and the other person has backed away from you slowly, then you are talking to the wrong people. Adults who have not been stepparents or who do not deal with a high-conflict ex will not understand what you are going through (lucky ducks!).

Spend some time searching for online support forums. Try out a few until you find a group of like-minded women who are a good fit for you. After spending a year lurking online, I started reaching out to some of the women I had met and now they are real friends. These women are my saviors! When the ex decided to dance on my front porch at 6:30am, they were there for me. When the ex-wife started mailing packages the week after my wedding of her on her wedding day to my husband and her wearing...well, less than I ever wanted to see in the honeymoon suite, these stepmoms knew exactly what I was going through. I cannot over emphasize the importance of finding some stepmom friends who really get it and get you.

Our Family Wizard Can Reduce Conflict

Step 4: End The Drama

The cycle-o-drama will continue as long as you and your husband let it continue. It took my husband and me almost 4 years to figure out how to break the cycle and end the drama. Although these measures may seem drastic or difficult they can all be implemented quickly and they are very effective. Remember, the point is not to "win" when it comes to the ex, the point is to minimize the conflict so the children are not exposed to the fighting.

  • If you are personally communicating with the ex, stop. Like stop yesterday. Do not email her, text her, talk to her on the phone, or speak to her in person. In all likelihood it is not you that she hates. She would hate whatever woman was in your shoes. Remove yourself from her cross hairs. This is easy. Simply quit doing these things this very second. There are no excuses for communicating with someone who wants to blow your head off with a bazooka on your wedding day.
  • Your husband should only communicate in email or in a program like Our Family Wizard if he can get that ordered through a court. Your husband should not text her, talk to her on the phone, or have a conversation with her at exchanges. This is also easy. Simply stop. What will the ex do? Nothing. She can call all day long, but that does not mean your husband has to answer the phone. Let her leave messages and then email a response if one is needed.
  • Follow the custody agreement exactly as it is written. Do not deviate. Do not switch weekends. Do not do anything not written down on that piece of paper. (See this article for examples of how to create a more specific custody agreement.) If everything is followed 100% that removes much of the back and forth. If your husband has a horrible and vague court order, then it is time to head back to court. As long as there is wiggle room, a high-conflict ex will use it to stir up trouble and continue the conflict. In our house we have a motto or two that get us through: 1) we don't do favors for assholes and 2) we don't negotiate with terrorists.
  • Go "low contact." At this point my husband can get by on as few as 4 emails per month. Do not respond to anything that does not require a response per the custody agreement or unless it directly relates to the health or safety of the children. Do not write more than 4 short and direct sentences per email or response.

A word of warning: There will be an extinction burst. The high-conflict ex will use any means necessary to engage and continue the conflict. She will call, text, email, and likely call your husband every name under the sun plus a few made up names. Ignore.

My Zen Place

Step 5: Learn To Love Frozen and Let It Go

Channel your inner zen place whether it's the beach, the mountains, or on top of a fluffy cloud.

I can hear the outcries now: "But the children! If we do not switch weekends they will miss a birthday party or a family reunion! We have to be the bigger people and try to work with their mother! If we keep trying, she will be reasonable." Or (my favorite): "But sometimes she is so reasonable!" Yeah, well, the ex in my life called to offer an extra overnight and then two weeks later punched my husband in front of their son at an exchange. Being reasonable sometimes isn't good enough.

I do not advocate following these steps because I think they will work I suggest them because I know they will work. My husband and I are living proof! Now that we have minimized the intrusion of the high-conflict ex-wife in our life my husband and I can have normal married people squabbles over things like who left the milk on the counter or why the toilet seat is up. We also see a world of difference in the children which was the goal of eliminating the crazy in the first place.


wckdstepmother30 profile image

wckdstepmother30 2 years ago from My Living Room

Great article! My husband and I have done all these things and more. Unfortunately for us and the kids, The Crazy continues and we no longer get to see the kids at all. Once we stopped negotiating with The Terrorist, she took hostages (the kids). Technically we still have custody, physical and legal. But we have chosen not to go back to court anymore to fight or to engage her in any way. That means the kids are with her 100% of their miserable lives. Many people have harshly judged and criticized us for this decision. But we know that at this point, it is our only option. Instead we are choosing to be patient. We know that someday they will figure it out on their own.

GracieLu 24 months ago

We also deal with an ex-wife who has made it her mission in life to make our lives a living hell. We have slowly, over the past 10 years, done all the things you mention. It has cut back on the drama, but unfortunately, not completely erased it. And like Wicked posts above, we hardly see step-daughter anymore because of it. After all these years of being at war, we are both tired....and SD has been brainwashed since birth to hate us. It's hard to compete with that. I loved your article and find it sad that so many women in these situations feel they have no one to talk to. I belong to an online group and without them, I am certain I would be divorced....and we would not have any of the little bits of peace that we currently do. I encourage anyone to seek out online support groups!!! It really does help.

rickimvz 24 months ago

I too am dealing with high conflict ex. With a court ordered signed by by all parties including herself, and the judge on August 20th...we returned the children as court ordered states on August 22nd. My husband has not seen his son the past 63...she has not allowed him to return and has brainwashed him to thinking we are the most evil people on this earth. Yesterday we FINALLY got our hearing for her being in contempt of the court order. She was found in contempt and the Judge really let her have it court (in fact, our attorney never had to speak one word). We finally get the son tonight and he is not happy about having to come. At the courthouse yesterday, his daughter ran to me first before anyone else and gave me a hug...however, after the hearing, the daughter and son (while with their mother) told my husbands mother (their grandmother) how mean and hateful I am towards them and they don't want to be at our house. How do you go from one minute getting a the next minute being the most evil person on earth? It breaks my heart that they say this. I have 2 daughters of my own and can honestly say I love my step kids with the exact same love and treat them as I would if they were my blood children. My husband has been doing the no contact with the ex for a period of almost 2 years...he only communicates with her via text and NEVER a phone conversation (so everything is documented) and only communicates when it comes to issues regarding the children. This has not stopped her delusional texts, actions or the act of trying to brainwash the children into thinking we are monsters. We have even had incidences of her making false allegations with the local authorities. Example: (and this is only 1 example of many) She called and reported that my husband was driving intoxicated with his daughter in the vehicle...upon returning home one evening, her and her husband were parked in our driveway in our parking spot (we had nowhere to park) and then we were surrounded by 4 police cars. The daughter was taken to the police station...Children and Youth Services were called in and questioned the husband was given a breathalyser and passed with flying colors...the daughter was returned to our care...but not until 1:30 am!! After enduring the situation, having to defend ourselves to the local authority...the high conflict ex walks away with nothing happening her for making false allegations!! So I can't really say the no contact is a guarantee that the craziness will end. UGH.

wckdstepmother30 profile image

wckdstepmother30 24 months ago from My Living Room

GracieLu & rickimvz, I would encourage you to read some of my articles. It sounds like your ex situation is in the same caliber as ours. The 'normal' advice and strategies absolutely do not work in cases like ours. Sadly, I think more and more bio moms are falling into this extreme category as society and The System cater to them and their needs while neglecting and even actively discouraging fathers and stepmothers and other stepparents from being involved in the children's lives. I really feel for you. I think you would really be able to relate to this article:

ElizaDoole profile image

ElizaDoole 23 months ago from London

This is a great article. I've got a crazy in my life and I'm going to try some of the things you suggested in your four steps that we haven't thought of yet. We've started to deal with it and tackle it now together, but it is hard work. I can really relate to the strings of texts messages and the game-playing. It is such a nonsense. Thanks for writing this. I don't feel so unusual now.

Ringleader 23 months ago

I love this article. I am almost in tears reading it because of what you said about finding other people in the same situation to talk to. You are right. No one understands and I have now twice been called a drama queen by close friends of mine. I would do anything to get out of the hell that is my life with my husbands psychotic ex wife but the only way out is to leave my husband. I love him more than I hate her so I'm stuck. I have started a blog about my story if anyone wants to read it.

I would love some feedback. I'm close to snapping and I don't know what to do.

A child 22 months ago

Being someone that grew up in a similar situation, I have a problem with a few of these. As a parent, you must communicate with the other parent. Who is to say that one time when the "crazy ex" is blowing up your phones that it won't be something related to the child. And as a child it truly sucks to be on a schedule. It makes you feel as though you are an object.

When marrying someone with a child, you need to realize that it will be a struggle, but the person that's hurt more than anything in the situation is the child. It's the parents job to try to make life as "norma"l as possible for the child, regardless of personal feelings. So if you have to deal with an irate woman so be it. Marrying a man with a kid, you chose the life you live, so live with it.

21 months ago

So, how do we deal with step mothers who call your child names, humiliates them, lies about them and then gets them into trouble? What does one do when, even though, you try your hardest to explain why your child is struggling to cope in the stepmothers presence, with no judgement or personal attacks, no humiliation. Just discussion. To then, be abused for it, told that your child is a "protected species" that, your child stepmother "has issues" with your child. It is a tall order to ask of a mother not to worry about her child, when such abuse and humiliation is rife in the child's life. Scary. Indeed. I would like some advise on how to deal with that :)

wckdstepmother30 profile image

wckdstepmother30 21 months ago from My Living Room

"So if you have to deal with an irate woman so be it." We're not talking about a woman who is legitimately upset about a REAL issue that relates to the kids. We are talking about women who purposefully create conflict, invent problems, and are extremely abusive towards the ex husband, stepmother, and children. Yes, even the children. Too many mothers are acting 'irate' under the guise of 'vigilant parenting'. This is a lie. These women are doing more damage to their children than they are protecting or caring for them. And, they make it absolutely impossible to co-parent or make things 'normal', no matter how hard you try to just 'deal with' them.

21 months ago

awww wickard stepmother. You sound very nasty. Most mothers Know do the best they can and support the ex and step mothers. But the stepmothers seem to feel so threatened by the mother. Well, in my case, my ex is constantly trying to have sex with me, i am much more successful, intelligent and I guess attractive than my sons stepmother, so she plays vicious games and uses my son to hurt me. I have known great stepmothers and some pretty aweful ones. The aweful ones are so cunning, vicious and covert.

wckdstepmother30 profile image

wckdstepmother30 20 months ago from My Living Room

I'm sorry you feel that way N. Its clear you haven't had to deal with the same type of extreme family situation that we have. There are good and bad stepmothers, yes. But there are also good and bad mothers. It isn't fair to say that most mothers are just doing the best they can without acknowledging that most stepmothers are doing the best they can as well. If what you say is true, your ex is the one with the problem and his wife has a reason to feel threatened. Your situation is quite different than mine and therefore my articles don't apply to you. You have no reason to feel threatened by them.

20 months ago

Thanks wickedstepmother, except she posted this on her pininterest. The advise you are giving is dangerous. Asking fmailies to only communicate 4 times a month via emial have no flexibility etc is only inciting hatred in some crazy woman. It is dangerous advise and not in the best interest of the child. As much as my ex drive me nuts at times, he and i always in touch to discuss our child, I involve him in all my sons achievements and troubles. He is the first person I turn to when my boy needs both our guidance. However, your post has now encouraged my sons stepmother to hurt my son. As a stpemother, you need to be aware that you are cmoing into this childs life and it is your job to accomadate the situation. Not make it worse.

GracieLu 20 months ago

This advice is far from 'dangerous'. It's life saving for many of us to deal with jealous, angry, bitter, vengeful ex-wifes who make it their life's mission to make our lives hell. Some of them even admit it. It's my bet that if the flexibility you talk about went both ways to begin with, your ex and his wife would not be so quick to take it away. Many of us deal with biomoms who expect us to cater to her every whim when SHE asks for flexibility, but never, ever, ever reciprocate that when we ask. Yes, as stepmoms, we have to accommodate the situation, but biomoms also need to accept that their ex has moved on -- many of them have a hard time doing that. Just the fact that you stalking stepmom's social media is suspicious to me -- if she pinned this, there's probably a reason that you're not stating. Regardless, the only person you can control is YOU so I'd start looking for ways that you can modify your behavior to help the situation. For the record, I'm a biomom AND a stepmom, so I do see both sides. But, I focus on my kids and leave my exH alone and have never once interfered in his life with new partner(s). I wonder if you can say the same?

20 months ago

Thanks GracieLu. It must be aweful dealing with vengeful ex wives. My husband cheated on me for several years and when I found out I left. Of course there was hurt, anger and resentment. I never withheld DD and I have never ever refused any flexibility. Neither has DD;s father. It has always been flexible on both our parts. He still has the key to my house 4 years later. He still is left in my home to look after our child, as I had to work like a dog to pay his debts, mortgage, rent etc with a 2.5 year old and I didn't want DD to be shoved from on place to another. There was no revenge, no humilation no nothing. In fact, everyone around us are in awe of how I managed this. We still have joint birthday parties ( although the stepmother does not want this), and we call each other when things are happening for child. He was a very angry man and no matter what I still put up with it because I needed to work as he was unemployed for years, I paid off the debts. I paid for all my childs expenses etc. I still was welcoming him. He is much better these days and less angry and supports his son financially, so I give him credit for it. Yes, she did pin this on her board. The reason she pinned this is because she confronted me about my childs behaviour. My child was asking her to not smack her children. My childs asked asked her and the father to not yell at DD or the children. She instantly blamed me for it. I had no idea that DD was doing that when DD was asking me things like "mummy why do kids gets get smacked and why do I not smack" These conversations went on for days and I was explaining to DD that everyone loves their children, we just have different consequences. Then DD would ask, what is my consequences, so I would go through it with DD and after days of these discussions, DD said "Mum you teach me and discipline me through love" I posted about my conversation with DD on FB a week before the stepmom and DD father confronted me (in front so I had no idea that DD was upset about what they were doing to her children and DD. So, when she confronted me about it, I sent her to my FB post to show her that he has been asking me questions and that he is just confused. Then she proceeded to attack DD saying that DD is confusing her children by asking such questions, that DD is a disrespectful, hurtful child,has no respect for authority, that DD is a protected species, that she has issues with DD and that DD is having behavioural issues. This baffled me as DD gets good behaviour awards and is incredibly highly academic and there have not been any signs of behavioural issues at home with me. Thus, clearly, DD is struggling in their care. So, I pleaded with her to understand that DD is just 6 and that DD is confused as DD is not used to that style of discipline. I asked her to help shift DD through the confusion and that I will make sure DD learns more discretion. After many texts back and forward with her saying these things about DD to me and my responses to help her understand, she started swearing. abusing and carrying on.

I get told that I am interferring in their relationshio because of this. Huh? So, yeah, she does claime I interfere, but not sure how discussing issues is interferring?

That is just one example. Could I have dealt with the situation better? To be honest, I do not see how.

My ex was giving me $25 one week and then not the other week when she came along, he started saying things like you only want me to work because you do not want to work. The money stopped completely for 6 months. Coincidence?

I think, my issue is that I am quite assertive and stand my ground when this all happens. However, so does she and starts throwing vicious personal passive aggressive attacks. I am always trying to reason with her and trying to help her understand. However, nothing works.

There have been a few incidences that I have always felt can be resolved. However, there is no reasoning with her. I am one to forgive, let go and grow from a situation.

I do regret a couple of things I have done, however my intention was always to do the right thing and I have always feared for my child as clearly, I am dealing with someone who is not normal.

A few weeks ago DD said that "xxxx hit me" I regretably did not believe DD. Instead, I rang DD's father to warn him of the lies DD was telling and that we need to keep an eye on it as we do not want to encourgae him to play these games. So, it is not like me to go around causing problems. I do confront things, as it needs to be confronted, however, when they do not I let it go.

All our arguments have been via text. Everything is in writing and I have shown it to my doctor friends ( I have friends who are doctors and I am training to be one), family and mentors and everyone is baffled by her deep seated hatred towards me.

So, we have concluded that she is deeply threatened. I do not balme her because my ex is constantly trying to sleep with me. He does cheat on her and she is in denial about it.

What are your views on this? From a stepmothers perspective, what do you suggest? How can I help this situation? It is so toxic and unhealthy and I am at a loss on what to do with this woman :(

20 months ago

And yes, I feel the advise given by this woman is dangerous when there is an unreasonable stepmother in the picture. It is not in the best interest of the child to have both parents not communicating or to stop any flexibility. If DD's stepmother has her way and my ex stops all the flexibility and communication, that would mean my ex will not need to know anything about DD's life, will not have DD for family and friends birthdays, wedding, social gatherings. This would mean DD would miss out. That is not in the best interest of any child. It is dangerous and horrible when a situation does not call for it.

GracieLu 20 months ago

Wow. That's a lot to deal with. As someone else said above, it sounds like this article does not apply to your situation at all. Yes, smom pinned it. She sounds like a b*tch. Just like some bio moms are not the best, such is the same with smoms. If a smom hit one of my kids? Yes,I would get involved. Personally, i would not have any contact with the stepmom but would go through exH for everything. Ultimately he is the one responsible for your childs health and wellbeing. I hope you are documenting all of these things? Many times smom/biomom issues can be helped by setting firm boundaries but if any sort of abuse is occurring, that's something altogether different. Are you in any sort of counseling? I always recommend that for cases like this. It has helped me tremendously....and my children too. SD has been too but it hasn't helped her as much because shes been coached by biomom to lie. Im sorry your ex married such a psycho. Honestly though, there are tons of GOOD stepmoms who are brutalized by bitter nasty exes. That's who this article is written for. Before i even read this, my husband and i had implemented almost all of them thru 10 years of counseling, court and constant harassment. I wish we had a list like this back in the beginning. We finally have a small amount of peace.

20 months ago

One thing I can not understand is how any loving mother can deliberatly turn their child against their father. My ex has put me through hell and back and has anger issues. And,I still do my best to support their relastionship. I am no saint in all this, however, it has challenged me to the core.

I am not sure DD's stepmom hit him. The texting war was about the fact that DD was not coping with the way she disciplines her children (hence smacking, constant yelling, constant threatening etc) and his father using that same force on him. His father has never smacked him before until she came along. He told me se hit him a couple of weeks after that texting war and I thought he was lying. However, after our last incident ( read below), I am really worried that he was telling me the truth.

DD struggles to see anyone get hurt. So, he stands up to it. It is not an authority issue or behavioural issue or a disrespect issue. He is simply confused as he has never seen any parent do that.

I kept trying to reassure her that it does not mean she is a bad mom if she uses traditional disciplines styles. That I do not think that etc..No matter what I said, I was being attacked, my son was attacked and there was no room for reasoning. I have never ever dealt with anyone like this before.

The last incident is that she slept with my son and his father whilst away on holidays. DD started to display sexualised behaviours for a few days later. I kept setting boundaries, until he said "but mummy, daddy does that to xxxx". I think what's happened is that they thought DD was asleep and one thing led to another and the rest is history. I confronted them both about it, but she accused me of harrasment and called the police.

I told my ex, that if the lines of communication get closed down and that I continue to get abused, then I am not going to give them the respect anymore and just go stright to police.

I never speak to her at all, never ever text her. We have had in the past 18 months maybe texting on 5 occasions due to issues like this.

Now, she has posted all this rubbish on her pinboard about vicious biomoms. She is seeking support from your community that seems to be feeding her. She calls me vicious, etc, when I am not the one swearing and carrying on. I lost my temper once after she kept abusing me and my son over and over again. As I said before, all our arguments are via text and in writing, so this can be provan. I just want peace and I just want my boy to be happy and safe.

I think counseling is the next step. For me, there is no peace as my boy goes there. Until she snaps out of this. She is vicious, dangerous and incredibly clever. Very scary mix.

sunflower 20 months ago

oh i am so so happy i see this advice. my fiance's ex wife is crazy... if she calls he hangs up. we blocked her number, she calls from a dif phone. she calls and lies about something she wants to talk about which is not important. we block that number again. she screamed at me once because i told her she cannot manipulate us anymore. that was the only time she did that because i told her brother in law (who hates her guts) that he should tell her she is his ex. and the way she carried herself (she cheated on my fiancé numerous times and he tried to stay with her for the sake of their children but he couldn't take the fighting and her craziness so he left) her kids will find out eventually. people talk. and kids are cruel. sorry you had to deal with THAT much. omg if his ex decides to come outside the house and dance or whatever i will take a video and put it online. OMG thank god your friends were there for you. i cannot believe she banged on your door! PSYCHO!

Steve 19 months ago

Great article it will help me get through this with my high conflict ex

nichole 19 months ago

This sounds like my ex and I have done all of this and he kept my youngest away from me for seven months but when he thought he was smart and he was sevearly in contempt I was able to get visits now and the judge flipped on him but we r also dealing with this for my s/o kids to the step mom from hell she just as bad and we go to court on the 27 so wish us luck I love my step baby's and miss them a lot and one thing for sure I can say is there mom was a good mom rip and I hope I'm half as good as her to those kids

Michele 19 months ago

We too had to deal with a VERY high conflict ex. I did the opposite, I did not bow down to her!! My husband could not stand to deal with her via email, phone or any form. 99% of the time the email communication was from me (as him) It didn't take her long to realize she could not control me, my husband or the kids. She backed off, but has never been civil. What really put the icing on the cake was HER kids (13-15) started realizing that she was the one causing the problems. They both tried talking to her and asking her to back off and live her life and leave us alone. She went nuts on the kids telling them we were brainwashing them. She tried to have the oldest arrested because he took his birth certificate from her house to apply for his drivers license. She got into a knock down drag out with the youngest and gave her a black eye. Needless to say, her son is now 27 and hasn't spoken to her in 9 years. He has a wife and 2 children that she has never met, and he said she will never meet. Her daughter, 24, is on speaking terms with her, but that maybe once a month. Our situation was a little different because the kids were older and they could see what was going on.

AimRS 18 months ago

THIS REPLY IS FOR "N", and anyone else in a similar place.

N, I truly hope you are still following this thread. I signed up to this board ONLY to reach out to you and to implore you to protect your sweet child. Your son seems smart, kindhearted, perceptive, and impressionable. He does not sound like someone who is trying to draw attention or sympathy or that wants to be coddled. He needs your firm action and protection, even if there is no physical threat from his stepmom. I would actually be really proud of him for speaking up to her and asking her to treat him better. Some may say it's disrespectful and insubordinate, but I say Brave Boy!

First of all, I can relate to your desire to keep your ex involved and active in your son's life, and to keep the peace. Trust me, I know how scary it is to be a single mother (we don't want to make mistakes or harm our kids!), not to mention burdensome timewise, energy-wise, and financially. My ex is a "good" father in general, but his behaviors were very much like what you described. When my ex and I split up, I was also doing everything myself and carrying the whole load (still am financially). He loves his dad deeply, and they were very close. I worried that my son would resent me if their relationship faded or if they didn't get to spend time together. So I bent over backwards to keep their relationship going and to keep them close. Even when my ex was a deadbeat, and a liar, and didn't show up or didn't make much of an effort. Even when he disrespected me in front of my son. Even though I was also burdened by his debt and never saw child support, I did what I thought was best for my son. And I am ashamed to admit it, but I would allow visitation even when I knew my ex was depressed, hostile, and angry. But when I started to notice my son's mood changing, I had to WAKE UP to what my son was experiencing and learning. And when my ex exposed my son to a similar "bedroom" situation, I LOST IT.

It sounds like your ex is not the kind of man you want your son to become. And what is more important than allowing him to spending "time" with his father, is making sure that his father is a GOOD and healthy influence and that your child is being treated and taught in ways that serve his best interest and instill positive values and behaviors. Maybe your ex has good qualities and maybe they have fun together, but what you are describing to be your son's experiences and responses are VERY concerning (for example; whether he was hit or not, there is an important reason behind him telling you that... and i would not be so quick to assume he is lying, this doesn't sound like a boy crying wolf but more like a boy who sees a problem). You've been manipulated and abused by your ex for a very long time, and you are now being abused and manipulated by his wife. More importantly, SO IS YOUR SON. And speaking from experience, it will only get worse from here, much worse.

Which is more important to you; that your son spend time with his father who is NOT trustworthy, responsible, respectful, protective, proactive, or willing to stand up to the new wife he doesn't respect enough to remain faithful to? Or that you guard your son from being forced to endure (and learn/adopt) unacceptable experiences and behaviors? Is that really the environment you want for your son? Are you really doing what's best for him by freely exposing him to it? This "stepmom" IS NOT your son's mother. Why on earth are you trying to reason with her? Why on earth are you trying to accommodate her or put her mind at ease? YOU are his mother, you're the boss, N! YOU are in control. That is YOUR role! I would say that if she respected and supported you and shared your parenting style, absolutely allow her some parental authority and respect. But I think you are allowing a very dangerous precedent. I would respectfully urge you to demand that they both complete co-parenting classes and counseling with you (a lot of government aid is available for this, and often churches will provide it for free.) Unless you gave them equal custody rights, this is your ball game. If you can't afford an attorney, at least set up a complimentary consultation to find out what your options are, and then seek whatever public-assistance type legal aid that's available in your area. The legal route is long and exhausting, and you will have a battle on your hands with them, to the point that you'll want to throw in the towel. But if you haven't given him equal custody, I am certain any judge would side with you.

Again, from personal experience, I know it is hard to do, but right now the best thing you can do is force the father to spend time with him ONLY in your presence, if at all. The father needs to make all the effort from now on, he must abide by your rules and respect your boundaries. If your ex truly loves his son and truly wants a relationship with him and wants to provide the best future, he will cooperate eventually. If not, do you want you son to continue to grow attached to his dad? Do you really want your son to be treated with such a lack of love? I realize it might break your son's heart in the short term, but I promise it is the best thing for him in the long term, if things are really as bad as you've described. Now, my manipulative, passive aggressive, dishonest, irresponsible, selfish ex has gotten counseling and taken parenting classes, and he is playing by my rules. He's doing it because I won't give him any other choice if he wants a relationship with my son. My ex must be in a positive state of mind, and he must remain aware, responsible, protective, and active with him. And I am excited to say that his new gf treats my son very well and we communicate very effectively. I feel very comfortable when he is with her, and therefore I provide a pretty long leash.

I will never ever again jeopardize my son's well being, just so that they can spend time together that ends up being crappy anyway. My job is to protect my son and ensure that all environments he is in are as healthy and stable as possible. And N, that's your job, too. We hear horror stories every day about people who snap. I'm not saying that spanking her children is a bad thing, I know discipline is necessary and every parent is entitled to instill it in the way they believe is best. But there is a very fine line between discipline and abuse with the personality type you've described. Clearly, she despises and resents your son. That could easily turn to HATE and hate invariably turns to physical and emotional abuse.

Please be strong and DO NOT allow things to continue as you have. You must take back control and protect your son, even if that costs him his relationship with his father. Please believe me that your son will have a better future not learning from his father and enduring an emotionally unstable life and painful relationship with his stepmom. Some biomoms are crazy (which is the premise of the awesome article above). But MANY stepmoms are equally crazy and are very dangerous.

Sorry for the length, and I know I've repeated myself a lot. But I'm speaking from experience and genuine concern. I hope you find the right path for you, and stick to it.



Lou 18 months ago

My husbands crazy ex wife blew his phone up via text saying she needed to talk o him when I wasn't around. And it wasn't about the child.. So he called her and all she wanted to do was tell him I was cheating on him. Which was a lie. She isn't suppose ton contact him unless its about the child.of course I was mad an told her she was ridiculous. So she told my husband he could not see his child as long as we were married!! And we haven't gotten her since. She keeps saying to take her to court ..and that wouldn't be our first time she has lied on my husband an almost made my husband lose his job!!! Even when w had her she made up dumb rules. Or made Dr spot that day or said his daughter ccouldn't stay the night or she didn't want to ..she was 4-5 years old! If court papers say over nights I don't know what she was thinking. But we Gave up an haven't spoke to her since. To much drama in our life we have other children. Hopefully his daughter will find out how selfish and ignorent her mother is and want to come around. We have seen her threw my husbands mother because he is the bad guy in there eyes of curse. But we don't let ot bother is anymore

Michelle 17 months ago

Im not the step mom, I'm the mom. I can find all kinds of stuff from this,prospective but very little from the mom side. My ex husband and I got along fine until he remarried in November. Ive been remarried just over 3 years. The other day our daughter got her learners permit and I sent him a picture of her driving. I got a text saying "we should limit our texts to things that pertain to our daughter and her wellbeing. We're both married to other people and its not right to send pictures"

I was floored. We had issues when we first separated but worked through them, then this new lady came along and it all went to hell. I have no idea what to do. The nicer i am, the worse it gets! Help!

16 months ago

Wow. Just saw this pinned on the stepmom's pinterest. Explains why my childs father has completely ignored him for 6 months even knowing that he's upset and hurt at his actions. Sometimes, the ex-wife isn't the monster you've been led to believe she is. Sometimes she just wants the past to be the past and to be treated with the same courtesy that would be given to someone you met on the street in the present. Sometimes it's the step-parents insecurities and the biological parents anger and inability to compromise that gets in the way - which ultimately is their loss.

I think for people reading this - you need to try to see things from the other parents perspective before you label them as crazy, mad, evil, wicked, resentful, jealous, malicious etc. Things are never black and white.

16 months ago

This is simple. Healthy blended families look like this. 1). The stepmom and ex- wife need not communicate at all. Stay away from each other. No phone calls no one on one communication. Whoever is looking up each other on Pinterest, Facebook whatever, grow up and get out of high school. 2) ALWAYS communicate with the other parent by text or method of proof about schedules, and important related info or decision making. You made a baby together now you must care for it. 3) The minute that abusive allegations of any mannor begin, document the information and respond to the complaining parent by offering (repeatedly) a mediator/counselor option to address the progress. Text this over and over to the accuser. (I will gladly confront this allegation with a professionals, would you like to make an appointment?). Always give the same solution in a response and no more. The birth parent should be the only one to attend. 4) If the child is accusing a stepmom. Stepmom, excuse yourself from being around that kid. Go find something else to do. Do not let yourself get in trouble. You now are a family within a family. If the mother falsely accused, it's only a matter of time and Dad will be as well. Stepmom, go get healthy away from the nutty ex- wife, find peace. Bio mom, you are now only to communicate about schedules, health, and school. Anything else, schedule an appointment with the designated counselor. If you love your child, you will follow these guidelines. Find a counselor/mediator and get a bible.

Dianne 16 months ago

How about being a stepmom and having a ex wife that has been divorced for 15 years from my Husband , who lost custody of her kids and never helped financially or emotionally... filled her kids with hate and has done her best to turn her kids against their father who raised them not her... She owes over 66 grand in back support and yet she has started ️Court back up because she is entitled to 20 percent of his retirement money which was never filed because ️She bankrupted her lawyer and now wants to stick my husband paying her lawyer fees, and yes now she also wants more alimony? What does one do? The kids are all grown and she cannot stay in our lives thru them anymore so now it's dragging us in and out of court.....I just don't understand why she cannot move on get married and have a life and get out I ours... ️Everytime we buy anything it all starts back up so fed up!!!!! If my Husband had of done to her financially with 3 kids she did to him he would be in jail!!! Dead beat moms should face the same consequences as dead beat dads!!!!!

Mother2Many profile image

Mother2Many 16 months ago

Has anyone asked WHY the ex is angry or crazy looking? I compare this type of situation to a boyfriend who hooks up with a new girl, and immediately warns her that his ex is psychotic. Well why is she so angry? In the instances I've seen, every single time it's because the guy is a 2-timing, pathological lying loser who doesn't want the new girl to know the truth about his past, or even his current actions. When it comes to dealing with similar in marriage, I tend to wonder the same because of my personal experiences. I have dealt with the trauma of a severely lying, cheating husband who acted one way to my face, but then was having a full affair with a woman at work. I had no idea! All I know is that he was still telling me he loved me dearly as always, wanted to have more babies together and we still discussed our future together. I was actually waiting to find out if I was pregnant with our next baby when he abruptly told me via email that he would not be coming home that night, but instead would go to a hotel to pray. It was every bit as bizarre as it sounds!! I was so very confused and hurt and didn't know what to tell our kids. We had always been a close family! Before the following day ended, I discovered the truth. He wasn't at a hotel, but was shacking up with this woman and neither one thought I'd never find out. My kids were devastated. All of a sudden, their father was gone as if he'd died because he was so infatuated with this new woman and rarely ever had anything to do with them. As the mother , and wife actually , watching this all play out, it was enough to drive anyone crazy! I wanted to know what he was doing, I demanded to know. I lost any bit if trust I had in him and could never see myself leaving my children with him again, but had to fight through my heightened emotions on that. And then the thought of the other woman?? Oh I had no good feelings about her part in all of this. She knew all about me and our family and she still went after a married man. Of course the thought came to my mind that after aaall both she and my husband put me and the kids through, would I ever have to tolerate her in my life as my kids stepmother?? Again, dealing with all the hurt and trauma such as I'd experienced, the very thought of this made me so angry. That someone could tear apart a family and then potentially insert herself as the new stepmom, or mother figure, to buddy up to my kids and have influence over their hearts and lives?? NO. So I firmly believe this article should have dealt more tenderly with the real mothers point of view! There's more than 1 side to a story.

Patricia Dudgeon 16 months ago

GREAT article! My husband and I were together total of 11.5 years, (Married 9.5 of them) and from the second I was "learned" about, the high conflict ex started her bs, and this lasted for months after he passed away.

a dad 15 months ago

As a dad in this situation, I must say that the worst thing you can possibly do is constantly badger your partner into "standing up to your ex" or to communicate with the ex yourself.

A mother generally has the ability to sabotage the relationship with kids and the legal situation is irrelevant. A loving dad will take whatever steps he thinks he has to to protect his relationship with his kids (whether he handles it well or not) If you are pushing him to what he sees as escalating conflict it will just cause tension in your own relationship. Be supportive but understand what he may fear, let him deal with it in a way that he is comfortable with.

Ewent profile image

Ewent 15 months ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

Mother2Many, the women who claim they were "found out" by a legally married wife perhaps expected the legally married wife to just shake the other woman's hand and say, "He's all yours. And thank you for tearing my family apart."

If you notice, the women and men on this thread who are the most militant towards an ex wife wish she would have disappeared so they could walk together off into the sunset, erase the children of a previous marriage and pretend they are two innocent lambs whom fate threw together for a lifetime of wedded bliss. More BS than this and you'd be the owner of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Mothers who are smart allow free access to the fathers of their children. Second wives want to be Number one. This means before the children of his previous marriage. They may deny this; but, that wouldn 't explain why so many children of first marriages loathe their stepmothers who they sense want a complete eradication of their darling, dearest 2nd husband's children.

I have always called this the "Second Wife Syndrome." It's where the some, not all, childish, neurotic second wives come between their 2nd husband's access to his children using their cutesy, coy little weekend "togetherness" routine.

The reality is that there are some wonderful second wives who know how to act as an adult and not Daddy's little darling when children are involved. Then, there are the neurotics who can't abide the idea that their Darling hubby has a past. I should know. My sister-in-law wins the prize for Second Wives who know how to be accept reality.

First Wives have every right to protect their marriages from women who don't have the common decency to realize that the man you want has a family and a wife. But do go ahead and take what you want and then complain about the First Wife From Hell you created.

Sorry, I don't buy the Poor lil second wife and step mommy routine. He's your husband and has a past. The sooner you face that the better off and happier your lives will be.

Ewent profile image

Ewent 15 months ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

Here are 5 easy steps for dealing with a jealous second wife:

1. Ignore her pathetic attempts to erase your ex's past

2. Ignore her and her neurotic games

3. Ignore her and her childish attitude of having to have all of Daddy's attention

4. Ignore her whining and complaining about you because she has to live in your shoes to validate who she is

5. Ignore her and her jealous tantrums

PLB331 9 months ago

Great article, I would pin it but "she" stalks my Instagram!!!

Tired BM 9 months ago

Not all BM are bat shit crazy. There are PLENTY of fathers like this too!!! My ex's wife AND him are nuts. It's sad. Please, stop blaming BMs. SM and BD are just as bad too. It happens on BOTH sides.

Ewent profile image

Ewent 9 months ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

The only reason a second wife feels she must defend her position is because she knows she married a man who came with a lot of past baggage SHE can't make disappear.

Not all stepmoms are witches. The ones who complain the most are the ones who wish they owned a magic wand to make their Dear Darling Second Husbands pasts disappear.

Shecray 9 months ago

I love this advice. The hard part is his ex gas seduced him into having sex with her and he did. So he cheated on me with her. And she's the one who told me about it just to prove he's a cheater. But then she turns around and tells me she doesn't want him along with making our lives a living hell... I love him and his kids so much so I can't leave... Any advice?

Ewent profile image

Ewent 9 months ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

Shecray..Yeesh..I thought I was the only one with an ex who cheated with his first wife on his soon to be second wife..rofl.

First wives need to be given credit for their years of marriage experience the second wife is yet to amass. This is true even when the second wife was previously married.

The reality is that men and women simply do not know each other until they live together.

What you described about the cheating is not really "her" fault. And, let's be honest...for ANY man to be seduced, he'd have to be born without a brain or free will. Intelligent men use the word "NO" frequently when it means serious consequences.

Most women are far more devious than we all admit to. I suggest that male ego was more the problem with your husband and that glorious temptation to have sex with two women..every man's dream. Some just don't admit it or hide it better than others.

Shecray 9 months ago


Thank you and I know. It's just as much his fault because he said yes! It's just hard because usually if that happens you can let that person escape your life and relationship but not with this one and she is CRAAAAZEEEE! I have not done one thing to her and she calls me the b word and has threatened to smash my car in and that message was deliver to me and him through their 4 year old daughter, and she threaten to kick my butt for cutting their sons hair (I'm a licensed cosmetologist) it's insane and definitely hard sometimes. And the sad thing is she doesn't understand how it's hurting the kids nor does she care! As long as she's getting that child support check.

Ewent profile image

Ewent 9 months ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

There are always adults who never really made it to adulthood. The type of childish behavior you describe is typical of controllers. The way you deal with threats from anyone, man or woman, is to ask yourself what you'd do if it was a perfect stranger threatening you.

No one should ever have to live in fear of someone else's threats.

As for your husband's children, he has every right to visits as assigned by the courts. That's an issue easily resolved by the courts.

You have to learn to give as good as you get with one caveat...take full advantage of the law. It is on your side. Learn to document her threats and if possible, warn her you intend to take legal action.

Trust me, few single moms can afford lawyers.

The issue with the kids is soon resolved once they become old enough to socialize with their friends. Children have an odd way of processing bad behavior in parents. They either accept it as a right or they know it is neurotic and out of the range of adult behavior.

Momof5 8 months ago

Have any of you looked into narcisstic personality disorder? Researching it and trying to understand the way my husband's ex really thinks has made it way easier for me to accept the fact that itbis not my problem, its hers.

Taking the high road 7 months ago

This is great advice. My husband's ex is BPD. So we have to starve her (not respond to her constant accusations, ramblings) to keep our family & sanity intact. We have boundaries for she has none so someone has to be sane to raise the kids. We follow the rules above. When you stop trying to negotiate with an irrational person, and simply set your own rules, its liberating (and sometimes,rarely, but occasionally you can even laugh.) And for the sake of the kids, they need parents with some humor and sanity. Those who disagree with this likely have no experience in dealing with this type of mental illness. BPD is one of the most manipulative mental illnesses out there. We have our sanity because we don't engage in crazy.

Ewent profile image

Ewent 7 months ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

Most second wives go into "defense mode" like good little mommies of their latest child addition to the family...their husbands.

If you have to defend your husband, it is a clear sign he loves it. And if he loves it, it is because he knows you have bought into his psychological need to make himself look good and is ex wife look bad.

Mature minds faces their differences without referees.

I don't buy the Second Wife Defense. Not when men know how to manipulate women as well as second wives know how to play good little wife. Second marriages fail almost as often as first marriages..all because the same baggage hasn't been resolved.

mstfd 6 months ago

Not sure what Ewent means by "Second Wife Defense" because you really can't lump everyone into the same category. I've read many second marriages fail because stepkids can and do cause conflict. As a stepdaughter, I saw my teen sister intentionally cause problems with my stepmother.

My sister simply didn't want to share my dad with anyone and she made my stepmother's newly married life awful. I was already grown and was appalled at my sister's behavior, as was my mother. Sister didn't stop until she was almost 30!

In my current life, I can very much relate to the crazy situation in this article. My husband's ex had shown minimal interest in her children, until I came along and she found they made wonderful weapons. Never mind what it did to the kids or my husband. The kids, all in their teens at the time, have been messed up from their mother's manipulations. The oldest had a wonderful high school career, yet can't make it through college. The middle one is quiet and is afraid to have a relationship with my husband because of the repercussions from his mother. The youngest is hostile and refuses to speak to my husband or her grandparents. The entire family is suffering from the acts of this horrible mother. All three kids identify as gay. Which is fine-but all three?? What are the odds of that?

I didn't know my husband when he divorced, but she has told people I broke up their marriage. Never mind she has had a boyfriend and had affairs with girlfriends well before the divorce was final. I moved to this community to be with my husband so he could continue involvement with his children. So much for that. Now we are stuck here until my own teen graduates. I can't wait.

Ewent profile image

Ewent 6 months ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

She said/she said. You know you cannot trust a single word either a first or second wife says in the throes of a bitter divorce.

But, there is one thing I remain resolute about: No second wife has the right to pretend her husband's children don't exist.

My ex's second wife tried that and before he died, he regretted with his entire life that he spent so little time with his sons and more time with her daughters of her first marriage. Their father? She quite handily eradicated his existence from her daughter's lives.

I always felt sorry for his second wife. She was obsessed with competing with me and the thing she could never compete with was something I couldn't change ever...I was the mother of her husband's two children. She wasted 21 years of her marriage to him always looking over her shoulder.

Before my ex died, I think he knew how much time he'd spent with the daughters of another man and how little time he spent with his own blood-related sons. His loss, not mine.

It is always in hindsight that adults finally reconcile their animosity toward others. My advice to all first and second wives? Get on with YOUR life. You can't erase your husband's past and she can't erase your future unless you allow her to.

Ewent profile image

Ewent 5 months ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

I'm afraid I don't believe in "spells" because it sounds too much like a control freak trying to prove "power" they don't really have. The reality is that a divorce means your "ex" is as much a stranger as any man or woman you meet on the street. It means you have no other option but to move on with your life, leave the past between you and an "ex" behind you, in a sealed vault, if necessary and begin to build the very best future you can. Anything less is just an excuse for hanging on for dear life to someone who is no longer part of your life. It is always far better to cut the ties cleanly and leave no "lint" behind than to mentally "wish" for the past that will never come.

To all first wives I say you are important. Your "ex" and his next wife or wives are of no significance. However, if there are children of that first marriage, he must take responsibility for his part in bringing children into the marriage, his life and yours. I am adamant that the number of men who believe they can find greener pastures and pretend away the children they created do not get away with their part of that responsibility. Any woman who marries a man with children knows his baggage and it is always her choice whether to live with a future that includes those children of his first marriage or to choose a different man. Anything less is a woman who wants a husband..just not his living, breathing past.

Anonymous 3 months ago

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