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Ask The Good Enough Guy: Family Feud: I Hate My Husband’s Ex

 

Hi Will:

I read your stuff and like it a lot and I pray you’re up to the task for this one. See, I hate my husband’s ex. I know hate is an ugly word; I know it’s a strong word, but there is no other way to describe how I feel about this woman.

Drama is Lisa’s middle name. We can never plan anything because as soon as we do, Lisa throws a wrench in it. Last week we made plans to take their kids, Jason and Michelle, up to Boston. Well, Lisa got wind of that and pulled the old switcheroo “remembering” that she had made plans to do something with the kids that weekend. So we didn’t go and lost a ton of money having to reschedule the trip.

My husband is a nice guy and I think that’s part of the problem. I think he should have told her no, that it was his weekend with the kids. But she texts the children and tells them how much she “needs” them and they in turn beg their father to let them go be with her.

The fact that she is using the kids as pawns disgusts me, but what worries me is I find myself resenting not only Lisa, but the kids too.

Will, what do you suggest I do? I don’t want to poison an already troubled family dynamic but honestly, I don’t know how much more I can take.

Signed:

Big Trouble Brewing

Hey BTB,

Here’s a quick note for anyone who’ll listen: If we become involved with a person who is already a parent, we are also then tethered to the other parent for life. In this case, although you and your husband don’t want Lisa around, your kids do, and that may mean that they want her around for next week’s ballet recital, next year’s football practices, when they’re getting dressed for prom night, when they get dressed for their weddings, or even in the birthing room when they have their own children. Yeah… that’s what “for life” means. This is something a person should really think about BEFORE they get involved with a ready-made family, but I guess it’s a little late to tell you that now, huh? So how do you get rid of Lisa all together and still keep your hubby and the kids? Well… you can’t. But with a little patience, here’s what you can do:

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW… Sometimes the only way you can win a fight is by not fighting. In this case, even if you don’t fight, you still can’t win! All you can hope for is to find a balance between getting your way all of the time and giving in to Lisa. If you force the kids to do what you want, they’ll resent you and they won’t be happy. If you force your husband to force the kids, they will resent him, and he won’t be happy. If you give in to Lisa every time, you’ll resent the kids and you won’t be happy. Your only hope is to find some middle ground, set a lawn chair on it, and open up a nice box of wine.

WHAT YOU NEED TO SAY… My uncle Charley use to say, “Turn on the lights, and watch the roaches run.” This means a couple of things. First, it means don’t eat anything Uncle Charley brings to a cook out. Second, it means the best way to beat a sneaky person is to lay the truth out in the open. Sit your husband and your children down for a family meeting and spell it out in plain English. Tell the kids (and Hubby) that everyone is going to have to start sharing and being fair to each other, including Lisa. This means that, sometimes, when Lisa wants to change everyone’s plans at the last minute, the answer will be yes, but other times the answer will be no… and that either way, the decision will be made by you and your husband, not by Lisa or by them. Explain that you’re completely willing to be fair and give in sometimes, but only if they are willing to give sometimes too, without whining and complaining. Saying this let’s them know that they’ll have to give to receive, and it also gives them a little bit of control… the control that you just took from Lisa.

WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO… Make everyone stick to the rules! Chances are your husband has caved to this woman for so long that he’s just used to it. Well, that all ends now. The next time she pulls a fast one, sit him down and discuss whether or not you should give in to it. Be fair, but firm. If YOU and HE decide that it’s best, then let the children go. But if YOU and HE decide that it’s time to put your foot down, then that ends it. Don’t let begging from the kids, texting from Lisa, or wishy-washiness from your hubby change the decision. This process won’t be fun, but once Lisa sees that the choice to stray from any normal visitation that she has is ultimately up to your husband (which means at least partially up to you, if he knows what’s good for him) it takes away her power which is the real trick to dealing with a bully which is what she is, by the way.

No one gets to be happy in this situation 100% of the time, but if you strive for balance instead of victory, then everyone gets to be happy most of the time, and that’s really the best any of us can hope for anyway. So hug your hubby, kiss the kids, and the next time you see Lisa, smile at her like you’ve been drawing moustaches on all of her pictures (you have, haven’t you?)

 

William Jones is originally from the tiny town of Alton, Illinois, and now lives in the tinier town of Reisterstown, Maryland. He is a happy husband and a proud father of three, and writes as a hobby, in those few moments he finds between husbanding and daddy-ing.


10 Comments

  1. Jennifer

    November 20, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    I think you hit the nail on the head. I also don’t think she ‘hates’ Lisa, she just hates being bullied and manipulated and that her husband obviously struggles in standing up to his ex. I don’t think it has to be an awful drag out situation, the husband just needs to put his foot down and keep it down. The longer Lisa is allowed to manipulate, the longer these issues will go on.

  2. Cathy

    November 20, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    It would be great if Lisa realized that by doing all this, she’s taking energy away from her ability to move on and start her own life. I say this as the ex-wife. My ex has started a new family, and even though it began by him being unfaithful to me, I will never grow and heal as a person if I try to get some kind of strange revenge by causing unnecessary challenges for them. And, Lisa is setting a very bad example for her kids, not really putting them first. Of course we are only hearing your side of the story, but from what you said, I don’t really see any life or happiness for Lisa if she continues in this way. Not just for your own sake, but if you can find it in your heart, for hers, I would try to meet in the middle as Good Enough Guy has suggested. Maybe seeing you as a real person who actually cares about her needs — without condescension, but equal concern for the kids — will help her to move on.

  3. Kim

    November 20, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    I am not married nor am I dating but it reminds me of the many friends who are playing the drama game. The first time I dealt with this type of issue many moons ago, I created a rule that I still live by today. The “Kim’s No Baby Mama Drama Rule” is as follows and is similar to beating in a game of spades: The man can only have 1 and a possible when it come to kids. He can only have 1 kid possibly 2 if they are ONLY by ONE woman. Two or more women is too much to deal with. She the one have issues and he does not deal with them honestly and head on then He and I are not for each other.

  4. Ella Rucker

    November 20, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Kim, I wish I had had your advice prior to becoming baby momma #4. I love my daughter and keep the drama to a minimum. I hope these problems occur with younger mothers. As it stands with me I realize that ESPECIALLY once the kids start talking there is really no need to keep them to yourself. I would LOVE for someone to help me with my children and if I could put that off on someone AND have her spend time with her father…I win. Not everyone sees it this way though. I’ll take as many babysitters as I can get.

  5. Kim

    November 20, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    It is so difficult and depressing being single. So many men today have 5 babies with 7 baby mommas. One would never get ahead cause your money is always going towards other people’s households. Then you always have to deal with the mother/s feeling entitled to your now man cause she has a child with him and feels that she can have him back anytime she wants him and still wants control over him even though she has her own man/men. I pray for the right man would find me but I keep attracting buttholes for some reason. If I should meet a man with a ready made family, I would have to do a lot of soul search as to if I want a lifetime of head ache and pain. I know that there are some success stories out there but they are very few.

  6. Tracy

    November 21, 2011 at 12:35 am

    Maybe something else to suggest to “BTB” is, next time they plan a trip on a weekend that is supposed to be the dad’s weekend, then make it a surprise for the kids. If the kids don’t know, then there is no chance Lisa finds out and no way she can ruin it…well, hopefully.

    And if all else fails and she keeps bothering them on his weekends with the kids, then maybe it’s time to head back to court and have her reminded about what custody agreements mean. But like someone mentioned, chances are, she’s just hurting and hasn’t learned to move on yet…or she is just a b***h.

  7. Will Jones

    November 21, 2011 at 7:26 am

    LOL@Kim! “…One and a possible…” That’s hilarious! I’m not sure what a possible means, or maybe I am sure and just don’t want to know!

  8. m.e. johnson

    November 21, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    Yeah Tracy, I was going to suggest as a last resort ~ if hubby can get a little starch in the backbone ~ tell the judge how Lisa has been violating his order (Judges don’t like that.). Put some fear in Lisa’s butt that he could get custody. But would B be happy with that?

    ” Be careful what you ask for…”

  9. Cody Williams

    November 22, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Some additional things to consider BTB

    Help Lisa find a man. OMG! You have no idea how much easier that will make your life.

    A satisfied ex-wife leads to a happy divorced life.

    Pay someone to date her for a year if you have to. (No, I’m not serious about that payment thing, not unless you are very wealthy, because it’s worth it.)

    And secondly, and most importantly, learn to let go. You and your husband need to know that raising your kids is a marathon, not a sprint. You are not going to get everything done in a short timeframe. Some battles with Lisa you’re going to win, and some you are going to lose. Stand your ground on the important ones. And retreat on the small skirmishes.

    Trust me on this one. I’ve lived it.

    Be prepared to let the children be with her, and count it as a super major blessing and a gift for you two to spend some uninterrupted quality time alone together. Actually you should thank her. Turn that Boston trip into a great get-a-way for two. (And then make sure the kids know what a good time they missed)

    If she’s really a witch she’ll start to recognize your joy and push the children at you more. And if she is really lonely and wants the kids around her for comfort then be happy that you are in the position to bless her. She’s lonely, you are not.

    Oh, and thirdly, always (and I mean ALWAYS) keep a copy of the divorce agreement handy and let her know you are willing to fight for your (well, husband’s) parental rights. Never give those up.

  10. The Broke Socialite

    November 22, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    I could write a book here.

    I can empathize with Lisa’s actually HATING her husband’s ex-wife. Until my husband and I stopped allowing his ex-wife to behave badly, I felt the same way.

    It was only when we decided to stop being sucked into her drama and focused on our blended family that she began to grow weary in her manipulation and wrongdoing. We made up our minds that we would call her when she exhibited her dreadful craftiness and carry on with the business of being happy and enjoying our peaceful home.

    What I realized in the midst of her bad behaviour is that it had less to do with us and more to do with her having not moved on since my husband divorced her (which he had done long before I hit the scene) and her being a generally trifling person.

    Though our son is an adult now, I can not say that I like this woman any more than I did 12 years ago. I’m just glad that I do not have to deal with her on a day-to-day basis any longer.

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