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My New Year's Resolution -- For HIS Ex-Wife

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I'm not a huge believer in New Year's resolutions, but 2010 seems like a good year to start.

couple pulling on child

Wife #2: One reason: my two stepchildren. Don't get me wrong: I'm no stepmonster. I love those kids like I Iove my biological children. And I do everything I can to make our big, blended family as happy and comfortable as possible. But this year, I want to do better.

As many of you reading this may already know, Patrick and I left our spouses for each other. Years have passed since the initial blow, and so has some of the hurt and craziness. But not enough. Not by a long shot.

Overall, our five kids are doing well. They understand they're loved by everyone, in all their homes. They're building buddy systems based on the fun and the hurt of our collective experience. All things considered, we're clearly doing at least a lot of it right. But there are still more days than I'd like when my stepchildren feel like threatening little thunder clouds on an otherwise happy horizon. They're rude to me. They treat me with disdain, throwing their clothes on the floor and silently challenging me to do anything about it. It's like a terrible case of unrequited love. I can't help but love them even when they don't seem to want or deserve it.

So here's MY resolution: this year, I'm going to try to see the world more through their eyes. After all, as beloved Husband #2 reminds me, they didn't ask for this. They are good kids who sometimes behave badly because of a tough situation that we, the adults, put them in.

Rather than be hurt and angry when they're disrespectful, I'm going to try to understand where that comes from and then react appropriately. I need to enforce the rules of our household -- be a parent rather than a pal. No excuses for them or me.

Now here's where HER resolution comes in: Wife #1 needs to stop using her kids as weapons of divorce destruction.

Plenty of you out there probably think I have some nerve suggesting what his ex should be doing in the self-improvement department. Before you jump down my digital throat, consider this: I'm in a pretty unique position to comment since I witness the carnage every week.

Just a few quick examples:

Our grade schooler, who adores his dad, had to cross the baseball field in front of the entire team and ask his father to leave the game because "it's making mommy mad." Would that be mommy or Mommy Dearest?

And here's a helpful explanation she offered up to her children: "Daddy isn't your daddy anymore because he's left you to be the daddy to Wife #2's kids." This about a man who supports all the children -- and his ex -- emotionally and financially. And when I say financially -- she doesn't have to work another day in her life.

Then there's the relentless divide-and-conquer campaign. Families the kids have known for years won't arrange playdates on our weekends because it would be "disloyal" to Wife #1. Who exactly are the grown-ups here?

Does she honestly think it's good for her kids when she doesn't let them say hello to their father in front of her? Does yanking the kids across the street when she runs into us in town really send the right parenting message? And could she truly want their childhood memories marred by her shrill voice as a permanent echo trashing their father within earshot of anyone willing to listen?

The Clue Phone is ringing, Wife #1. And it's for you.

Grow up. Using your kids to get back at your husband is a destructive cliche.

He did the first horribly hurtful thing. He left you for me. But that doesn't give you a free pass to hurt your kids indefinitely.

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27 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kelley January 13, 2010, 4:19 AM

Hear, hear. I agree whole heartedly.

Mary January 13, 2010, 4:38 AM

Very well said.

Rachel January 13, 2010, 5:10 AM

This may be true (she needs to make sure her behavior isn’t affecting the kids), but I keep going back to your first post (and the second and third, which said the same basic, pathetic thing). Honestly, it’s kind of ironic how now you’re b!tching at your husband’s ex for not putting the kids’ feelings first - it would seem like she learned from the experts, you and husband #2. I’m sure your husband’s ex has witnessed plenty of “carnage” on your behalf, so you might want to check your holier than thou attitude before you start throwing stones near your glass house.

PlumbLucky January 13, 2010, 5:18 AM

I never thought I’d agree with a single thing out of this poster’s mouth as her stories and justifications seem to spin a different way each time.

But man, NO parent should EVER behave in this manner. Kids are kids, and shouldn’t be used as pawns or as weapons. I can’t say that Wife No. 1 shouldn’t be hurt (because…hello…read the other posts) but she should be an adult and direct it at her ex and his new babe, not the kids.

Tracy January 13, 2010, 5:54 AM

Isn’t it sad that this is so commonplace amongst divorced couples. People do this to get back at their ex’s but it’s the kids that get hurt the most.

BlackIris January 13, 2010, 8:06 AM

Grow up already! New Year’s Resolutions are a chance to become a better person, not an opportunity to be self-righteous. Why are you trying to use them to prove the woman you hurt is the bad guy?

Obviously, if you really cared about the kids, you wouldn’t have broken up their home.

If you want to change and put the kids first, it’s very simple. Make their mom happy. Don’t go to the game. Don’t try to make playdates with people who don’t like you - have their dad play with them when it’s his weekend. Don’t go places where you’re going to run into the kids with their mother. Avoid public displays of affection. Is that hard to do? Yes. Is it fair? No. Is it in the best interests of the children? Yes.

Stop blaming other people for the damage you’ve done. Make some sacrifices yourself.

Gigohead  January 13, 2010, 8:23 AM

I think what the Ex did at the baseball game was rude and uncalled for HAD the Dad been there lone, but it seems to me at the second wife was at the game. IF that was the case, the Dad was stupid to bring her. I don’t blame the woman for being uncomfortable. It was not Wife #2’s place to be there considering you were once her friend.

But to say that the kids are rude to you because of her it a bit of a stretch. Kids have a great knack of making up their minds as to who they like and don’t like. What you did to their family has affected them and you must live with the consequences. Perhaps they will grow to accept you over time, but right now, calling out the EX in a public forum is not the right way to go.

Christina January 13, 2010, 5:35 PM

A little humility might be in order here. IF Wife #1 is indeed using the children, then that is unhealthy. That being said, you are not the person to point this out, to her, to us, or to anyone really. You claim to have been her friend, but every time you mention Wife #1, you call her names or belittle her or otherwise make her out to be a shrew. Your attitude is very “get over it”. Well, you did the leaving in your marriage, so you don’t really have a proper frame of reference with respect to Wife #1’s emotional state. Further, if you really were, as you claim, previously a friend, then she was betrayed not once but twice. By. People. She. Trusted. Cut her some slack and make your own resolutions.

friend January 13, 2010, 5:49 PM

considering what you and h#2 did, it’s not a big surprise how w#2 and her children would react. you cannot expect everything to just be ok and smooth. these things take a lot of time and effort to smooth over. and these things can only be done on your part. you can’t ask other people to change how they react because you were the original instigator. nothing comes from nothing so if you want to be the bigger person, then show your compassion and don’t be exclusive about it. good attracts good and if you’re good enough to make the kids want to be near you, then you’ve accomplished what you wanted.

michelle January 14, 2010, 9:02 AM

Are you sure it’s wife #1 who’s really responsible for all these things, or are you just looking for an excuse to call her “shrill”? You might be surprised at the reality. Some kids, especially hurt and angry kids, can on their own come up with something like “Daddy isn’t your daddy anymore because he’s left to be the daddy to Wife #2’s kids” and then attribute it to their mom so they won’t get in trouble. Also, it is entirely possible that her friends are avoiding playdates because THEY feel completely, totally awkward, like they’d be getting in the middle of a family drama (and they wouldn’t be wrong about that). Trust me, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s some sort of secretive divide and conquer campaign by wife #1. I think your real resolution should be to stop throwing blame around and make sure all the kids are seeing a good child therapist.

Anonymous January 14, 2010, 10:46 AM

Hmm, sounds like you don’t like reaping what you’ve sown.

Of course they are rude to you - you and your “husband” tore apart their family for your own selfish lust (not love - love is a commitment to a marriage not leaving one to get it on with another).

What happy to all the happy sunshine of your former posts? You know the lies you told yourself to absolve you or your guilt? The ones about how much happier the kids would be to see their parents “happy”? Not so much, eh?

IF wife one is actually saying those things, she’s 100% right - their daddy is a selfish pig who left them to be with another selfish pig. That action shows just about how much concern either of you had for your kids.

Enjoy a lonely life together -or at least until the next time one of you cheats and leaves for greener pastures.

Me January 14, 2010, 11:44 AM

I am so sorry that all these hateful commentators even exist!! Let’s be honest, people divorce for all kinds of reasons and the children should never be pawns NO MATTER HOW THE DIVORCE HAPPENED.

Just because somebody is married, falls in love with another person and gets a divorce is no reason for the jilted spouse to use the children. All of you who think this is admissible should think again!!

Oh and BTW, if someone actually does have an affair it’s because something is not right in the marriage to begin with… the “hurt” spouse is not entirely innocent to begin with. Please, should we expect people to throw themselves on the inferno of a bad marriage just to make someone else happy? All of the people who are trapped in bad marriages with no way out until they find another person to inspire them to make a change would disagree!!!!

The ex should be mature enough to realize that the children are better off having a good relationship with their father and not let her own obvious mental problems effect her children. I think the actions she has taken actually consistitute mental child abuse!!!

Anonymous January 15, 2010, 12:49 PM

Wow. you know that if he cheats with you, he will cheat on you right? Oh, and I love how you say ‘grow up’ in your article. Wish I could get paid for posting such a childish article.

Lori January 22, 2010, 8:45 AM

I was married for 15 years and left for another woman. It has been 2 years and my ex has married her, and fathered 2 children in that short amount of time. Trust me, it is no easy pill to swallow. I had a great marriage and was very happy. I believed that I was married to my soul mate. Everything was absolutely perfect, until he came home one day and was acting strange. I later found out that this woman that he worked with had left him a voicemail saying that she couldn’t stop thinking about him. And he later told me that it was all that it took. He was so amazed that anyone would be interested in him because he had a wife and 3 kids, that he just couldn’t help himself. Even though, he loved his family, it was like being addicted to a drug that he couldn’t quit. My children have had no other choice but to accept his mistress turned stepmom. How else could they have a relationship with their Dad? They are afraid that he would chose her over them. My daughter actually told her dad that. And it came back to me as “You shouldn’t be saying that stuff around the kids” I didn’t say that. It came straight from them. They do have feelings and thoughts of their own. They are little “people”.

I am going to make an assumption here based on my experiences. I am guessing that what really happened at the baseball game was that the Mom was upset because you were there. And who could blame her? Yes, she is the adult. But she is the wounded party here and you are the one who needs to show some class, if you have any. Dad should let Mom know that he is planning on attending the baseball game and never just show up. And, you should never attend unless you are invited by Mom. You have humiliated her enough.

Coreen Trost January 27, 2010, 8:29 AM

You are totally right! I love your blog. I am wife #1 who always stayed friends and put my children’s feelings and best interest first. Only to have Wife #2 treat my boys horribly. If given the chance, I would be a Great step-mother just like You! :-)

Kenneeka February 9, 2010, 7:43 PM

It is amazing how your perception of what happened doesn’t seem to be based in reality. The ugly truth here is that you and your husband were cheaters and you destroyed two families and uprooted the lives of your children so that you could have what you wanted. Now you expect wife number one to treat you with respect and class. Where was your class when you were sleeping with her husband. Were you respectful to her? You seem to have this romanticized view of what happened, you were just so in love you couldn’t go against what was truly in your heart. Utter foolishness with and outer coat of selfishness. I don’t blame this woman for being angry with you and her ex-husband. You walked into her life and pulled the rug from out under her. You took her family from her. Destroyed the life that she spent building with her husband and you think you are in a position to set expectations for her behavior. You are so far off, self absorbed, insensitive and utterly clueless that I can’t help but find this entire think ridiculous. I mean the nerve to actually write this article. You should be ashamed. Two words ‘callous homewrecker’. The least you could do is understand why these children hate you and especially why this woman does. Situation reversed I am sure that you would not be understanding. Oh and as far as the whole look what she is doing to her kids argument, she didn’t put them in this situation YOU DID! The decisions you made brought this about. She is the victim here, this happened ‘to her’ and by your hands.

Anonymous February 19, 2010, 6:37 AM

If you cared so much about the children, you should of thought of that before putting yourself first!

Fiction  February 19, 2010, 1:05 PM

Momlogic - I have a strong feeling that these posts are fiction, short-short stories. I have read all of this writer’s posts and all of them definitely have comments to push a button in someone. Bravo, as I am posting here myself and that’s what you need to keep a site going with advertisers. I honestly do not believe these stories.

donna February 21, 2010, 8:06 PM

I read your comment and find it distasteful. I have been in your shoes where husband left wife #1 for me, and I. Had a lot more allowance for her retaliation. Look at what she lost. You’re just angry you have not won the loyalty of her kids and you never will. Give up and let go and have grace….you seem too bitter #2.

Noliving March 9, 2010, 12:07 PM

“Does yanking the kids across the street when she runs into us in town really send the right parenting message?”

Yes absolutely, instead of being publicly humiliated/embarrassed like she was at that game, she choose to leave. There is absolutely nothing wrong with what she did there. Every single time she sees you and her ex husband, but mainly you, she is triggered and then is swarmed with emotions. Particularly her anger and sadness, so in order to get out of that state in a healthy and responsible way she chooses to leave without making a scene. Since she is care taker for whatever day that occurs she has to take her child with her.

As for the baseball game I agree that it was the wrong choice but at the same time it was wrong of him to have you be there at the game when she is present. By you being there you were humiliating her, when ever you are in the company of her and her ex husband you are humiliating her.

Now her comments about him not being their daddy are clearly wrong and way off the mark, but then again we have no proof of her saying that.

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