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Would You Sit by Your Hubby's Ex at School Talent Show?

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Stepbomb: When my husband and I were still dating long-distance, I'd only visit him on the weekends he had his daughters, because my relationship with them was just as important as my relationship with him. During that time, there was many a suburban soccer game, and we'd all sit on the sidelines and cheer together -- my future hubby and me, and the ex and her husband. Because back then, the ex had accepted me -- or so I thought.


And then my future hubby and I got engaged.

So I'm sure you can imagine my surprise when, smack in the middle of our battle over custody, the ex wanted us all to sit together -- just like old times -- at the kids' school talent show.

A million thoughts came to mind:

I'd rather watch a "Jersey Shore" marathon while having my fingernails peeled off.

I'd get more pleasure out of having my entire body waxed -- one hair at a time.

Didn't she just send me a hateful e-mail ... yesterday?

The rational, levelheaded side of me wanted to say, "Anything for the kids!" But admittedly, my more emotional side argued that maybe this wasn't about the children. Maybe the ex simply wanted the "other moms" to think we were all chummy (because at that time, no one knew about "the battle").

And the kids knew their mom didn't like me. She'd already put them in the middle by telling them I was trying to replace her, and now she wanted to confuse them even more by rubbing elbows with me in the school auditorium?

But I was still torn.

In the end, my husband and I decided that we'd cross the "sitting together" bridge after the custody situation was resolved. So we sat on one side of the auditorium, and the ex and her husband sat on the other. Did the kids care that we weren't all sitting together? I don't know. But were they happy we were all there? Absolutely.

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7 comments so far | Post a comment now
Leah July 21, 2010, 5:24 AM

I’ve been with you on a lot but I think this was a bad move. Obviously she was holding out the olive branch. And if not, maybe she’s just making nice for the kids. Sure, she may have already said stuff to the kids that she can’t take back now, but she was clearly making an effort. She’s their mother forever - you should have really accepted the offer.

Lolli July 21, 2010, 10:54 AM

How long were the ex-wife and husband divorced when he started dating the stepmother? Or were they separated and started dating? I mean, is the animosity coming out of nowhere or does the ex-wife see the stepmom as someone who steppped in and muddled things up before things were sorted out with her former husband?

Anonymous July 21, 2010, 11:14 AM

Sitting with her would be good in many ways - reassure the kids, avoid any public embarrassment for anyone, possibly respond to an olive branch, and don’t give her an opening to complain that she tried and you were unfriendly. On the other hand, it’s understandable if you don’t feel up to sitting near her and pretending to get along with her. If you can’t do that, then it’s better to sit apart.

Stepbomb July 21, 2010, 11:42 AM

@Lolli- My husband and his ex had been divorced over a year when we started dating. However, she had already started dating and soon thereafter, living with her now husband. From our interactions and what she told her husband about me while we were only dating, I can only surmise that she was in full support of me. However, out of nowhere, she changed her behavior once we were engaged.

Kelly July 21, 2010, 1:04 PM

I think you made the right call here. Children are very smart and observant and can see through people “faking” it. They were probably more comfortable with you two separated knowing how their mom feels. After the custody stuff is over, maybe you can try to build a relationship where you and her are comfortable being around each other. Until then, if you really want to try sitting together, then your husband and her should sit by each other, with their spouses on the other side.

StepMom Magazine July 21, 2010, 3:49 PM

It is very common, as you report, for an ex-wife to become more contentious once an official engagement has been announced - even after a prolonged period of friendliness. Many mothers have difficulty accepting that their ex’s girlfriend will officially become a wife and by default a stepmom to their kids - a permanent fixture. It signifies changes for both her, and her children in addition to the official ending of a chapter in her life. Sitting together? Not necessary if there were unresolved tensions from the day before. And, there is no evidence to support that mom and dad must be chummy - or must always sit together at such events in order for the kids to be well-adjusted. In fact, research shows that being too close can confuse some children and cause them to wonder why the divorce was necessary given this post-“closeness”. Being cordial and respectful with each other in front of the kids? Always the right choice. Good luck.

NoNoSookie July 21, 2010, 3:54 PM

I wonder if it was because when the stepmom was just dating, dad had to step up and took care of his parenting responsibilities alone.

Once he married, if he’s shuffling all of the hard stuff, like homework, and big talks, and school meetings, off to the new mom, perhaps that’s what the first mom is having problems with.

Stepmom sees it as mom being overbearing and angry and unreasonable, mom just sees it as dad shirking his duties.

I mean, yeah… You are kind of replacing her. Or at least replacing two functioning parents with one mom and a dad who’s more than happy to step aside and delegate to someone else.

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