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Stepbomb and the Ex Go to Therapy!

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Stepbomb: I've always been a proponent of therapy. I believe in taking care of the mind just as you would your body. I've gone to individual therapy in the past, and my husband and I now see a therapist for "upkeep." But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine myself sitting in a therapist's office next to my husband and across from his ex-wife and her new husband.

two women
After all of the unnecessary drama, I asked my husband's ex-wife if the four of us could meet. And it was she who suggested seeing a therapist. My husband and I readily agreed -- maybe this was just what we needed to get on the same page, start fresh, start putting aside the anger and begin co-parenting peacefully (or as peacefully as possible). 

The session was productive. We didn't hash out the past; rather, we talked about what we wanted from the future. She acknowledged that she had repeatedly lashed out at us and agreed to start respectfully communicating with us. I apologized for not doing a better job of understanding the insecurities she must have felt when I volunteered in the classroom. We agreed to be open and honest and respectful. My husband and I left on a high, feeling hopeful. 

I wish I could say it worked. But two days later, we were scolded via voicemail for not getting out of the car to talk to her when we dropped off the kids. Never mind that it was raining and we were on our way to a doctor's appointment. Never mind that we'd asked her to always be respectful even if she was upset with one or both of us. Unfortunately, it was as if we'd never gone to therapy. 

I know you can't ask a zebra to change its stripes -- especially not overnight. But two days later?! I had thought we might make it at least a week. I wish my husband and I didn't have to constantly live in fear that we're going to get yelled at or scolded over e-mail. I wish she could do the one thing we'd asked: communicate with us respectfully. When she's upset, can't she just take a deep breath before reacting?


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21 comments so far | Post a comment now
Karen September 24, 2010, 5:32 PM

To the author: Were you the “other woman”. Just wondering.

KS September 24, 2010, 5:55 PM

I’m pretty sure she doesn’t feel the intimate details of her family workings being put out there for the world to see via your blog as being very respectful. Pot meet kettle. You need to communicate with her instead of complaining about her to the entire world.

Pamala September 24, 2010, 6:03 PM

From what I understand from the previous posts the author is not the other women, but in fact the ex is the one who cheated.

One doesn’t have to be the other woman to be treated in this manner. My mother met my step-dad 10 years ago, 5 years after my step-dad had divorced his cheating wife (who went on to marry the man she cheated with). She treats my mother with such disrespect even though my mother never tried in any way to be a mom to his kids. Heck two were already out of the house when they married, the youngest just 3 years from 18. So there was no mothering to be done. That doesn’t stop the ex from being rude and talking trash about my mother.

Anonymous September 24, 2010, 7:32 PM

First, I think it’s great that you all went to someone to help you get talking to each other. It’s too bad she got mad at you again two days later, but from here it sounds like she has actually improved. She’s not cursing or suing you, just getting mad.

Jennifer September 24, 2010, 8:28 PM

Well, you tried. As they say, you can’t change other people, just how you react to them. I’m sorry. Maybe she would benefit from some therapy on her own. Not that I’m suggesting you tell her that, if you think she’s a nutcase now….

Anonymous September 24, 2010, 9:23 PM

I don’t think airing your family laundry or talking about minor’s undergarments and budding sexuality so publicly is “communicating respectfully” either. But I do think Stepbomb reaps what she sows and is getting exactly the kind of relationship she deserves.

Stepmum September 24, 2010, 10:21 PM

I can hardly believe that people are taking the *anonymous* author of this de-identified post to task for being disrespectful or betraying privacy!

And why would you assume that she’s the “other woman”? Millions of women marry previously married men without ever having been the “other woman”.

Even if she was, that doesn’t give the ex-wife a leave pass from healthy co-parenting - for the sake of the kids, if nobody else.

These criticisms are so very clearly more about the commenters’ fears and insecurities than anything the writer has done wrong or right.

I see a woman who is willing to work with the ex to build respectful relationships, despite having been burned in the past.

What do your hater goggles have you seeing, KS and Anonymous “reaps what she sows”?

anonymous 2 September 25, 2010, 4:44 AM

I don’t think it’s any excuse for the ex’s behavior or even the same thing as what the ex has done, but I have wondered what would happen to stepbomb if her ex ever saw the columns. It would be bad if the girls ever found them, too. There are no names, but if anyone in the family saw the columns, they would know.

Jennifer September 25, 2010, 5:50 AM

Totally agree with you stepmum- there’s always some high and mighty comments in response to stepbomb’s posts. And they’re usually “anonymous”….

NotCaroline September 25, 2010, 9:53 AM

I’ve posted as anonymous on other boards because it’s just too much of a pain to register or put in a name and address and then get spammed.

I don’t think someone with the oh-so-revealing name of “Jane” or “Mary” has the corner on parenting relationships, BTW.

Or that because someone has an opinion on family dynamics it MUST mean they MUST be single/married/divorced/cheated-on/the cheater (take your pick).

That said:

Stepbomb dresses the girls

Stepbomb writes letters to the ex in husband’s name

Stepbomb volunteers at the school

Stepbomb decides if girls are old/mature enough for something

Stepbomb takes care of girls after school

Stepbomb contacts ex in lieu of the girl’s father

That tells me that you’ve got a super laid-back dad who’s relationship with his children and ex is being driven by this new woman in their lives.

I can’t fault mom for having issues with that, and think any effort on her part is pretty heroic.

Expecting her to be perfect and the world to be all rainbows and kittens after exactly one therapy session tells me that this new waive is very young, very naive, and doesn’t know a lot about motherhood or the real world.

It doesn’t surprise me that Stepbomb would reveal family secrets on the web, or so freely discuss intimate details of their lives, because that’s what naive, self-centered people do — they make mountains out of other people’s molehills and turn a blind eye to their own problems.

And until Stepbomb begins admitting she’s an enormous part of the problem, not the all-seeing, all-knowing, sooooo-much-better-and-wiser-than-mom alternative, these girls are heading further and further down the road towards a very drama-driven (fueled by the stepmother AND their mother, with the passive blessings of their father) relationship with their parents.

KS September 25, 2010, 5:24 PM

These situations are notorious for being he said she said. And until you get BOTH sides of the story you do not have a clear picture of what is really going on. I have read a few of the posts from step bomb here bashing the mother of her step children and I truly do not see that as being respectful or productive to the family dynamic.

How hard would it have been to get out of the car and speak to the mother. If you can send children out in the rain surely you can step out in it yourself. And honestly unless all of us out here in Internet land actually heard the infamous voicemail and every interaction leading up to it we can not sit in judgement of this mother.

Step bomb speaking so poorly of the mother still, even after therapy shows HER frame of mind and unwillingness to put the past behind her. I would actually like to know why in the world this father hasn’t stepped in and said that this blog is inappropriate and disrespectful to not only the mother of his children but his children as well. Does he not think they will one day see this.

This is something to put in a journal not on the Internet for all to see because of it’s potential to hurt all those actually involved in the situation. Especially when the mother isn’t here to give her side of the story.

Carol September 25, 2010, 10:02 PM

Why would you except a person to change after one session?
The frist session is always mainly for the theraphist information - to meet the person/people and get an understanding of the dynamics at work.
Additionally, you have indicated that you have been married a short period of time. Why would you need theraphy for “maintenance”? I can understand after 10 years or so.
Maybe if you need to go to theraphy for your relationship with husband and theraphy for your relationship with his ex’s, you are really the problem?
Just a thought.
I agree with just every thing NotCaroline wrote. Stepbomb over stepped many boundaries and doesn’t get why the ex has a problem with her. Even after readers have in the beginning gently asked her to see the ex’s viewpoint.
I have posted before, like KS, that we really need the other side of the story.

Anonymous September 26, 2010, 11:17 AM

Couples dealing with exes and stepchildren have more issues to deal with, so I think it is great that stepbomb goes to a therapist for maintenance. I agree that she was expecting too much out of the therapy, but on the other hand, I think she should get credit for going and apologizing. Hopefully more therapy will make things even better.

Anonymous September 27, 2010, 5:28 AM

“I apologized for not doing a better job of understanding the insecurities she must have felt when I volunteered in the classroom”
WOW stepbomb -way to blame the victim. You apologized for HER insercurities not YOUR overstepping boundaries. You really take the cake! How about you try something called accepting responsibility for your outrageous actions?

And if it is okay for the kids to get out of the car in the rain certainly okay for the DAD and her. For a person who demands repsect, stepbomb certainly isn’t giving any!

Stepbomb September 27, 2010, 12:35 PM

I write these anonymous posts because I am hoping to get insight from mothers stepmothers, fathers and stepfathers and anyone else who has been in a similar situation, who speaks from experience in some way or who simply hasan opinion.

As always, I thank you for your perspectives. And although some of your comments are tough to hear, I still welcome them. At the end of each post, I ask a question because I am not sure what to do, am not sure that I acted as I should have. I am truly struggling to find answers to very tough situations that I often find myself in with my husband’s ex wife.

To clarify:
I was not the other woman.

The clothing I have loaned my stepdaughter has been button down shirts and sweatshirts- nothing revealing or inappropriate in any way.

I did not buy my stepdaughter a bra. I repeatedly suggested she speak with her mom or dad about it.

I do not communicate with the ex instead of my husband. She often writes directly to me, but either my husband responds or we respond jointly.

My husband is not lazy, absent or any of the other things many assume he is. He is a very active participant. This column is about my relationship with the ex and that is why I often focus on that and don’t include as much detail about my husband.

Thank you again for all of your comments.

MartiniMama September 27, 2010, 1:34 PM

I am glad that you all sat down in therapy, but did you really expect ONE session to change things? This will be an on-going work in progress. It’s been dysfunctional for quite a while. To expect that anything would change overnight is completely unrealistic.

You all need to continue going to therapy, and working on this. It’s going to take time for things to change.

OrangeCountyStepmom September 27, 2010, 1:42 PM

I have to wonder if the father met the new wife on the Internet. I’d be worried about some Internet date mommy-ing my kids, showing up to their schools and taking over their care, too.

If that’s not the case, then I have to think the new wife is REALLY young. It just seems like she has so many unrealistic expectations and doesn’t understand motherhood yet.

sarah October 12, 2010, 8:52 AM

Stepbomb,

First I commend you for all you have gone through and with such an apparent good attitude. I am not quite stepbomb yet but do have two children in addition to my own 4 children who have stolen my heart and even though they are teenagers, they run to me when I’m sure their mother would like them to run to her. It is very difficult to know the boundaries and I strongly disagree with most of the commenters on here, I do NOT think you have over stepped your boundaries at all. THese are your children, your responsibility is to love and care for them as if they came from your womb. Birth mother is making that exceedingly difficult.
In my situation (at this point anyway) birth mother and I are on good terms most of the time. I wonder if that will change as my relationship with her ex changes. However, I contact her every time I become aware of something with her kids that I as a mother would want to know. I try to keep her informed, it has worked well so far. She emails, texts and sometimes calls. She has thanked me for loving her kids and she returns the favor… she will say “keep an eye on my daughter, let me know if she is spending time with so and so” or whatever… Our job is to love and protect those kids at all cost. My feelings toward her do not matter, her feelings toward me do not matter. It is those kids who are put first. Hopefully it will continue this way.
By the way I do not have a relationship like this with my ex or his “friends”. That one is extremely difficult.
I wish everyone could see that the children are what matters and learn to at the very least get along and communicate about those precious kids (and yes, even the horrible teenagers are precious).

Good luck to you and I would love to communicate with you via email since you aren’t going to be posting anymore. I’d like to continue to learn from you and your experiences.

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