First Wife is Semi-Batshit Crazy… Second Wife Does…?

Reader:  I’ve been avidly reading this blog and it’s helped so much.  Thank you so much!  My question is how do you deal with ex’s while using your process?  My hubs got 2 little kids with his ex and I’ve got 2 little kids from my prior marriage.  His ex is out of state and emails him things that I feel are inappropriate (such as ‘X’ program reminded her so much of him & she just had a nightmare about him dying and woke up crying etc).  She stepped out on him several times during their marriage and he’d finally had enough and divorced her before meeting me.  How can I have “girl game” and deal with this without coming across as jealous and turning him off?  I am jealous, I admit, as the bond of parenthood is something he shares with her and not me.  But I haven’t any concrete reasons to feel jealous as far as his behavior or actions go.  He’s never lied to me and is very straightforward.  I would love to know what you think I can do to encourage boundaries between his ex and him while still maintaining my dignity and girl game.  Or do I need to stay out of it?  Please help.

Athol:  Here’s the thing, when someone is clearly over stepping the boundaries and trying to make inroads with your partner, experiencing jealously is completely normal and appropriate. Failure to express something about the inappropriateness of what’s going on is generally a bad thing. It’s fine to step up and claim what’s yours.

In this case though, it’s not sounding like he’s being emotionally hooked into her, and she sounds borderline Batshit Crazy. I mean “I had a dream about you dying and I woke up crying” is really messed in the head. Who says that sort of crap? So you really want her to not become even more Batshit Crazy and stay on her side of the fence and not do something like use the kids as pawns to inflict misery on your husband. My suggestions are:

1. Both of you should have access to the email/phone that she attempts contact on. Affairs grow in secrecy and putting it out into the open just removes the possibility that it’s going to happen. Your husband probably doesn’t want an affair, but she wants your husband, so that’s the point here.

2. Never respond to her Batshit Crazy emails. Just ignore them. Reply with an email children related or a topic that disinterests her. So if she hates baseball… thrown in a paragraph about baseball. You’re not trying to piss her off, just bore the hell out of her.

3 Respond to all emails with something that is completely on point related to the children.

4. Mix up him responding to her and you responding to her with about a 2:1 ratio. Reference each other in the emails to give the impression that you and your husband are in constant contact with each other. (“Okay sounds good, let me check with hubby/wife and we’ll probably XYZ”)

5.  If she does something good for the kids, praise/compliment her for it. This will totally befuddle her and typically blunts aggression toward you.

6.  When she acts the way you want her to act… i.e. as a non-crazy, non-bitch ex-wife, be pleasant with her.

So the overall approach is one of having a unified presence, being open and generally keeping the discussion on point about the children and things she isn’t interested in. Ideally you never have to confront her, just create the impression she has no hope of making any traction on your husband while taking the moral high ground of everything being good for the children.

So your frame with your husband is simple too. “Look I know you don’t want her, but she just keeps doing this crap and we need to deal with it without her making serious trouble for us and using the kids like a football.”  Eventually she’ll start behaving.

Jennifer:  Captain and First Officer for the win. Go team! The answer to her crying about a dream of your husband dying is “Little Billy got an A on his report card.”

Comments

  1. Thanks for the advice. Regarding point #1 “access to email”, does that mean shared passwords? I’ve never asked for his password. He hasn’t offered either. Isn’t that a show of lack of trust that could leave husband thinking me insecure (*unattractive*)? Or is this something all couples should have from one another and if there is balking it’s a warning sign? I want badly to help the situation for my relationship, not inflame it with my own behavior.

  2. I don’t think all couples share email passwords, but perhaps there are times when it’s a reasonable request to do so. Athol’s strategy about this is logical.

  3. The ex doesn’t sound crazy — just lonely. I bet she’ll stop as soon as she gets a new boyfriend that pays attention to her and that she’s really into.

  4. @Jaz71:

    The ex sounds crazy *and* lonely. I’ve met people like that, some in my own family. I think it’s a vicious cycle, where the loneliness makes them ever more crazy and clingy, and the crazy clinginess drives people away.

  5. @ J

    Re: access to email, I would say that ought to be normal in a marriage although I realise there are those who are touchy about it. Perhaps you could suggest that he forward all her messages to you as well and that the two of you discuss how to respond and draft the response together. Also, you could make a rule to copy each other in any correspondence with her, so that she is aware of the fact that the two of you confer on these matters and that, when she talks to him, she talks to both of you.

    The biggest takeaway here is that the two of you make it clear to her that you are a team, through your behaviour and the way you deal with her, as Athol has outlined. It will be easiest to do this if you are actually a team. This is a good opportunity to build that teamwork in your marriage, challenging as it is.

  6. I wrote a post about Personal Attacks which must be adapted for the BatShitCrazy situation. The point being that a woman is better suited to dealing with another woman on behalf of her man. A man usually welcomes this since he feels the strain of it and the emotionality is often more than he is equipped to deal with. Being a team and facing this together, with you doing more of the communication, will establish your claim on him and hopefully deescalate the tension between your husband and his ex-wife. Most people follow the script that was established early on in the relationship and so those two will have a tendency to repeat the same crap that was frequent in that failed marriage.

    Athol’s advice is good. I am divorced from an ex-wife that exhibits undiagnosed BPD traits, so I know how wacky it can be.

  7. J,

    You don’t have to ask for his personal password … start a family e-mail account that you share, and have the ex send mail there. [Don’t respond if she sends to a personal account.] The shared account will come in handy as the kids get older and schools, Scouts, etc. want an e-mail address for announcements.

    Athol, your advice expands on what I do with my batshit ex. I never respond to the crazy e-mail, just the sensible questions about legal matters or the kids.

  8. Hi. Great advice, as always.

    I actually have a small request. The template that you are using is pushing text into the frame on the right. I get chopped off sentences. I use an iPad so that may be just a problem for this device.

    Great new site though.

  9. The ex-wife multi-cheated on the husband in question here. If he goes back to her, he deserves every bit of bat-shit hell that he gets.

    And what kind of a psycho multi-cheats on a spouse then decides that they want the spouse back?

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