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.”