Dealing With Your Spouse’s Ex 

If your spouse was married previously and had children, chances are, you have to deal with their ex. Although some families manage this well and make it look easy, this can be difficult for the majority of families. Step-parenting is a difficult task by nature. Throw in a difficult ex-spouse, and it can create some tumultuous times.

Try to remember that you will always have to deal with an ex-spouse when there are children involved. It won’t end when the children are 18. There will still be weddings, babies, and other events that are likely to bring everyone together. Trying to get along with the ex-spouse might seem difficult at first, however, in the long run, it will make things a lot easier.

An ex-spouse may feel threatened by you. For example, a new step-mother is likely to stir up some feelings for the biological mother. She may feel threatened by you and the kids’ willingness to accept you. It may be helpful to try and communicate up front with her about your role. Try to assure her that you value her role and respect her position as a mother. Try to communicate that you understand your role is the step-mother and you won’t try to take over her position. Sometimes this can be helpful in alleviating fears.

If you and your spouse’s ex have already started off on shaky ground, consider some ways to try and alleviate this. Perhaps it has been years of sharing glares or hearing the children repeat negative things they’ve heard about you. Whatever the case, try to consider if there are some steps you could take in the right direction. This might include sending an email or setting up a face-to-face meeting.

Consider therapy if you find yourself holding a lot of resentment, anger, and jealousy toward your spouse’s ex. Such feelings are likely to damage your marriage. Learning to accept your spouse’s past is important. Family therapy may also be helpful in establishing your role within the family.

4 Responses to “Dealing With Your Spouse’s Ex”

  1. Very good advices and article! I have not been married but i do have a child and i can tell it works the same way!

  2. Hey Staff Winter.

    Great article! This is something that is very close to me. My ex has taken my daughter to the other side of the world and has continued to make it harder and harder for me to communicate with my daughter.

    She is angry and jealous of my new partner and this has reflected on my ex’s behavior to help patch all our relationships for my daughter’s sake. She has completely cut me off and doesn’t want me in our daughter’s life.

    So, I have to take action and go out there. In my opinion no child should be used for revenge or blackmail it is an absolute disgrace.

  3. This does make a lot of sense. As a quick note I feel bad for Darren knowing that he has been cut off from seeing his daughter is a distressing and heart-wrenching feeling.

    As a father of a daughter myself I can really feel for you man.

    After reading this I now find my self in this situation with having to deal with this. The only strange part is that I am the ex. My wife left me for another man and now that leaves me as being the bad guy.

    Personally I’m not interested in meeting or having any communication with Mr. New Man.

    I guess at some point there will be the occasion that I will have to possibly deal with him and my ex-wife at the same time.

    I will keep it cordial but it is an uncomfortable position to be in.

  4. I am running into a similar situation with my soon to be wife’s ex-husband. We do not hide our feelings about him to each other but we do not speak ill of him in front of his daughter and will never, but recently something came up. My fiance started a new job and her commute to work increased significantly and we saw this as a perfect time for her daughter and myself to spend some 1-on-1 time together. So I pick her up from daycare take her home, get her fed, play with her, entertain her, talk to her basically just interact with her on a level so her and I can get to know each other better like her mom and I do. Well the ex started throwing a fit about the divorce decree in that any extended period of time the child is not with the mother he is to get first consideration, which I have no issue with I want the daughter to have a relationship with her father. Extended by definition in the divorce decree is considered a weekend. What bugs me though and I have discussed this with my fiance is that if she used the divorce decree the way he is, he would be in jail. He does not pay child support on a regular basis and when he does he might pay half of his monthly amount. He is not maintaining his end of the agreement at all when it comes to the divorce decree yet attempts to use it as ammunition against my fiance and now against me from spending some time with the daughter. I do not want to replace “daddy” I just want the daughter to know that I love her and also help her foster a relationship with her dad, but when he acts like this its hard for me to do, so what is one to do in this situation?

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