Ex-Etiquette: Presence of spouse's ex adds to holiday stress

Q My husband's parents invite his ex to all their family get-togethers, and I'm anticipating that this year I will be having a holiday dinner with my husband's ex-wife. It makes me uncomfortable. Read more
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handay dandy

Saint Paul, MN

#1 Nov 30, 2009
I diagree totally. I think the ex-wife should go to her family for holidays. If she is not welcome there, well...that isn't exactly the new wife's problem. The ex shows up knowing that she is creating a problem; maybe that is her point? And the in-laws; don't the respect their son? Does he want her there?

I have who I refer to as "our ex-wife"; she won't move on, and it pitty her. Too bad she does not have a life.

Why does the new wife have to be the understanding one? It's the in-laws that appear to be the problem; maybe your husband should "buck-up" and tell the how he/you feel. If the problem isn't resolved, make your own holiday plan and do not include in-laws. Take a vacation, take your family (if that means the children) with you.

I don't think you should have to put up with the EX; that is what she is and EX....
kml45

Hastings, MN

#2 Nov 30, 2009
I also very much disagree with this response. Perhaps the husband's parents can meet with the "ex" on their own and not force everyone else into an uncomfortable situation. It shouldn't be the new wife making all of the adjustments here. Perhaps not only should the ex-wife "move on", but the parents here have to also respect what their son and his wife want as well and "move on" too. I believe your answer here is way off the mark. Not everyone is able or willing to create this tidy, happy family of ex's!!
mrs

Fort Huachuca, AZ

#3 Nov 30, 2009
I disagree totally. The ex-wife should meet with her family. What gives her the right to ruin everyone's elses holiday. We also have an "ex" who won't move on - I feel sorry for her because it has been 12 years and she still holds a grudge. What about what the son wants - where is the respect for him, what he wants. Surely the ex does not invite us over when it is her turn to have the kids on the holidays so why should we. I think the parents need to let it go, she is an "ex and there is a reason for that. She should be happy that her son is happy with his new wife!!! Do the parents not see that this could be creating issues with the son and wife.......
Von Mises

Minneapolis, MN

#4 Nov 30, 2009
The holidays are hotbeds of family dysfunction--inviting the ex would be one such dysfunction.

Since: Apr 08

Twin Cities

#5 Nov 30, 2009
I second everything the first three posters have said. This situation could have been my own, but my in-laws were much more sensitive and respectful than that. They continued their friendship with my stephchildren's mother on their own for a while and kept our family holidays light and positive. For occasions that only happen once (the kids' graduations) we all celebrated together and got pictures of the kids with their mom and dad, but holiday traditions continued without the exes. I don't have any advice for the writer of the letter, but for her husband. Knowing the situation is stressful for his wife, he needs to ask his parents to stop inviting his ex to family gatherings. If they refuse, then it's time to create some new holiday traditions that do not include previous spouses.
Sadies Mom

Troy, MI

#6 Nov 11, 2010
I have had to deal with this experience of having my husband's ex wife at holiday gatherings too. It is uncomfortable, no doubt. I'm not sure why my husband's siblings don't have the concern for their brother's feelings and ask him whether he would be uncomfortable with her around BEFORE inviting her to the family gathering. After all, he did DIVORCE her for a good reason. My point of view is this: He was their brother long before she ever became their sister-in-law. A divorce is a very serious decision and should be taken as such by everyone in the family. It seems so callous to not be at all concerned for your sibling's feelings in this matter. They never once considered not inviting her and it was as though they were pretending that a divorce never occurred. It makes things much harder when there is a new wife/husband involved eventually as well. Doesn't anyone have any respect for the hardship that divorce brings?
Neek

Minneapolis, MN

#7 Nov 11, 2010
Nice "Mother/Father in laws"?!?!?
F that!
I wouldn't go!
Creole

Atlanta, GA

#8 Feb 7, 2011
Wow. I have this exact same problem. The Ex that just won't go away. The Ex's family lives in the same town and she doesn't go to her own family but comes to my husband's family gatherings. My problem is with my mother-in-law and his siblings that obviously do not respect my husband or our feelings on the matter. They'd rather let us leave a family event than to visit with the ex on the other 360 days of the year that we are not there. We live out of state but this is what we come into town for on the holidays. Its old and played out. What makes them think we want to look up in her face every time we come to town. I have a son of my own and no way in hell is he going to leave my event because of being uncomfortable around his ex. I would let her know that we will get together some other time. Instead my husband's family lets us leave each and every time. And this bitch posts up and has no intention of leaving. She could just come in and speak but no, she gets comfortable. I realize they have kids together but the kids are grown. Its time for her to move on and be woman enough to stay away. If he wanted you, you would have still been there.
Newmoninsouth

Channelview, TX

#9 Aug 18, 2011
Sheeesh!!! I thought I was the only one who had to pretend to enjoy the holidays with husbands x. I have learned though to call ahead and ask who is on the guest list. If she's on it I say, ok see you next year!!! It's not so much that I have a problem being around her but I choose not to spend the holidays with her and I DO have a choice.
liz

Canada

#10 Jan 2, 2012
You guys think that is bad my husbad's ex lives with his parents because she can't afford rent so she says although she was renting. They say its for their grandson but I hate it. And worst he doesn't take me there if she is at home. I feel like the other woman.
Laurie

Saint Paul, MN

#11 Apr 1, 2012
Thanks to all responders. I have been divorced for 7 years and for the first time this year, my mother decided to invite my ex to the family Easter celebration. I will not be attending. I divorced my husband because he put me in harms way when he used drugs and alcohol. I went though hell/ Lost about 50,000 and he got a big family inheritance while I am filing bankruptcy.
Because of you I feel vindicated and respected . Thank YOU!
The New Wife

Owings Mills, MD

#12 Apr 5, 2012
I have had similar experiences. I try to be understanding because my husbands ex doesnt really have any family. I feel almost guilty that it bothers me when she is at family dinners/partys. It isn't a jealous feeling- just an uncomfortable feeling. This week I was asked by my Mother in Law if I mind if my husbands ex comes to Easter Dinner. How can she (and my husband) put me in that position? They have invited her to other family functions too and the whole thing is weird. I didn't want to make waves so I said no, i dont mind. It doesn't bother my husband one iota.I'm trying to fit into this new family and feel a part of it but its hard. I guess what I needed to know is- are my feelings warranted? Oh and here is a real kicker: right after we got married, my husband's ex wife threw a 50th birthday party for him. What is the proper way for me to respond or react to such things?? I mean, aren't there boundaries??
In addition, she calls my husband on occasion to help her with jobs around her home. Is this acceptable or not?I try not to stress over it but I can't help it. I'm glad to see I'm not alone.
Dia

Scarborough, Canada

#13 Jun 23, 2012
I had that happen to me too. My partners sister invited his ex and there daughter over for Christmas. We could have got his daughter and brought her. Anyhow, the whole family including my partner was oblivious all the while I was downstairs in their basement. I'm still unsure why months later I was the one that had to point the situation out. I would never do that to anyone. It's unatural!
Melisa Mullenix-Reyes

Humble, TX

#14 Aug 11, 2012
liz wrote:
You guys think that is bad my husbad's ex lives with his parents because she can't afford rent so she says although she was renting. They say its for their grandson but I hate it. And worst he doesn't take me there if she is at home. I feel like the other woman.
Omg! I have the same problem! My husbands exwife lives with his parents, and it is a nightmare. To top it all off, she does NOT work, is supported by his parents , my husband pays child support and does all he can, but because SHE doesn't work, WE and HIS parents, have to fit the bill for everything The kids go to school all day, and she does NOTHING! And when I voice my opinion about the "situation" my husband gets so upset and mad and it causes a fight. I am a nurse , he is a police officer so we do ok and she knows that so she thinks she is set. Also, she goes to ALL badly parties, holiday get together's, etc. To be honest , I dont know how much longer I can take this BS. I love my husband, but the situation will never change. So, I either put up with it? Or walk away? Anyone have any suggestions?
Dreamer

Hollywood, FL

#15 Aug 21, 2012
I agree with everybody's posts. I will add the following to resume all posts and my thoughts:
Family member divorced his exwife for many good reasons including to have her out of his life. Therefore, he and new wife should not be imposed someone who belongs to the past and all family members should respect that.
Family member divorced his ex, not his kids, therefore he has an obligation and consideration with his children, not their mother.The same applies to all other family members.
If for any reason, any family member has a relationship with exwife, she or he can actually socialize and keep their relationship out of family gatherings where include a new wife.
Exwife must understand that she is not longer part of her exhusband's family and should not participate or pretend to be included in family gatherings with the exception of VERY special and casual ocassions for the sake of the childrens (specially if they are little).
Host of any event should make sure and make clear, specially to the exwife's childrens, that they are cordially invited not their mom, in order to perserve the party's enjoyment and to respect the position of the new wife/member.
Any exwife that invites herself or pretends to be included in all exhusband's family gatherings is someone of very poor taste, who has not closed that chapter in her life and someone who has a plan of creating problems.
Not matter what others may think, family gatherings involving exwife and new wife, makes people unconfortable, ruins people's good spirit to celebrate, and could ended up creating serious problems, specially if exwife is not someone of good principles.
New wife under NO CIRCUSTANCE should be asked to adapt herself to the sturboness of an exwife or her children's just because they don't know better or just because either she does not have other life or children don't want to understand.
New wife should asked ahead of time if exwife is invited and excercise her right to decline to attend all family gatherings untill EVERYBODY understand that new wife's space in the family must be respected.
If there are still family members that don't understand the above, make sure, you host a family gathering and invite all family exes, that way, they would understand the point you are trying to MAKE!
Good luck to you and to me with this HORRIBLE situation, this is other free PAIN that you get, among another 1000 others, while marrying someone with an exwife or childrens!
carmen223

Northville, MI

#16 Nov 4, 2012
My sister recently invited my ex to a birthday party for her daughter without even letting me know he was coming. I did not want him there. She is entitled to invite whomever she wishes, but she definitely wasn't thinking of my feelings and pain. It has been an awful divorce where my ex was bullying and nasty. He has a public and private persona and my sister thinks I made a huge mistake. She is entitled to invite whom she wants but as far as I am concerned, my relationship with my sister will never be the same.
Lady Cakes

Ronkonkoma, NY

#17 Nov 5, 2012
I am dealing with this situation. My husband had been divorced 8+ years when I came into the picture and during this time no bounderies were set between the in-laws and ex wife. Once I came into the picture I tried very hard to accept it. But over and over I was told how uncomfortable "everyone" was when I was there since we both were in the room. COnversations would always revolve around remonicing and one on one conversation with me was limited. I thought if I was open with my uncomfortable feelings that maybe it was not on purpose. Well, in the end I have been rejected from the family. Because I had confessed being uncomfortable the siblings and mother I feel ganged up on me
took this as an oppurtunity to move me out of the family and
surrounding the ex with love and support.
They say I don't try and have called me a bitch.
I worry for my marraige. and still have to come to terms with the fact that I will most likely never have a relationship with my in-laws let alone the ex wife.
They don't have room for anyone else
current wife

Warrenton, VA

#18 Nov 16, 2012
was just informed my mother in law invited husbands ex to thanksgiving. would have appreciated her asking us first. now Im supposed to eat it? hell no! Im not going! he's been divorced three times-is his mom trying to help him achieve a fourth?
JennyC

Ottawa, Canada

#19 Feb 17, 2013
The New Wife wrote:
I have had similar experiences. I try to be understanding because my husbands ex doesnt really have any family. I feel almost guilty that it bothers me when she is at family dinners/partys. It isn't a jealous feeling- just an uncomfortable feeling. This week I was asked by my Mother in Law if I mind if my husbands ex comes to Easter Dinner. How can she (and my husband) put me in that position? They have invited her to other family functions too and the whole thing is weird. I didn't want to make waves so I said no, i dont mind. It doesn't bother my husband one iota.I'm trying to fit into this new family and feel a part of it but its hard. I guess what I needed to know is- are my feelings warranted? Oh and here is a real kicker: right after we got married, my husband's ex wife threw a 50th birthday party for him. What is the proper way for me to respond or react to such things?? I mean, aren't there boundaries??
In addition, she calls my husband on occasion to help her with jobs around her home. Is this acceptable or not?I try not to stress over it but I can't help it. I'm glad to see I'm not alone.
No, it's not appropriate for your husband's Ex to 1) throw him a party (that's YOUR job), or 2) excessively rely on him to do jobs around her house. She needs to move on, and cut the cord. She wants to have her cake and eat it too.
esya

Aurora, CO

#20 Mar 28, 2013
I think folks are being a little hard here. If the marriage is a long one, more than 20 years, some slack needs to be cut. You know you are getting a used car, not a new one.

That being said, no ex spouse of any good taste would invite themselves to a party or gathering without an express invite of the ex, and permission of the host and hostess. As for the new spouses--maybe these things should have been discussed ahead of time. Like kids.

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