So frustrating

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2009
So frustrating
Mon, 11-25-2013 - 2:08pm

First, let me apologize. I feel like I only come to this forum when I feel I have nowhere else to turn, and that is not very friendly (in my mind) and I should really try to come more often. 

Secondly, I am terrible with the abbreviations here, so please be patient with me

I am married, second marriage for both of us, he has two children (I have no children), and they are both teenagers. We moved across the country to be closer to them and we have been here for a year. We have been trying to get more parenting time (a nightmare in itself, she doesn't want to make a decision, she thinks anything more than every other weekend is "too much" and they have been divorced for going on 10 years, he has not been able to see the kids very much because he was in the military) They recently moved less than a mile away from our house and she still insists on every other weekend, 2 weeks in the summer, and some holidays. We would like 10-12 days a month - but the kids are uncomfortable with that, or so they tell their mother. When they are here, they are fine. They seem happy and well adjusted. We try to keep the rules as consistent as possible between the two households.

My biggest issue lately is their mother is nice to me when DH is not around, we have pleasant and friendly conversations. She is nice to him when I am not around, (when I am around she won't say two words to him unless they are sarcastic and catty) this has only increased in the past few months. She is now bashing me via email when she emails him, saying he can't make a decision without talking to me first about HIS kids (he asks my opinions about the parenting time, sometimes he listens and sometimes he doesn't, his choice, I try to stay as objective as possible. I'm trying to be supportive, but she also needs to understand the position I am in. I'm supporting kids that are not mine, paying for healthcare, etc, thousands of miles away from my nearest family member, because of my love for my husband and his children) so I guess what I am asking is - is this normal? I mean on one hand it seems that she still has feelings (she left him for another man, they tried to reconcile several times, but it didn't work. most recent time was about a year before he and I met) but on the other seems like it is about control. What is the best way to handle this? 

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Mon, 11-25-2013 - 2:54pm

To be honest, I don't think there is really anything for you to "handle."  You two get along, so the fact that she is frustrated with her xH is a separate issue.  You only know this because he has shared it with you.  If he didn't tell you what her e-mails said, you would have no idea. 

So, as I was told, "You only have more information.  Nothing has changed."

The level of involvment of a step-parent is always up for debate.  Personally, I think it is fine that your DH runs things by you.  You are married and it is your home that you share together.  As a xW myself, I will be honest that it doesn't matter how much you like the next GF or DW, it can be annoying at times. 

So, the short answer is "there is nothing to deal with, nothing for you to do."  All your DH can do is continue to hold out the olive branch to his kids so hopefully they will start to come over more.  There comes a point where you really don't have much control any longer over visition anyways. 

Hope you keep posting!

Serenity CL making a second marriage work

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2009
Mon, 11-25-2013 - 5:37pm


You are right, I would have no idea if he shared that with me. We try to be open and honest with our communication, and he tries to be empathetic with me with regards to the visitation impacts my schedule as well, as I try to be here when the kids are here, or plan things out, on occaision, so that they can have alone time with their dad (I think that is extremely important). I guess that the frustrating thing is that she is just so different when it is us together, and she goes out of her way (apparently) to show that. She most certainly goes out of her way to say things about our marriage via email, and to say other things about how the kids don't want to come over, or that they just want to be alone with him, or that they have more fun if I am not around (something that they have never indicated behaviorally or orally around us - we try to have a good time with them, I try to give them space with their father, she continually brings me into the conversation) I guess I just can't shake the feeling that she doesn't want me in the picture at all - I know she is his ex, but she left him...he didn't leave her. It seems like all that she sees are the material things (house, cars) that we have and that she doesn't (she does very well for herself, actually) and not realizing that I work very hard for everything I have, and my husband does too, and we always ensure that the kids are taken care of (with child support and other things, as we are able) but she still expects us to have a full wardrobe of clothing for the kids here at our house when we only have them every other weekend....things like that. It is so frustrating. I guess I'm just venting. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-20-2002
Mon, 11-25-2013 - 7:05pm

Hi Allie Cat,

I'm glad that your DH shares /discusses with you first.

LOL...this reminds me of once, quite a few years ago (my SO and I have been together over 10 years now), but his ex has had HUGE issue with wanting to run/control his life also....didnt want to be married to him, but wanted 110% of his income and time doing chores at her place..........whatever.... day , for some reason we had been on phone (cell phone) while he was in car at pick up of kids, and she came over and started talking (arguing) with him and I overheard entire conversation.............I thought it was pretty hilarious re: how she was raging so indignantly re: "you let her run your life!"........because he didnt agree with something exW wanted him to do---and it had NOTHING to do with anything I wanted/care re: him doing or not doing..............but it just seemed so completely comical of a remark,, what , so he should be...INSTEAD....letting his... EX his life ?? !! .....hah....

Anyhow, as long as he continues to do what he's doing, YEA.

I think when a woman completely controlled husband's decisions (as she probably did), then she's no longer in control, and cant unilaterally decide everything re: kids, there is a long learning curve (as with my SO and his ex).............(clue-in: It's not pretty to be apart of all of this!)...........but ....eventually.....(esp if your DH just keeps doing what he's doing),...........they accept this..........

Be glad that she's nice to your face at least,..........and support your DH in holding his ground.......


Oh.....and my main point I never got to in above:

HER OPINION of *anything* regarding her EX husband......EX husband's marriage, EX husband's life, EX husband's affairs of ANY type not matter ONE iota.............and your DH will do best by cutting off ANY and ALL conversation/communication with her as soon as that starts.


He didnt ask for it, doesnt want it, and , since no longer married, has ABSOLUTELY NO REASON to listen to her (UNASKED FOR) opinion.

((((more hugs!!))) and BEST WISHES!

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Tue, 11-26-2013 - 10:57am

This just seems so odd to me that some parents still use their kids as bargaining chips to get back at the ex.  In my state every parent who is getting divorced has to go to a parent education class and part of that seminar tells you not to try to deny parenting time to your ex and use your kids as pawns.  I guess if he really wants more time, he has the option of going to court but maybe starting a big battle is not that great an idea.  At this point they are teens already so they have minds of their own--when they are 18 they are going to do what they want, but even before that, they start to get busy with their own activities.  I got divorced when my kids were 7 & 1--now my youngest one is 18.  During all that time, my ex probably saw them 3x a week since he doesn't live that far away, but if the kids ever said to me that they wanted to go to dad's house on a different day or extra time, I just couldn't imagine saying no.  But I'm also thinking that doesn't she have things that she wants to do?  I mean by the time they are teens, they should be failry independent anyway so it's not like you have to "watch" them like a toddler--if I were her, I'd be thinking great, if they go over dad's more, that's one more night that I don't have to cook dinner & I can go to the mall, go out with friends, etc.  So it must just be either control over his life, like Laurena says, or that she's jealous that he's happily married and somehow she really wanted the divorce to ruin his life.  I would let her comments about what the kids want to do go in one ear & out the other--you said you do give them time alone w/ their dad and knowing most teens, if they don't want to do something, they will speak up for themselves or you could see it in their behavior as far as being whiny & sullen.  I guess she is the one having trouble adjusting to the change of having him around--the kids are probably fine with it.  And since they live one mile away, why should they have different clothes at your house?  My kids just packed a bag--they never had different clothes at dad's--that would have been too confusing.  They are certainly old enough to pack what they need for a weekend and if they forgot something, it would be very easy to go get it.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2009
Tue, 11-26-2013 - 12:44pm


I think it really is a control thing. If he travels (even when we don't have the kids) she wants to know when and where "in case there is an emergency" and while I can understand the emergency issue, we didn't live here a year ago and she would just call. It almost seems like she wants him to "report in" to him. She was upset because when we moved here we bought "brand new furniture" (apparently we were supposed to buy used??) my husband isn't working full-time right now, we (for now) still pay full child support, and we are already heading back to court to get more time with the kids and reduce the child support due to his lower income level. She seems to forget that my income does not factor in, and please, don't get me wrong, if the kids NEEDED something, I would help out. I already provide healthcare, at no cost to her.....I'm trying to help her in ways that I feel would help the kids. She isn't hurting for anything....the kids are happy, well fed, and honestly, they do not want for anything - ipad minis for christmas, they basically point at something and get it (not in our house, they get some things, but they do have to earn some things as well) and while they are teenagers (basically) they can't make decisions without talking to their mother, if they are uncomfortable, rather than talking, they text (which is fine for now, I'll take any form of communication at this point) but...I just hate that she keeps bringing me into it. We are sure she badmouths us to the kids, I make it a point to never ever say anything about their mother. The only thing I do say is that she is a good mom, other than that, I honestly don't know her and I keep my opinions to myself (or share with my husband in private settings) - I guess this is just a normal part of being a stemom 

Thanks for listening :) (or reading I suppose)

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2009
Tue, 11-26-2013 - 12:49pm
Music, We have the same thing in our state, and I think some of it goes in one ear and out the other. The kids aren't very independent, they are very…what's a good way to say this….they like attention, and they like it all the time. On one hand, I don't mind giving it, on the other hand, I think it is a mistake to give them soooo much attention at this age because they almost become dependent on other people. I wish I could say that I believe she has other things she wants to do but she repeatedly says "I live my life for these kids, nothing else matters" and it doesn't seem to me that she takes any time for herself. I'm not her, so I won't tell her what to do, but I can say that I personally, as a step mom, and wife who probably works too much, I definitely take some time out for myself. I think for the most part the kids are fine with it. They seem to be doing well, and we try to encourage them to talk to us if they are having any issues. I wish I could get her to understand the clothes issue - at this point we do not have joint physical custody, and we are paying full child support, we just can't afford to have separate entire wardrobes for them at both houses. Everything we do buy for them tends to go to their mother's house, if they want to take it there, we bought the clothes for them, I don't feel it is right for me to make them keep the clothes at our house.
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-21-2011
Wed, 12-04-2013 - 11:30pm

As a mom with custody, I would just say I wish my ex would find a woman like you.

As far as the clothes thing, I think its crazy to have duplicates of everything. I expect my kids to pack for the weekend with him, and bring their stuff back. and if they don't, they either go without or ask their dad to bring whatever they forgot back to my house. Mine are 13 & 16, not sure how old yours are.


iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2009
Mon, 12-16-2013 - 5:38pm

 So - question for some of you (if you want to answer) 

If the non-custodial parent does not have the kids (during the week) are they expected to take the kids to/from activities? or is that the responsibility of the parent who has the children at the time, or does it matter? I honestly don't know the right answer here.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-20-2002
Tue, 12-17-2013 - 9:43pm


Now, if both parents want to agree to doing so, that's fine and wonderful.........but most arent that amicable,,, the FOC would not expect this to happen.

(In fact, many disputes are over one parent scheduling activites that occur on the other parents time. )

If your DH *WANTS* to take them to activities so he can spend extra time with them doing this....that's fine.  However, he has no obligation to----

FWIW, my SO's exW REFUSED to allow SO any more visitation than EOW (every other weekend)---DEMANDED to be the fulltime/custodial parent.  SO lived 2 1/2 HOUR drive away (eg: 5 hours round trip)----when he would go pick up kids, exW would then insist he take kids to get eyeglasses and other appts while there---he would do it because she pushed his *guilt* buttons re: not being around more........meanwhile SHE was the one not allowing him more time

As I recall, your DH wants more time and less CS$ due, not?  If he has been taking them to, say Wednesday____events, then it seems it would reasonably follow for him to petition for parenting time overnight on weds.  I think your DH/his lawyer should make a big point of the fact he relocated specifically to be able to spend time with his kids.  Unless she can show him to be unsafe/etc, I think he has a good case for more time.  ---they make  a big deal re: not wanting to revisit custody issues unless "significant change in circumstances"---but relocating to be near them is certainly a significant change.

(hope I'm remembering your situation correctly)

How are things going?

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2009
Sat, 12-21-2013 - 11:27am


Correct, we want more time and to pay less (he lost his job and we are paying based on his previous income - leaving us with VERY little of his salary. all she sees is that I am able to pay the bills, been doing this for nearly two years now - the court won't look at it until we get visitation done, we have been trying for a year) 

We take the kids to school every morning, as she can't due to work. We also try to help (when needed) with other events, but she feels we should be doing ALL of it or half of it because he is the father - well it is her parenting time, so he told her no (I almost threw a party when he did that, so proud of him) and said that it was her time so it was her responsibility - she said "it doesn't work that way!" Woman is difficult. Getting upset because we don't have a full set of clothes here for them, we don't buy them shoes, etc....we buy them a few things here and there, they take them to their mom's. We also pay full child support, more than 70% of his salary goes to that, and it is supposed to be for food, shelter and clothing. 

Okay, done venting, sorry! Things are okay, still no traction on visitation, kids are 15 and 13, and DH and xW decided to get their opinion (for consideration) as to how long they want to spend with us each month - and they say one thing, change their mind, say something with us, something totally different with their mother. She has a house less than a mile away (she moved into our neighborhood) so seriously? It's not like it will impact their social lives that much....they seem comfortable here.