When you marry a man with an ex-wife, you marry his family – often unfortunately. These tips for dealing with your husband’s toxic ex-wife will help you transition into your new marriage without letting her drive you crazy.
The Girl’s Guide to Marrying a Man, His Kids, and His Ex-Wife: Becoming A Stepmother With Humor And Grace by Sally Bjornsen will help you cope with your husband’s toxic ex-wife – and other toxic family relationships - by showing you how to survive the holidays, custody, finances, and other complications of marrying a man who was married before..
Part of loving your spouse is learning to cope with his first wife. That’s what these tips are all about: dealing with your husband’s toxic ex-wife before she destroys your marriage. Can you have lunch with the ex-wife? It may sound crazy…but if you’re already at the end of your rope, you may have nothing to lose.
6 Tips for Dealing With Your Husband’s Ex-Wife
“Marriage is not a noun; it’s a verb,” says relationship expert and author Barbara De Angelis. “It isn’t something you get. It’s something you do. It’s the way you love your partner every day.” Remember that how you deal with your husband’s toxic ex-wife will affect your marriage.
Get the ex-wife on your side – invite her for coffee. One of the best ways to build a healthy remarriage is to get your husband’s ex-wife on your side. I know this sounds outrageous, but think about calling her up, telling her you want the best for her kids, and asking if she can make time to meet you for an hour or so. Tell her you love her kids and want to learn more about them. Compliment her on how she’s raising them – she must have done something right over the years.
Let your husband’s ex-wife get to know you. You want to help her get to know who you are as a person. She’ll be less likely to criticize you if she knows you. It’s incredibly easy to criticize people we don’t know, people we’re perhaps jealous of (after all, you’re married to her ex-husband and her kids probably like you. Of course she’s an angry ex-wife – you’re succeeding in areas she “failed”). But, it’s more difficult to criticize people we know and love.
You might not be able to fumigate her, but you might charm her by being nice to her…
Tell your husband’s ex-wife what she did and does right. Is she a good mother? Does she have a super clean or well-decorated house? Focus on what she does well, and tell her how much you admire that trait. You’re not being a sycophant or brown noser; you’re focusing on the positive qualities of your husband’s ex-wife. That might soften her, make her less angry or negative. To build a better marriage, you might need to take the first step towards peace and friendship.
Read about dealing with difficult or toxic women. The more you learn about coping with angry, unreasonable people – and setting your boundaries – the better off you’ll be. Do whatever it takes to make your remarriage successful: attend workshops, read books with your husband, go to family counseling. Learn how to dial down your own angry, frustrated responses and how to get the most out of your new marriage. I know it’s difficult, frustrating, and even aggravating – but when your husband’s ex-wife causes marriage problems, you may have to bear the burden.
You may also have to learn about dealing with difficult husbands, because sometimes they cause unnecessary problems with their ex-wives.
Leave your stepchildren out of your marriage problems. No matter how angry his ex-wife is, or how frustrated or hurt you are, don’t involve your husband’s kids in the problems. The kids are (probably) innocent bystanders – and you’d be better off focusing on connecting with your step children instead of involving them in adult marriage and remarriage problems. To solve marriage problems before they begin, read Second Marriages That Work – 10 Tips for “Happily Ever After.”
Forgive your husband for his past marriage (and choice of ex-wife!).
If you think your husband made a bad marriage choice in the past, shake off your resentment or anger. He was a different person when he met and married his first wife – and so was she. He made the best decision he could, he fell in love, and he thought he was doing the right thing.
Don’t make him pay now for a decision he made years ago…that’ll just tear at the fabric of your marriage. Instead, accept him for who he is as a whole man – and that includes his first marriage and his angry ex-wife.
If you think your husband is part of the problem, read Secrets Husbands Keep From Their Wives.
Do you think you can’t deal with your husband’s ex-wife? Read the comments below – you’ll see you’re not alone.
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.