There are two types of ex-spouses.
One has accepted the end of a marriage and moved on. And then there are those who just refuse to let go of the dissolved relationship and continue making others miserable.
The latter is especially true if the ex remains single while the other has remarried.
Redditor mickey-lala and her husband have been married for six years and during that time she has found that his ex-wife has been a perpetual disruption in their marriage.
She finally found herself at the end of her rope during a discussion regarding plans for an upcoming family get-together.
After giving her husband an ultimatum, she visited the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit and asked:
“AITA For Wanting My Husband’s Ex-Wife to Stay Away From His Family Gatherings?”
The Original Poster (OP) explained:
“My husband (we will call him Greg) and I have been married for 6 years and together for 8. My husband was previously married to a woman we will call ‘Johanna’ and had 3 children.”
“We have since also had a child of our own. Johanna has worked hard to make sure there isn’t room for me as a co-parent and wants the children to see me as more of a babysitter than a stepmother.”
“She has also made sure to ruin special moments I’ve attempted to have with the kids. For example, we bought them skates for Christmas and planned to take them ice skating for the first time the following Saturday.”
“She found out and took Friday off to bring them first. Never once in their lives had she taken them, but she was quick to do when she realized I wanted to do something special with them.”
“The biggest problem: Johanna had a hard time letting go of her past with Greg. He did not have an amicable split with her and talks to her only when necessary for the kids.”
“After their divorce, she did not see her place in Greg’s family change, which has continued into our marriage. She would regularly show up at events for his side of the family when I began attending them and could not understand why it would make me comfortable.”
“The relatives she used to keep at arm’s length suddenly became her closest friends (only after their divorce). In fact, her sister-in-law she couldn’t stand became her ‘sister.’ She suddenly would be at their homes when she knew I would be going.”
“Greg’s family doesn’t have the heart to send her away or ask her to leave. I wish they would. I have built genuine relationships with them, but I still feel betrayed when I am eating brownies only to find out she just happened to drop them off at their home before I arrived.”
“She ‘helplessly’ calls his family members (crying) to fix simple things around her house because she doesn’t have a husband anymore.”
“Greg has tried multiple times to talk to her and told her the impact she was having on our relationship and the relationship I have with his family members. She has flat-out refused to distance herself.”
“I could sympathize at first, but EIGHT YEARS LATER?! I found out tonight that she has invited herself to the next family get-together and I snapped. My husband will not talk to her about this again, and has given up trying to reason with his family.”
“I told him I will never truly be a part of his family if she never goes away. I am at the end of my rope and am exhausted dealing with childish behavior. I told him I will no longer attend his family events until she is not a part of them.”
“Greg says it’s not fair to put him in the middle of this. He doesn’t want to make waves, so I need to accept it and move on. We are at a stalemate.”
“So AITA for wanting her out of his family gatherings?”
Strangers online were asked to declare one of the following:
- NTA – Not the A**hole
- YTA – You’re the A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everybody Sucks Here
Redditors voiced their opinions in the thread.
“The difficulty seems to be that your in laws and his ex have a relationship that they aren’t interested in abandoning. You didn’t mention his kids’ ages, but possibly the grandparents want to remain on good terms with her for their sake. Or they really do like her.”
“NTA, but if you choose not to attend family gatherings it’s like you’re drinking the poison but expecting it to kill her. All this decision will do is hurt your own marriage and your relationship with his kids and family.” – RB1327
“I’d kill her with kindness. Just ramp it up and act like you love seeing her there and how excited you are. She bakes brownies, you rave about them and ask for the recipe, post a pic the following week of you making them with the kids and thanking her.” – Banditsmisfits
“Can you tell her she’s not welcome? Bc that’s seems to be the key thing here – no one, bot even your husband has told her we’re doing this and I’m being completely clear, you are not invited and we do not expect you to turn up.”
“Saying it blunt. Bc this situation is ridiculous and tbh, I fail to see show this is fair to your six year old? Your own kid has to put up with another woman imposing? That’s nuts.”
“Tbh if I were you I would likely say I’m not coming and neither is our kid if she’s there. But it’s for your husband to be blunt with his family and say no more having her at everything. This has gone on for long enough, you have my sympathy. NTA.” – throwawayj38sld
“This sums it up perfectly. Don’t let her win!!! She’s been hoping you would take a stance like this so she can swoop in and insist she is better for YOUR husband than you.”
“A wise woman once said, ‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.’ (Eleanor Roosevelt) If you feel threatened, you have given her that power over you. Take it back!”
“It sounds like his family pities her. Re-read your post, she sounds so pathetic. Good people hate making the pitiful feel even worse. You have everything she wants.”
“Her own kids probably go home talking about how fun and awesome you are so she feels threatened. I’m not saying you have to be friends with her!!! But it isn’t worth being bitter and letting her push you out of family gatherings.”
“You should try a little reverse psychology, stop fighting or getting bent out of shape because she’s there! She’s getting off on making you miserable. If you really want her to stop, start inviting her to take part. Gush over her brownies and ask her to make more, stuff like that. She will get bored and go away.” – Migraine-AddledBrain
“Yes!!! This exactly. Kill her with kindness OP, she won’t know what to do with herself & it will make her feel like an idiot.”
“Being the bigger person sucks sometimes, but you will be happier & more at peace knowing you aren’t letting her get under your skin anymore.”
“For ex; she took the kids skating. You could’ve said ‘oh, wonderful! Now they’ll have a basis of skill for when we go on X date.’ Don’t let her ruin your plans, just carry on as if she’s just your clueless cousin who you pity. Reread the person above me over & over until it sinks in bc they totally nailed it.” – hhhhyyyyaaaahhhh
“NTA. But I would ask your husband to talk to his family and ask them to address it with her. This seems uncomfortable for everyone. But you can’t tell these people who can be in their house, you CAN ask them to ask her to stop coming.”
“Or I guess you and your husband should be all over each other right in front of her, lol, and see if you can make her uncomfortable right back. (Don’t do that, go with option one.)” – crystallz2000
The OP clarified a few points in edit.
“She is never INVITED to gatherings. She comes over and no one knows what to say.”
“I have never said they cannot be cordial or friendly with her. They absolutely should.”
“Several comments indicate that I can’t tell people who they can have over. I have never told them they are not allowed to have her over.”
“Second Edit: The question has been raised several times how she knows about the events. We encourage the kids to keep in contact with her when they are with us. We know how hard it is when we are missing them, and we want her to still be able to communicate with them. Typically, she will show up after they speak with her or if she sees a social media post.”
“Also, taking them ice skating was not an attempt to undermine her. My husband is their father. They enjoyed watching The Mighty Ducks together, and we wanted to take them skating after seeing their excitement.”
“I don’t think it’s a bad thing that their dad wanted to experience this. Her oldest son was about to graduate high school, so there was plenty of time to ice skate prior to this (we live in a state with lakes everywhere).”
Overall, Redditors sympathized with the OP but also encouraged her to refrain from giving her more power by playing into her reindeer games.
Many continued suggesting the OP “kill her with kindness.” Hopefully, that will do the trick and make Johanna dial it back a few notches with her alleged bad behavior.