My ex is ruining my marriage!

Q. I’m afraid my ex-wife is going to wreck my new marriage. She’s not your typical ex-wife. She happens to be a vicious, nasty, and miserable woman who looks to bring everyone down to her level. I’m concerned she’s beginning to succeed with me and my new wife of one and a half years. Lest you think she may be acting this way because I remarried, you should know that this is the reason I left in the first place five years ago (that’s right, she’s still punishing me). The way she accomplishes this is by using my two kids (8- and 10-year-old girls) to come between me and my wife. I have to say, she’s an expert manipulator and manages to cause fights simply by turning my children into her pawns. She’s poisoned them against my wife and is trying to turn them against me too (with some success). I try everything I can to not put my kids in the middle, but she drags them back in since she knows she has control over them and their actions. If they do not do her bidding, they are punished, too, and she’s a scary person to cross, especially for a youngster. Thanks to my ex, the kids often don’t come over when they are supposed to, or spend time with me and my wife for holidays. Therefore, when I do have the chance to see them (usually because my ex has something else to do) and we have other plans already, I want to drop everything to make sure that happens. My wife doesn’t agree and says she refuses to live her life at my ex’s whims. When we have plans, my wife wants to stick with them. I have to say, she has been incredible in the face of this nightmare, but lately I feel she’s backing away from wanting to see the kids at all. This is causing a bit of a rift between us and I’m not sure what the right thing to do is anymore. They are the only thing we really fight about. The girls are still my daughters and if it wasn’t for their mother, I know they’d have a great relationship with my wife, since she’s a wonderful and loving person. Your thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated.

A. Oh boy. If I had a dime for every person I’ve heard of with a similar problem to yours, I’d be a very rich woman right now! Parental alienation is quite the epidemic these days, unfortunately, and it is so sad for the children as well as the adults faced with such ugly adversity. It’s truly amazing what one determined and twisted person can accomplish when they put their mind to it. Often, our first response is to be drawn into the fight and the drama (especially when children are involved). From what I understand, though, that ultimately is a losing battle when you are dealing with a person who is willing to hurt her own children in order to accomplish her goals. Also, if your court system is anything like the incompetent and corrupt one we have here in Nassau County, it will be a big waste of your time and money to drag her into court. It’s important to realize that the more you let your ex cause you grief, the bigger the wedge will become between you and your new wife. Therefore, as hard as you may think it is to not see your kids sometimes, the better off you are in giving in and not supplying your ex with the fight she is angling for, as well as reasons to use, manipulate, and hurt the kids. I have to say that I definitely do not blame your new wife for having the feelings she has. She’s only human and probably knows that anything she says or does will be used against her by the kids’ mother. That’s no way to start a new marriage. She is also right that she shouldn’t have her social life dependent upon the machinations of a vengeful woman. If you value your new relationship, and want to ensure it blossoms, you are going to have to grant it priority. This means not letting your old “baggage” crush the prospects of a happy new life. Your wife married you in spite of it, and I imagine that is a testament to how much she loves you. Right now, your kids are too young to realize what their mother is all about, but chances are good they will one day figure it out. In the meantime, just be consistent and loving and let them know that you are always ready to see them during the times you have been awarded visitation, or with proper notification, but that you can’t upend your life at a moment’s notice by their mother, because it isn’t fair to you. Never bring your wife into such a conversation, as it will only be used against her. If you want to gain the respect of those you cherish, it’s very important that both your children and your new wife see that you are not a pushover who can be controlled by your ex. Set a good example for them. As the kids get older, they will hopefully realize that you are their truly loving parent, and will choose to spend more time with you instead of the toxic environment of your ex’s home. Your wife needs to know that you are healthy enough to shut down the negativity of your past and embrace a love-filled future with her. So can your ex wreck your new marriage? Only if you let her!

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