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Spiritual stepmom can't handle the constant misery and chaos that the mother creates

Your Question:
My husband and I were married less than one year ago and we have been battling his ex-wife's anger and bitterness where it concerns their two children since that time. The court ordered joint legal custody of their two children: a son age 10; a daughter age 8. My stepchildren and I have a very close relationship and our communication about this entire situation has always remained open and honest from an age-appropriate extent. My husband and I are attacking these issues from a spiritual perspective. We all attend the same church and had hoped this would be the best approach.

Here's a recap of events, that we've had to endure. 1) One month following our wedding, his ex-wife contacted one of the ministers in our church and indicated my husband needed counseling on how to be a better parent. The minister agreed to counsel all three of us together and advised we immediately enroll in a parenting course, which we all did (separate from the ex-wife). On the first day of counseling, she walks into the church office and physically attacks my husband for allowing me to read some mail he received at her home, but in the both names. Needless to say, the minister canceled the session and deemed it unsafe for the two of them to counsel together; 2) At the first PTA meeting of the year, his ex-wife bruised my stepdaughter's arm after yanking her away from my embracement in the school hallway for hugging me; 3) filed a false protective order against my husband claiming emotional abuse, stalking, and fear of physical abuse (this is #2 - #1 was filed while my husband and I were only dating) - both were dismissed because they were unfounded. My husband is a police officer and his ex-wife uses his position against him with false claims that he is going to shoot her with his weapon; 4)his ex-wife snatched my stepdaughter from my husband's embrace in the church after worship service using profanity to verbally attacked both me and my husband in front of both children.

In addition to these events, she has monitored all phone calls to interrupt frequently, but mostly denied court- ordered telephone time, denied first-right-of-refusal visitation and left the children with babysitters with instructions to children and babysitter(s) not to call my husband or let him know where the children are; used profanity and called my husband and I obsene names in front of the children; told the children never to refer to me as "mommy" and that I was ungodly and going to hell along with their daddy, both children receive punishments if she overhears them not call me by my first name; notified her attorney and accused me if pretending to be her to change insurance documents; keeping textbooks, homework, and other school materials away from the children during my husband's visitation so they will receive bad marks at my husband's expense; allegations of child abuse agains the children in our home; over medicated both children so that they are too sick to go to school or church immediately following visitations with us for purposes of documenting neglect and abuse with doctors, school officials, and lawyers.

Any advice left to give...we've read the books, took the courses, counseling, and most of all prayer and divine intervention. I'm pretty much in tears everday and have concluded the only way to make this woman stop is to walk away from our marriage and these children. It hurts to even think about that...there must be something else.

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My Answer:

Gotcha... your life is miserable because of this woman. I don't need to validate point-by-point, as you already know it's pretty awful stuff.

At this point, you're in misery and feeling hopeless because you've failed taking the approach that most appeals to you and your husband.

Since you're so imbedded in a spiritual approach, I'll recap a story I once heard from a religious leader:

    A good, pious man was once caught in the midst of a horrendous storm that flooded the valley in which he lived. As the waters rose, he began praying to God to save his life, praying for one just divine miracle in which God would lift him from danger and take him to safety - to prove that his lifetime of devotion to God and God's commandments would be rewarded. As the waters rose, he climbed atop his roof and prayed his heart out.

    Before long, a man in a boat came puttering by, saw the man on the roof, and called out if he needed help. The man, awaiting divine help, yelled back that he was already awaiting rescue. The boat putted off.

    A short while later, a mess of debris came floating by, including huge tree logs on which other people were huddled. They called to the man on the roof to join them before his home is completely flooded. He called back and declined, still awaiting the hand of God.

    Just before the floodwaters completely submerged his home, a helicopter flew nearby. The pilot's voice boomed on the loudspeaker that they'll lower a rope. The man shook his head. His rescuer would be God.

    The man drowned shortly thereafter, as the floodwaters consumed him.

    At the gates of heaven, he met God. He wept with disappointment in front of his Creator, asking why God didn't answer his humble prayers and save a good, pious man.

    God responded, "I sent a boat, I sent some logs, and I sent a helicopter. What more could I do?!"

I'd suggest to you that your answers do not lie in the church. The answers to dealing with real-life problems lie in the real world. If you believe that God is Creator, then you believe that he has Created solutions for you out there-- and it's up to you to do the work to find them. It may mean going outside of your comfort zone, as many Biblical characters were likewise forced to do in their own lives and spiritual journeys.

I'm not sure what books you've read, but you're reading the wrong ones, if your intent is to learn how to live with this woman in your life.

The most important thing for you to learn and accept is that the mother is a disturbed human being. Nothing you do, nothing you say, can fix her. So, give up any expectation that her venom can be reduced.

Where does that leave you? It leaves you with managing your home and minimizing the impact the mother's venom and chaos has on your home.

It's critical to eliminate as many opportunities as possible for the mother to have contact with you, your kids, and your home. Keep her out of the home. The husband should minimize his contact with his ex, keeping communication ONLY about the children and disengaging before arguing (e.g., "I'm sorry, but I won't talk with you when you are being rude. I must hang up now.")

Clearly, it's time to change churches. Find another one that can be just for your family.

I would encourage you to read the book "People of the Lie" by M. Scott Peck. You can get it at a local library, bookstore, or online. It will help you understand the forces with which you're dealing. If you believe in God, you surely believe that evil is a real presence that can drive some people.

Eventually, you may learn compassion for the Hell that is the mother's life. Would YOU want to live inside her body, with such all-consuming venom and rage? What a horrible existence she must have.

As to all the other stuff going on in the REAL world that has an impact on the health of your marriage and the relationship with the kids, I encourage you to find a copy of the book "Win Your Child Custody War", which I describe on my Strongly Recommended page. This book will give you REAL WORLD solutions on dealing with the unacceptable actions of the mother that have a negative impact on your lives.

In short, don't expect the mother to change. Rather, expect change in how you react to it. React with strength, justice, and unequivocal assertion of one's rights. This is how to defeat evil-doers, as they are really cowards at heart.

Finally, get yourself into therapy with a good psychologist. This is really tough to handle, and you made vows before God to keep this marriage together. Part of doing that is to recognize when you need serious help to stay healthy-- and clearly that time is now for you.

Good luck.


This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.

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