Ask Ms. Vicki: Does His Ex-Wife Really Need to Stay in Our Home?

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Ms. Vicki
Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

My husband has children from a previous relationship, but we have custody of them. I have worked hard to be a good mother to them and not show any favorites with them and our children that we have together. We work hard to treat all of the children the same so that no one can feel mistreated. They call me "mom" just like my children. I knew their mother was a part of my husband's past and I am not jealous of her in any way. However, I'd like to explain some recent events that I disagree with.

I don't suspect my husband of doing anything wrong but my stepchildren's mother is planning to come and visit her children (our children) and my husband wants her to stay in our home. I do not want her to stay in my house but my husband has given me an ultimatum: "she will stay here or else."

I don't know what the "or else" means but I feel like I'm being threatened. My husband wants his ex to stay in my home for me to entertain her, cook and clean for her. I think he is asking me to do something that I cannot do. I don't have any hard feelings toward her but it's not my place to be her maid.

Furthermore, I do not want her to see me as some puppet on a string that my husband pulls around and I don't think it's fair. I don't know what the other option is, but I don't see why I have to let her stay in my home. She is a grown woman; she can stay in a hotel or a tent outside. I really don't feel good about this and I'm surprised that my husband would issue me an ultimatum to force me to do this.

I'm at a loss and I don't know what to do Ms. Vicki. Maybe I should just pack up and leave and they can live happily ever after. I'll take any advice you have to offer.

Sincerely,

The Ultimatum

Dear Ultimatum,

Your husband appears to be very forceful about this issue. I have a few questions for you. Is your husband afraid of his ex is with the children alone? Is her behavior in question? In other words, I could understand if your husband thinks he should keep a watchful eye out on the children. Of course, it would be easier to do this if they are in your home. I know this is difficult for you. Obviously, you feel that your husband's ex is coming to take over your home and your family -- this is a normal feeling. However, let me say that many people in this situation can have good relationships and a good understanding.

Here's my quick advice: since the plan is for her to come to your home, I think you should speak to her before she arrives so you can be a part of the planning. For example, you should set some boundaries with her and feel free to give some time limits on her stay. It is your home and you are the woman of the house. You should have some say-so in this matter too. It's also important for you and your husband not to argue or have disagreements on this issue in front of the children. Doing so could cause emotional harm, confusion, and even low self-esteem. It sounds like you really love your step-children, so I know you want to do what's best for them.

I think it's inappropriate for your husband to give you an ultimatum and I can understand why you would question this behavior. Because of this, I would greatly recommend counseling to help you both sort through some of these feelings. If counseling services are not available on your base I would contact Military OneSource and they will connect you to a provider in your local community. The services are free and normally you can get an appointment within a few days. Have some discussions with your husband and his ex and set some firm boundaries on this issue. Please keep in touch with me and let me know what happens.

Sincerely,

Ms. Vicki

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