His Ex-Wife Hates Me: Advice for Stepmoms

Updated on February 2, 2018
Alice Marlowe profile image

Alice Marlowe PhD, PMHNP, RN, holds a BA in Psychology and is a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

When I began my journey as a stepmom I read every book and article I could find because it was a disaster from the very start. The theme that emerged time and time again in my readings went something like this: a man and woman with children get divorced, the man moves on and gets married to someone new, the ex-wife and the new wife have some misunderstandings and do not like each other, they sit down like adults and find common ground, then everyone lives happily ever after and the children love having a stepmom. The End.

If you are reading this article you realize that's never, ever going to happen for you. Some ex-wives out there are mean, abusive people and they will stop at nothing to destroy you and your marriage. It does not matter how many years after the divorce you met your husband, you are now enemy #1.

This article is for stepmoms who have an ex-wife that hates your guts simply because you exist and breathe on the planet Earth. She hates that you are married to her ex-husband, she detests that her children are around you at any point, and if she could throw you into a vat of flesh eating slugs she would not hesitate.

Does his ex-wife hate you?

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You Did Not Know What You Were Getting Into

While you may have understood that you were going to marry a man with some kids and a questionable ex-wife, you probably did not know the woman was going to loath your very existence for the rest of her days or cook up some top level insanity in an attempt to ruin your day (or perhaps life). Most people cannot fathom that hatred can run so deep and last for so long. Most people also cannot fathom that the ex-wife you deal always has yet another underground crazy garage that just goes deeper and deeper.

I'm here to tell you that it's perfectly normal to feel shell shocked once you realize she is always going to hate you. It is normal to wonder what you could have done or could still do to make the situation better (Hint: Absolutely nothing.) It's also completely normal to wonder if the crazy will ever end (Hint: It won't) and if she will ever just stop with the insanity (Hint: No.)

I remember the day my husband's ex-wife emailed him and demanded a car seat from him for her baby with another man and told him if he did not provide it she would not be able to provide food, clothing, and shelter for their mutual children. I remember the day she punched my husband at an exchange and called him a "Piece of shit" all in front of the child. I remember the day a large package arrived in my mailbox from the ex-wife that included a bunch of pictures of her on her wedding day to my husband complete with one of her wearing pretty much nothing in the honeymoon suite. My eyes will be forever branded with the naked pregnancy photos she mailed to my in-laws.

Ladies, there is no way to predict that level of Jerry Springer type insanity so don't beat yourself up when you look around and find yourself neck deep in a dysfunctional freak show. Other people who have not been through the same level of crazy will never understand. Do not even bother trying to justify and defend the way you feel about it all. If you are nodding along in agreement and have experienced similar things know that we are in the minority and the rest of the world is not likely to truly understand.

Is this the level of hate and insanity you deal with?

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She Will Never Accept You Are Around "Her" Children

It will not matter if you have been dating for two weeks or married for over a decade, the fact that you share the same air as "her" children will send the ex-wife off into a toxic tirade of inventive insults and creative, though probably vulgar, names. I was referred to as "the chick around your dick" for several years and have now evolved into "your new wife" despite the fact that I have been around nearly 10 years. It does not matter if the children from the previous relationship are over or under the age of 18, you will be cast as something worse than a villainous Disney stepmom by the ex-wife.

Things are not likely to improve with the length of time you stay with your husband. Take heart! It's not actually you that she hates. She would feel the same about any woman in your role but you just happen to be the lucky one currently in your role.

The ex-wife will continually demand information about you, your family, your whereabouts, your job, your income, and anything else she feels entitled to before she will "allow" you to be around her children. You are under no obligation to share your personal information with someone who wishes you were a pile of ashes. You have every right to set a boundary about what information you want to share with her and stick to it. The very first thing I did when the ex-wife who hates me started obsessively calling my private and unlisted cell number was to hire a lawyer to send a cease and desist letter. That was a strong boundary and one I never backed away from. My phone has been peaceful ever since.

You will probably find yourself stuck in this strange stepmom limbo where the ex-wife demands that you both have absolutely nothing to do with her children ever because they are her children, not yours, and the ex-wife demanding that you be nothing but loving, kind and compassionate to her children (because she said so). The ex-wife will demand that you have absolutely no relationship with the children who reside in your home part time and will likely complain about any positive interaction you have with your stepchildren quite loudly.

Unfortunately if the ex-wife hates you she will likely try to teach her children to hate you too. This is common in parents who have a personality disorder and see their children merely as an extension of themselves rather than an independent being. Expect this sentiment to be passed on to any children you also brought to the marriage or any children you have during the marriage.

There will never be a coffee date with this type of ex-wife to work out the misunderstandings you two might have. There is never, ever, going to be a collaborate relationship between the two of you for the sake of the children. You will be lucky if she doesn't try to run over you in the parking lot of a soccer game.

She Will Always Belittle Your Role

If the ex-wife hates you she will likely always belittle the role you have in the lives of your stepchildren. She does not want you to be a mother figure or to love or nurture your stepchildren. To her you are a nothing and will always be a nothing. She would like nothing more than for her children to agree with her and also think you are nothing.

I know very few stepmoms in situations like what I am describing that still have a relationship with the stepchildren by the time they are adults. It can be easier to develop and maintain a relationship with stepchildren who are young (under 5), however, this means the child will be in the custody situation for many years. The ex-wife will spend those many years belittling your role to anyone who will listen, including your stepchildren. After more than a decade of listening to their mother who hates you it will be almost impossible to have a close relationship.

It Will Be Emotionally Painful

Living in a situation that is this hostile and this crazy is going to be emotionally painful for you. A toxic ex-wife that is abusive is going to abuse anyone in her path, including you, the stepmom. It will be difficult to find support in these situations but it's out there. Take your time to find a professional counselor who understands high-conflict personalities who can help you set personal and emotional boundaries.

Try this
Or this
Or this
Take your time to find a professional counselor who understands high-conflict personalities who can help you set personal and emotional boundaries.
Consider a meditation retreat or find a local Buddhist center that can help you with mindfulness and finding your inner balance and peace.
Educate yourself on setting strong boundaries and do not be afraid to enforce those boundaries for your own mental health and well being. Also don't be afraid to hire a lawyer to legally enforce your personal boundaries.

As long as you are with your husband the ex-wife is going to hate you. You will go crazy yourself if you spend all your time and energy trying to change her mind. Although most stepmom articles out there talk about setting aside differences and continually extending the olive branch for the sake of the children I am here to tell you that you really do not have to keep trying if the ex-wife is a toxic and abusive person. You are completely justified in cutting a toxic person out of your life.

Not every blended family is going to have a happy ending or be a version of the Brady Bunch. Sometimes the happy ending is setting strong boundaries for yourself and sticking to them. You will likely receive pressure from others who have not dealt with this level of hate or crazy to "be the bigger person" but that is not a viable solution in a situation like this. You do you and be a great stepmom in your home (and let the crazy, hate-filled ex-wife go do her thing and ignore it.)

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers


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      • profile image


        5 months ago

        This is my life, she got mad hid child for two years and fought to keep us apart. It was so toxic we took it to court. My husband now has custody of his son. I have helped in school and she fights hard to get him to rebel against us. She made him hate my children we live together. She sent me a picture if her private parts. I wish I could make this up. We live far way her choice. Now it is more peaceful

      • profile image

        Hollie Hobby 

        8 months ago

        Wow, you just described my life to a T and you don’t even know me! That tells me that what I’ve been going through is very common, which makes me feel a little better. My poor Husband who is a fantastic man is ready to give up his children because we can’t handle the crazy ex wife any longer. Eight years of hell. I’m pretty sure I have PTSD from dealing with the daily drama. Everything in this article has happened to me and worse. The courts do nothing about these mentally ill mothers. She violates the court order and nothing happens. We’ve decided to leave the state as the kids are teens now and it feels like we are dealing with “multiple” crazy exes now, the kids just love to add to the drama. They will be in therapy for years as adults I’m sure. We’ve tried everything and it’s finally going to come to an end with a no contact order and moving 3 thousand miles away. Time for us to be happy and get our own therapy and healing underway.

      • profile image


        10 months ago

        I as well am a step mom. I have been with my fiancé for 4 years. The ex wife had went on a so called vacation trip to visit her sister and when she landed asked for a divorce and kidnapped the kids for two and a half months. At this time while his ex was at her sisters we ended up getting together. I had made sure with my fiancé that he if he wanted to be with her than we weren’t going to proceed. So we ended up starting a relationship and well when his ex couldn’t get a hold of him on the phone she started calling family and friends to come and check on him to make sure he was alright. Let me tell you he had tried speaking to his daughter for the two months she was gone and she never answered the phone or returned his phone calls. He couldn’t go get them as she was in another province. So needless to say after she was sending family and friends over she decided that she was coming home. She comes home like nothing had even happened and starting acting like the perfect housewife considering she paid for an apartment when she was visiting her sister and had planned to be completely done with him. She then found out about him and I. And I was getting phone calls nasty texts getting threatened I couldn’t believe what was happening. She started telling everyone he had an affair on her while she was visiting her sister and it just became so crazy. Well I stuck around. Now she is turning the kids against him and I and we never speak horrible about her when the kids are around we’re always decent when they talk about her. She is brainwashing them to hate us. It is very difficult to be with someone when they have this crazy of an ex. My partner and I have talked about having a kid well needless to say because of how bad she screwed him he is having second thoughts which is not fair to me at all. I hate what she is doing as it’s been 4 years of her nasty ness and childish ways. She was the one who left she was the one who asked for a divorce she was the one who caused all this. Not only that she had her mother talking to my fiancé online while she was at wedding for the weekend. She then got pregnant after 6 weeks of knowing him and purposely stopped taking her birth control. He didn’t know this till she was 6 months pregnant and found out that it was her mother he was talking to instead of her. How do you deal with crazy ex’s. How do you deal with the children hating you and you haven’t done a thing. How do you deal.

      • profile image


        12 months ago

        So I met a awesome man who was married when we started dating. Highly doubt his ex wife will ever like me. He left her for me and now we live together. His daughter visits every other weekend. I feel extremely guilty as to how we started but this is the reality we live in and she should really grow up and accept the fact I will be his wife one day. She intentionally makes her daughter leave her cellphone and iPad at home so she has nothing to do at our house. When she texts my boyfriend they never talk about me and I feel he should make her accept reality that I am a part of her family now. His mom and family love me and from what I heard they all hate her. I’ve tried contacting her to let her know I will be his new wife and she ignores me or says I’m not worth her time. One day I hope we can have our own kids and I wish she would at least acknowledge that we are all in this together. I love him so much and I am willing to accept everything that comes with it.

      • profile image

        Bobbin c 

        13 months ago

        so ...I am a step mother and the ex wife HATES ME one child has "lost it so much he has gone into care the other still comes to see her dad and I.

        everything is high drama. i dont think i can take any more of her nastiness its been gong on for 5 yearsl.

        We have been married for two of those.

        Firstly she turned his family against us (they are essentially sheep i dont understand how they blindly follow but they do)

        She strangled me to the point of blue lips. Damaged my work so badly i left and had a break down. I worked in a bank and i had moved down south to be with him and so he coulf be near his kids to help her out.

        we were publicly shamed, ridiculed, i was was called a pedophile on several occasions.

        Eventually I snapped and said i wanted to move home (to the north) so we did we did a flit and told no one in case she turned up and caused yet more issues for us.

        As soon as we were both able we got married, we could tell anyone in case you know who came and spoiled it.

        We were really desperately spending money £6000 privately to reversed my husbands vasectomy...

        we tried we waited and nothing happened.

        we were devastated but took every day as it came.

        only last week dropping of my step daughter (10 hours in a car)

        she (the ex) grinned as she cosied into my husband and gave him a bag.

        the bag when we got in home had a load of baby pictures and his 8 year old letter saying his vasectomy had worked...

        the question is ... this nastiness wil never go away ... should i just get divorced?

        very unhappy at the moment.

      • profile image


        15 months ago

        For months now I've been wondering what I can do to make my situation better. My bf's kids *hate* me and frankly, I've barely even spoken to them. Their mother has made fun of me on social media, has called me names in front of her kids, and has even made comments about me to mutual friends we have. I came into the picture years after their divorce, so I assumed the emotional stuff had been dealt with. Boy was I wrong.

        My bf assures me it's her, not me. He tells me to ignore it. And I try, I really do. Outwardly I don't think many see the hurt she has caused and still in causing. Inside (or when I'm alone), it brings me to tears. I find it all pretty upsetting to be honest. I just don't understand the why behind the hatred. What on earth have I done other than date her ex-husband?? I'm so confused.

      • dashingscorpio profile image


        22 months ago

        The ex-wife doesn't specifically hate (you).

        What she really hates is the idea of her husband finding any "happiness" with another woman period.

        Many ex-wives and ex-girlfriends for that matter imagine their ex-husbands and ex-boyfriend "suffering" after their split. They've told themselves and their friends/family have also told them that (he) can't do better than them and in some instances believe he will "come running back" one day. In other words he was "LUCKY" to have her!

        His having a "new wife" who makes him (happy) destroys the ideas she bought into. It has been said:

        "Anger is the Mask that Hurt wears."

        Your husband should have called the police and filed charges after his ex-wife punched him. Odds are if it had been the other way around that's what she would have done.

        Most likely it was not the (first) time she has hit him. Personally speaking I would document every bit of harassment tactics she has done to provide to legal authorities. Maybe a judge would set up arrangements where they don't have see each other or have a neutral party hand off the children to each other when it's their turn to have them. Another possibility is to go for full custody. Children shouldn't be raised in a toxic environment.

        Last but not least anyone who is dating someone with a crazy ex and children are involved needs to seriously consider whether or not they want to deal with them.

        Everyone has "baggage" of some kind but crazy exes are the worst. Suffering is optional.

        Life is too short to be trying to turn water into wine.


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