Ex Jealousy

6 May

Dear LetterBalm: A few months ago, my husband and I went to England for the wedding of his eldest daughter. His two other children and his ex-wife life live there. Well, his ex-wife kept turning up at all the family gatherings, not just the wedding and the rehearsal dinner. She was included in visits we made to the kids’ homes and group excursions. I felt like she was crowding us, but my husband said it wasn’t a big deal because they’ve been divorced for almost 15 years and have little contact. I felt he wasn’t respectful of my feelings, and we had a big fight when we got home. I was uncomfortable when she was around because I can’t get the image of her and my husband having sex and sharing intimacies, even though he tells me our sex life is much better. They were at ease with each other, even after all those years. I don’t want her in our lives at all, and how can I tell my husband?

–Shadow of the Ex

Ms. L.B. is stunned. You say your husband has had little connection with his ex-wife for almost 15 years until the wedding of their daughter. Was the ex making a play for your friendship? Making a play for her ex-husband? Treating you disrespectfully? As far as one can tell, she was legitimately involved in a range of family festivities and you became threatened by … well, nothing. To make matters worse, you took your insecurities out unfairly on your husband. You can assume his ex-wife will have legitimate reasons to see you and your husband again at other family functions. There is no way you can keep her out of your life, and to try and do so will make you look crazy or villainous, neither of which you want. See a therapist to sort out a myriad of issues. When you’re more centered, apologize to your husband. Keep it brief, but be sincere because he deserves it:

Harry, I’m sorry I lost it about Ellen. It was unfair and I apologize. I got crazy about something that existed only in my head and let my insecurities run away with me. You’ve been a wonderful husband. I have no reason to doubt you when you say that Ellen is in your past and that she has a perfect right to be at various family gatherings. I realize now that I was in danger of alienating your and your children, which is what I’d never want to do. You’re the best thing to ever happen to me, and I love you with all my heart. Can you forgive me?

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