Monday, April 21, 2014

spontaneous combusion

I'm a spontaneous person. Always have been. Sometimes I spontaneously buy myself a new pair of earrings. Or decide on a whim to go to a movie by myself. Sometimes I even book Hubs and I trip to a unique different just to keep things interesting. And this is a good thing. Spontaneity is important in a marriage, in a family, even for an individual. Life can be a series of long repetitions, so breaking that monotony up is vital to keeping us from spontaneously driving off of a bridge.

But as with all things, there are exceptions. Spontaneity is no different. So, are you listening? No, of course you aren't, you're reading. But do I have your undivided attention? Cuz this one is a doozie. And if you let me enlighten you, you don't have to learn the hard way like I did.

Never. Spontaneously. Engage. Written. Contact. With. Mama. Ex.


Now that's a broad subject, so let me narrow it down. Clearly, you are going to have to communicate with Mama Ex at one point or another. But, never, ever, under any circumstances, should you ever communicate with the mother of your stepchildren in the following ways without thinking it all the way through:
  • Texts
  • Emails
  • Social Media
  •  Reviews of her business/job
  • Handwritten anything
I could tell you some really interesting stories from each of those categories, but today I think we'll stick with numero uno. Texts.

The invention of texts was great. It made quick, easy communication simple and quick. Unfortunately, it also enabled every passive aggressive person on the planet to become even more passive aggressive-ier.

At the beginning of my marriage to Hubs, texts from Mama Ex were few and far between, and mostly short and to the point. Little things. "Pick up the girls at 5 instead of 5:30", or, "remember to bring their soccer clothes on Monday," etc. But, when it was discovered by Mama Ex that we were indeed asking for more time with the children through a change in the parenting plan, the nice texts dissolved into a barrage of mean, nasty, passive aggressive texts that left very little to the imagination in regards to how Mama Ex felt about the situation. And about me.

Hubs was always very good about staying above the fray. Mama Ex would text something horribly mean and cruel, such as, "The girls hate going to your house because you don't feed them for two days straight and they starve at your house." Clearly, a lie and clearly, a taunt to get a response back. No matter how many times I begged Hubs to respond with something - ANYTHING - his reply was always, "there is no use arguing over texts. She just wants a response. I'm not giving it to her."

I thought he was nuts. 

Why on earth wouldn't you DEFEND yourself against such accusations? I mean, this person is making up blatant lies about you and telling them to God knows who, and you don't want to at least tell her she's wrong? 

This went on for many months. Mama Ex texting mean and hateful things, Hubs ignoring her. I don't know if she got bored or just tired of the non-replies, but eventually she tried a new tactic. She attacked me in her texts. One day, Hubs received a text from Mama Ex, basically saying, "My girls hate Ruby. She is a terrible stepmom, blah blah blah." Nothing I hadn't heard before, but still, it hurt. I, like so many other stepmoms, work very hard on establishing a great relationship with my stepdaughters, and have never heard one word of complaint from their mouths. I waited for Hubs to reply. Nothing.

Okay, not cool.

I could deal with Hubs letting texts about him fly, but this was different. I'm his wife and this woman is attacking me! Why wouldn't he stand up to me? I won't lie, this was the subject of many fights in our household, but Hubs stood strong. He reiterated each time that replying with a retort would just stir the pot and make things worse. He would reply to her sane texts, and nothing more.

I kind of wanted to strangle him.

So, fast forward to about 9 months later. We're in court, and evidence is being sifted through, bit by bit. I couldn't be in the courtroom (look up the witness rule if you want to be ahead of the game on that one), so I had to hear about everything second hand after the whole debacle was complete. 

And one thing blew my mind. Hubs was right. All along. 

His philosophy on return angry messages to Mama Ex, spewing back her own venom, would have done nothing to help our case. In fact, once, as Hubs read from the vile laundry list of texts he received, the judge sat, shaking her head. She let him finish and then said, "and what was your reply to all of this?" And Hubs could say, honestly, "there is no reply from me." He could even show 7 or 8 texts in a row of Mama Ex's verbal diarrhea, with nothing negative back from him. He never gave into her goading or taunting. He never said one bad word about the mother of his children.

When it was all said and done, we didn't get half of what we wanted in court (ah, the "justice" system), but imagine if Hubs HAD replied the way Mama Ex wanted him to? Even just once. Imagine if he had given in and spontaneously, in (justified) anger, called her a terrible name? Think about it.The family justice system isn't exactly kind to fathers to begin with. They already have more of a "you're guilty until proven innocent" approach to Dads (at least in the midwest). One bad word from Hubs about Mama Ex could have easily been spun into a "potentially abusive man" case by her lawyer. It wouldn't have taken much. And who knows what then? Maybe our custody would have been reduced. Maybe it wouldn't have. The point is, he never responded in spontaneous anger, so she had nothing to hang him on. And, in the end, she just looked angry, desperate and mean, while he looked calm, collected and sane. He looked like the ADULT. Court is all about what's best for the kids, right? So shouldn't one of the parents be an actual adult about things? Mmmm hmmm. 

Smart man, that Hubs.

My point is, in split family situations, you are always under the microscope. Even if your case has been settled and you think there's NO WAY you'll ever end up in the courtroom, always remember that anything can happen. You will be scrutinized even harder because of your "step" status. Don't ever give anyone ammo to make you look bad, especially someone who may really be looking for it. Be strong, be kind and be professional. 

Be spontaneous about those new Michael Kors pumps. Don't be spontaneous about Mama Ex.


  1. I just read a couple of your posts and I am truly enjoying reading your stuff. I'm happy I stumbled onto this blog. I'm a stepmom myself of four beautiful girls. Excited to read more.

  2. So glad you like the posts, Jennifer! Keep on reading and share with other SM's you may know! :)

  3. YES! YES! YES! This is all so true. Don't reply evil for evil. It only adds more fuel to the fire. The hardest thing to do is not reply, but i have told my husband and he has stated it to, that if he reply's when she is irrational and accusing us of something, it does 0 good. Just makes her madder.
    Most of what she says are just empty threats anyway, his ex is constantly bring up how she is going to take him back to court to get full custody and take away his parental rights. Its always a threat, i would be more shocked if she actually did it.
    There goal is to keep you off balance and in control of the situation, if you let them think they have the control you can manipulate it how you see fit.

    Again great blog....still enjoying reading.