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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-06-2009, 09:11 AM Thread Starter
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feeling guilty over his ex-wife

Ok, I'm sure there are past threads about this issue, but I search "guilt and ex" and I get a zillion threads, so please indulge me if I repeat and/or feel free to send me other threads.

Some advice please? I'm feeling guilty over my new husband's ex-wife. Their marriage ended when he left her after 15+ years, mostly because of their own issues (she was very verbally aggressive and emotionally cold to him), but also in part, because of our friendship, which developed into a relationship. Now, two years after their separation, every time I run into her in town or we hear from her (which we do from time to time as they have 2 teenagers together) I feel this yucky mix of guilt and anger. Honestly, she looks terrible... she looks constantly exhausted and she has aged probably 10 years in 2 years. She is in her late 30s, has actually lost a lot of weight, which she indeed needed to lose as she was quite big, but now she looks like this empty shell. I think maybe she is starving herself (she has a diagnosed eating disorder). Her behavior is fine, generally. She doesn't seem depressed, gets out and about and is dating. She is not aggressive or anything when I see her, and I am nice to her, so the problem is not really in actions, it is in my thinking.

I just feel she is so pathetic, and also I think I am angry both at past abuse she has heaped on my Husband and also that she has not managed to pull herself together and move on and be happy in her life. How do you deal with this guilt and anger? She is this negative dragging down presence in the back of my mind, that gets pulled forward every time I run into her, which seems to be a lot lately. Ugh. She is not the devil, she is a perfectly reasonable human being and she has friends who like her etc..., but their marriage had definitely gone bad, and now I only see the negative things about her because of the situation.

It no longer bothers my husband at all, he has sealed her off, which makes sense in some ways because of all the abuse she tossed his way. But, I haven't shut her out that way. I need to I know, but I'm not sure how to do it.

So, help me, how do I ditch this feeling? What has worked for you in getting rid of guilt?


Last edited by Patty; 10-06-2009 at 09:16 AM.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-06-2009, 11:34 AM
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Re: feeling guilty over his ex-wife

She is trying to pull herself together- she's lost weight, she's getting out, she's not hurting you or your husband. Maybe if you try to think more positively about her you can work out the negitive feelings you have towards her- I'm sure there are two sides to the story and you have his and not hers. She could have a lot of anger towards you for intruding on her marriage, but she sounds like she's doing her best to move on and let her ex move on with you- so keep being nice to her and hopefully you will feel less guilty. I don't know- makes me sad for her- that would be tough to deal with.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-06-2009, 11:43 AM
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Re: feeling guilty over his ex-wife

I have to agree with the response above. She is pulling herself together. I noticed in your post that you put her down several times. Honestly, I think you need to stop being so judgemental of her and just move on. She is behaving well around you and her ex and that is enough to demand respect right there. Like said above, you only have one side of the story, you don't know her side.

As far as trying to move past it, do just that. You seem to be quite caught up with her life, and that needs to stop. Move on with yours and stop concentrating on hers.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-06-2009, 01:42 PM
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Re: feeling guilty over his ex-wife

Don't be offended, but did you have anything to do with his decision to leave her?
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-07-2009, 01:00 AM Thread Starter
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Re: feeling guilty over his ex-wife

Well, yes, I know I only see the negative of her... and unfortunately there is plenty of negative that she shows. She has been and continues to be verbally abusive to my husband and her daughters, she is very passive agressive in destroying the relationship that he has with them and on and on. But, it makes no sense if I just talk trash about her, that just makes it worse I think. Of course, absolutely, there are two sides and I only see one. I think, as I consider it more, it bothers me that she constantly plays the victim, "oh poor me, I have all this trouble" and she is far from just a victim in this circumstance. When we do talk, which is not very often, she is sure to tell me all her troubles and look for sympathy, which I find kind of strange to do with your ex-husband's new wife. She has brought a lot of it on herself, but she prefers to blame others, mostly my husband. And since we don't live in a huge city, I think it bothers me that he then gets this "monster" label which he absolutely doesn't deserve. People think when they see her... Oh, poor, poor victimized woman, so abused... when actually, she most often was the one dishing it out.

But, what I'm looking for is a way to alleviate my guilt and anger in this situation. When I see her, I feel bad, angry, guilty, and I want that to stop. Whatever she feels bad about, it is not my fault. Yes, I came in at the end of their relationship, but it was long over as a working marriage by that point, so I don't feel guilty about "stealing" her husband. I want to just release her (in my mind) to live her life, whatever that is she chooses, and just really not care about her victim act. Obviously the past is the past, I can't change that, and I can't change her behaviors, but I can change my thinking. How do I go about it?

Actually, just writing this down and answering your questions is helping me, so that is a good start. Thank you guys for responding.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-07-2009, 01:26 AM Thread Starter
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Re: feeling guilty over his ex-wife

ok, and then... aha! Dawn, you are completely right, I need to focus on my own life, why am I not? WHY am I so bothered by her? Somehow I think I'm afraid of turning INTO her... Maybe on some level, I am believing her blame. That it is indeed his and her daughters' fault her life is so bad and not her own, even though I have much evidence otherwise. And of course if that is true, then, having married him, her fate is then also mine. ugh, scary. And it would also make sense then that she treats me like a confidant rather than the typical new wife treatment. So I need to quit believing her act and letting it undermine my confidence in my marriage (which totally fits the pattern of passive agressive destruction she has toward my husband) and move on.

Thank you!
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-07-2009, 04:48 AM
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Re: feeling guilty over his ex-wife

Sounds like YOU are feeling some guilt in regards to your husband's ex wife. A few red flags here for me from your post. The only two people that have any inkling as to what happens in a marriage are the TWO people in it. How do you know what kind of a person she was or how she treated him? That's what he told you. You have no idea. As well, if the marriage ended because of your involvement in something that had NOTHING to do with you sounds to me like your husband had an EA with you. Let me guess he started confiding in you about the awful wife he was married to and you were his "friend." That about right? His ex wife has every right to be miserable for awhile if that's how she has been coping with this. I'm sure the end of the marriage was very hurtful annd devastating to her. I'd be worried if I were you that your husband might do the same thing to you. Ever thought about that???
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-07-2009, 05:11 AM
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Re: feeling guilty over his ex-wife

You are feeling guilty because you were there waiting in the wings as his marriage was faltering. You are a rebound woman and the other woman. All choices have their baggage.

You will need to learn to live with it or not.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-07-2009, 08:55 AM
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Re: feeling guilty over his ex-wife

My husband has a daughter with another woman, from way before when we met. They have had their tough times, but I am also willing to look at my husband and realize that he has played the game too, and not treated her the best. It took a while for me to see his daughters mom as a person, because I thought of her as just a pain in my booty.

But then it occured to me. Just because they didn't work out doesn't necessarily mean anything about my relationship with my husband. Her and I now talk on a regular basis, I write her daughter letters and send cards and gifts for holiday and bdays, and I realized that being there for his daughter and for her mother even if it is only for a minute makes me think of her differently. I put myself in her shoes and discovered.......god, I don't know what I would do if it did happen to me so why am I always judging her? Then I took steps to stop and realize what she HAD done. Put her in a whole new light and I started to see the woman that she is instead of the woman I thought she was. It does help, but it doesn't happen overnight.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-07-2009, 09:36 AM
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Re: feeling guilty over his ex-wife

I think these feelings come in several flavors:

- from a human perspective, generally we don't like to see anyone hurting. Mixed feelings can come about when it appears that the person hurting also is a primary contributor to their own pain or issues.

- No judgments, but you didn't answer Dobo's question. Did you and your husband begin your relationship prior to his divorce? As far as I'm concerned you don't need to explain yourself, but if that was the case, it could also explain some of the feelings you are having.

- Transference/Deflection
You actually mentioned this one. "Afraid of becoming like her".

You mentioned that you live in a small community. Is she perceived as a victim, or do most people see her for who she is? Is your husband really seen as a bastard or is that only a concern of yours?

Everyone deserves to be happy. The key is, recognizing that you are accountable for your own happiness. Many people focus more energy externally, than internally. These present as excuses, blame, guilt, playing the victim, failing to take responsibility for whatever the circumstances are.
Obviously, you are aware that you have no control over how she feels, or her actions. So, as everyone has pointed out - focus on you, your marriage, happiness, satisfaction.

Look at this way - the more you do focus on her, and the impact she has on your marriage in a negative way - reduces your ability to continue building a very positive and healthy bond with your husband and his kids - benefiting both them and you. She is always going to be in the picture - but she certainly should never be the focus.

Welcome, and good luck.

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