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step mom excluded from address line on step sons hs graduation announcement

Posted by on May. 8, 2012 at 11:47 AM
  • 27 Replies

I will keep this short.

My husband and I have been married for 18 months. I was a widow and he was divorced. She left and filed 6 years ago yet is as toxic as they come. The list of her inappropriate actions is long. She uses the kids as weapons and has them act as go bet-weens. They are 18, 20, 25, 27.

It seems that one isolated event triggers a domino reaction from her. The latest came from a letter asking for money to pay a bill (that we didn't know existed). In the letter she makes very inappropriate and flirtatious comments to my husband and discusses her financial troubles. (The EW and her attorney came up with all the terms of the divorce. She walked away with well over 100K in cash from pensions and the equity in the home.) She also took large amounts monthly via atm's from the time she left until the divorce was final. At one point she remodeled the home she had (left to her by her deceased mom) and had elective plastic surgery. So 5 years later there is no money for normal household maintenance.

My husband pays his CS on time and is helping with son #1's college. We offer money for Prom, summer youth trips and the like. Yet it is never enough. She puts the kids in the middle and tells them to contact dad when she can't cover an expense she has agreed in advance to do and makes it sound to them, that their dad is a deadbeat.

Anyway, last week she had son #1 call dad and ask him for help in getting home from college because mom had some appliances fail and brother #2 had Prom, and due to that she was finacially strapped. (We helped with Prom) My husband told the son he would help this time but not again (this is the second time something similar has occurred with mom, money and this son).  My husband and his son had a bit of a heated exchange becuase my husband said he would not be manipulated any longer and told the son that he needs to tell his mom that he won't contact his dad again for money. That if she wants to - she can.

This is where the domino comes into play. My husband asked  son#2  to please mail us 5 graduation announcements: one for us and 4 for other family members. We sent my step son an envelope with a return envelope addressed and included money for postage. My step son said he would get that out to us.

The morning after the call with son #1 my husband texted son #2 and asked if he had mailed the announcements. Son #2 sent back, "mom needs to talk to you about the announcements".  We both knew it had nothing to do with the announcements but rather the phone call with the first son the day before. My husband can not communicate with her over the phone. She displays BPD and NPD. He limits his association to text, mail or email. (They live 6 hours and 3 states away, so this is a little easier since face to face interactions are limited). My husband recognized his son was in the middle so called him and left a message basically saying he wasn't sure what his mom needed to talk to him about but if he could ask her to contact him, they could discuss whatever it was she "needed" to talk about. She never called.

Yesterday,  my step son's graudation announcement came in the mail. It was filled out in the EW handwriting and addressed to my husband only. In the letter she sent a month ago about the bills, she addressed it to his formal first name, middle initial and last name. The graduation announcement was to his formal first and last name. (the inconcistecy seems odd and that they would have been addressed in reverse due to the formal nature of the second) On the inner envelope she had written - dad, my name and my daughter's name.

My anger stems from the fact that she always has to be in control  - thus we received ONE invitation and she has sent the rest to my husbands family - against his wishes. Then the snub on the address line is just one more punch to me in an endless slur of mean and over the top reprehensible behaviors by her to demean me and act like I am not really my husbands "legitimate wife". (There was not affair or anything like that either. I was still married when she left. The year their divorce was final was the same year my late husband passed away). So why she feels the need to do this is baffling. 

We dont' respond in kind. We don't bad mouth her, we don't tell the kids they can't talk about her when she is around. We have done everything right and she continues to pursue toxic behavior. We have purchased Divorce Poison; I hate you - don't leave me; and on and on - trying to determine the best way to deal with her and her never ending actions.

We have roughly 4 years left to deal with her but her actions take a toll on me physically - at one point last year I exhibited heart attack symptoms - turns out it was only anxiety attacks (yay). Obviously I am not going to list all that has transpired that would affect me in such a profound way. The examples I have given are in the "mild" category.

My question is this - Do you think it was wrong to address the envelope to only my husband? My understanding is that if people are married and the invitation is of the "formal" category, it should be addressed to both husband and wife.  I have been unable to find the proper "etiquette" regarding step parents and this subject.

Your thoughts would be appreciated. BTW - I have always been kind to the kids and they do spend time with us at spring break and so forth. The step kids and I text back and forth on occasion so it's not like they hate me or anything. This stems from the EW and her issues.



by on May. 8, 2012 at 11:47 AM
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Replies (1-10):
by Member on May. 8, 2012 at 11:55 AM

 You're invited to the graduation, so I wouldn't worry about it too much. Honestly if my SD's graduation card came addressed to just her dad, I wouldn't think much of it. (SD and I get along and DH and I have been together since a couple months before she was born. No affair, BM dumped DH when she found out she was pregnant)

by on May. 8, 2012 at 11:55 AM
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I think it's wrong to let somthing as silly as addressing on an envelope get to you like this. Let BM have her petty ways. Don't let it affect your life. Choose not to be upset.
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by on May. 8, 2012 at 12:11 PM

I appreciate your comments, I realize you don't have the full story and if this was all that was done, it would not be upsetting - its two plus years of constant manipulations and such, lies about us to other people. We could have her held in contempt of court due to parts of the divorce decree and parenting plan she has trampled over and if we wanted to, we could easily win defamation of character suits against her. 

I realize in the whole scheme of life it's not a big deal. The other half of this is that she plays as if she is the most wonderful, kind and godly woman out there - while acting like she does, and of course, we don't go around openly "setting the truth" before everyone.

So, I was really just trying to find out if there was a "proper" protocol in step parent issues. My first husband had two children and we got along beautifully with his ex (she was even at his funeral). So this is not my first rodeo but so very differnt from the first. I have read about these types of situations but never understood the emotional and physical toll they take on everyone who has to deal with the toxic ex.  I know we will make it through, it's just very difficult right now and it seems like it takes nothing to cause her to lash out in anyway she can.

Thanks for your thoughts.


by on May. 8, 2012 at 12:13 PM
I agree. I think you are getting bent out of shape over nothing.
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by on May. 8, 2012 at 12:31 PM

I wouldn't worry about how the envelope is addressed. It's just not that big of a deal. Enjoy the graduation without the stress of how something was addressed. I also wanted to comment on the line, we only have to deal with her for 4 more years.....   Unfortunately you will be dealing with her forever. Your skids will get married and have families of their own. All of that will have to be shared as well. Better off figuring out how to handle these things now. 

by on May. 8, 2012 at 12:39 PM
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I think the other ladies said it well. You really need to let go of all this. If you are having heart attack symptoms that is a wake up call that you are investing too much in this battle. I do understand because I also was stressed to the max by BM's behavior my first two years of marriage.

I think it is good that you were invited and don't read too much into the way the envelope was addressed. I would also not stress over how she has chosen to spend her money.

by on May. 8, 2012 at 12:41 PM

I know that. I meant in relation to beng forced to have to communicate with her regarding the kids in issues like these.  As I said, I have two older step kids from my first marriage and all of that went great. I never should have posted this out here - it's way beyond how the envelope was addressed.

Last year she told her daughter that if her dad and I came to the first grandbabies first birhday, she wouldn't attend. The litany of her actions are longer than I could list. So while it may seem irrelevant, my husband is furious over the ways she keeps sending things that are inappropriate. I am 45 and not a dummy when it comes to handling difficult people or turning the other cheek.  The divorced people I know ( my own parents included) have always acted respectfully. In fact, when I have had the opportunity to advise new step parents or those on the other side of an ugle divorce, I tell them what you said. This person will always be a part of your life - the greatest gift you can give your children is to act civily and encourage your kids to have a loving relationship with all parties.



by on May. 8, 2012 at 12:44 PM

My point about the money was to give background info. I don't care how she spends it, until she acts like a martry because she spent it poorly and then has the kids call their dad, implying she got the raw end of the divorce re finances.

And the heart attack was over issues much more stresfull than a graduation announcement.

by on May. 8, 2012 at 1:05 PM
Hey girl... you are correct she is playing games and she should have made the outside envelope to Mr. And Mrs. ________.

From one widow to another, you do not deserve this stress...let her go. Disengage. Do not read her emails or look at mail. Who cared if she goes behind your DHs back. He married her at some point and had 4 kids with her. He knew she was vindictive by then... Think about it. This is HIS price. I am sure yours was different and he can't carry that burden for you.

Likewise, as a widow he has different responsibility being your spouse, no? The baggage is different. It's important to be aware that you both might be competing against ghosts (which sort of sounds like it if you are upset by her not including your name on the outside envelope.)

I don't know their marital history but like many widows who yearn for their past. Many Ex-Wives do as well, especially of life isn't quite what they thought post-divorce. She sounds jealous and vindictive.

Next, your DH, he is just as guilty at putting the kids in the middle it seems. He is calling his kids to tell her to call him. Stop that. Pay CS. Communicate with the kids and stop communication with her entirely. I honestly don't see a point since these boys are old enough and adults.

The graduation? My DH and I receive filtered information. We are given events that she doesn't want to attend or only occur during our time. She won't give information if it's on hers. My DH takes the attitude that is ON HER shoulders what she does. He can't control it or her. Her behavior is hers to own. I love that he places it squarely on her.

Next, why are the kids graduating so late? Why are you dealing with this stuff when they are 27 years old?

This is just me but if your DH is contributing this much to his kids post High School education, they should be communicating with him first and child support should be reduced on things he contributes to that are court ordered. The "kids" are old enough to hear "That was already paid to your mom." Are they not? I would seek legal advice to insure that those are included like traveling home.

IMO, my nephew came ago from University quite a bit because he was homesick and gas/airfare were expensive but my sister couldnt go to her Ex and say he had to pay for the added expense for this. Maybe your DH needs to learn to say NO to everyone?

Truthfully, I am not sure why Mom is involved at all with some of this stuff. I would set limits with the boys directly and only communicate by email on things nevessary. I am not sure what that might be but at those ages it would seem to be minimal.

I would probably be annoyed with the graduation card because it's a game but it wouldn't be worth my energy. You have enough "energy" to focus on.

Do you have kids of your own?
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by Bronze Member on May. 8, 2012 at 1:25 PM

 When I had my highschool graduation, admittedly some time ago, the instructions that came with the announcement said that if there was a male head of household, that only his name should be on the outer envelope.  While I think that's staunchy and weird (which is why I still remember it), maybe that's why the invite came this way. 

Really though, let it go.  Two of his kids have been adults through the entire period of the divorce.  The last one is an adult now.  Time to really stay out of the middle between your husband and his ex because very little really has to happen from here on out. 

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