Not all divorces are contentious. In fact, in some cases, a divorce is quite amicable and the couple remains friends. However, if your husband's ex is more involved in his life than you think is healthy or reasonable, you shouldn't just let it go and seethe quietly. Talk to your husband about it, expressing your concerns and letting him know that it bothers you.
How Much is Too Much?
Assess the situation honestly. Determine exactly how often the ex-Mrs. rings your doorbell, calls, texts or emails. It's possible that she's really not doing it all that often, but that you're hypersensitive to her intrusions. If she meddles in your life every day, or more than once a day, this is probably unreasonable. Daily contact should be the exception -- perhaps when a problem arises -- but not the norm, notes Christie Harman Ph.D., author and relationship expert. If his ex make her presence known only once a month, or even once a week, consider that your dilemma might have more to do with your feelings toward her than her behavior. Ask yourself if you view her as a threat on some level and try to rationalize your feelings.
On Her Own
If it feels as though your husband's ex is part of your family, or that she calls your husband every time she has a problem, establishing some boundaries is likely in order. Keep in mind that it can take years to establish proper boundaries following a divorce, particularly if two people were married a long time, notes relationship expert Jann Blackstone, PsyD. on the Bonus Families website. Regardless of how long they were married or how long they've been divorced, if you feel like his ex should have some boundaries, let your husband know so he can begin setting them. Keep in mind that he may need your encouragement and suggestions to get started. For example, you could point out to him that you don't want to spend every holiday with his ex. You might also point out that he should give his ex the name of a good plumber so she doesn't have to call him every time her drain gets clogged. The same is true for other repairs that a professional could handle for her. Be patient, but persistent.
It's for the Sake of the Kids
Co-parenting doesn't end with divorce, so if your husband has kids with his ex, this puts a different spin on the situation. You'll have to accept that there needs to be a certain amount of communication between them regarding the children. The bad news is that their kids give her an excuse to pepper your husband with emails, texts and calls – always using the excuse that she needs to speak with him concerning the children. There's not much you can do about this, but your husband can draw the line when and if their conversations stray from the point of her call and onto other ground. Let him know if you feel like she's crossing the line and using the kids as a way to stay involved in his life.
Devise Your Own Game Plan
If your husband ignores your concerns and won't back you up by creating some boundaries, you may have a bigger problem than his ex. If he doesn't seem willing to help change the pattern of his ex's behavior – even after you tell him how much it bothers you – you can try to live with the situation, but take care to contain your resentment and keep it from spilling over into your marriage. Counseling may help, or even a support group where you can vent once in awhile and let off some steam. Otherwise, you run the risk of your lid blowing sky high. It's also possible that if you can persevere, your husband will eventually get tired of being pestered and close the door on her of his own accord.
Beverly Bird is a professional writer who is also a practicing paralegal in the areas of divorce and family law. She has offered community workshops for single parents, helping them with the financial and lifestyle issues they often face.
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