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Dealing With The Ex-Wife


Whenever you want to marry someone, go have lunch with his ex-wife.  — Shelley Winters

Early on, I made a vow to date widowed men only. I didn’t keep the vow very well, which is why I know divorced men come with intense baggage, and I don’t want to do the heavy lifting.  If you’re fond of a divorced guy, you may be one of the lucky ones — his ex-wife may be magnanimous, but don’t count on it.  It’s more likely she’ll be around, and she’ll be the Queen of Quirks. Watch out for these ex-wife excesses:

1. She wants to help

“Just don’t order a bakery cake for his birthday,” she’ll say sweetly. “He SO loves when you make a fuss with a delicious homemade one.”

2. She wants to hurt

“The excessive hairiness and the bad sex — you can get over them. But he’s SUCH a CHEAPSKATE!”

3.  She regards you as temporary

“Our country club is having its annual Sports Fair, and he’s the best golfer in our crowd. You don’t mind if we borrow him on Saturday, do you?”

4.  She is still part of his life

She asks him for investment advice; they share news of a grandchild’s exploits. These chats may be innocent, but they encourage her to imagine that a.) they have a relationship and b.) her relationship with him is proprietary.

5.  She makes sure their kids hate you

You will – in time — win them over, or the effort will give you a stroke. I know this is an awful thing to say, but I’m betting on the stroke. If she’s relentless enough, they won’t lighten up even if you divide the lottery with them or heroically save them from drowning.


I don’t blame you if you are unwilling to limit your choices. At our age we’re lucky to find a man with a pulse. By all means take a chance on a divorced man.  But try to choose one whose ex has migrated to a distant country and remarried – preferably to a wealthy and titled nobleman. You’ll never hear from her, and you’ll be free to pursue your passion unencumbered by the acrimony of the past.

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'Dealing With The Ex-Wife' have 15 comments

  1. October 12, 2017 @ 4:31 am Lorikeet

    Out in the real world, there are women who have terminated relationships, divorced their man, have a new permanent partner, but still wish to use the services of 2 men whenever it suits them. Some of these people don’t have a legal property settlement and some are just living in 2 separate houses in order to collect a full Age Pension at the single rate, while leaving all of their assets to their children. They have no problem involving those of us who are seeking permanent partners in their self-centred, sex-seeking, sociopathic scenarios. These days a lot of people are only interested in money and sex. They drift between relationships hurting lots of other people in the process.

  2. October 12, 2017 @ 4:22 am Lorikeet

    At one time, he brought his 16 year old granddaughter to the club BBQ. She told me her grandfather could not take off his wedding ring, with the inference being that he needed to be committed to looking after her and her 9 year old brother. Their 40 year old mother lives only a couple of streets away from Granddad and is a sole parent with a full-time job. He told us that his daughter invites him over for dinner once a week, but almost invariably her phone rings and she has to spend the evening sending emails and talking on the telephone. Then he has to cook everyone’s dinner and clean up himself.

    The people at the BBQ were nice, but they laughed at the way in which this man is allowing himself to be used. Someone suggested that his daughter could have switched her phone off until after she had cooked dinner and done the dishes.

  3. October 12, 2017 @ 4:15 am Lorikeet

    I have dated men who still allowed their ex-wives to control their lives. These men had either been deserted or kicked out. There are also other control freaks out there who will try to get rid of you. These include dance partners (even if they are married to someone else), teenage and even middle aged daughters.

    Not long ago, a widower from a club I attend commenced getting very friendly. We seemed to have a lot in common, but he was still wearing a wedding ring 6 years after his wife’s death. His youngest daughter aged 40 also seemed to land her kids and her parenting responsibilities on him to an excessive degree.

    Then quite suddenly he appeared to become afraid to speak to me. The last time I saw him at the club, another woman and I were giving out newsletters at the front entrance. He came and stood on the other side of her and engaged her in conversation, completely ignoring me. When she turned to me and tried to include me in their discussion, he made an excuse and moved away.

    Does anyone know what THAT behaviour is about?

  4. October 7, 2014 @ 7:30 am Sienna

    Deb – Your story (thank you for sharing it!) demonstrates how difficult it is to deal with divorced men, and in your case, with one who divorced after 30+ years. Such a long marriage is bound to have shaped his behaviours and his point of view. You seem nevertheless supportive and you seem to care for him. You might try working with him to reduce the amount of time he spends complaining about her, not just for your sake, but for his. Constant reflection on his marriage is destructive and crippling because it prevents him from fully enjoying his life.

    Does he want to return to his wife? Probably not. His ties to the past can be a sign of guilt – even if there’s no need for guilt. It can also be classic remorse (everyone who’s failed at marriage, no matter what the reason, feels disturbed about it to some degree), but it’s not necessarily a wish to return to his ex-wife, who sounds like a combination of the unpleasant ex-wives I’ve described above.

    I hope you find happiness with this man, but if these “symptoms” persist, even after you’ve made your own feelings known, you may want to ask yourself how much disappointment you’re willing to bear.

  5. October 6, 2014 @ 9:04 am Deb

    After his over 30 year marriage I understood it when he felt compelled to attend her mother’s funeral. They have lots of kids together as well as grandkids and he said that they were close. So I watched his pets so he could attend. (It is about a 7 hour drive) He just tells me now (a few weeks later) that he had to go to her house to pick up a couple of his kids and while there was forced to make his famous deviled eggs- Then complained about how she is always trying to demonstrate her dominance and also was yelling at him for not knowing where things were (in the pantry). I guess I was expecting him to attend the services but this seems a bit “excessive”. She is not remarried so I guess if “she” had another person in her life, the deviled egg scenario may not have taken place? This seems so “normal” to him after 10 years of being divorced? This is the same woman that cheated on him throughout their marriage but them raised holy hell at the thought that he wanted a divorce! I understand that you will always have a relationship with your ex when you have kids together, but the oldest is in his 40’s and the youngest is in her 20’s with her own child. Maybe this is really not “over”? I guess I am just tired of hearing about her all the time-“complaining about her”-She has no problem calling him on his birthday-of course he doesn’t take the call because I’m there, but then I wonder what IS their relationship? If he can be in her kitchen for an hour or longer and still wants to move back to his old hometown (where she lives as well as many of his kids) then maybe this divorce is only on paper. She bought a new house before the divorce was finalized and it’s in his and her name!

  6. February 7, 2013 @ 9:29 am Candy

    The older we get the harder it is to deal with men who have ex-wives. This post is right on the money.

  7. December 16, 2012 @ 8:32 am Mgirl

    I think you’re being unfair to exwives here. I’m an exwife and I went through hell with the man I got rid of about 4 years ago. I guess there are women who want to remain part of their exhusbands’ lives, but I’m not one of them. Good riddance is my motto.

  8. June 10, 2012 @ 8:01 pm Tracey

    I try to date only widowed men. They have their own baggage, like they may be still mourning, but anything beats putting up with ex-wives who think they have a right to walk back in to their ex-husbands’ lives whenever they want to. This is a great post, hits the nail on the head. I love how you write about things that matter, and you’re so funny!

  9. May 24, 2011 @ 10:44 am Madame X

    I try to date only widowed men, but this also has its difficulties, because of kids belonging to the couple. The ex-wife as a problem figure is replaced by the perception that you’re taking the place of their mother. Some of the problems are the same.

  10. February 10, 2011 @ 8:57 pm Graceful Aging

    Excellent timing with this cutting counsel on troubling situations typically a waste of good time.

  11. February 10, 2011 @ 8:46 pm Willa

    You didn’t mention a certain problem I had. This man and his ex-wife hated each other and I had to listen to him screaming into the phone and when they hung up I had to listen to him tell me what he was screaming about. I listened to a lot of stuff about her and I have come to the conclusion that love is the other side of hate. He couldn’t stop talking about her – what a horrible creature she was, of course, but —

  12. January 31, 2011 @ 2:26 pm ElizAnn

    This is so true. It’s hard enough to get a relationship going without that added problem. I agree with MG190 that if the ex-wife lives in the same town it’s going to be harder than usual. But there aren’t that many choices, you know.

  13. November 30, 2010 @ 3:47 pm MGI89

    I look for men on line who live in a different town because I don’t want to be in the same town as the exwife.

  14. November 24, 2010 @ 3:41 pm Reggie

    I never date divorced men unless their ex wives and children live more than 500 miles away.

  15. October 29, 2010 @ 4:06 pm Older Gal

    Gosh, this is SO true. I broke up with a man I really liked because he was ALWAYS on the phone with his ex. He was attentive to me, but I had a lot of insecurities about the relationship because the ex was beautiful and younger than me. She was okay I guess but I felt like I was sharing him all the time.

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