Ex-Wife Supports Current Wife in Divorce

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Reader’s Question

I have been married to my wife for 7 years. It is my second marriage. The events of both are strikingly similar in that both wives cannot in any way take any kind of responsibility for what has happened. Both became very child like (at least I see this now) and both are emotionally immature. My former spouse and I were getting along well and I had gone out of my way to accommodate her by fixing a faucet or checking the cable when I went to see my daughter. I try to keep a distance from her making unreasonable requests, and in the spirit of goodwill have done these things without asking for anything in return.

My present spouse has changed into a monster to me. She has alienated her family and some of our mutual friends with a “distortion campaign”. Outside the house she is this “wonderful” person for all to see and feel sorry for. When the door closes, she is a manipulative, controlling, vengeful, cruel person. It is almost scary. She has also been controlling access to my son by keeping him out of the house till it’s his bed time.

We are now in the process of divorcing, and I learned from my attorney that my ex has given my present wife a letter stating how “bad” of a parent I am to my daughter (from that marriage). What I do not understand is that that my present wife always hated my former wife. Even when I had explained that my former wife had never done anything to her, she hated her. The allegations in the letter are patently false, even hilarious, if the situation were not about parenting time for my son (from this marriage).

I believe my ex was diagnosed with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), and I have read extensively about this and cluster B disorders. I really believe I have picked the same type of person in my present wife. I have been diagnosed recently with ADD, which is a bad combination with someone who constantly need attention!

Any idea why my ex would write that letter behind my back when we had a pretty decent relationship since our divorce 10 years ago? All of a sudden my present wife is talking and is “best friends” with my former wife.

One thing I find strange is that the things that both say seem to be what both are — kind of like they are talking about themselves when talking to me. I understand this as being what’s called “projection” or “transference”. My ex wife’s parents actually apologized to me last year for treating me so badly and “excommunicating” me from that family. They actually said I was the best father my daughter could ever ask for. That’s why I don’t understand why my ex would do something like that. Could the letter from my ex be her feelings of herself projected in this letter? Is it jealousy of her parents’ feelings towards me? What other possible reasons could you give? I was numb and in utter disbelief when this was presented to me before a court hearing.

Psychologist’s Reply

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Cluster B Personality Disorders (see my introduction to personality disorders, available on this website) consist of Antisocial, Narcissistic, Histrionic, and Borderline Personality Disorders. As you describe, they are highly manipulative, controlling, attention-demanding, and self-centered in their behavior.

So why did your ex-wife write a letter supporting your current wife in a divorce procedure? Is this behavior related to Cluster B Personality Disorders? Didn’t you have a good relationship with her prior to the divorce?

The problem with having ADHD as an adult is distractibility and inattention. Moving from activity to activity in our daily life, ADHD adults and children have significant difficulty understanding the “big picture” in their relationships. An ADHD brain moves so fast that we don’t recognize patterns, hidden agendas, and manipulations. If we assume that both spouses have Cluster B characteristics, then we might interpret their behavior in several ways:

  • You didn’t have problems with your ex-wife because she controlled the relationship. She controlled visitation and used the opportunity for home maintenance and other favors. You report going out of your way to accommodate your ex — something that would anger your current spouse. In other words, it only seemed like a workable relationship because it was meeting her agenda.
  • Your current spouse is behaving in a manner consistent with Cluster B individuals — alienating others, manipulation, focusing on rumors and half-truths, etc. She will engage in an aggressive smear campaign against you. She has also enlisted the ex-spouse to work as a tag-team against you in court — also something we often find.
  • When we operate as a tag-team against an opponent, how do we split the winnings? Who gets what? By combining resources and talents, both spouses plan to gain something in their favor…but what might that be? Your current spouse hopes the letter to be intimidating, hoping to influence the court regarding visitation and child support. Her agenda is relatively clear.
  • Your ex-spouse may have a long-term agenda. If you’re still fixing the faucet after ten years, she probably hasn’t remarried and may be looking to firm up her position. Her support for your current spouse assures that you will probably be divorced without hopes to repair the marriage. Once divorced, she has the option to apologize for the letter, then increase her influence in your life. From her standpoint, with your current wife out of the way, you will be more accommodating to her.
  • Cluster B individuals are preoccupied with jealousy, revenge, retaliation, and punishment. Your ex-wife may also be punishing you for your relationship with her family.

In this situation, with two possible Cluster B personalities operating, you’ll need to emphasize a business approach. Set firm boundaries for both and rather than accommodate, arrange visitation schedules with the children that are court-recorded and approved. Emphasize that visitation is about visitation with the children — not plumbing or multimedia repair. I would also recommend reading my article on Personality Disorder and reviewing previous questions about personality disorders. You can select the ‘Personality Disorders’ tag in the sidbear of the page to see a list of previous questions on this topic. Individual counseling should also be considered, as divorce and separation are very stressful — even when a smear campaign is not present.

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