Ex-Etiquette Column

Articles on dealing with the "ex" in your life--anyone's ex--yours, their's, even "ex"tended family.

Accepting Gifts from a Crazy Ex

Q. My husband and I have been married for a year and a half and I am now four months pregnant. My husband was very upfront about a short relationship he had before we were together. It got serious very quickly, but also ended quickly–for him. The woman, however, is still in love with him and sends him cute emails or cards signed, “your angel girl” with x’s and o’s in each card. He thinks if he just doesn’t respond to her that she’ll eventually go away. I have not seen this to be true. I thought I saw her outside our home last week and she recently sent him a present of tickets to a concert. The card contained a handwritten message that was quite intimate and made us both very uncomfortable. He wants to use the tickets, but I don’t think that’s right. I think the woman needs help. What’s good ex-etiquette when it comes to accepting gifts from a crazy ex?

A. Where’s your husband? I want to talk to him! You’ve been married for a year and a half and his ex-girlfriend is still sending him love letters? Sounds to me like his tactic of not responding isn’t working. She’s got a fantasy in her head and not being clear about his intentions is feeding her fantasy. Granted, most would get it if someone marries someone else after a break-up, but this woman isn’t, so one or two things could be happening–the woman truly is deranged or she’s just very lonely and is still in love with your husband. He hasn’t been clear about his feelings so she’s still hoping there’s a chance that one of those cute cards will hit his heart strings, he’ll dump you, and come back to her. She’s been reading too many romance novels.

If you truly believe she has a mental problem–be very careful. Sounds like “stalking” to me and you may want to check with authorities about how to handle that. If she’s merely a former lover who is still making advances, good ex-etiquette rule #4 (for breaking up and starting over) is “Establish clear boundaries”.  That means your husband to make his intentions known–in no uncertain terms. If he wants the attention to stop he should send the tickets back with a note that reads something to the effect of “You and I broke up two years ago. I am now married to someone else. Please don’t contact me again.” He’s the one who needs to establish the boundaries–in no uncertain terms.

Personally, I can’t believe he hasn’t done this earlier. What is it with guys and confrontation? He’d much rather get cards and letters from an ex-girlfriend and show them to you so you can both be “uncomfortable” rather than openly tell this woman to knock it off. This isn’t high school. You are married and you’re about to have a child. Time to grow up.

And, if he really wants to go to that concert? He should buy his own tickets–one for him and one for you.

Dr. Jann Blackstone specializes in child custody, divorce, and stepfamily mediation. She is the author of seven books on divorce, remarriage, and co-parenting, specifically, Ex-Etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce and Separation, Ex-Etiquette for Weddings, and Ex-Etiquette for Holidays. Dr. Blackstone is also the founder of Bonus Families,501 c3 non-profit organization dedicated to peaceful coexistence between divorced or separated parents and their combined families.

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