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The ''Ex'' Factor

4 ways to deal with a meddling former spouse.
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On my wedding day, I married the man of my dreams. But … my new husband wasn't what I imagined while growing up. The man of my childhood dreams came without the baggage of a first wife and a child. The man I married, Scott, was divorced as a result of his first wife's infidelity.

In the six years I've been married to Scott, his ex-wife has popped into our lives myriad times, disrupting our harmony. She's called Scott on his cell phone, wanting to get together with him alone. She's "dropped by" our house when I wasn't home. She's often found a way of doing or saying something cruel about me—but always in the nicest tone.

I tried being polite and kind to her, but she didn't seem interested in treating me the same way. When she made rude statements about my marriage, I finally let her know her comments were inappropriate. She responded by telling me she'd be praying about my attitude problems.

Married … with Baggage

There's the old adage that says when you marry, you also marry your spouse's family. The reality is, if your spouse was married before, suddenly you have to deal with a history, children, and mail that arrives addressed to a spouse's ex. Remarriage introduces unique challenges and unexpected jealousies, comparisons, and insecurities that often can drive a couple apart.

That's why it's especially important to remain united with your spouse against the outside disruptions of an ex. If you're struggling with the "ex factor," here are four strategies to keep your marriage strong.

1. PRAY FOR THE EX-SPOUSE. Often when my husband's ex made some snarky comment, I wanted to pray as David did in Psalms: "Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked" (3:7, NLT). Unfortunately, that's not the smartest choice. Asking God to rain down tar and feathers may feel good at first, but it isn't the most appropriate course of action.

Instead, Jesus asks us to pray this way: "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44). Ask God to bless her, if for no other reason than she's made in God's image, or that she's the parent of your stepchild. Pray she'll make wise parenting decisions. Pray God will be free to work in her life. Pray that, gulp, your heart will soften toward her because you know God loves her.

I've found that when I pray for Scott's ex-wife, kinder feelings toward her grow. As I allow God the freedom to accomplish what he wants in that relationship and in my life, I'm less upset by her intrusions. I can't explain it; I just know it works. It's not about quickie prayers. Sometimes it takes serious, time-consuming, fasting prayers. But the investment's definitely worth it.

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Ginger E. Kolbaba

Ginger Kolbaba is the author of Desperate Pastors' Wives and The Old Fashioned Way. Connect with her on Twitter @gingerkolbaba.

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July 12, 2014  3:09pm

Well my husbands ex has friended all his people on her Facebook account and when they were together her and his family never got along. She is always commenting on EVERYTHING any of his family ever post. When I bring this to my husbands attention, he says it aggravates him, yet he does nothing about it. Just wondering how he would like it if my ex done the same things as her, would the tables then be turned? Would he then maybe sit in my shoes for a brief moment? The truth is, is that my ex has more sense than to ever do this, even though he thinks highly of my family and they in turn thing highly of him.

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May 31, 2014  4:52pm

Unless there is a biblical reason for your husband's first marriage ending, and there's only one, incest, than you are in a concubinage, not a marriage. Your husband's spouse is in pain because of you. Instead of tormenting her with your insistence on being involved in her marriage, the least you could do is act as Hagar did and sit down somewhere. There is no biblical certainty of your marriage status. At all. Only that your husband's first wife is his wife.

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May 21, 2014  2:15pm

This article is so timely for me. I am in the middle of a divorce after having an affair. My husband turned right around and had one, too, two weeks later. The divorce has been going on for over a year now, and she's been living with him all this time. Our contact is very limited, but he called me out of the blue the other day to discuss problems with his girlfriend. I didn't answer, but I've been angsting over whether or not I have a duty to be there for him after all the hurt I caused. I did an internet search to help me find a Godly way of helping him, and this is what I found. Yes, I am the meddling ex-spouse! After reading it, I knew I had to let him work out his own problems (i.e. butt out!) and give it to God. Thank you, Today's Christian Woman!

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