THE BLOG
07/23/2013 10:40 am ET Updated Sep 22, 2013

What a Scene From Ferris Bueller Can Teach You About Yourself and Your Husband's Ex-Wife

I admit it. I mindlessly surfed TV channels Sunday morning when I happened to catch the almost beginning of Ferris Bueller's Day Off. It's like the Breakfast Club and Mad Max. If either of these movies are on, my butt grows deep roots into my couch. I decided that watching Ferris ditch school was a good enough reason to grow roots. I wasn't expecting lightning bolts of great revelation. I wasn't expecting anything resembling an epiphany or even an a-ha moment. But then it happened.

There's that scene where Ferris' sister Jeannie, played by Jennifer Grey, is at the police station for making what the police thought was a crank call. And who is she sitting on the opposite end of the couch from? (A couch in a police station? Really?) There's Charlie Sheen looking all Judd Hirsch in his pleather grunge look.

"You in for drugs?" Sheen's character asks

Jeannie couldn't be bothered. She's irritated up to her eye balls. (Ever feel that way?)

I don't remember the exact dialogue but Sheen's character gets Jeannie to spill the beans. She's pissed at her brother Ferris for ditching school.

"Why don't you ditch?" asks Sheen's character.

Jeannie heaves a loaded sigh. "And get caught?"

There's a pause. And Sheen's character says, "So you're mad at your brother for ditching school and not getting caught."

Bingo. Jeannie looks like a deer caught in the headlights.

You see, Jeannie plays by the rules. She does everything right. Up to this very point she's living her good daughter life based on the expectations of her parents and all those other well-meaning adults. It takes a bad ass Sheen to shine the light and expose Jeannie's illusory thinking.

And that's when the lightning bolt struck. The skies parted. The angels sang. I had a major moment brought on by a mindless movie that's 28 years old (Matthew Broderick could easily reprise his role as high school senior).

Stepmamas -- you are Jeannie. And you are pissed off and irritated because you think your stepkids' mom is doing something and getting away with it. And you're not doing what she's doing because you play by a set of rules that she doesn't play by.

As Sheen's character said to Jeannie, "this isn't your brother's problem. This is your problem." Or something like that. Oh, Jeannie was not happy. But when the camera cuts back to the police station scene because Jeannie's mother has arrived and is rightfully angry that she lost a real estate deal because she has to pick up her daughter, Jeannie is all cozied up with Sheen's character. Maybe it was the pleather and grunge. Maybe it was the sexy smirk. Or just maybe Jeannie realized the bad ass was right.

And so it is with you. The EX gets her nails done. You don't. She goes on vacation. You don't. She has a new car. You don't. Her hair is always done. Yours isn't. She has a boob job. You wish you could afford one. She goes to fancy restaurants. You don't. She just bought a house with her new husband. You and yours are still in a two bedroom apartment.

The problem isn't with your husband's ex-wife. It's between your ears just like it was with Jeannie. For all you know, she could be over her head in debt. Or not. If you are the one struggling financially or with self-esteem issues, she may be an easy target for you to compare yourself with. Or the fixated object you've decided you'll die on your sword for because life isn't fair and why should she get to do what she's doing and you can't?

Let me tell you ladies -- I was Jeannie. I was pissed off that stepson's mom got to be foot loose and fancy free. I was pissed off that I had to step in when she stepped out. I was pissed off that she could do anything she wanted to whenever she wanted to and I had her kid to worry about. I was pissed off because I was doing her job.

I had my own bad ass attitude adjustment -- I just wish it had been Charlie Sheen giving me the lesson -- pleather and all. I realized that my grievances, my irritations, my indignation was all in my head. I decided to readjust my "rules."

Ready to cozy up to the bad ass now? That would be me, except I don't wear pleather or have a sexy smirk (well, maybe). Your husband's ex plays by a different set of rules. Whose rules? Her rules. And you play by your rules. Your rules are different then her rules. And guess what (here's the good part) -- you can break your rules any time you want to.

Now, who's ready to break some self-imposed rules*?

*This article is general in nature and does not condone anything illegal, neglectful, or abusive. And please, don't drive the Ferrari!