04/20/2012 04:58 pm ET Updated Jun 20, 2012

I Can't Stop Thinking About My Husband and His Ex-Wife

Dear Dr. G.,

I am totally embarrassed about what I am experiencing. I feel like a jealous teenager. I got remarried four months ago. I have an 11-year-old son from my first marriage and my new husband has a 15-year-old daughter from his former marriage.

Well, here is what's happening. Whenever my stepdaughter refers to things that she and her parents did together as a family in the past, I feel left out and sort of like a second-class citizen. When my husband drops his daughter off at her mother's house, I imagine that he and his ex-wife are laughing and reminiscing. The sickest part of all is that sometimes when the daughter is over I start thinking about my husband and his ex being intimate. I know that this is crazy. I also like my stepdaughter and hate that this problem happens when she's around. I guess she reminds me that they were once intimate.

I don't know what to do. I do NOT want to ruin this marriage. Please help.

A Crazy Wife and Mother

Dear Mother,

First, keep in mind that it will take some time for everyone to adjust to the new and complicated family dynamics. Remember that if your husband and his ex got along swimmingly then they would still be married to each other.

As time passes and you and your husband and kids form your own shared history and rituals, you will feel less like a second-class citizen. When your stepdaughter talks about family history, keep in mind that this girl probably has as many fond memories as she has painful ones.

It is unlikely that when your husband drops off your daughter that he is laughing and reminiscing with his ex. The transition period of returning the child home is often awkward and stressful.

Your thoughts about your husband being intimate with his ex are not doing you or your marriage any good. I suggest that you talk to a therapist about where these thoughts are coming from. The therapist may want to bring your husband into the sessions. Please be careful to treat your relationship with your stepdaughter gingerly. She is a child and has probably experienced a great deal of pain and confusion already. You two have the opportunity to form a very special relationship if you can get your other thoughts and feelings out of the way.

Good luck as you navigate these tricky waters.


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