The evil ex. The other woman. Mommy Dearest. Oh, and these are the nice names! I didn’t realize how tough this ‘ex’ stuff was until 2004 when I married Dan. I was a widow, so I just didn’t think about having to deal with a new husband and his children; and then top all that off with his wife from the past. I was up for it though. I thought I was equipped and prepared. Oh how God must have laughed at me. Truth is, I was pretty foolish. Let’s just break this down.
I’m the new wife on the block and I think I’m going to tell this other woman how this new home will run and how I will be handling her children. Yep, foolish is the word. You may be the new and improved wife. You may bring so many valuable characteristics into this new marriage. You may be a saint among mothers. But, you did not bring his children into this world — she did. That alone is worth you giving this other woman respect.
Ephesians 5:21 says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” This verse is referencing how our Christian households should be conducted. As a blended family, you have a bigger ‘household’ than you would probably like; because it more than likely includes an ex-wife, his children’s mother.
Here is the perfect situation to start trying on each other’s shoes. As the saying goes, “try on and walk a mile in your husband’s shoes.” How does it feel to know that you failed at a previous marriage and then still have to be in contact with this woman? How does it feel to – now more than ever – butt heads over the kids and how they are raised and who gets them over which holidays? Now try on your husband’s ex-wife’s shoes. How does it feel to have a new woman come in and now share responsibility for your children? How does it feel to not only have your marriage crumble, but now have it flaunted in your face that you were easily replaced? Oh the pain. Oh the brokenness.
As I have said before, God chose you for this family. You have a perfect opportunity to ease some pain. You have the power to mend some brokenness. It starts with respect.
Ephesians 5:33 says, “Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” This verse says nothing about us giving our husbands respect after they have earned it. It is the sheer fact that he is our husband; now that makes him worthy of our respect. Oh women, how many times have we blown this? Why do we constantly make our husbands work for something they should automatically receive?
Let’s apply this to your step children and their mother. When we humble ourselves and gently step into this new marriage and family – and not push and threaten our way – it has a powerful way of easing angst and bitterness. Your demeanor will cause your step children to not feel as if you are the evil step mother. Your husband will not feel so torn by two powerful women in his life. The ex-wife won’t feel like you are taking over control over her babies.
Jesus gave us the most perfect example of living. He came to serve, not to be served.
Are you serving your husband by your willingness to respect his children’s mother? Are you respecting the fact that your husband’s children are probably feeling pretty torn emotionally? Remember, you have the power to make this family or break it even further. It’s a choice.
Now, let’s be realistic. Through my mistakes and stubbornness, it took a long time for me to learn to be understanding with Dan’s ex-wife. But there are times that you do need to stand up for yourself. I think I will always remember this conversation I had with her. She was being a bit negative about me when talking with her son. At that point, I told her that I needed to be her best friend. She laughed at this and thought I was crazy. She asked why in the world would she ever want to be friends with me? I told her simply, “I wash your son’s underwear.” In other words, I am the one preparing meals for her children, washing their clothes, trying to make a home for them. Why in the world would she not want the best for her children?
Please help your family erase lines of division. Help your husband work with his ex for the children’s benefit. Help his ex not feel threatened. Ask for her opinions and help when her children are in need or struggling. Keep lines of communication open so that everyone knows when the dance recitals are and the soccer games and who is gonna be where for Christmas! I understand that even though you become Stepmom of the Year, there are situations you will not be able to mend or smooth over. That is where Romans 12:18 will be of comfort. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” You are not responsible for your husband’s ex-wife’s actions. But in the end, your actions will shine through with the love of Christ! So remember to wash underwear in love!