I hear this statement so often: “Our new blended family would be just fine if it weren’t for the ex-wife.” This, of course, is not a completely true statement, but it does seem to drive discomfort, discontent and malice into a family trying to find their “new normal.”
I want to speak to any mom out there listening that has children in a step family. Whether you are the bio mom and your kids have a step mom, or you are the step mom dealing with the bio mom. Let me lay it all out for you.
First of all … the original marriage/relationship ended and you had a part in the demise. Ouch! Yes, either you picked the wrong guy right at the start, or you didn’t push for counseling, mentoring or coaching; or you decided this relationship just wasn’t worth the effort anymore.
Your first husband may have been horrible; maybe he just couldn’t keep a job, maybe he didn’t know how to be faithful to you; whatever the reasons, both of you decided to form a relationship and then that relationship crumbled. So you move on in life.
The problem comes in now trying to find where the kids fit. Your work schedule and your ex-husband’s work schedule seem to clash. Who takes the kids to soccer? Who pays for the dentist? Who gets the kids for Christmas this year? What a nightmare!
Now let’s add in an extra ingredient: your ex-husband’s new girlfriend or wife. Things just escalated out of control! You do not want her to touch your kids. She has no rights to pick them up or take them to a doctor and don’t even think about disciplining your kids!
Not a good situation. But let me remind you that the divorce happened and life moves on. You can’t expect to not ever be in a relationship again – and that goes for your ex-husband as well. God created us to be in relationship. We, unfortunately, mess that up in every way possible.
So here you stand looking at two possible roads to take.
The first road is the one of revenge and misery. Along this road you find much time being spent hating your ex- and his new wife. You spend much energy trying to find fault and demanding things be done your way.
You have even bashed your ex- in front of your children, causing them total emotional chaos because they are supposed to love and trust this man they call their daddy. The road of revenge can certainly make your life miserable, and your children’s lives miserable. Misery can turn a woman bitter and bitterness can turn a woman ugly.
Let me show you the map to the second road – the higher road.
Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Yes, even the ex- and his new woman.
So this requires civility, patience and kindness, which will certainly diminish the anger wrinkles on your forehead; but it will also make the adjustment for you children so much easier.
The focus is the kids now. The question becomes, “How do we work together to make sure the kids know we both love them and want the very best for them?”
Yes, you have to put away your judgements, your pride, and your catty comments. But I also know that you would step in front of a moving vehicle to protect your child – so take the higher road.
As far as us step moms go, please remember to let your husband and the bio mom adjust to you and ease you into helping parent and be a part of their children’s lives. I suggest you continue to allow your hubby and his ex to work together to solve issues. Through time, you will be integrated into the mix. Don’t bad mouth his ex-, but listen to him and then offer to help brainstorm ways to work together for the sake of the kiddos.
I would also suggest a mediator. I know you probably went to court and have a divorce decree that settles many issues, but don’t get stymied in the little things. Seek someone who can help all involved to find the best solutions.
This whole “musical chairs of marriage” that our society plays more and more these days can be a mystery. But as women, created with souls that nurture, love and encourage, we can certainly find a way to maneuver in this realm of the blended family.
Blessings in your Blending!