Congratulations! You are married to the man of your dreams. Suddenly, your dream has turned into a nightmare, as the glee of being a newlywed has been overshadowed by the reality of the emotional, physical and psychological challenges of being a stepmother and a second wife. If this is a second marriage for your spouse it is likely he had a life before you which included a girlfriend or wife and from that relationship(s) children were born. So along with Prince Charming you have also inherited an instant stepmotherhood, and have become relatives with your husband’s ex-wife.
It is not always easy, and at times just downright difficult and seemingly near impossible, to have an amicable relationship with someone who shares an intimate history with your current spouse, shares parenting duties with your stepchildren, and your income.
It is to your own psychological and emotional benefit to appropriately manage the relationship between yourself and your husband’s ex. Whether you would like to have a close interactive relationship with your spouse’s ex-wife, or a distant and civil one, there is no specific manifestation requirement of that relationship. Having an interactive relationship does not necessarily include going for pedicures together. Having a distant and civil relationship, does not mean altogether ignoring her and pretending she does not exist. There are ways for you to handle the relationship with your husband’s ex-wife with dignity, style and grace. The following are some valuable tips for you to maintain your sanity while on your journey to becoming a savvy stepmother, and loving wife.
Strategy 1: Understand and Accept the Reality of Your Spouses Ex-Wife’s Existence
No matter how many times you wish upon a star, your husband’s ex-wife will just not go away. She is a strong presence in the life of your stepchildren and whether or not you want to admit it, she is also a presence in the life of you and your spouse. Women who have effectively navigated the relationship with their husband’s ex-wife, find that one key to the success can be summed up in one word: Acceptance. Accept the facts. Accept that your husband had a life before you. Accept the fact that your husband’s ex-wife is the mother of your spouses’ children, your stepchildren. Accept the existence of the former family. Accept that finances will likely be shared. Accept that her home will be different from your home. Accept that your stepchildren have a sense of loyalty to their biological mother which may manifest in difficulty in their relationship formation with you.
Strategy 2: Keep Others – Especially Children – Out of the Middle
In a step family situation, it is not unusual for children to get caught in the middle of adult conflicts. Children are sometimes intentionally or unintentionally used as messengers, mediators, and can also be used to emotionally scar significant adults in their life. It is essential that as an adult, you conduct yourself accordingly, and keep adult issues between adults. This may mean making compromises, and stretching yourself in ways you never thought you could. Always remember, that all the children in your life count on you, including your stepchildren. As an adult in their life it is vital that you remember children are entitled to have healthy and happy relationships. Encourage them and help to nurture their desire to love the adults in their life, including their biological mother.
Strategy 3: Rely on Your Faith
Many women in stepfamilies report that reliance on faith is essential to their overall well-being. Women who are suffering from deep sadness, grief and on days they felt extremely overwhelmed, were comforted greatly when they discovered or rediscovered God’s power and his purpose for their life. It is very helpful for many women to identify Bible verses which provide them support, strength and encouragement. They also recounted times when their faith and spiritual connections consistently helped them in what seemed to be impossible situations. Relying on God for strength, guidance, direction and for forgiveness has proved very helpful for women in all types of stepfamily configurations.