I received a letter from another Bio-mom a couple of weeks ago, and this letter really touched me. I will just share her letter I am cutting the parts that tell the ages and any details about her kids.:
I cannot tell you enough how excited I was to stumble across your blog. I am a divorced mother of 3 children and my ex husband is set to get married. His fiancé and I have tried getting to know each other and we can have months of all of us getting along, then something will happen and one of us will get our feelings hurt and then we all start fighting again. I’ve been told by my friends that it’s weird that I try so hard to be friends with her, but something inside me has always told me that it is what is best for the kids. I am probably overly involved in everything my kids do, it kills me when they are out doing stuff without me so I found comfort in befriending their future step mom because that allowed me some peace while I have to stand back and trust the three most important people in the world in the care of a complete stranger and a man who will barely speak to me.
I thought I was alone in that mindset, then I found your blog and your letters between mom and step mom and it renewed my spirit and helped me realize I’m not alone. I’m not a freak (haha). I’m a mom, just like you, that loves her children far more than I could ever hate anyone.
I asked her if there was any particular topic she would like me to write about, and she asked me to put together a do’s and don’ts for second the husbands who are getting married a second time. This was something that I’ve encountered with Molly, and also in my marriage with my second husband.
My husband has never been married prior to our marriage, and neither has Molly prior to her marriage to my ex-husband. When they both married into our blended family, there were certain things I noticed the girls brought up memories from when Jeff and I were married to both Bob and Molly frequently, especially in the beginning. At first this was quite difficult. I watched the pain swell behind Bob’s eyes each time one of our girls relived happy memories from when they were little, recalling their first day of school or the first time they saw a movie in the theater. I knew what he was thinking. He wished it would have been him there with them. Bob being the sweet man he is disguised his pain with a smile, and never said a negative word. I always tried to be careful not to bring up the memories myself. We all know there is an etiquette when it comes to past relationships, and I realize how lucky I am not to have a constant reminder of Bob’s past relationships.
For men I think this might be another story. Ladies, please comment and let me know your thoughts on this one. If you are a second wife, does your husband reminisce about his first marriage frequently? Does this bother you? Do you find yourself being constantly compared to the first wife, by not only the step-kids, but your husband, your in-laws, and even mutual friends? Do you have issues with your husband’s ex and your husband not setting enough boundaries?
I also think there is a very fine line here, because my experience with my ex might be extremely different from the relationship he is having with Molly. I’ve noticed in some situations ex-husbands or ex-wives try to control the situation. This only creates long-term issues for the children, and it actually causes more stress and issues for the bio-parent as well.
I have come up with a small list for the husband when you are in a relationship with someone new, there are some things you should and should NOT do and say to your new spouse or girlfriend.
Dos and Don’ts :
- Make new traditions. You have oodles of memories with your first spouse. The children are constant reminders. Look for new ways to begin new traditions.
- The kids will bring up old memories of the family in front of the step-mom or step-dad, but you don’t have to bring them up. Try to remember that to your significant other you are the love of their life and they really don’t want to picture you with anyone else, so the less you bring up the other person the better off your relationship will be. When discussing the children, that is a different situation.
- It’s okay to allow the kids to have photographs of the other bio-parent in their bedroom, but photos all over the home with the other parent can be overwhelming for the new spouse or girlfriend. Proceed with caution.
- If your ex-wife is calling or stopping by too often, set boundaries. When your ex-wife calls multiple times per day, it can disrupt your life, and also can send the wrong message. Treat your relationship with your ex like a business relationship, and let her know what times are appropriate for her to call.
- Think carefully before you move your new wife directly into the exact spot as the role of your first wife. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to step into someone else’s shadow. Your wife does not want to be perceived the same as your first wife. She wants to be her own person. She wants to be loved and cherished.
- She wants to believe that things will be different, and I don’t think most second wives want to hear about what went wrong hashed out twenty times per week. Don’t bring up fights between you and your former wife during arguments between you and your current spouse or girlfriend. She does not want to hear it.
- Do NOT call her by your former wife’s name!
- Memorize your wife’s favorite flower, song, show, jewelry, movie, etc. Do not confuse them with your former wife’s favorite things.
- Don’t call or text your ex-wife to chat. It is appropriate to discuss the children, but it is not appropriate to remain friends, unless your spouse in comfortable with the arrangement and has told you so.
- Communicate openly with your spouse regarding what occurs between you and your ex.
- Compliment your wife or girlfriend for being an understanding, flexible co-parent. It’s not easy to be a step-mom or girlfriend when there is are children, and a past involved. It’s also not easy to be a child with divorced parents. All parties could learn something from the other, if they would take a step back, listen, and observe before you judge.
- Your wife or girlfriend will not relate to you in the same way your ex will relate, and she won’t see your ex in the same way either. It’s important for the children, and for your relationship to keep her neutral. Don’t drag her into the middle of all of the past drama.
Trish Eklund is taking a nontraditional approach to parenting children after divorce and remarriage. Raising her two daughters of ten and fourteen with her husband, ex-husband, and his wife, they consult one another on all parenting decisions. Trish has been featured on www.playground-magazine.com, and www.bigblendedfamily.com. She is a regular writer on www.herviewfromhome.com, writer and co-editor for Her View From Omaha. Follow her on Twitter: @trishiewriter, Google +, and Pinterest.