We started out a little rocky. Then there was some hatred as a result of something stupid that happened a couple of years ago. Right now we get along like sisters. In fact, she even bought me a birthday present which I wasn't expecting at all.
Someone commented on that original post that I should start a school or share some of my wisdom on how we reached the point we're at now. I'm very aware of how unusual our friendship is, so I'm glad to offer a few tips that have helped me. Of course, every situation is different. If you've found something useful, please let us know in the comments.
How to Get Along with His Ex...One Stepmom's Guide
- Suck it up. This is one of THE hardest lessons and I admit I still have problems with it. There's something about a person not living in your house telling you what you can and cannot do that really rubs most people the wrong way. My suggestion: make like a first grade teacher and let the childish stuff roll off your back.
- For the non-childish stuff, make it clear to your spouse/partner why it's a problem. For as long as I can remember, my husband has acted as intermediary between his two wives (past and present). I have to hand it to him -- his role in the family isn't easy either particularly because his first wife and I don't see eye to eye on everything. He's good at choosing his battles and will let me know when an argument isn't even worth having with her. On the flipside, he's seen my reactions to some of the decisions that have been made and knows a lot of my hot buttons. He's at a point where he'll go to bat for me even before he tells me something that happened. Score 1 for Team Marriage!
- Look at it like a job. When the going gets rough, the tough do more than they need to to excel. This of course assumes that you have that kind of work mentality. I admit going above and beyond the call of stepmom duty was actually been a source of contention at one point. I was trying to be helpful and she was feeling like I was taking over her turf. After it was revealed to me how much she despised what I was doing, I disengaged myself a lot. It probably helped that I was also getting through a miscarriage and had other things on my mind. After a while, it became obvious how much I contributed to our family and I think she realized that I'm with her on this and not against her.
- Try to be her friend. Seriously...Engage in Operation Befriend The Ex. You may not reach a level where you're having coffee "dates" every Saturday morning, but a little friendship goes a long way. If you've heard the kids talk about their mom's favorite movie and you see it on sale at the store -- pick it up for her. Is she sick? Offer to take the kids for the night even if it's not your night. Husband/partner can't pick up the kids from school that night? Offer to do it for him and her. It's hard to want to be friendly to a person who can negatively impact your life in so many ways, but at least give this a try. And if all else fails....
- Consider an escape plan. Seriously ask yourself if you can stand living in this kind of family arrangement for the rest of your life. If it sounds unbearable and your husband or partner isn't willing to stand up on your behalf to put the kibosh on the crappy behavior then really consider your options. Understand what your breaking point is and be willing to do something about it.
Like I said, these are some of things I've done or suggest based on my own experiences. I'm sure other stepmoms out there would love to hear more so please leave your comments below.