We often talk about stepmoms overdoing it and needing to step back from all their responsibilities; needing to take a break from taking care of everything and everyone.
But sometimes it’s not the stepchildren they need to back off from.
Sometimes it’s the ex-wife.
Stepmoms usually start out innocently communicating with mom around things like schedules and logistics. If that goes well, she starts thinking “Great, mom is receptive to me. She’s accepting of me.”
She then takes mom’s receptiveness as an invitation to move into position and start taking the reigns around other aspects of co-parenting.
She also starts to think she can heal the relationship between her husband and his ex. Oops…
What starts out with good intentions on the stepmom’s part, often turns into an ugly power struggle or war between mom and stepmom.
Before she knows it, she’s crossed a boundary she couldn’t see and mom is up in arms accusing her of overstepping and trying to take over. (Cue the barrage of nasty text messages from mom)
The stepmom is often an easy scapegoat. We’re the new kid on the block (even if we’ve been around for years). And it’s so much easier to point the finger at someone else and tell them what they’re doing wrong, than trying to see how their presence could benefit the family and wanting to find solutions.
Stepmoms, when you start getting frustrated about this, remember these four words: YOU CAN’T FIX IT.
It was broken long before you showed up. And as much as you might love your husband and want to make things better for him, you can only do that in your household. When it comes to his ex, it’s HIS job to handle her.
There are some moms who do communicate better with their child’s stepmom and choose to deal with her rather than her ex. For those of you who can make that work, I commend you!
But for all the others…
Your husband has a choice. He either chooses to lay down some ground rules with her or he chooses to continue letting the dynamic be as it is.
Either way it’s his choice.
So what do you get for “getting out of the way”? You get to improve your marriage. What your husband wants is to feel supported by you. By letting him deal with his ex and NOT harassing him about his decisions, or hers, you allow the space to simply support him.
And you get to go about your business focusing on all the things that bring you joy, knowing that whatever stress she brings, you’re more protected from it than you would be if you were right in the line of fire.
This will be a challenge for those of you who define yourselves as control freaks. You might feel like bursting at the seam every time something happens, but eventually you learn to enjoy not having the pressure of needing to know every gory detail of the interaction.
And you might need to fake it ’till you make it. Put notes around the house reminding you to bite your tongue.
Your husband is a big boy, let him handle things in his own way (which I guarantee will be different than the way YOU would handle them).
If it’s something that affects you, then have that conversation with him. Otherwise, learn to let go.
You’re making room for more peace in your life and at the same time showing your husband “ I trust you, I believe in you.” And more than anything, that’s what our husbands want to feel from us.
So stepmoms, do your best to remove yourself from fights that aren’t yours.
Your marriage will thank you for it!
© 2012 Jenna Korf All Rights Reserved
(Photo credit: Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot)