Put Down Your Good Intentions and Step Away From the Ex-Wife

 

step away from ex-wife**Join us for the Stepmom Sanctuary Retreat 2017! 

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

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Related posts:

10 Best Things About Being a Stepmom

 

Stepmom celebratingThere are probably 100 reasons why the most common words out of a stepmom’s mouth are “this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

But why focus on the negative?

Here’s a countdown of the top 10 BEST things about being a stepmom!

10. You get to have kids AND keep your kickin’ body. No stretch marks or saggy boobs here!

9. You get to deflect blame. When you’re out with your stepchildren and they decide to throw a loud, embarrassing fit, you can stare back at the crowd and with a clear conscience say “Oh, they’re not mine.”

8. You get to have “behind-the-scenes” influence. You get to co-parent with your husband behind closed doors, then sit back while he dishes out the discipline. What evil stepmom?

7. You’re growing as a person. Anytime you’re faced with something challenging, you can’t help but learn and grow from it. What have you learned? How have you grown?

6. You get to watch your husband be in awe of his offspring. One of the sweetest things is to see the man you love fill with pride over his children. You get to sit back and listen intently while he shares his thoughts, hopes and plans for their future.

5. You can go from outsider to instant insider. There comes a time when you go from being a stranger to being part of the family. This can show up in a million different ways. It could be with a first hug, or when the kids finally decide to talk to you, or when you walk in the door and your stepson yells “Hurry up! Look what I made in school today!”

It’s an inclusion that wasn’t there the day before, and there’s nothing quite like it.

4. You’re not their parent. Instead, you’re a safe place for them to open up about things they might not want to share with their parents. This could be good or it could be bad, but either way it lets you know you’re special to them.

3. You can heal a family. Sometimes it takes an outsider to break the pattern of the family drama. You can provide your husband and your stepchildren with a new way of being that they otherwise might not have experienced.

This also gives the kids an opportunity to witness what a healthy, adult relationship looks like.  And with that vision, when they grow up, maybe they’ll seek out nurturing relationships, where the dynamic is supportive and reciprocal, instead of what they might have witnessed when their parents were together.

2. You get to walk away. When the kids are throwing attitude, acting ungrateful or just plain mean, you have the option of walking away. When YOU’RE the one with the bad day and can’t bear to be surrounded by kids, you get to take a time out.

Many stepmoms don’t take advantage of this option for fear of appearing “separate” from their stepfamily, or because they feel too much guilt. They end up burnt out because they don’t remove themselves when they desperately need to.

But the fact remains, as a stepmom, you can tell your husband it’s all on him and you’re taking the night off! I suggest every stepmom exercise this option at least once every two weeks.

And the number one best thing about being a stepmom is…

1. You’re loved for just being YOU. You have an opportunity to be loved by the kids, simply for who you are, not because you gave birth to them. Now how freakin’ cool is that?

Did I miss one? Feel free to share!

© 2011 Jenna Korf    All Rights Reserved